“The same rebellion, the same impatience, the same anger that exists in the hearts of the dark people in Africa and Asia,” Malcolm X declared in a 1962 speech, “is existing in the hearts and minds of 20 million black people in this country who have been just as thoroughly colonized as the people in Africa and Asia.” Four decades later, the hip-hop artist Talib Kweli gave voice to a similar Pan-African sentiment in the song “K.O.S. (Determination)”: “The African diaspora represents strength in numbers, a giant can't slumber forever.”
Linking discontent and unrest in Harlem and Los Angeles to anticolonial revolution in Algeria, Egypt, and elsewhere, Black leaders in the United States have frequently looked to the anti-imperialist movements and antiracist rhetoric of the Muslim Third World for inspiration. In Black Star, Crescent Moon, Sohail Daulatzai maps the rich, shared history between Black Muslims, Black radicals, and the Muslim Third World, showing how Black artists and activists imagined themselves not as national minorities but as part of a global majority, connected to larger communities of resistance. Daulatzai traces these interactions and alliances from the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power era to the “War on Terror,” placing them within a broader framework of American imperialism, Black identity, and the global nature of white oppression.
From Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali to contemporary artists and activists like Rakim and Mos Def, Black Star, Crescent Moon reveals how Muslim resistance to imperialism came to occupy a central position within the Black radical imagination, offering a new perspective on the political and cultural history of Black internationalism from the 1950s to the present.
"Timely and provocative, this globe-trotting book takes you down an almost forgotten road of Black freedom: the one that connects the struggles of the burning ghettos of America to the rage against imperial power in Muslim lands. Shining light on the artists and activists who helped pave that road, Black Star, Crescent Moon vividly shows that Black freedom struggles, whether through art or politics, are always global in scope. Written with an urgency that our times demand, my man Sohail does what we in hip-hop have been doing for decades: uncovering histories, drawing connections, and trying to make people move. Rebel reading for right now!" —Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def)
"Sohail Daulatzai’s Black Star, Crescent Moon is a pathbreaking, genre-shattering work of breathtaking scholarship. It is a work of poetic verve and brilliant analysis that will forever change how we view the international implications and global sites of black freedom struggles." —Michael Eric Dyson
"Black Star, Crescent Moon is a tour de force that has restored my faith in cultural studies. The book is a stunning achievement and Daulatzai reveals an intellectual virtuosity and originality few can match. His formulation of a ‘Muslim International’ alone compels us to rethink Muslim Third World opposition and its relationship to the black freedom struggle." —Robin D. G. Kelley
About the Author
Sohail Daulatzai is associate professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies and the Program in African American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. He is the co-editor of Born To Use Mics: Readings Nas’s Illmatic.