The Pan African Congress

In autumn 1918, W.E.B. DuBois asked the board of directors of the NAACP to intervene for colonized Africans at the Versailles peace talks after World War I.The NAACP board sent DuBois to France to attempt some intervention in the peace talks but principally, to pull together a Pan-African Congress, a major meeting of the peoples of the Diaspora.  Blaise Diagne, a Senegalese who had organized African troops for France, worked with DuBois on the conference, and convinced the French government to permit the Congress to take place in Paris. Delegates from Africa, Western Europe, the West Indies and North America attended the Pan-African Congress in February 1919. They agreed to pressure the Allies to acknowledge the needs and desires of people in former German colonies. They also agreed with DuBois that “one of the surest methods of calling the attention of the Delegates at the Peace Table to the condition of colored people everywhere will be to make an issue of the future status of the African colonies.”

At the Congress, Addie Hunton of the National Association of Colored Women “spoke of the importance of women in the world’s reconstruction and regeneration,” DuBois wrote, “and of the necessity of seeking their cooperation and counsel.”  The Congress’s resolutions indicate that Mrs. Hunton and other delegates supported the right of self-determination for people of African descent; American or European foreign aid to African people in need; and civil rights and the franchise for educated people of the Diaspora.