[PAST EVENT] Africana First Friday Lecture with Robert Trent Vinson

September 5, 2014
12pm - 1pm
Boswell Hall (formerly Morton Hall), Room 314
100 Ukrop Way
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location
Please join Africana Studies' First Friday Lecture with Professor Robert Trent Vinson. His lecture is entitled, "Before Mandela, Like a King: The Prophetic Politics of Albert Luthuli."

This paper radically revises our understanding of Albert Luthuli, the 1961 Nobel Peace Prize winner and president of South Africa's leading anti-apartheid organization, the African National Congress (ANC) from 1952 to 1967. One of the most respected African leaders of his era, and often regarded as the Martin Luther King, Jr. of South Africa, Luthuli led the ANC as it navigated iconic events of the anti-apartheid struggle, including the Defiance Campaign, the Freedom Charter, the Treason Trial, the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the ANCs armed wing, and the Rivonia trial that sentenced Nelson Mandela and 11 others to lifetime imprisonment on Robben Island. This paper argues that Luthuli was the father of non-racial, unitary national politics and non-violent civil disobedience in modern South Africa. He was also the pivotal bridge between ANC founders like his mentor John Dube and the younger Mandela generation that eventually fulfilled the founding ANC vision of a non-racial democratic South Africa. Luthuli's call for economic sanctions, his Nobel Prize fame and his work with Martin Luther King, Jr. sparked anti-apartheid movements in America, Australia, Great Britain and European countries. Yet, this paper also contends that, even as the Nobel prize reflected his esteemed international standing, within South Africa a young Nelson Mandela's advocacy of armed struggle eclipsed Luthuli's non-violent civil disobedience methods. With Luthuli's subsequent marginalization and 1967 death, he is a largely forgotten figure today. Ironically, the Nelson Mandela that emerged from prison in 1990 advocated the same "Rainbow nation" politics of racial reconciliation that Luthuli had popularized 30 years earlier. Based on a forthcoming book manuscript, Before Mandela, Like A King moves beyond the relatively scant scholarship on Luthuli--which situates him almost exclusively within a narrow South African nationalist historiography--and restores Luthuli to his rightful central place in the intertwined histories of South Africa, the United States and the global anti-apartheid movement.

[[ksperling, Kristen Sperling]]