The Black Press, Pauline E. Hopkins, and the Rewriting of Africa
This chapter traces the influence of travelers like William and Lucy Gantt Sheppard on more conventionally fictionalized literary work by authors like Hopkins who never traveled to Africa themselves. Her novel Of One Blood, which was first serialized in the influential Colored American Magazine, where she was an editor, is indicative of the way that broadly internationalist culture circulating around the Congo, and other geopolitical spaces, was grounded in the black press. This chapter argues that connections between Of One Blood and the missionary careers of the Sheppards illuminate the transatlantic routes that have contributed to the development of African American literature and culture, further challenging common generalizations that, in the early twentieth century, modern Africa was unknown to African Americans. Early twentieth century American representations of Africa, such as Of One Blood, were informed by intellectual networks of writers and activists that were nurtured through the black press as well as literary societies, civic organizations, HBCUs, and religious institutions.
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