My reading of Peculiar Rhetoric was framed by three events that transpired in the second half of 2019. First was the passing of Toni Morrison at eighty-eight; second was the 400th anniversary of the first sale (into enslavement) of Africans in what would become the United States of America; and the third was the first conference held by the post-Black African-American movement called the American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) at Simmons College, a historically Black college in Kentucky.1

The significance of each of these occasions owes, in part, to their involvement in a discursive formation designated in Morrison’s (1992) Playing in the Dark as “American-Africanism” (6). Defined as “a nonwhite, Africanlike (or Africanist) presence or persona” (Morrison 1992, 6) in American literature, American-Africanism is a central theme in Peculiar Rhetoric. Rather than merely marking the articulation of American-Africanism in nineteenth-century debates about American colonization, the...

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