A Vietnamese African American: Robert S. Browne and the Antiwar Movement

Lecture Description

African American economist Robert S. Browne (1924-2004) is not widely recognized among the pantheon of black liberation movement leaders. However, during the 1960s, he was among the first to criticize American involvement in the Viet Nam War and became a major spokesperson for black separatism, reparations and decolonization. This talk draws attention to the underrecognized political vision and career of Robert S. Browne. Perhaps more importantly, a focus on Browne provides an opportunity to examine the global and personal influences on the emergence of black nationalism and internationalism during the 1960s. From 1955-1961, Browne was stationed in Cambodia and Vietnam as an economic advisor under the auspices of the U.S. government. Thus, he witnessed first hand the decolonization of these former French colonies, even as he served as an agent of American Cold War policies. In addition, Browne married a woman of Vietnamese ancestry during his stay in Southeast Asia. He and his wife subsequently raised a multi-racial family of four children in the United States as Browne transformed into an antiwar and black power advocate. Browne also developed close political ties with Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. This case study of Robert S. Browne provides an opportunity to interrogate how travel, race, and gender (specifically black masculinity and Asian femininity) shape political sensibilities and personal identity.


International Relations Social Movements

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