Fear of a Black Nation

Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal

Reviewed by Danelle Cloutier

September 19, 2013

The fact that French and British settlers colonized Quebec is part of what makes it an interesting location for the discussion of race and social politics — even more so because Montreal was a prominent site for the black power movement in the 1960s.

Author David Austin, a humanities, philosophy, and religion educator at Montreal’s John Abbott College, takes readers to the heart of this movement in Fear of a Black Nation. In this era of global protests by marginalized groups, Austin recounts how people exercised their right for freedom while navigating colonization, slavery, and dehumanization.

Austin focuses on two events that were pivotal to advancing black politics in Montreal and places them within the framework of
global race politics during the 1960s. He concentrates on the Congress of Black Writers, a gathering of radical figures during the height of rigorous debate over black culture, politics, and identity, and the Sir George Williams affair, a protest and occupation that caused the university (now Concordia University) to implement regulations and rights for students.

Through interviews and archival research, Austin builds a historic narrative that’s a reflection of how race, gender, and security shape our daily lives today.

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