Detroit, Michigan: Pan-African Congress, USA, 1975. 15 3/8” x 11 3/8”. Newsprint. Pp. 4. Very good: folded horizontally at center, presumably as issued; lightly toned.
This is the first issue of a rare publication produced by an African nationalist group from Detroit, the PanAfrican Congress, USA (PAC).
We were able to piece together the fascinating history of PAC through firsthand accounts found online of African students, members and relatives of group leaders. PAC was organized in 1969 by Edward Vaughn and Kwame Atta. Vaughn operated a Black Power bookstore in Detroit and was the executive assistant to Detroit's first African American mayor, Coleman Young. He also served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1979-1980 and 1995-2000. Though PAC was a Black nationalist group with PanAfrican objectives, it was considered to be a mainstream organization. They sponsored refugees from Africa to attend college at Wayne State University in Detroit – in 1975 there were about 200 African students at the school – and ran a combination housing and conference hall. PAC offered classes in African languages and held forums and meetings, inviting African diplomats and other leaders to address its members. The group had ties to the Pan-Africanist Congress of South Africa, organized marches every year on African Liberation Day and ran a preschool for children at the PAC house. Like other civil rights and political groups fighting for racial justice and equality, PAC was often a target of FBI investigation.
One of the editors of this publication was PAC co-founder Kwame Atta's wife, Etua. The couple had moved with their children from Detroit to Ghana in 1968, back to Detroit, and then to Liberia just two months after this issue's release. The paper's staff also included Kwadwo Akpan and his wife Yola. Yola was a civil rights activist and editorial writer at the Detroit News, one of the nation's largest and most influential newspapers. The couple later divorced, and in 1995 Kwadwo resettled in Ghana. He traveled often to the United States to promote better Pan-African relations and worked with the Ghanaian government to grant dual citizenship to African Americans. In June 2006, he addressed the first NAACP Alabama State Conference Economic Development Summit On Africa.
Not to be confused with the African American journal of the same name published in 1925 which mainly ran news of the Nigerian Progress Union, this was the “Special Introductory Issue” of The Spokesman. The editors opined that
“The Spokesman is designed to CLARIFY. It will try always to be plain-speaking, factual – but it WILL NOT RETREAT . . . [it] speaks to the Black people locally, nationally, and internationally. Above and beyond else, this newspaper will address the totality of life as experienced by people of African descent.”
The issue reported on the murder of an 18 year old Black youth by a white man who suspected him of a crime, and on a successful boycott of Detroit stores that had been involved in the beating of an African American woman and the death of a Black man. One section featured Uzazi Chama, a community service intended to prepare Black parents for childbirth – “the only Black organization of its kind in the metropolitan Detroit community.” The paper also listed PAC's principles and informed on upcoming forums. It told of the group's Youth League, which met weekly to “discuss ways of making the Black community a better place in which to live” and to “promote healthy ideas of Black pride.” There was a poem by a “Zambian elder,” advertisements for PAC's food cooperative and biweekly radio show and seven photographic images.
Rare documentation of a little-known but important Pan-African organization in Detroit. No holdings were located in OCLC. Very good. Item #1351