chapter  4
“Not Valid for Spain”
Pan-Africanism, Sanctuary, and the Spanish Civil War
WithKaren W. Martin
Pages 18

This chapter analyzes the motives that led African Americans to participate in the Spanish Civil War as members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. According to Martin, crucial to the mobilization of black brigadiers was the connection they established between European fascism and US white supremacy. A second triggering factor was Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia (1935), which prompted a Pan-African commitment to fighting fascism in that African country, and forged a link between opposing Italian fascism in Ethiopia and combating the Francoist forces in the Spanish Civil War. Drawing on different testimonials, Martin also examines the meaning of this war experience for African Americans. In their recollections, Spain is portrayed as a sanctuary that allowed them to enjoy a feeling of liberation from US racism, and gave them a sense of agency, self-determination, and identification with the global community.