For those interested in probing Theodore W. Allen'sThe Invention of the White Race Volume 2: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America, The Expanded Index (Draft, vol. 2, part 1) may prove useful. More of the expanded indexing for these important volumes will follow.
[Vol. II of “The Invention of the White Race”]
1 Edw. VI 3 (1547) Vagrancy Act of 1547 20-23
5 & 6 Edw. VI 5 (1551) Tillage 283n18
43 Eliz. 2, (1601) Poor Law: as social control 24-6; right to pay and to leave employment 26
Abbot, Elizabeth 96
Abolition: abolitionist movement 280n66; of slavery 237, 253
absentee landlords 299nn 59-61
Accomack County 157, 161, 166, 180, 335n22: plot 155, 327n51
“Act concerning Servants and Slaves” (1705) 250-1: and establishment of racial oppression and “white race” 272-4; as ruling class manipulation 253
Act “directing the trial of Slaves . . . and for the better government of Negroes, Mulattos, and Indians bond or free” (1723) 241-2, 250-1
Act of Union of England and Scotland (1707) 349n2
Act repealing ban on slavery in Georgia (1750) 253
Adams, William 156
“Address from the People of Ireland to Their Countrymen and Countrywomen in America”
admiralty-type case 180
adulterie/adultery 129, 288n91, 318nn 85, 89
Adventurers 53-4, 63-4, 109, 206, 299n60
African-American bond-laborers: abuse of 141, 323nn 183, 188; arrivals without indentures 179; in Bacon’s Rebellion, joint struggle with European-American bond-laborers for freedom 211, 248, 346n93, not motivated by anti-Indian interests 330n23; barter by 322n167; bastardy laws and 134; collaboration with European-American bond-laborers in actions against their bondage 148-162, 188, readiness to make common cause 161; colonists fear of, uniting with Indians 42; denied right to bear arms 199; direct action with others by running away 188; Elizabeth Key case 194-9; evangelical questions and objections 191-2; John Punch case 178-80; lifetime chattel bond-servitude imposed on, preceded by chattel bond-servitude of European-Americans 300n67; livestock confiscated 250; marriage and freedom 318n77; Maryland slave-owners deliberately foster marriage of male, to European-American women 134, 320n126; number 123-4, 211, 316n40; plots to escape 219, (1722) 242; preamble to South Carolina slave law 293n72; pressure to reduce to lifetime hereditary bond-servitude 123-4, 187-8, challenged 180, 188-91; prohibition from setting free 249, 359n61; punishment for running away 187; rebelliousness of 340n118, 223; in skilled positions 354n97; some owners encourage social mobility and expiration of servitude 193; threat of alliance with French 340n121; time added as penalty 311n37; Virginia-born 123-4; Washburn ignores 340n4; “white identity” and keeping down 249
African-Americans: as buyers and sellers, 181; barred from bearing witness 250; in center of economic history of the hemisphere 9; buy-outs of bond-laborers 188-9; challenge hereditary bondage 188-91; class character of 148; in court 180; contracts made 180-1; in contracts and wills 187-8; denial of rights 250-1; denial of social mobility 279; denied presumption of liberty extended to “white persons and native American Indians” 316n39; denial of testamentary rights 249, 359-60n62; establish normal social status 182; excluded from militia 250; forbidden from holding weapon 250; exclusion of as corollary of “white” identity 249; forbidden from owning Christians 250, from owning “horses, cattle, and hoggs” 287n84; free African-Americans excluded from trades 354n97; free, women declared tithable 187, 190, 250, 336n40; gun licenses 360n74; intermarriage with European-Americans 336n40; importation of bond-laborers 183; laborers 148-149; laborers rights undercut 339n103; landholding, historical significance of 182-6; law against free female, “most explicitly anticipates racial oppression” 187; letter from an African-American, 240; loss of voting rights 242; normal social standing 180-2; not motivated by anti-Indian sentiment in Bacon’s Rebellion 205, 330n23; opposition by propertied class to racial oppression of 193-6; as owners of European-American bond-laborers 186-87; plots 219; prohibited from buying Christian bond-laborers 198; racial oppression in laws against free 250; relative social status of 177-9, “indeterminate” 178; servitude for marriage to European-American 287n84; significant landholding of, in 17th century 182; social mobility of, incompatible with racial oppression 181-2, 186; in trades 354n97; Virginia seeks “to fix a perpetual brand on Free Negros & Mulattos” (Gooch) 242
African bond-laborers: in the Americas 279n58; attempt to establish free settlement at head of James River 245; in Barbados 38; in British West Indies 38-9; discrimination against in skilled occupations 240; Dutch as principal merchants buying and selling (1630s) 310-11n35; English become preeminent suppliers (in 18th century) of 171; Las Casas regrets role in Asiento 4, 277n8; lifetime bond-laborers elsewhere 178-9; in Europe 279n48; number of 8, 198-9, 218, 279nn 48, 58; rebellions 218, 224-5, 240, 352n46, 339n116; social control and 198-9, 224-5, 228-9; status of 177-90; West Africa labor exporting regions of 332n53
African laborers: imported children of African ancestry, age tithable 320n121; shift to, as main supply 240; trade in, as self-motivating capital interest 172; from West Africa; 198, 332n53, 356n9. See also African bond-laborers
Africans: allying with Indians 261; ancestry and headrights 314n4; and intermediate stratum 226, 228; population in Europe 8; prohibitions against working in skilled occupations in English plantation colonies in Americas 240, in Barbados 229; purchased by British army for military service in West Indies 354n108; rebelliousness of newly arriving 356n12; resistance 9, 280n63; as source of labor 8; to Sªo Tomé 277n11. See also African bond-laborers, African laborers
Afro-Brazilians 34, 261-2
Afro-Caribbeans: at first excluded from skilled occupations 233; bond-laborers struggle and “free colored” demands for full citizenship after Haitian Revolution lead to Emancipation 238; bond-laborers who enter British army (after 1807) become free 235; difference of status between persons of African descent in Anglo-America and in the Anglo-Caribbean 238; every concession to freedmen eroded rationale for white supremacy 237; “free blacks and coloreds” in Jamaica own 70,000 of 310,000 bond-laborers 234-5; free colored as shopkeepers and slave-owners 234; free homesteads offered to “every free mulatto, Indian or Negro” in Jamaica 234-5; free persons of color in Jamaica 36% in 1789 and 72% in 1834, in Barbados lower 233; majorities in the British West Indies 232-4; normal class differentiation 234; parallels with Irish struggles against religio-racial oppression 238; petite bourgeois and capitalists sprouted through walls of “white” exclusionism 234; Pinckard argues for social promotion of “people of colour” 236; Rev. Ramsay proposes promoting mulattos as intermediate buffer social control stratum 236; ruling class insights on concessions to freedmen and control over bond-laborers 235-7; traded for enslaved Indians shipped to West Indies 41
agrarian revolution 286n71 (more…)
“Back there, before Jim Crow, before the invention of the . . . white man, and the words or concepts to describe them, the Colonial population consisted largely of a great mass of . . . [European American and African American] bondsmen, who occupied roughly the same economic category and were treated with equal contempt by the lords of the plantation and legislatures. Curiously unconcerned about their color, these people worked together and relaxed together. They had essentially the same interests, the same aspirations, and the same grievances. They conspired together and waged a common struggle against their common enemy – the big planter apparatus and a social system that legalized terror against . . . bondsmen. No one says and no one believes it was a Garden of Eden in Colonial America. But, the available evidence . . . suggests that there were widening bonds of solidarity . . . And the same evidence indicates that it proved very difficult indeed to teach white people to worship their skin.”
Lerone Bennett Jr. The Shaping of Black America, Chapter 3, “The Road Not Taken,” 1975.
See also Theodore W. Allen, “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" [Verso Books] (including comments from scholars and activists and Table of Contents) HERE
Theodore W. Allen’s "The Invention of the White Race," with its focus on racial oppression and social control, is one of the twentieth-century’s major contributions to historical understanding. This two-volume classic, first published in 1994 and 1997, presents a full-scale challenge to what Allen refers to as “The Great White Assumption” – “the unquestioning, indeed unthinking acceptance of the ‘white’ identity of European-Americans of all classes as a natural attribute rather than a social construct.” Its thesis on the origin and nature of the “white race” contains the root of a new and radical approach to United States history, one that challenges master narratives taught in the media and in schools, colleges, and universities. With its equalitarian motif and emphasis on class struggle it speaks to people today who strive for change worldwide. Its influence on our understanding of American, African American, and labor history will continue to grow in the twenty-first century.
Readers of the first edition of "The Invention of the White Race" were startled by Allen’s bold assertion on the back cover: “When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no ‘white’ people there; nor, according to the colonial records, would there be for another sixty years.” That statement, based on twenty-plus years of research of Virginia’s colonial records, reflected the fact that Allen found “no instance of the official use of the word ‘white’ as a token of social status” prior to its appearance in a Virginia law passed in 1691. As he later explained, “Others living in the colony at that time were English; they had been English when they left England, and naturally they and their Virginia-born children were English, they were not ‘white.’ White identity had to be carefully taught, and it would be only after the passage of some six crucial decades” that the word “would appear as a synonym for European-American.”
Allen was not merely speaking of word usage, however. His probing research led him to conclude – based on the commonality of experience and demonstrated solidarity between African-American and European-American laboring people, the lack of a substantial intermediate buffer social control stratum, and the indeterminate status of African-Americans – that the “white race” was not, and could not have been, functioning in early Virginia.
It is in the context of such findings that he offers his major thesis -- the “white race” was invented as a ruling class social control formation in response to labor solidarity as manifested in the later, civil war stages of Bacon's Rebellion (1676-77). To this he adds two important corollaries: 1) the ruling elite, in its own class interest, deliberately instituted a system of racial privileges to define and maintain the “white race” and establish a system of racial oppression and 2) the consequences were not only ruinous to the interests of African-Americans, they were also “disastrous” for European-American workers.
In developing these theses Allen challenges the two main ideological props of white supremacy – the notion that “racism” is innate, and it is therefore useless to struggle against it, and the argument that European-American workers benefit from “white race” privileges and that it is in their interest not to oppose them and not to oppose white supremacy.
His challenge to these ideological props of white supremacy is both historical and theoretical. Allen offers meticulous use of sources, probing analysis of “Racial Oppression and Social Control” (the sub-title of this volume), and important comparative study that includes analogies, parallels, and differences between the Anglo-American plantation colonies, Ireland, and the Anglo-Caribbean colonies. He chooses these examples, all subjected to domination by Anglo ruling elites, in order to show that racial oppression is a system of social control not based on phenotype (skin color, etc.) and to show that social control factors impact how racial oppression begins, is maintained, and can be transformed.
"The Invention of the White Race" is Allen’s magnum opus – he worked on it for over twenty years. Its second volume, subtitled "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America," rigorously details the invention of the “white race” and the development of racial slavery, a particular form of racial oppression, in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Virginia. He claimed, with justification, that the second volume “contains the best of me.”
In Volume II, on "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America," Allen tells the story of the invention of the “white race” in the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Anglo-American plantation colonies. His primary focus is on the pattern-setting Virginia colony, and he pays special attention to the reduction of tenants and wage-laborers in the majority English labor force to chattel bond-servants in the 1620s. In so doing, he emphasizes that this was a qualitative break from the condition of laborers in England and from long established English labor law, that it was not a feudal carryover, that it was imposed under capitalism, and that it was an essential precondition of the emergence of the lifetime hereditary chattel bond-servitude imposed upon African-American laborers under the system of racial slavery. Allen describes how, throughout much of the seventeenth century, the status of African-Americans was indeterminate (because it was still being fought out) and he details the similarity of conditions for African-American and European-American laborers and bond-servants. He also documents many significant instances of labor solidarity and unrest, especially during the 1660s and 1670s. Most important is his analysis of the civil war stage of Bacon’s Rebellion when "foure hundred English and Negroes in Arms" fought together demanding freedom from bondage.
It was in the period after Bacon's Rebellion that the “white race” was invented as a ruling-class social control formation. Allen describes systematic ruling-class policies, which conferred “white race” privileges on European-Americans while imposing harsher disabilities on African-Americans resulting in a system of racial slavery, a form of racial oppression that also imposed severe racial proscriptions on free African-Americans. He emphasizes that when African-Americans were deprived of their long-held right to vote in Virginia and Governor William Gooch explained in 1735 that the Virginia Assembly had decided upon this curtailment of the franchise in order "to fix a perpetual Brand upon Free Negros & Mulattos," it was not an "unthinking decision." Rather, it was a deliberate act by the plantation bourgeoisie and was a conscious decision in the process of establishing a system of racial oppression, even though it entailed repealing an electoral principle that had existed in Virginia for more than a century.
The key to understanding racial oppression, Allen argues, is in the formation of the intermediate social control buffer stratum, which serves the interests of the ruling class. In the case of racial oppression in Virginia, any persons of discernible non-European ancestry after Bacon's Rebellion were denied a role in the social control buffer group, the bulk of which was made up of laboring-class "whites." In the Anglo-Caribbean, by contrast, under a similar Anglo- ruling elite, "mulattos" were included in the social control stratum and were promoted into middle-class status. For Allen, this was the key to understanding the difference between Virginia’s ruling-class policy of “fixing a perpetual brand” on African-Americans, and the policy of the West Indian planters of formally recognizing the middle-class status “colored” descendant and other Afro-Caribbeans who earned special merit by their service to the regime. This difference, between racial oppression and national oppression, was rooted in a number of social control-related factors, one of the most important of which was that in the West Indies there were “too few” poor and laboring-class Europeans to embody an adequate petit bourgeoisie, while in the continental colonies there were '’too many’' to be accommodated in the ranks of that class.
The references to an “unthinking decision” and “too few” poor and laboring class Europeans are consistent with Allen's repeated efforts to challenge what he considered to be the two main arguments that undermine and disarm the struggle against white supremacy in the working class: (1) the argument that white supremacism is innate, and (2) the argument that European-American workers “benefit” from “white race” privileges and that it is in their interest not to oppose them and not to oppose white supremacy. These two arguments, opposed by Allen, are related to two master historical narratives rooted in writings on the colonial period. The first argument is associated with the “unthinking decision” explanation for the development of racial slavery offered by historian Winthrop D. Jordan in his influential, White Over Black. The second argument is associated with historian Edmund S. Morgan’s similarly influential, American Slavery, American Freedom, which maintains that, as racial slavery developed, “there were too few free poor [European-Americans] on hand to matter.” Allen’s work directly challenges both the “unthinking decision” contention of Jordan and the “too few free poor” contention of Morgan.
Allen convincingly argues that the “white race” privileges conferred by the ruling class on European-Americans were not only ruinous to the interests of African-Americans; they were also against the class interest of European-American workers. He further argues that these “white-skin privileges” are “the incubus that for three centuries has paralyzed” the will of European-American workers “in defense of their class interests vis-à-vis those of the ruling class.”
The Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library just published its Finding Aid for the Leo H. Downes papers (34 cassette boxes; 12 document boxes). It is a collection of great importance by an extraordinary individual (special attention should be paid to the audio cassettes). Many thanks to Diana Greenidge, Julie Siestreem, Thai Jones, and Patrick Lawlor for making this happen. See http://findingaids.cul.columbia.edu/staging/ead/nnc-rb/ldpd_11359941/
Leo H. Downes was an independent and provocative intellectual based in Harlem. His interests covered a wide range of topics, including African-American history, neuroscience, psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, art, music, culture, sociology, theology, athletics, and education.
Downes was born July 15, 1933 in Coffee Gully, The Parish of St. Joseph on the island of Barbados. He was the only child of William Lionel Blackman and Adeline Ione Downes. His father was an engineer and, overseer. Leo graduated from St. Leonard's Boy's School in St. Michael Barbados West Indies in 1955. He attended the New School of Social Research in New York City from 1967 to 1970. He attended Columbia University School of General Studies from 1972 to 1974. He then attended New York Institute of Technology in Psychology in Westbury, New York.
Downes directed the Youth Opportunity Program for the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI) located in the Washington Heights neighborhood for 32 years, from 1971 to 2003. The YOP program was designed as a pairing of high school adolescents with doctors as mentors for 15 to 20 hours per week to work in each doctor's respective area of research. It was a valuable and critically successful support system that worked well for both the doctors and students. Downes received numerous awards for this outstanding work. A teacher, counselor and, rehabilitator, he worked with children and adults in the Reality Halfway House, Cornell's Children's Services, and New York City Model Cities Program. He worked one to one, with small groups and, large groups as needed. He taught ex-cons, ex-addicts, dropouts and, High School Equivalency Programs.
Downes had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and consistently asked the most challenging questions of anyone on any given topic. Others sought him out frequently to attend their classes, lectures, discussion groups and, movies because, they knew he would come up with the best questions. For 35 years he moderated a monthly study group of the Society for the Study of African Philosophy. He was a part of the Institute for Research in African American Studies program at Columbia University from its beginning in 1993.
Downes was a member of the Harlem YMCA for 55 years. He was a competitive body builder from 1950 to 1974. He died on April 28, 2014 at the age of 80.
Tony Martin First World, 10/22/1988 (HF 90/Sony)
Dr. Tony Martin First World Alliance, 10/22/1988 (AV-90/TDK)
Brother Tony Martin Africa Experience Creates a Pan-African Philosophy #1, 3/6/1993 (dB 90/memorex)
Brother Tony Martin Africa Experience Creates a Pan-African Philosophy #2, 3/6/1993 (HF 60/Sony)
Brother Tony Martin Caribbean Unity and a Pan African Perspective, 3/1/1997 (HF 60/Sony)
Dr. Martin /Garvey Story, No date (FI 60/JVC)
T. Martin / Garvey Story, No date (HF 90/Sony)
James Baldwin / Speak, No date (HF 60/Sony)
James Baldwin / interview, No date (CHF 90/Sony)
James Baldwin Conf., 6/24/1989 (HF60/Sony)
James Baldwin, No date (HF90/Sony)
James Baldwin Conf., No date (DC 9/TDK)
James Baldwin/ Baraka at St. John Divine, No date (60 min./audio tech)
Dr. Maulana Karenga, Temple Univ. Nat. Afrocentric Institute, 5/9/1992 (60 min./ Greatronic) (more…)
Postal Strike of 1978 Photo Shows Jeff Perry and Drake Waller
Thirty-nine years ago, at midnight on July 20/21, 1978, national postal contracts expired. In the early morning hours of July 21st at the 1.8 million square foot New York Bulk & Foreign Mail Center in Jersey City, the largest postal facility in the world at that time, an informational picket line went up.
Postal workers carried signs of “No Contract, No Work,” a slogan endorsed by the three major postal unions (the American Postal Workers Union, the National Association of Letter Carriers, and the National Post Office Mail Handlers [division of LIUNA]) and a slogan that was the official position of their joint Labor Negotiating Committee. Conditions were oppressive, particularly at the Bulk, and pressing worker issues involved safety, wages, mandatory overtime, COLA, racial and gender discrimination, and the right to strike.
With conditions as bad as they were, and in the political climate that had been created around the contract, it didn’t take much to close the 4,000-worker Bulk Mail facility by the time workers started arriving for the 6 a.m. day shift. Ninety percent of the day shift workers did not report to work and the temperatures that day went into the 90s. Afternoon and evening shifts also stayed out.
The wildcat strike grew and spread quickly to the San Francisco Bulk Mail Center (in Richmond, CA,). There were also walkouts at the Kearney, NJ Mail Processing Center; the Washington, D.C. BMC, and in Philadelphia; and sporadic protests in Chicago, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Miami, and Los Angeles.
The wildcat strike was broken after five days. Postal management fired 125 workers, suspended 130, and issued letters of warning to 2,500. Among those striking postal workers were a number of valiant working class fighters who are no longer with us including Dave Cline, Clarence Fitch, Drake Waller, and Al Mancuso. Worker consciousness was raised in the struggle, the proposed contracts were rejected by union members, and an arbitrated settlement was ultimately imposed that retained the uncapped COLA that workers demanded and weakened no layoff protections as management wanted.
The 1978 wildcat strike was the largest federal employees strike since the 1970 walkout by 173,000 postal workers and it would not be surpassed until the August 1981 strike of 11,500 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO).
The postal wildcat strikers of 1978 were fired under the administration of Democrat Jimmy Carter. The PATCO workers were fired under the administration of Republican Ronald Reagan.
The full stories of the 1978 postal wildcat and related struggles are still to be told. People interested in more on the 1978 strike may want to look at:
This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race”
Has Just Passed the 110,000-Views Mark.
110,000 VIEWS -- This Video on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of White Race” Has Just Passed the 110,000-Views Mark. It opens with some insights from the life and work of Hubert Harrison.
Please take time to watch the video, to share it with friends, and to call the work of Theodore W. Allen and Hubert Harrison to the attention of others.
Theodore W. Allen’s “Invention of the White Race” has been referred to as a “classic” by historians Nell Painter, Gerald Horne, Wilson J. Moses, and Gregory Meyerson and by social anthropologist Audrey Smedley.
Labor historian Joe Berry says it “is one of the most important books of U.S history ever written.”
Historian Mark Solomon of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University, says, “The profound insights in ‘The Invention of the White Race’ are essential both to understand the origins and destructiveness of white supremacy and to provide the means to conduct struggle against it. Allen’s study is mandatory reading for everyone concerned with justice, equality and the liberation of all from the binds of white supremacy.”
Long time activist Carl Davidson emphasizes that “You simply can’t understand America and who we are without this [“The Invention of the White Race”] book.”
Special thanks to those who contributed to the book launch event that was the basis of this video on Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” – including filmmaker Fred Nguyen; Muriel Tillinghast and Sean Ahern of “The Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen Society”; Kazembe Balagun, Max Uhlenbeck, and Liz Mestres of the Brecht Forum; and Jessica Turner of Verso Books.
A second video on “The Invention of White Race,” recently filmed at a “multi-racial” worker organizing conference in Greensboro, NC, has exceptionally clear slides and is also attracting increased attention – see HERE Special thanks to organizer Ben Wilkins, who coordinated the two-day conference, and to Eric Preston (and Fusion Films) for work on the video.
For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) see HERE Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.
For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” Volume II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" (including comments from scholars and activists, Table of Contents, and an overview of the volume) see HERE Note – the new, expanded Verso Books edition of this volume includes new introductions and notes, an expanded index, and a lengthy and detailed internal study guide.
For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 see HERE and for Part 2 see HERE
For additional writings by and about Theodore W. Allen see HERE
For an in-depth treatment of the development of the work of Theodore W. Allen see “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy” in PDF format at the TOP LEFT at HERE
or at “Cultural Logic” at HERE
For a video interview with Theodore W. Allen on “The Invention of the White Race” conducted by New York City schoolteacher Stella Winston and viewed by over 105,000 people see HERE
For information on “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (Columbia University Press, 2008) see HERE
For information on “A Hubert Harrison Reader” (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) see HERE
For information on Hubert H. Harrison, “When Africa Awakes: The ‘Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World,” New Expanded Edition (Diasporic Africa Press, 2015) see HERE
For a video on Hubert Harrison based on a presentation at the Dudley Public Library in Roxbury, Massachusetts – see -- HERE
Special thanks to Mimi Jones, Friends of the Dudley Library, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, Massachusetts Global Action. Mirna Lascano, Umang Kumar, and Charlie Welch for making the event possible and to 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, Nia Grace (Marketing and Promotions Manager), and Scott Mercer for helping to make the video available.
For a recent video on Hubert Harrison done at the St. Croix Landmarks Society, Estate Whim, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – see Be the first to comment
Super Special Sale of 40% off and free bundled e-book for Theodore W. Allen’s “The Invention of the White Race” (for each of 2 vols.). The new editions from Verso Books have much supplemental front and back matter including internal study guides. Help to spread the word!
For info on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. I: “Racial Oppression and Social Control" see HERE
For information on “The Invention of the White Race” Vol. II: "The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo America" see HERE
For information on Theodore W. Allen’s “Summary of the Argument of The Invention of the White Race” Part 1 see HERE
and for Part 2 see HERE
For an in-depth treatment of the development of the work of Theodore W. Allen see “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 in PDF format at the TOP LEFT at HERE
100 – Years Ago Today -- A July 4, 1917 rally of Hubert Harrison’s Liberty League at Harlem’s Metropolitan Baptist Church on 138th Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenues drew national attention and saw the first edition of “The Voice: A Newspaper for the New Negro.” Harrison’s Liberty League was the first organization of the militant “New Negro Movement” and his newspaper, “The Voice,” was the first newspaper of the movement and a prime example of the militant new spirit that was developing.
It “really crystallized the radicalism of the Negro in New York and its environs” wrote Hodge Kirnon. Historian Robert A. Hill points out that Harrison’s Voice was “the radical forerunner” of the periodicals that would express the developing political and intellectual ferment in the era of World War I. It was followed in November 1917 by the Hodge Kirnon. Historian Robert A. Hill These four publications, led by “The Voice,” manifested “the principal articulation of the New Negro mood.”
The July 4 meeting came in the wake of the July 1-3 white supremacist pogrom in East St. Louis, Illinois (which is 12 miles from Ferguson, Missouri). Reports on the number of African Americans killed ranged from thirty-nine to two-hundred-and-fifty and 244 buildings were totally or partially destroyed. Historian Edward Robb Ellis reports that in East St. Louis Black women were scalped and four Black children slaughtered.
These riots were widely attributed to “white” labor’s opposition to Black workers coming into the labor market and they were directly precipitated by a car of white “joy riders” who fired guns into the African-American community. Officials of organized labor served as prominent apologists for “white” labor’s role in the rioting. Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor, placed principal blame for the riots on “the excessive and abnormal number of negroes” in East St. Louis while W. S. Carter, President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, maintained that “the purpose of the railroads in importing Negro labor is to destroy the influence of white men’s labor organizations.” A subsequent House of Representatives committee found that the local police and Illinois National Guard were inept and indifferent, and, in specific instances, supported the white mobs.
The Liberty League’s July 4 meeting in the largest church in Harlem came one day after a “race riot” in the San Juan Hill section of Manhattan (the third in six weeks) in which two thousand people fought after a reserve policemen arrested a uniformed Black soldier standing on a street corner who allegedly refused to move fast enough.
The “New York Times” reported that at the July 4 Liberty League rally a thousand Black men and women were present and enthusiastically cheered the speakers who were “all Negroes.” Every speaker was reported to have denounced the East St. Louis rioters as ruthless murderers and each condemned the authorities for not preventing the atrocities and for not providing protection.
Edgar M. Grey, secretary of the Liberty League, chaired the July 4 meeting. He informed the audience that the League had sent its message to Congress and appealed for a thorough and impartial investigation of East St. Louis, of the lynching of African Americans, and of treatment of Black people throughout the land. Harrison spoke next and reportedly said that “they are saying a great deal about democracy in Washington now,” but, “while they are talking about fighting for freedom and the Stars and Stripes, here at home the white apply the torch to the black men’s homes, and bullets, clubs and stones to their bodies.”
As president of the Liberty League, Harrison advised Black people who feared mob violence in the South and elsewhere to take direct action and “supply themselves with rifles and fight if necessary, to defend their lives and property.” According to the “Times” he received great applause when he declared that “the time had come for the Negroes [to] do what white men who were threatened did, look out for themselves, and kill rather than submit to be killed.” He was quoted as saying: “We intend to fight if we must . . . for the things dearest to us, for our hearths and homes” and he encouraged Black people everywhere who did not enjoy the protection of the law "to arm for their own defense, to hide their arms, and to learn how to use them." He also called for a collection of money to buy rifles for those who could not obtain them, emphasizing that “Negroes in New York cannot afford to lie down in the face of this” because “East St. Louis touches us too nearly.” As he later put it -- “‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,’ and sometimes two eyes or a half dozen teeth for one is the aim of the New Negro.” Harrison stressed that it was imperative to “demand justice” and to “make our voices heard.”
The emphasis on a political voice ran across the masthead of “The Voice,” which proclaimed “We will fight for all the things we have held nearest our hearts--for democracy--for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own government.” Several years later Marcus Garvey, who learned from Harrison and joined Harrison’s Liberty League, emphasized that “[the] new spirit of the new Negro . . . seeks a political voice, and the world is amazed, the world is astounded that the Negro should desire a political voice, because after the voice comes a political place, and . . . we are not only asking but we are going to demand--we are going to fight for and die for that place.” According to Robert A. Hill, this demand for a political voice marked the new spirit of the “New Negro” and keyed the later radicalism of Garvey’s UNIA.
This call for armed self-defense and the desire to have the political voice of the militant New Negro heard marked Harrison’s activities in 1917.
“The Voice” editorial on “The East St. Louis Horror” argued that although the nation was at war to make the world “safe for democracy,” until the nation was made safe for African Americans, they would refuse to believe in the country’s democratic assertions. Harrison stressed that “New Negroes” would not re-echo “patriotic protestations of the boot-licking leaders whose pockets and positions testify to the power of the white man’s gold” and, despite what Black people might be forced by law to say publicly, “the resentment in their hearts will not down.” Then he described the core feeling of the new militancy developing in the wake of East St. Louis:
. . . Unbeknown to the white people of this land a temper is being developed among Negroes with which the American people will have to reckon.
At the present moment it takes this form: If white men are to kill unoffending Negroes, Negroes must kill white men in defense of their lives and property. This is the lesson of the East St. Louis massacre.
For information on Harrison’s life see “Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (Columbia University Press). For comments on that work by scholars and activists CLICK HERE
Romus Broadway, an outstanding photographer and lifelong resident of Princeton, NJ, has 30,000 negatives taken over 50 years that focus on Princeton’s African American community, the University’s African American students from the early 1960s on, and the University’s multiracial Princeton community workforce. He has a remarkable memory and can name, and provide background for, individuals he has photographed.
Now is the time for the University to approach Romus Broadway regarding his collection and to encourage a new group of students to utilize and develop their oral-history skills in a project vital to a fuller understanding of Princeton University’s history. See my letter to Princeton Alumni Weekly HERE