Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2011 Shameika M. Black. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Black Studies Program, Africana Studies, Sociology & Anthropology Department

First Advisor

Sarah Willie-LeBreton

Second Advisor

Anthony S. Foy


Through the place of Africa within the autobiographical works of black writers, we can analyze how African Americans were influenced by and incorporated themselves into liberatory movements in African and throughout the African Diaspora. This thesis explores the autobiographical texts of Richard Wright and Zora Neale Hurston in order to situate the role of Africa in shaping African American liberatory aspirations in their own lives and how they used that image and their personal narrative to envision a diasporic community. Proposing the paradox of how we can imagine Africa in texts that do not explicitly mention Africa or only briefly and indirectly, I argue in conclusion that taken together, Wright and Hurston are working toward the same goal of black liberation, but on divergent levels; where Wright takes up the political, Hurston examines the cultural.


Africa, Black Liberation, African American Culture, African American Politics, African American Identity, Autobiography--African American authors, Africa--In literature, African Americans--Race identity