Alexander Crummell

Alexander Crummell was born in New York and was the first African American to study at Cambridge University in England, becoming an ordained Anglican priest.  He had already been living in Liberia for two decades when he met Delany during his visit to Liberia in 1859.  In The Future of Africa (1862), in a collection of essays and lectures written while in Liberia, he developed a vision of an African Diaspora with Africa as the Motherland for all peoples of African descent.  He argued further that God had given Blacks divine providence and that it was the Christian free Black men in America who would convert their ancestral continent to Christianity.

In the essay, “The Relations and Duties of Free Colored Men in America to Africa,” Crummell laid out the racial and philosophical basis for the Diaspora.  He defined Black identity based on race, land, and culture.  He saw Black identity as “a compact homogeneous population of one blood ancestry and lineage.”

Throughout the Civil War, the identification of Africa as the homeland continued.   African Americans believed that the war had removed most obstacles for Black achievement. Martin Delany’s homeland identity movement was a failure because the times had changed with the end of the Civil War.  The majority of African American and West Indian migration to West Africa occurred before the Civil War.  One cannot dismiss this movement as inconsequential because thousands of African Americans heard Delany’s call and emigrated from the Western Hemisphere to Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Niger River area.  Delaney demonstrated the importance of a homeland in building self-esteem for Africans in the Diaspora.