Late last year,Dan Magaziner had the opportunity to review College of William and Mary History Professor Robert Vinson’s remarkable new book, The Americans Are Coming! Dreams of African American Liberation in Segregationist South Africa. Vinson details both physical and intellectual journeys between South Africa and the United States in the decades before apartheid.
His characters are sailors and preachers, political leaders, teachers and conmen. His work reveals the intellectual history of the African diaspora during critical years that saw the tightening of white supremacy, massive dislocation and urbanization and remarkable political creativity in both the United States and South Africa. Over the course of February, Vinson and I exchanged emails about his book, beginning with a discussion about the man who was perhaps the era’s most important black political leader, Marcus Garvey.