Speculative Stories from the 19th and early 20th Century
In the Beginning
Black speculative fiction aka AFROFuturism began before the Internet, before TV, before radio came to the masses. Stories were printed in newspapers and pamplets and distributed door to door. George S. Schuyler's stories originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Courier as a serial for over two years. His stories became so popular, that readers probably believed that Africa could conquer Europe. Pauline Hopkins writings appeared in the "Color American Magazine". Sutton Griggs delievered pampletes from horse back. He probably had to make m many hasty retreats if a white sheriff read "Imperium in Imperio". Martin Delany was a decorated U.S. military man who mapped out a revolt in his novel that he distributed to blacks who were not supposed to know how to read.
These early stories were written very differently from today's fast paced, novel to movie block busters. In earlier times, readers appreciated a slow build and detailed descriptions of the characters, their worlds and the problems they faced. These Architects of AFROFuturism paved the way for modern speculative fiction that we embraced today.
At the official end of Slavery in the United States, it was no cakewalk for freedpeople. Many whites were viciously angry at Americans of African decent who were born here and who had worked their whole lives to help build a modern nation. Lynchings, Jim Crow, and systemized racism at the local, state, and federal levels slowed most Black progress. African American communities were attacked. Contrary to popular notions, however, Black people were constantly planning and writing about building their own empires and defending their families.
Blake: Or The Huts of America
In reply to Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, in 1859 and 1862, Delany published parts of Blake: Or The Huts of America in serialized form, via paper pamplets distributed by horse and human foot power. His novel portrayed an insurrectionist's travels through slave communities in America. The hero forms an army and plans a rebellion.
Black Internationale and Black Empire were two separate newspaper serials written by George S Schuyler under the psudonym of Samuel I Brooks, from 1936 to 1938. It has been considered to be a lampoon of Marcus Garvey's back-to-Africa movement. However, Black readers at the time took it very seriously. Schuyler considered his work to be, "hokum and hack work of the purest vein." Yet, his publications offered a fantastic future with innovative technology created by Black people and most likely inspired many of our modern engineers and scientists.
Of One Blood: Or, The Hidden Self first appeared in serial form in The Colored American Magazine in the November and December 1902 and the January 1903 issues of the publication, during the four-year period in which Hopkins served as its editor. The hero of her novel is a black medical student passing for white. Yet, he has enemies close by who who know his secret and plot his downfall. He escapes to Africa and discovers a hidden, futuristic Black society that drastically changes his views on race and history.
Griggs published Imperium in 1899. It is an Afrocentric Speculative fiction novel about two brothers -- one light skin and one dark skin -- who grew up together. During the turmoil of extreme Black oppression at the end of the 19th century, one brother plots to conquer the state of Texas and create an independent Black nation on the American continent. The other brother is branded as a traitor who betrayed his people at a crucial moment in history.
Dream, Get Involved . . . This could be your biggest movement ever
It doesn't matter if you are a reader, writer, artist, producer or just black sci-fi curious . . . people of all colors and cultures are seeking diverse entertaining, educational and entreprenueurial expressions of the future which is now. Your participation keeps this AFROFuturistic movement alive. This is your call to action: Become an AFROFuturist. We are all African. Start with the FREE e-newsletter or just stay in touch. Thanks!