The only traces of Etta Moten Barnett’s 1950s–’60s radio program, I Remember When, exist on well-worn cassette tapes (recently digitized) at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. On these tapes are the only traces of not only Moten Barnett’s own career but also the immense network of activists, educators, and Pan-Africanists with whom she interacted. Many of them are now long forgotten or exist in the footnotes of better-known figures (often their husbands). What could be considered a project of recovery is also a project of tracing the use Black women made of radio broadcasting. I Remember When also provides an intriguing counternarrative to existing scholarship on Cold War radio history, which instead of looking West to East and from the perspective of government propaganda, now traces the networks across the diaspora in the struggle for independence and self-determination. Bringing the focus to Etta Moten Barnett and other Black women in radio raises questions about their stake in citizenship and political solidarity in this period. Through transcribing original broadcast recordings, and reading correspondence and newspaper articles, this paper documents the process of recovery, the cultural connections between women across the African diaspora, and their formation of a global Black community.
Sounding Off: Etta Moten Barnett’s Archive, Diaspora, and Radio Activism in the Cold War
Angela Tate is a PhD candidate in history, with a specialization in African American & African Diaspora cultural studies. Her research focuses on Black women's activism in art and performance across the United States, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Angela Tate; Sounding Off: Etta Moten Barnett’s Archive, Diaspora, and Radio Activism in the Cold War. Resonance 1 September 2021; 2 (3): 395–410. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/res.2021.2.3.395
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