F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

Remaking the Republic: Black Politics and the Creation of American Citizenship [Review of Talk]

What great joy it was to participate in the book discussion of Howard Alumnus Christopher Bonner. In his talk discussing his book, Remaking the Republic: Black Politics and the Creation of American Citizenship, he asked and answered fundamental questions concerning who could be a citizen, how a person attained the status, and the particular privileges citizenship afforded. Bonner gave us a historical account of how African Americans claimed for themselves American citizenship in the nineteenth century. He gave explicit details and provided photographs of buildings in which Black people entered, occupied, and disrupted for the causation of American citizenship. 

In this talk, one major thing came up for me that I find compelling. How is the term citizenship a social construct or an “Imagined Community” in which the term and concept of “citizen” historically have been reserved for those of European descent in this country, and how Black people have suffered from conceptual marginalization that does not integrate Black people into conceptual frames? Typically, integration is only used in public space, but how does racism function conceptually. I am now thinking about concepts like “human,” and it is conceptually reserved only for white people. Bonner’s talk for me inspired a compelling interest in intellectual work and conceptual integrations.

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