Black Star, Crescent Moon

Black Star, Crescent MoonIn 1962, Malcolm X said “the same rebellion, the same impatience, the same anger that exists in the hearts of the dark people in Africa and Asia, is existing in the hearts and minds of 20 million black people in this country who have been just thoroughly colonized as the people in Africa and Asia.” Fifty years later, in 2012, with a Black President who’s middle name is Hussein as the face of American empire, Muslim hip-hop artists such as Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) and Lupe Fiasco have continued to carry on Malcolm’s legacy of Black internationalism in their music, connecting racism in the U.S. with American war abroad against Muslims and other non-white peoples in a post-9/11 world.

As Sohail Daulatzai reveals in Black Star, Crescent Moon, Islam and the struggles in the Muslim Third World have played a central role in shaping the Black radical imagination throughout the 20th century and the global struggle against imperialism. Whether it be through Malcolm X or Muhammad Ali, the poets of the Black Arts Movement or jazz musicians, Black Power activists or filmmakers, novelists or hip-hop artists, Daulatzai tells the story of how through what he calls the Muslim International, Black artists and activists linked discontent and unrest in Harlem, Los Angeles and Chicago to the anti-imperialist movements of the Muslim Third World for inspiration and solidarity in their struggles for social justice.

By resurrecting a past when the national liberation struggles in the Muslim Third World occupied a central place within the Black radical imagination, Black Star, Crescent Moon explores the significance of this forgotten history for contemporary politics and arts when Black artists and activists imagined themselves not as national minorities but as a part of a global majority.

 Timely and provocative, this globe-trotting and mind-blowing 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 Daulatzai 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), hip-hop artist and actor

Black Star, Crescent Moon is a tour de force, a stunning achievement, blending literature, film, hip hop, political and social critique, Daulatzai reveals an intellectual virtuosity and originality few can match. And 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, Professor of History, UCLA and author of Thelonious Monk: Life and Times of an American Original, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, and Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times.

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