8 Notable Black Immigrants Who Have Fought For Black Freedom In America

Black immigrants and their children have long been a part of the fabric of communities across the United States.

Historical and contemporary engagement among immigrant, native, and Black communities abroad has broadened our understanding of Black experiences under interlocking systems of oppression.

Most importantly, these intra-community conversations have strengthened strategies of resistance and continue to expand our ideas of collective Black freedom.

Here a few notable 20th century Black immigrants (and first gens)  who've struggled for the cause of Black freedom here in the United States as politicians, artists, activists and more.

Pan-African leader & Jamaican-born nationalist left an indelible mark on U.S. history. Garvey immigrated to the United States in 1916, inspired by the work of Booker T. Washington. 

Marcus Garvey

In 1917, Garvey co-founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association with his wife. His experience in the West Indies, Central America, the UK & US informed his belief in Black self-determination.

Born in Ghana, Kofi moved to the US in 1918 after she believed she received a divine message to teach and bring a special word to African American communities.

Laura Adorkor Kofi

After immigrating to the United States from Trinidad as a child, she later joined the a critical group of Black Communists who pushed back against U.S. imperialism.

Claudia Jones

After immigrating to the United States from Trinidad as a child, he became active in the Civil Rights movement as a student at Howard University.

Kwame Ture (aka Stokely Carmichael)

A South African singer, affectionately known as “Mama Africa,” Makeba introduced the world to African music. She worked with the Jamaican-American entertainer Harry Belafonte in 1959.

Miriam Makeba

After the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre, Makeba became one of the many Black South Africans forced into exile by the apartheid government. She then joined the Civil Rights movement in the US.

 Born in New York to parents from Barbados and Grenada, Lorde described herself as a “black lesbian feminist warrior poet mother.”

Audre Lorde

The first Black woman elected to Congress, the first woman, and African American to run for president under a major party, Chisholm was born to parents from Barbados and Guyana.

Shirley Chisholm

McKay came to the United States to study at Tuskegee Institute in 1912. As a writer, McKay highlighted Black life in Jamaica and also voiced strong opposition to white supremacy. 

Claude McKay

For more information on these trailblazers, head over to Blavity to read up!