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Set the World on Fire

June 6, 2018 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Black Nationalist Women’s Political Activism with Keisha N. Blain & Christopher Petrella

Join Busboys and Poets Books as we welcome Christopher Petrella, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships at American University’s Antiracist Research & Policy Center, as he talks with Keisha N. Blain about her new book, Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). Drawing on a variety of previously untapped sources, including newspapers, government records, songs, and poetry, Set the World on Fire highlights the flexibility, adaptability, and experimentation of black women leaders who demanded equal recognition and participation in global civil society. Petrella and Blain will discuss the book’s key interventions and insights about how black nationalist women shaped national and global politics during the twentieth century. They will also discuss how histories of this period can inform black politics and activism today.

Keisha N. Blain is an award-winning historian who writes on race, politics, and gender. She obtained a PhD in History from Princeton University and currently teaches history at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and co-editor of Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism and Racial Violence (University of Georgia Press, 2016). Her work has been published in several academic journals such as the Journal of Social History and Souls; and popular outlets including the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Newsweek, andThe Feminist Wire. She is the president of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) and senior editor of its popular blog, Black Perspectives. Follow her on Twitter @KeishaBlain.

Christopher Petrella teaches in American University’s Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies Collaborative and serves as Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships for Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracist Research & Policy Center, also at American University. In addition, Christopher plays a leading role in developing political education curricula for Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp. In collaboration with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Nelson Mandela Foundation, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD), Center for Community Change, U.C. Berkeley, and Columbia University, he is a 2018-2019 recipient of the Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity Fellowship. Christopher’s work explores the intellectual histories of race and resistance and has been featured in several outlets, including Black Perspectives, The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC News, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Boston Review, and GQ. He is completing his first book on the history of white supremacy in New England with Haymarket Books. Christopher holds a Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. and B.A. from Harvard University and Bates College, respectively. Follow him on Twitter at @CFPetrella.

This event is co-sponsored by the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS).


June 6, 2018
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm