This is the long-hidden saga of how a handful of Americans and Kenyans fought the British colonial government, the U.S. State Department, and segregation to "airlift" to U.S. universities, between 1959 and 1963, nearly 800 young East African men and women who would go on to change the world. The students included Barack Obama Sr., future father of a U.S. president, Wangari Maathai, future Nobel Peace Prize laureate, as well as the nation-builders of post-colonial East Africa - cabinet ministers, ambassadors, university chancellors, clinic and school founders.
The airlift was conceived by the unusual partnership of the charismatic, later-assassinated Kenyan Tom Mboya and William X. Scheinman, a young American entrepreneur, with supporting roles played by Jackie Robinson, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The airlift even had an impact on the 1960 presidential race, as Vice-President Richard Nixon tried to muscle the State Department into funding the project to prevent Senator Jack Kennedy from using his family foundation to do so and reaping the political benefit.
The book is based on the files of the airlift's sponsor, the African American Students Foundation, untouched for almost fifty years.
Iowa and Kogelo
In December of 2007, before the Iowa caucuses the first tests of
the 2008 presidential primary seasonSenator Barack Hussein
Obama of Illinois was not thought by most Americans to have much
of a chance of winning his partys nomination or the presidency. He
was not well known in the rest of the country, and the media for the
most part treated his candidacy as a novelty because he was African-
American. That he was truly an African-American, the son of a
Kenyan father of the same name and of a white mother from Kansas,
was not well understood despite the growing popularity of his
memoir Dreams from My Father, in which he explored his unusual combination of African and American heritage.
Prior to Obamas 2004 election to the Senate he had been an Illinois state senator, and before that a community organizer, civil rights attorney, and law school professor. His curriculum vitae also included having been elected editor in chief ...
This thorough, patiently researched, and at times moving account will appeal to students of American history in the 1960's in particular, and anyone interested in an important turning-point in the struggle for human rights in the U.S. and in Africa... The architects of the student airlifts believed in freedom, human dignity and self-determination; the students they helped believed that through education they could help a nation. By having the courage to act on those beliefs, and the determination to persevere through delay and defeat, they would change the world in ways they could never have imagined.
(Reviewed by Jo Perry).
Full Review (906 words).
The Africa-America Institute
The work of the airlift organizers continues: The Africa-America Institute is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, non-profit organization with headquarters in New York, and offices in Washington, South Africa, and Mozambique. Founded in 1953, AAI's mission is to promote enlightened engagement between Africa and America through education, training, and dialogue.
The Institute pursues its mission in two program areas: African Higher Education and Training (AHET) and Educational Outreach and Policy (EOP) which aim to educate Africans and educate Americans about Africa.
AAI scholarships have assisted Africans to complete college, graduate-level, and professional training in fundamental capacity-building fields...
If you liked Airlift to America, try these:
A compelling, thought-provoking novel about race, bullying and the need to belong, set in Africa.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is the immensely engaging and inspiring true account of an enterprising African teenager who constructed a windmill from scraps to create electricity for his entire community.
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