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Recasting the National Narrative

In American Founders: How People of African Descent Established Freedom in the New World (NewSouth Books), Christina Proenza-Coles ’92 calls for recasting the national narrative to recognize the rightful roles played by people of African descent.

In a book spanning five centuries and the whole of the Western Hemisphere, Proenza-Coles writes of the roles people of African descent played in establishing and defending New World settlements, in fighting for American independence, and in challenging slavery throughout the Americas by force or in the courts. She chronicles innumerable contributions made by people of African descent in the arts, medicine, industry, politics, and the sciences. And she reminds readers that “if we turn up the lights on our history, it becomes evident that people of color were there at every point, and not just as passive observers.”

“The vast number of individuals included here is overwhelming and deliberate,” writes Proenza-Coles, who holds a dual doctorate in history and sociology from the New School for Social Research. “I encourage the reader to let the sheer weight of their number, and their intricate connections to global currents of history, compel us to rethink our own history, our national narrative, and our creation myths. These black men and women are not exceptions; they are our founders.”