African & American

West Africans in Post-Civil Rights America

352 pages

10 halftones, 2 maps

August, 2014

ISBN: 9780814760703



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Marilyn Halter is Professor of History and American Studies at Boston University and Research Associate at the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs. She is the author of Between Race and Ethnicity: Cape Verdean American Immigrants, 1860-1965 and Shopping for Identity: The Marketing of Ethnicity

All books by Marilyn Halter

Violet Showers Johnson is Professor of History and Director of Africana Studies at Texas A&M University. She is the author of The Other Black Bostonians: West Indians in Boston, 1900-1950.

All books by Violet Showers Johnson

African & American tells the story of the much overlooked experience of first and second generation West African immigrants and refugees in the United States during the last forty years. Interrogating the complex role of post-colonialism in the recent history of black America, Marilyn Halter and Violet Showers Johnson highlight the intricate patterns of emigrant work and family adaptation, the evolving global ties with Africa and Europe, and the translocal connections among the West African enclaves in the United States.
Drawing on a rich variety of sources, including original interviews, personal narratives, cultural and historical analysis, and documentary and demographic evidence, African & American explores issues of cultural identity formation and socioeconomic incorporation among this new West African diaspora. Bringing the experiences of those of recent African ancestry from the periphery to the center of current debates in the fields of immigration, ethnic, and African American studies, Halter and Johnson examine the impact this community has had on the changing meaning of “African Americanness” and address the provocative question of whether West African immigrants are, indeed, becoming the newest African Americans.


  • African & American gives a valuable and much-needed voice to the African immigrant experience in America. Focusing on the divide between what it means to be an African and an American, Halter and Johnson reveal the historical complexity around these terms and how newcomers grapple with this reality in the contemporary world.”

    —Zain Abdullah, author of Black Mecca: The African Muslims of Harlem

  • “Africans are among both the first Americans, brought here in slavery long before the nation was created, and the most recent Americans, arriving in appreciable numbers in the last few decades. Halter and Johnson bring together these threads of history, offering a rich and unique contribution to the literature on immigration and race relations. A terrific book.”

    —Mary C. Waters, author of Black Identities: West Indian Immigrant Dreams and American Realities

  • "Halter and Johnson build complex imagery of the transnational immigrant experience of West Africans since the 1960s."


  • “This book contributes to a growing field of books on African immigrants to the United States… This book is relevant for study and courses in diaspora, Africana, and African American history and studies.”

    Journal of American History