Airlift to America: How Barack Obama, Sr., John F. Kennedy, Tom Mboya, and 800 East African Students Changed Their World and Ours

Airlift to America: How Barack Obama, Sr., John F. Kennedy, Tom Mboya, and 800 East African Students Changed Their World and Ours

by Tom Shachtman

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Overview

This is the long-hidden saga of how a handful of Americans and East Africans fought the British colonial government, the U.S. State Department, and segregation to transport to, or support at, U.S. and Canadian universities, between 1959 and 1963, nearly 800 young East African men and women who would go on to change their world and ours. The students supported included Barack Obama Sr., future father of a U.S. president, Wangari Maathai, future Nobel Peace Prize laureate, as well as the nation-builders of post-colonial East Africa — cabinet ministers, ambassadors, university chancellors, clinic and school founders.

The airlift was conceived by the unusual partnership of the charismatic, later-assassinated Kenyan Tom Mboya and William X. Scheinman, a young American entrepreneur, with supporting roles played by Jackie Robinson, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The airlift even had an impact on the 1960 presidential race, as Vice-President Richard Nixon tried to muscle the State Department into funding the project to prevent Senator Jack Kennedy from using his family foundation to do so and reaping the political benefit.

The book is based on the files of the airlift's sponsor, the African American Students Foundation, untouched for almost fifty years.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312570750
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 09/15/2009
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.58(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Tom Shachtman is an author, filmmaker, and educator. He has written or co-authored more than thirty books, as well documentaries for ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS, and has taught at major universities. Publishers Weekly lauded his most recent book, RUMSPRINGA: TO BE OR NOT TO BE AMISH (North Point Press/Farrar Straus) as "not only one of the most absorbing books ever written about the Plain People, but a perceptive snapshot of the larger culture in which they live and move

Read an Excerpt

From the Prologue:

“As with the story of [Barack] Obama’s rise, the [1959-1963] airlifts were an expression of a quintessentially American trait, an aspect of what America had so consistently offered to the peoples of the rest of the world: an open, helping hand, and the experience and understanding of what it means to be free, to be educated, and to conceive personal dreams that have a substantial chance of being realized.

This book tells that story, recounting the creation, execution, and achievements of those airlifts, including their important effects on the presidential elections of 1960 and 2008, as well as on the integration of American campuses, on the way that foreign students were recruited for the U.S. and treated once here, and on the health and survival of the independent nations of East Africa in their most formative years.”

Table of Contents

Foreword by Harry Belafonte,
Prologue Iowa and Kogelo,
1 Cold War and Moral Crusades,
2 American Labor and the Rise of Tom Mboya,
3 Alliance Formed,
4 The Harambee Kids,
5 The College Experience,
6 Crisis Time: Kennedy Versus Nixon on the Airlifts,
7 The Airlift and the Presidential Election of 1960,
8 Care and Feeding,
9 A Logical Evolution,
Epilogue Sons and Daughters of the New Future,
Acknowledgments,
Bibliography,
Index,

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