The Sons of Sheba's Race: African-Americans and the Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935-1941 illustrates the response to the Italo-Ethiopian War of people of color who linked the Ethiopian struggle to their own battles against racism and imperialism. William R. Scott demonstrates the significance of Ethiopia as a historical symbol for African-Americans. They prayed, preached, and protested to help save the world's last outpost of authentic black rule from white control. The African-American response to the Italian invasion of Ethiopia provides a picture of black intellectual thought in America in the 1930s.
William R. Scott challenges the view that the Great Depression virtually ended support for black nationalism, showing that elements of the nationalist creed remained crucial to black American ideology a decade after the decline of Garveyism and contributed to African-American sympathy for Ethiopia. Scott focuses on the pro-Ethiopian activities of the Harlem united front, which brought together black nationalists, communists, and civil rights moderates. He shows the extensive elite and grassroots interest in Ethiopia's fate and the widespread recognition that Ethiopia's independence was extremely important to black racial pride. The book also cogently examines the issue of Ethiopian racial identity, the controversy over this issue, and its effect on African-American support for the Ethiopian cause.
Pan-Africanism, Africa and African-American relations, and the role of the religiopolitical concept of Ethiopianism all came into play in the doomed efforts to assist Ethiopia in its struggle against fascist tyranny. Scott concludes that black poverty and powerlessness impeded black American efforts to assist Ethiopia, but that prodigious pro-Ethiopian activism produced important new appreciations of Africa, the Western powers, and world race relations among the black American masses.