Research Publication Title

The Nuwaubian Nation: The Culture of Religious Black Separatism

Major

English Literature (both authors)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Katie Simon

Keywords

nuwaubian nation, black separatism, religious separatism, black nationalism, 20th century

Abstract

The Nuwaubian Nation is a religious, black separatist group formed in Brooklyn, New York in the early 1970s. Led by Dr. Dwight York, the Nuwaubians underwent a number of doctrinal and locational changes over the course of their movement. While themes of black separatism and spirituality remained at the core of the movement, the Nuwaubians additionally traversed eras encompassing Islam, Hebrew iconography, Afrofuturism, and even, following their relocation from Brooklyn to Eatonton, Georgia, claimed Creek heritage and political autonomy under the identity. Over the course of their history, the Nuwaubians made several interesting claims to separatism and autonomy, within the context of both their black identity and their religious beliefs. Through an examination of scholarly, periodical and archival sources, this project aims to explore the Nuwaubians as a specific example of a culturally and religiously motivated separatist group. This examination of the Nuwaubians has provided a case study for examining the way in which separatist claims develop and evolve within a group that itself experiences numerous doctrinal and iconographic changes over the course of its active period. By examining these apparent ideological changes in conjunction with the group's political and separatist ambitions, we propose that the Nuwaubians suggest a unique relationship between spiritual, political and social ideology, in which the ostensible inconsistencies and rapid changes that the group undergoes rather suggests the nature of separatism itself. Separatism is a messy process, and it must be a live process, one not prone to or capable of stagnation. By constantly reforming and reasserting their boundaries and their own claims to a separate and autonomous society, the Nuwaubian group demonstrates this concept extensively, while still remaining dedicated to this core desire of religious, black separatism.

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The Nuwaubian Nation: The Culture of Religious Black Separatism

The Nuwaubian Nation is a religious, black separatist group formed in Brooklyn, New York in the early 1970s. Led by Dr. Dwight York, the Nuwaubians underwent a number of doctrinal and locational changes over the course of their movement. While themes of black separatism and spirituality remained at the core of the movement, the Nuwaubians additionally traversed eras encompassing Islam, Hebrew iconography, Afrofuturism, and even, following their relocation from Brooklyn to Eatonton, Georgia, claimed Creek heritage and political autonomy under the identity. Over the course of their history, the Nuwaubians made several interesting claims to separatism and autonomy, within the context of both their black identity and their religious beliefs. Through an examination of scholarly, periodical and archival sources, this project aims to explore the Nuwaubians as a specific example of a culturally and religiously motivated separatist group. This examination of the Nuwaubians has provided a case study for examining the way in which separatist claims develop and evolve within a group that itself experiences numerous doctrinal and iconographic changes over the course of its active period. By examining these apparent ideological changes in conjunction with the group's political and separatist ambitions, we propose that the Nuwaubians suggest a unique relationship between spiritual, political and social ideology, in which the ostensible inconsistencies and rapid changes that the group undergoes rather suggests the nature of separatism itself. Separatism is a messy process, and it must be a live process, one not prone to or capable of stagnation. By constantly reforming and reasserting their boundaries and their own claims to a separate and autonomous society, the Nuwaubian group demonstrates this concept extensively, while still remaining dedicated to this core desire of religious, black separatism.