Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Michele Brattain - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Jacqueline Ann Rouse - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Dr. Mohammed Ali - Committee Member


This thesis compares how Lilian Ngoyi of South Africa and Fannie Lou Hamer of the United States crafted political identities and assumed powerful leadership, respectively, in struggles against racial oppression via the African National Congress and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. The study asserts that Ngoyi and Hamer used alternative sources of personal power which arose from their location in the intersecting social categories of culture, gender and class. These categories challenge traditional disciplinary boundaries and complicate any analysis of political economy, state power relations and black liberation studies which minimize the contributions of women. Also, by analyzing resistance leadership squarely within both African and North American contexts, this thesis answers the call of scholar Patrick Manning for a “homeland and diaspora” model which positions Africa itself within the historiography of transnational academic debates.

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