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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

On May 1, 1912, International Workers Day Hubert Harrison Spoke Before 50,000 People at the May Day Rally at Union Square, New York City

105 Years Ago -- On May 1, 1912, International Workers Day, Hubert Harrison, one of the featured English language speakers of the Socialist Party, spoke at the May Day rally at Union Square (New York City) which, according to the New York Times, was attended by "some 50,000 organized workers, men and women, wearing the bright red of socialism as the world wide band of labor."
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

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Hubert Harrison and Others “Occupy Wall Street” on September 13, 1912

104 years ago (on September 14, 1912) in “Enlightening Wall Street” the New York Times reported that “Hubert Harrison, an eloquent and forceful negro speaker, shattered all records for distance in an address on Socialism in front of the Stock Exchange building yesterday [September 13]” His “voice carried to the furthermost limits of the crowd,” he “was still going strong, at the beginning of the third hour,” and he continued on until “the big gong in the Exchange announced the closing.”

Hubert Harrison (1883-1927) was a brilliant writer, orator, editor and political activist who was described by J. A. Rogers as “perhaps the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time” and by A. Philip Randolph as “the father of Harlem Radicalism.”

Hubert Harrison was the leading Black activist in the Socialist Party around 1912 when he emphasized that politically, the Negro is the touchstone of the modern democratic idea” and when he lectured on socialism as many as 23 times a week (including speaking before 40,000 people in Manhattan’s Union Square).

By 1917 Hubert Harrison was the founder of the militant “New Negro Movement,” a precursor to the Black Power Movement of the 1960s, and he was organizing a massive Harlem rally that protested the white supremacist “pogrom” (his word) on the African American community of East St. Louis, Illinois (12 miles from Ferguson, Missouri).

Hubert Harrison was a major radical influence on both A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey and on a generation of “New Negroes.” (Extending those political lines of descent leads to Martin and Malcolm).

When he died unexpectedly from an appendicitis-related condition in 1927 bibliophile Arthur Schomburg, knowing how popular Harrison was in his day, presciently eulogized that Hubert Harrison “was ahead of his time.”

In the 21st century we have much to learn from Hubert Harrison and the struggles he and others waged!

For comments from scholars and activists on "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press) see -- HERE

For information on "A Hubert Harrison Reader" (Wesleyan University Press) see -- HERE

For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison see -- HERE

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Hubert HarrisonFather of Harlem RadicalismFounder of New Negro MovementComing Home to St. Croix 2016by Jeffrey B. Perry




Hubert Harrison, “The Voice of Harlem Radicalism.” Presentation by Jeffrey B. Perry at the St. Croix Landmarks Society Event “Coming Home to St. Croix,” at Estate Whim, St. Croix, July 19, 2016.

Hubert H. Harrison (1883-1927) is one of the truly important figures of twentieth-century history. A brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist, he was described by Joel A. Rogers, in "World's Great Men of Color" as "perhaps the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time." Labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph described Harrison as "the father of Harlem Radicalism." Bibliophile Arthur Schomburg, fully aware of his popularity, eulogized to the thousands attending Harrison’s Harlem funeral that he was also “ahead of his time.” Hubert Harrison has much to offer us today!

Harrison served as the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician in the Socialist Party of New York during its 1912 heyday; he founded the first organization (the Liberty League) and the first newspaper ("The Voice") of the militant, World War I-era "New Negro" movement; edited "The New Negro: A Monthly Magazine of a Different Sort" ("intended as an organ of the international consciousness of the darker races -- especially of the Negro race") in 1919; wrote "When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story' of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World" in 1920; and he served as editor of the "Negro World" and principal radical influence on the Garvey movement during its radical high point in 1920.

His views on race and class profoundly influenced a generation of "New Negro" militants and common people including the class radical A. Philip Randolph and the race radical Marcus Garvey. Considered more race conscious than Randolph and more class conscious than Garvey, 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 wrote for the "Negro World"), speaking militantly and proudly on street corners in Harlem.

Harrison was also an immensely skilled and popular orator and educator; a highly praised journalist, critic, and book reviewer; a pioneer Black activist in the freethought and birth control movements; and a bibliophile and library builder and popularizer who helped develop the 135th Street Public Library into what is now the internationally famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Special Thanks to Mrs. Sonia Jacobs Dow, Executive Director, St. Croix Landmarks Society; Naeemah Legair, Communications Intern, St. Croix Landmarks Society; Mary Roebuck, Volunteer, St. Croix Landmarks Society; George F. Tyson, Historian; Douglas Canton, “Reflections,” WSTX 970 AM; David Christian, “Its Your Perspective Talk Show,” WSTX 970 AM; Campbell “Ras Soup” Carter, “Its Your Perspective Talk Show,” WSTX 970 AM; Victor Edney, Jr., Audio System, Recording; Chalana Brown, Photography; and again, a very special thanks to Douglas Canton for Videography, Composition and Editing.

For comments from scholars and activists on "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press) see -- HERE

For information on "A Hubert Harrison Reader" (Wesleyan University Press) see -- HERE

For information on the new, Diasporic Africa Press expanded edition of Hubert H. Harrison's “When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World” see -- HERE

For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison see -- HERE

For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison "The Father of Harlem Radicalism" and Founder of the Militant New Negro Movement see --
HERE

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Hubert Harrison on Mayday 1912

Hubert Harrison on Mayday
On May 1, 1912, International Workers Day, the brilliant soapbox orator, Hubert Harrison, was one of the Socialist Party’s featured speakers at a giant May Day rally at Union Square which, according to the “New York Times” was attended by "some 50,000 organized workers, men and women, wearing the bright red of socialism as the world wide band of labor."

In September of 1912, in a precursor to “Occupy Wall Street,” the “Times” described Harrison him as "an eloquent and forceful negro speaker" who "shattered all records for distance in an address on Socialism in front of the Stock Exchange building." He reportedly "mounted the stand in front of the Socialists' banner at noon and started in with a description of life in the medieval ages." At first "his voice carried to the outermost limits of the crowd" and as the hours passed his "voice grew huskier and huskier, and his circle of auditors all drew closer and closer." He went strong into the third hour and then talked himself into "a hoarse whisper" before ending.”

For comments from scholars and activists on "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press) CLICK HERE

For a link to the Hubert H. Harrison Papers at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library CLICK HERE

For articles, audios, and videos by and about Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

For information on "A Hubert Harrison Reader" (Wesleyan University Press) CLICK HERE

For information on the new, Diasporic Africa Press expanded edition of Hubert H. Harrison's “When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World” CLICK HERE

For a video of a Slide Presentation/Talk on Hubert Harrison CLICK HERE

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"Is This the Black Activist Everybody Forgot?" by Jeffrey B. Perry History News Network May 11, 2014

Is This the Black Activist Everybody Forgot?" at History News Network, May 11, 2014
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