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Book Excerpts


From the "Introduction"
  The brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist Hubert Harrison (1883–1927) is one of the truly important, yet little known, figures of early-twentieth-century America. The historian Joel A. Rogers, in World’s Great Men of Color, describes him as "the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time” and “one of America’s greatest minds.” Rogers adds (amid insightful chapters on the early-twentieth-century Black leaders Booker T. Washington, William Monroe Trotter, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Marcus Garvey), “No one worked more seriously and indefatigably to enlighten his fellow-men” and “none of the Afro-American leaders of his time had a saner and more effective program.”

[Hubert] Harrison made his mark in the United States by struggling against class and racial oppression, by helping to create a remarkably rich and vibrant intellectual life among African Americans, and by working for the enlightened development of the lives of “the common people.” He consistently emphasized the need for working-class people to develop class consciousness; for “Negroes” to develop race consciousness, self-reliance, and self-respect; and for all those he reached to challenge white supremacy and develop modern, scientific, critical, and independent thought as a means toward liberation.

Harrison, who referred to himself as a “radical internationalist,” was extremely well-versed in history and events in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas, and Europe, and, according to Richard B. Moore, he was “above all” the militant Black socialists in his steady emphasis on “the liberation of the oppressed African and colonial peoples” as being a “vital aim.” He opposed capitalism and maintained that white supremacy was central to capitalist rule in the United States, and, more than any other political leader of his era, he combined class consciousness and anti-white-supremacist race consciousness in a coherent political radicalism.

Harrison also understood both the abuse of and the potential of “democracy” in America. He emphasized that “politically, the Negro is the touchstone of the modern democratic idea”; that “as long as the Color Line exists, all the perfumed protestations of Democracy on the part of the white race” were “downright lying”; that “the cant of ‘Democracy’ ” was “intended as dust in the eyes of white voters”; and that true democracy and equality for “Negroes” implied “a revolution . . . startling even to think of.”

Working from this theoretical framework, he was active with a wide variety of movements and organizations, and he played signal roles in the development of what were, up to that time, the largest class-radical movement (socialism) and the largest race-radical movement (the “New Negro”/​Garvey movement) in U.S. history.

His ideas on the centrality of the struggle against white supremacy anticipated the profound transformative power of the Civil Rights/​Black Liberation struggles of the 1960s, and his thoughts on “democracy in America” offer penetrating insights on the limitations and the potential of America in the twenty-first century.

Harrison served as the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician in the Socialist Party of New York during its 1912 heyday; as the founder and leading figure of the militant, World War I–era New Negro movement; and as the editor of the "Negro World" and principal radical influence on the Garvey movement (described by the historian Randall K. Burkett as “the largest mass-based protest
movement in Black American history”) during its radical high point in 1920.

His views on race and class profoundly influenced a generation of New Negro militants, including the class-radical socialists A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen, the future communists Cyril Briggs and Richard B. Moore, and the race-radical Marcus Garvey.

From the Book's Epigraph


Harrison on "the touchstone of the modern democratic idea"
  "Politically, the Negro is the touchstone of the modern democratic idea. The presence of the Negro puts our democracy to the proof and reveals the falsity of it. . . . [True democracy and equality implies] a revolution . . . startling even to think of."—Hubert Harrison, New York Call

Harrison on the Color Line and the "cant of 'Democracy'"
  "As long as the Color Line exists, all the perfumed protestations of Democracy on the part of the white race must be simply downright lying. The cant of 'Democracy' is intended as dust in the eyes of white voters . . . It furnishes bait for the clever statesmen." --Hubert Harrison, New Negro

Harrison on "democracy" and war
  "During the war the idea of democracy was widely advertised, especially in the English-speaking world, mainly as a convenient camouflage behind which competing imperialists masked their sordid aims. . . . those who so loudly proclaimed and formulated the new democratic demands never had the slightest intention of extending the limits or the applications of 'democracy.'" —Hubert Harrison, When Africa Awakes

Harrison on America's as "a great experiment in democracy"
 "[America is a] great experiment in democracy . . . unique in the history of the world . . . . And the great American experiment is to determine for the future whether we can make out of the welter of races and nations one people, one culture, one democracy. It is confessedly a hard task, but it can be done, and the grounds of this faith rest on the known facts of the present and the past." --Hubert Harrison, Amsterdam News

TABLE OF CONTENTS

List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgments

A Note on Usage

Introduction

Part I. Intellectual Growth and Development

1. Crucian Roots (1883–1900)

2. Self-Education, Early Writings, and the Lyceums (1900–1907)

3. In Full-Touch with the Life of My People (1907–1909)

4. Secular Thought, Radical Critiques, and Criticism of Booker T. Washington (1905–1911)

Part II. Socialist Radical

5. Hope in Socialism (1911)

6. Socialist Writer and Speaker (1912)

7. Dissatisfaction with the Party (1913–1914)

8. Toward Independence (1914–1915)

Part III. The "New Negro Movement"

9. Focus on Harlem: The Birth of the "New Negro Movement" (1915–1917)

10. Founding the Liberty League and "The Voice" (April–September 1917)

11. Race-Conscious Activism and Organizational Difficulties (August–December 1917)

12. The Liberty Congress and the Resurrection of "The Voice" (January–July 1918)

Appendix: Harrison on His Character

Abbreviations

Notes

Select Bibliography

Index


Ilva Harrison
Hubert Harrison's granddaughter
and Isa Anate
recommend "Hubert Harrison:
The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918"


Remains of Big House on Estate Concordia where Hubert Harrison was born. Courtesy of Stephanie Hanlon, "St. Croix Avis," August 18, 2009.

Remains of Sugar Mill on Estate Concordia where Hubert Harrison was born. Courtesy of Stephanie Hanlon, "St. Croix Avis," August 18, 2009.

Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918



“Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism”
Slide Presentation/​Talk by Jeffrey B. Perry
Dudley Public Library, Roxbury, Massachusetts, February 15, 2014


The event was hosted by Mimi Jones and sponsored by Friends of the Dudley Library, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, and Massachusetts Global Action. Contact people included Mirna Lascano, Umang Kumar, Paul Malachi Penchalapadu, and Charlie Welch in addition to Mimi.

Video Prepared by Boston Neighborhood News TV’s “Around Town” -- Channel: Comcast 9 /​ RCN 15 Justin D. Shannahan, Production Manager, Ted Lewis, cameraman, and Laura Kerivan, copy editor for Boston Neighborhood Network Television. Nia Grace, Marketing and Promotions Manager of BNNTV, and Scott Mercer, of BNNTV, coordinated efforts to make the video available.

For additional information on Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE
and CLICK HERE

Note: The presentation and Question and Answer period lasted over 2 hours. The TV station edited it down to this length. There was much more presentation and discussion. Also, the crowd was remarkable since the event was at the highpoint of the winter’s big snowstorm, the governor was telling people to stay off the roads, and the public library closed early (only leaving a door open to the auditorium where this event was held). Those who made it to and stayed through the event were determined and this was manifested in their interest during the presentation, the lengthy Q and A period (some of which was cut), and much informal discussion that went on into the evening.





“The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” by Jeffrey B. Perry is now available at http://www.jeffreybperry.net/works.htm (top left)

This is a pre-publication version of an article that will appear online in "Cultural Logic"

Considered more race conscious than A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen and more class conscious than Marcus Garvey, Hubert Harrison is the key link in the ideological unity of the two great trends of the Black Liberation Movement—the labor and civil rights trend associated with Martin Luther King Jr., and the race and nationalist trend associated with Malcolm X. (Randolph and Garvey were, respectively, the direct links to King marching on Washington, with Randolph at his side, and to Malcolm, whose father was a Garveyite preacher and whose mother was a writer for Garvey’s Negro World, speaking militantly and proudly on Harlem’s Lenox Avenue.)

As the center of national Black leadership shifted from Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee, Alabama, headquarters to New York City in the era of the First World War, Harlem increasingly became an “international Negro Mecca” and “the center of radical Black thought.” In this period, Harrison earned the title, ascribed to him by A. Philip Randolph and others, “the father of Harlem radicalism.”

During the 1910s and 1920s he was either the creator, or among the founders, of “almost every important development originating in Negro Harlem — from the Negro Manhood Movement to political representation in public office, from collecting Negro books to speaking on the streets, from demanding Federal control over lynching to agitation for Negroes on the police force.” He was also a key figure in developing Caribbean radicalism; he exhibited a rare willingness to learn from the peoples and cultures of Africa; and his (often unattributed) ideas and writings from this period significantly shaped the contours of radical Black thought on matters of race and class in the twentieth century.

Harrison was not only a political radical, however. Rogers described him as an “Intellectual Giant and Free-Lance Educator,” whose contributions were wide-ranging, innovative, and influential.

He was an immensely skilled and popular orator and educator who spoke or read six languages; a highly praised journalist, critic, and book reviewer (reportedly the first regular Black book reviewer in history); a pioneer Black activist in the freethought and birth-control movements; a bibliophile, library builder, and library popularizer who helped develop the 135th Street Public Library into an international center for research in Black culture; and a promoter and aid to Black writers and artists, including the authors J. A. Rogers and Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (the first secretary-general of the South African Native National Congress, the forerunner of the African National Congress); the poets Claude McKay, Andy Razaf, Walter Everette Hawkins, and Lucian B. Watkins; the sculptor Augusta Savage; the actor Charles Gilpin; and the musician Eubie Blake. In his later years he was the leading Black lecturer for the New York City Board of Education and one of its foremost orators.

Though he was a trailblazing literary critic in Harlem during the period known as the Harlem Renaissance, he questioned the “Renaissance” concept on the grounds of its willingness to take “standards of value ready-made from white society” and on its claim to being a significant new rebirth. (He maintained that “there had been an uninterrupted,” though ignored, “stream of literary and artistic products” flowing “from Negro writers from 1850” into the 1920s.)

VIDEO


Jeffrey B. Perry and Laura Flanders discuss Hubert Harrison on Grit-TV, July 1, 2009.



Jeffrey B. Perry discusses Hubert Harrison at the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge, Mass., 16 February 2014.



Hubert Harrison, (1883-1927) was an immensely skilled writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist who, more than any other political leader of his era, combined class consciousness and anti-white-supremacist race consciousness into a coherent political radicalism. The St. Croix, Virgin Islands-born and Harlem-based Harrison profoundly influenced "New Negro" militants, including A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey, and his synthesis of class and race issues is a key unifying link between the two great trends of the Black Liberation Movement: the labor- and civil-rights-based work of Martin Luther King Jr. and the race and nationalist work associated with Malcolm X.

Harrison played unique, signal roles in the largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical movement (the New Negro/​Garvey) movement of his era. He was the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician of the Socialist Party of New York, the founder of the "New Negro" movement, the editor of the "Negro World," and the principal radical influence on the Garvey movement. A self-described, "radical internationalist," he was also a highly praised journalist and critic (reportedly the first regular Black book reviewer), a postal labor unionist, a union organizer (with both the Hotel Workers and the Pullman Porters), an IWW supporter, a speaker at the 1913 Paterson strike, a freethinker and early proponent of birth control, a supporter of Black writers and artists, a leading community-based public intellectual, an adult education lecturer for the New York City Board of Education, and a bibliophile who helped transform the 135th Street Public Library into an international center for research in Black culture (known today as the world-famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). His biography offers profound insights on race, class, religion, immigration, war, democracy, and social change in America.

For more information on Jeff Perry's work, see his website.


Jeffrey B. Perry on Hubert Harrison, Theodore W. Allen and the "white race" as a ruling class social control formation.
Interview conducted by Ingemar Smith at Morehouse College, March 4, 2010.





Bernard White, former program manager at WBAI Radio (99.5 FM) in New York, interviews author Jeffrey B. Perry on Hubert Harrison, “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (Columbia University Press), Theodore W. Allen, “The Invention of the White Race,” and the centrality of the struggle against white supremacy. This video of almost 44 minutes was filmed on October 28, 2010 at the Brecht Forum in New York and prepared by Marlowe Mason.

For additional information on “Hubert Harrison the Voice of Harlem Radicalism” Click Here

Jeffrey B. Perry discusses "A Hubert Harrison Reader" with host Stella Winston of "Straight Up!" for Brooklyn Cable TV, June 14, 2002.



Jeffrey B. Perry on Hubert Harrison. Interview conducted by Ed Buckner of the American Atheists on March 31, 2010.

#722 Jeff Perry Interview from American Atheists on Vimeo.




This Spanish language (with English subtitles) tribute to Hubert Harrison was done by Pablo Ferrer in Puerto Rico.
Daniel Rodriguez Torres assisted with the subtitles. The video was produced by Pablo Zulu and Africana Sights and Sounds from the Soul.


Hubert Harrison
Brilliant Intellectual and Radical Activist
Presentation by Jeffrey B. Perry
AFSCME, District Council 37, NY, January 27, 2010




Presentation on Hubert Harrison as a brilliant intellectual and radical activist by Jeffrey B. Perry.
A 10-minute segment from a longer presentation at AFCSME, District Council 37 headquarters in New York City, January 27, 2010.



AUDIO




Jeffrey B. Perry interview/discussion with host Hugh Hamilton on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” (Verso Books) and on Hubert Harrison “The Father of Harlem Radicalism.” WBAI Radio (99.5 FM, NYC) Broadcast, Thursday, March 14, 2013 from 4 to 5 PM. To listen please go HERE -- (to the second hour of the two-hour radio program) [Special thanks to Michael G. Haskins for his assistance with this program]

Host Allen Ruff interview with guest Jeffrey B. Perry on A Public Affair, WORT 89.9 FM Madison, Wisconsin, July 10, 2014. . They discussed the life and work of Hubert Harrison (“The Father of Harlem Radicalism"), the work of Theodore W. Allen (author of “The Invention of the White Race”), and the centrality of the struggle against white supremacy. Listen HERE





Jeffrey B. Perry discusses "Hubert Harrison: 'The Father of Harlem Radicalism" ( part 1 of 2 ) with host Utrice Leid on her show “Leid Stories” on the Progressive Radio Network. September 12, 2013.



Jeffrey B. Perry discusses "Hubert Harrison: 'The Father of Harlem Radicalism" ( part 2 of 2 ) with host Utrice Leid on her show “Leid Stories” on the Progressive Radio Network. September 13, 2013.



October 12, 2013, Jeffrey B. Perry discussion on "Hubert Harrison, "The Father of Harlem Radicalism, and his grandson Ray Richardson, the former Black Power producer of Boston's prime time "Say Brother" Television Program (who died under suspicious circumstances in Mexico in 1971)" with host Janice Graham on Our Common Ground on Blog Talk Radio.


May 11, 2013, Jeffrey B. Perry, interviewed by Navid Nasr for "Bullet Points" on Voices of the 99% Blog Talk Radio.


PHOTOS


Hubert Harrison's Family and the Hubert Harrison Papers at Coplumbia University




Hubert Harrison's grand-children Ilva Harrison and Charles Richardson, great-grand-daughter Yvette Richardson Hudson, and great-great-grandaughter with Jean Aston at a ceremony marking the placement of The Hubert H. Harrison Papers at Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

In-between two Hubert Harrison events at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts.





Professor Ousmane Power-Greene (behind microphone), Jeffrey B. Perry, and students and faculty at Clark University in-between two Hubert Harrison events at Clark. Professor Power-Greene will be speaking on Harrison with Perry and others at the upcoming 94th Convention of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in Cincinnati on October 4, 2009, and at the upcoming North American Labor History Conference 2009 at Wayne State University in Detroit on October 23, 2009.

Hubert Harrison Featured at Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund Event





Some of the speakers at the annual Davis-Putter Scholarship Event in New York on (April 16, 2009) at which there was a featured presentation on Hubert Harrison.

Hubert Harrison's Grandson Charles Richardson at the Hubert Harrison Proclamation Ceremony





Hubert Harrison's Grandson Charles Richardson addresses the audience at the packed St. Mary's Church in Harlem on May 31, 2009 as he receives a posthumous New York City Council Resolution (initiated by Councilman Charles Barron) honoring Hubert Harrison. Seated on the stage are Ilva Harrison (Hubert Harrison's grand-daughter on the left) and Nellie Bailey, director of the Harlem Tenants Council (a driving force in the Proclamation effort).

Hubert Harrison's family and biographer with New York City Council Proclamation posthumously honoring Harrison outside St. Mary's Church (126th St., New York, NY) on May 31, 2009.





Charles Richardson (Hubert Harrison's grandson), Ilva Harrison (Hubert Harrison's granddaughter), Onaje Allan Gumbs (nephew of Hubert Harrison's daughter-in-law), Jeffrey B. Perry, Yvette N. Richardson-Hudson (Hubert Harrison's great-granddaughter), and Yvette's two daughters (Hubert Harrison's great-great-granddaughters) at the May 31, 2009 Ceremony presenting a City Council Resolution posthumously honoring Hubert Harrison. From the Whitnie Payne photo album.

Hubert Harrison's Family





Hubert Harrison's grandson, Charles Richardson, great grand-daughter, Yvette Richardson Hudson, and grandaughters at the Hubert Harrison Proclamation Ceremony, May 31, 2009 at St. Mary's Church in Harlem.

At the African American Heritage Center of the Macon Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.





Activist David Williams with Jeffrey B. Perry on the night of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison at the African American Heritage Center at the Macon Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, June 23, 2009.

Hubert Harrison at the Harlem Book Fair





Akua Gyamerah, Jeffrey B. Perry, and two friends with new copies of "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" at the Harlem Book Fair, July 18, 2009.

At the Hubert Harrison Display at the Harlem Book Fair





Jeffrey B. Perry, activist/educator Brian Jones, and a friend in front of the Hubert Harrison Display at the Haymarket Tent at the Harlem Book Fair on July 18, 2009.

Ilva Harrison (Hubert Harrison's grand-daughter), author Jeffrey B. Perry, and a friend at the Harlem Book Fair, July 18, 2009.

Hubert Harrison with the Kochiyamas in California




Yuri Kochiyama (seated), Eddie Kochiyama (on left), and Audee Kochiyama proudly hold their copies of "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" while Karl Jagbandhansingh displays a Hubert Harrison flyer in Oakland, California on July 26, 2009.

Younger scholars such as Rhone Frazer are paying particular attention to the life and work of Hubert Harrison







An increasing number of younger scholars are focusing on the life and work of Hubert Harrison. Rhone Frazer (pictured here with biographer Jeffrey B. Perry), is a Yale graduate and Ph. D. candidate at Temple (where he studies under Muhammad Ahmad). Rhone is writing a play in which a character, drawn from the life of Hubert Harrison, plays a central role. This photo was taken after an interview session at Columbia University on August 9, 2009.

At the Brooklyn Book Festival, September 13, 2009 with Sharese Porter and Ali McBride















The author with Sharese Porter and Ali McBride at the Brooklyn Book Festival, Borough Hall Brooklyn, September 13, 2009

Attendees at Presentation on Hubert Harrison at Red Emmas' Bookstore, Baltimore, Maryland, September 1, 2009







Attendees listening to and watching a talk/slide presentation on Hubert Harrison at Red Emmas Bookstore in Baltimore Maryland, September 1, 2009

Center for Inquiry
Harlem Branch
September 27, 2009






Some of the attendees at the Hubert Harrison Presentation before the Center for Inquiry - Harlem Branch, in the New York State Office Building, September 27, 2009.

Left to right -- Hubert Harrison biographer Jeffrey B. Perry, photographer Ed Tellis, and speaker Charles Richardson (Hubert Harrison's grandson).




At Eso Won Books, Los Angeles, October 13, 2009. Left to right -- Hubert Harrison biographer Jeffrey B. Perry, photographer Ed Tellis, and speaker Charles Richardson (Hubert Harrison's grandson).

October 29, 2009, at the University of Wisconsin - Madison






Some of the attendees at the Hubert Harrison Presentation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on October 29, 2009. The Hubert Harrison event was sponsored by the Rainbow Book Cooperative, The Havens Center, the Harvey Goldberg Center for the Study of Contemporary History, University of Wisconsin, Solidarity - Madison, International Socialist Organization, Socialist Party, and the Afro-American Studies, History, and Sociology Departments of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Hubert Harrison:
The Voice of
Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918

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