Négritude : Sharing spaces in the Caribbean and Latin America!
"We adopted the word négre … as a term of defiance. It was a defiant name. To some extent, it was a reaction of enraged youth. Since there was a shame about the word négre, we chose the word négre. … There was in us a defiant will, and we found a violent affirmation in the words négre and négritude.”--Aimé Césaire, in a 1967 interview with René Depestre
The term “Négritude” describes an intellectual and literary movement that can be understood as an outcome of critical exercise by political activists and writers such as Aimé Césaire from Martinique; Léopold Sédar Senghor from Senegal; Léon-Gontran Damas, from French Guiana; and others. The movement was a conscious effort to awaken the “black consciousness” — to reclaim and self-define the African identity in response to racism and colonialism. In this exhibit, we discuss the Négritude movement — as well as other black social movements in Latin America — and the narrative of the shared and connected physical, social, and cultural spaces in the Caribbean and Latin America. The quote by Césaire speaks to the resilience of Afro-Latin culture over the past 500 years.
The presence of Africans in Latin America, from the fifteenth-century conquests of Spain and Portugal through subsequent European colonization continuing today, has been documented extensively. The history of this African diasporic presence in Latin America, however, is complicated, and it is marked by a history of oppression, exploitation, and unprecedented cruelty against both Africans and indigenous nations. But there is also resilience and revival in the history of Africans and indigenous peoples in the Caribbean and Latin America, who flourished in shared spaces and led to a celebration of the mestizo/a/x identity. The emergence of multi-ethnic shared spaces and identities within black communities remains the focus of this exhibition. We include the select Caribbean and Latin American print materials in the Library’s collections that represent the diverse cultural and literary traditions of black populations, as well as the history and resilience of these groups across time.