Global Perspective on the Black Freedom Struggle

Apr 21, 2011

Lecture at the GHI | Speaker: Manfred Berg (University of Heidelberg) | Lecture Series: Crossing the Color Line: A Global History of the African American Freedom Struggle

In recent years, civil rights historians have challenged the traditional narrative that separated the history of black Americans from the rest of world and depicted the so-called "race question" in the United States as a purely domestic problem.

In his lecture Manfred Berg will take a critical look at the new transnational and global history of the black freedom struggle probing its achievements and limits. Moreover, Berg will consider the impact of global affairs on the African American civil rights movement.


Manfred Berg is the Curt Engelhorn Professor of American History at the University of Heidelberg and a specialist in the history of the African American civil rights movement. His book The Ticket to Freedom: The NAACP and the Struggle for Black Political Integration was published in 2005 by the University Press of Florida.

In 2006 Manfred Berg received the David Thelen Award of the Organization of American Historians for his essay "Civil Rights and Liberal Anticommunism: The NAACP during the Early Cold War," which was subsequently published in the Journal of American History. Professor Berg has published thirteen monographs and edited volumes, including his new book Popular Justice: A History of Lynching in America (Chicago: Ivan Dee, 2011).

Before he was appointed professor of American History at Heidelberg, he taught at the Free University of Berlin and was a research fellow (1992-1997) at the German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C., among other positions. In 2009 he served as the Lewis P. Jones Professor of History at Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina. 

Spring Lecture Series 2011

Crossing the Color Line: A Global History of the African American Freedom Struggle

Organized by Martin Klimke (GHI)

African American civil rights activists early on conceived of their struggle for racial equality as part of a larger struggle against colonialism in Africa, Asia, and South America. This lecture series brings together scholars from both sides of the Atlantic to reflect on this booming field of African America history and to shed light on how both African Americans' quest for equality and the responses to it transcended the borders of the United States. Focusing on new actors and geographic regions, the series will offer a more comprehensive perspective on the civil rights movement.

  • Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960
    March 24, 2011
    Speaker: Carol Anderson (Emory University)

  • Global Perspectives on the Black Freedom Struggle
    April 21, 2011
    Speaker: Manfred Berg (University of Heidelberg)

  • Black Expatriates and Civil Rights Activism in 1950/60s Ghana
    May 26, 2011
    Speaker: Kevin Gaines (University of Michigan)

  • The Night Malcolm X spoke at the Oxford Union, England: Race Protest in the Subversive Special Relationship
    June 9, 2011
    Speaker: Stephen Tuck (University of Oxford)