Rights, Race, and the Beginnings of Modern Africana Philosophy
This chapter explores the race-modernity connection by examining key moments in the history of philosophical thought in Africa and the African diaspora. It discusses four thinkers who can be viewed as founding figures of modern Africana philosophy, drawing attention to the ways in which the concept of rights can be seen as significant for each of them. The four thinkers are Zera Yacob, Anton Wilhelm Amo, Lemuel Haynes, and Quobna Ottobah. Zera Yacob's Ethiopia exemplifies the distinctiveness of this period as an era of global history. Amo was raised, educated, and worked as a philosopher within the Holy Roman Empire, that conglomeration of mainly Germanic territories that is often traced back to the rule of Charlemagne in the ninth century and which lasted until the Napoleonic Wars at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Haynes's most famous sermon, delivered in 1805, was a stinging rebuke of the Unitarian Universalism of his contemporary, Hosea Ballou.