What Does it Mean to be a Citizen?

What Does it Mean to be a Citizen? The Past and Present of the New Afrikan Independence Movement
Edward Onaci

Saturday, July 17, 10AM-1 PM EST.
(See time zone converter if you’re in a different location to make sure you get the time right.)

On March 31, 1968, over 500 Black nationalists convened in Detroit to begin the process of securing independence from the United States. Many concluded that Black Americans’ best remaining hope for liberation was the creation of a sovereign nation-state, the Republic of New Afrika (RNA). New Afrikan citizens traced boundaries that encompassed a large portion of the South—including South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana—as part of their demand for reparation. As champions of these goals, they framed their struggle as one that would allow the descendants of enslaved people to choose freely whether they should be citizens of the United States. The struggle to “Free the Land” remains active to this day.

Considering these ambitious goals, one may ask what does it mean to be a citizen? To what degree has the development of United States citizenship been a project of class and race-based exclusions? What merit is there in attempting to “matter” within a seemingly exclusive society as opposed to fighting to create a new one? We will explore these questions and others as we examine the history of the New Afrikan Independence Movement and consider its continued relevance to issues facing the United States in the present moment.

In order to contribute to this conversation, seminar participants will engage with key portions of Onaci’s book, Free the Land, as well as video from the New Afrikan Independence Movement and relevant current events.


  • Chapters 1 and 2 in Free the Land (Chapter 1 link, Chapter PDF). Participants can order the entire book from UNC Press and get 40% off.
  • In addition, Dr. Onaci requests that everyone watch part one and part two of a video that features Chokwe Lumumba explaining some RNA history.

Facilitator: Edward Onaci is an Associate Professor of History and African American & Africana Studies at Ursinus College. He is the author of Free the Land: The Republic of New Afrika and the Pursuit of a Black Nation-State, which was released with the University of North Carolina Press in 2020. The book explores the history of the New Afrikan Independence Movement and the lived experience of revolutionary activism.

Seminar Cost:

  • $30 – Member Ticket for Incite Seminars Patreon Supporters at any level
  • $45 – Non-Member (True Cost) Ticket
  • $90 – Generous Supporter Ticket
  • $15 – Student/Contingent Scholar/Activist Ticket
  • Solidarity pay-what-you-can tickets are also available for those who cannot afford any of the above tiers. Please email us.


Please register by buying a ticket at our Eventbrite page. We are committed to making all our offerings accessible to those who are eager to learn, regardless of financial means. If you have any questions or concerns, please email inciteseminarsphila@gmail.com.

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