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Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927

Pulitzer Prize Nominated

"Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927"

Can be purchased with a 20% discout from Columbia University Press by using "Code20" Follow the link above.

Save 20% with Columbia University Press Coupon Code "CUP20" Please share widely! Contact friends. Order now. Request that your school and public libraries obtain copies – "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927" (Columbia University Press) by Jeffrey B. Perry. Order Here!

This is volume 2 of the Harrison biography. It is believed to be the first full-life, multi-volume biography of an Afro-Caribbean and only the fourth of an African American after those of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B Du Bois, and Langston Hughes!
This second volume traces the final decade of Harrison's life, from 1918 to 1927. It details Harrison's literary and political activities and his efforts against white supremacy and for racial consciousness and unity in struggles for equality and radical social change. The book explores Harrison's role in the militant New Negro Movement and the International Colored Unity League, as well as his prolific work as a writer, educator, and editor of the "New Negro" and the "Negro World."
It also discusses Harrison's interactions with major figures such as Garvey, Randolph, Du Bois, William Monroe Trotter, J. A. Rogers, Arthur Schomburg, Chandler Owen, D. Hamilton Jackson, Eugene O'Neill, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Augusta Savage, Richard B. Moore, and other prominent individuals and organizations as he agitated, educated, orated, and organized for democracy, equality, and social change from a race-conscious, radical internationalist perspective.
This biography demonstrates how Harrison's life and work continue to offer profound insights on race, class, religion, immigration, war, democracy, and social change in America. It should be of interest to those interested in Black History, Caribbean History, Virgin Islands History, Africana Studies, Pan Africanism, U.S. History, Radical History, journalism, internationalism, book and theater reviews, poetry, Harlem history, and biography.



A Note on Usage




Part I: "New Negro Movement" Editor and Activist


1. Return to Harlem and Resurrection of The Voice (July–December 1918)

2. Political Activities in Washington and Virginia (January–July 1919)

3. New Negro Editor and Agitator (July–December 1919)


Part II: Editor of the Negro World


4. Reshaping the Negro World and Comments on Garvey (December 1919–May 1920)

5. Debate with The Emancipator (March–April 1920)

6. Early Negro World Writings (January–July 1920)

7. The 1920 UNIA Convention and Influence on Garvey (August–November 1920)

8. Post-Convention Meditations, Writings, and Reviews (September–December 1920)

9. Early 1921 Negro World Writings and Reviews (January–April 1921)

10. The Liberty League, Tulsa, and Mid-1921 Writings (May–September 1921)

11. Negro World Writings and Reviews (September 1921–April 1922)

12. The Period of Garvey's Arrest (October 1921–March 1922)


Part III: "Free-lance Educator"

13. Lecturer, Book Reviewer, and Citizenship (March 1922–June 1923)

14. The KKK, Garvey's Conviction, Speaking, Virgin Islands, and Reviews (1923)

15. Boston Chronicle, Board of Ed, and The New Negro (January–June 1924)


Part IV: The Struggle for International Colored Unity

16. ICUL, Midwest Tour, Board of Ed, NYPL, and 1925 (March 1924–December 1925)

17. NYC Talks, Workers School, and Modern Quarterly (January–September 1926)

18. Lafayette Theatre Strike, "Nigger Heaven," and Garvey Divorce (June–December 1926)

19. The Pittsburgh Courier and the Voice of the Negro (January–April 1927)

20. Last Months and Death (May–December 1927)







Robert W. Greene, II in the May 2022, "Nation"

Robert W. Greene, II The Nation Robert Greene II is an assistant professor of history at Claflin University and has written for "Jacobin," "In These Times," and "Dissent."  See HERE


A recent two-volume biography by Jeffrey B. Perry—Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883–1918 and Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918–1927—seeks to correct this oversight. Tracking Harrison's life from his birth in the Danish West Indies to his long career as an activist and intellectual in Harlem, Perry leaves no stone unturned in understanding the man, the times in which he lived, and the ideals he championed. Harrison's intellect was matched only by his steadfast refusal to bend on his principles—including not taking money from sources he disagreed with. A biography that is also a work of intellectual and institutional history, Perry's two volumes offer an incisive survey of the radical upheaval at the turn of the 20th century. But above all they make a case for why Harrison is a crucial part of the American radical tradition.

 . . .

Perry's background as a working-class intellectual—not to mention his writings on race and labor in American life—make him the perfect person to help recover one of the early 20th century's great Black intellectuals and socialists. Having written for publications like Black Agenda Report, CounterPunch, and many others, Perry has spent years arguing for the importance of understanding how race and class are bound together as categories used to stratify and divide American society. For Perry, what defined Harrison's legacy as a radical was that he avowed a socialist and class-based politics and yet also refused to abandon the masses of Black Americans, north and south, in their struggle against racism. Instead, Harrison examined the problem of race and class and came to the inescapable conclusion that only mass politics and organizing among Black Americans could free them and, by extension, the working class from future exploitation.

 . . .

Indeed, the story Perry presents revises what most curious readers know about the history of US radicalism in the early 20th century. Harrison played a key role in two important radical traditions at once: the Black freedom movement and the building of a Socialist Party in the United States. While many histories of the era treat the two as separate, Perry's biography shows that for Harrison, socialism and Black radicalism were inextricably linked, motivated by the same insights and commitments; there was no way to privilege one over the other. As Perry argues in the first volume, Harrison was "the most class conscious of the race radicals, and the most race conscious of the class radicals."

John Woodford

"When I reviewed the first volume of Jeffrey B. Perry's monumental double-barreled biography of Harrison in 2011 (see "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918," I said it was the best biography I'd ever read. But this massive second volume is even better."
"The length and detail that compose Perry's masterly biography are fully warranted, given the breadth and complexity of the subject matter embraced by Harrison's great mind. Following the book slowly and patiently, looking up and reading about the multitude of new or unfamiliar events and persons, will give any interested reader insight into how bountifully the obscured past can, upon revelation, provide lessons for the present and future.
History-as-revelation was what inspired Jeffrey Perry to produce this biography. In the last paragraph of this colossal project, he writes that his hope at the outset was that Hubert Harrison's "extraordinary life of activism and his brilliant writing and thinking will increasingly be made available — and be of use — to current and future generations."
-- John Woodford, former writer for "Ebony Magazine," The "Chicago Sun-Times," The "New York Times," and "The Black Scholar" and former editor of "Muhammad Speaks," in "Against the Current," July/August 2022. See HERE

Sean Ahern on 3 Books on Hubert Harrison by Jeffrey B. Perry in "Black Agenda Report," June 8, 15, 22, 2022 and in "New York Almanck"see HERE

Sean Ahern in "Hubert Henry Harrison – Tribune of the People" writes:



Interest in Harrison has been spurred in large part by the release of  "A Hubert Harrison Reader" (Wesleyan University Press, 2001) edited by Jeffrey B. Perry and the 2-volume Perry biography, "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" (Columbia University Press 2009) and the recently released "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927" (Columbia University Press 2021).  Perry also assisted with the Diasporic Press reprint of Harrison's "When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story' of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World" first published by Porro Press in 1920.  These books bring to our attention important writings and organizing efforts undertaken by Harrison at a critical juncture of national and international events between 1910 and 1927. 

. . .

"A Hubert Harrison Reader" and the two-volume biography are the product of a 40-year research project based on primary sources including Harrison's own papers, which had been preserved by his family in Harlem apartments after his early death at 44 in 1927.  The Harrison Papers have now been archived in the Columbia Rare Books and Manuscripts Library and are available to the public at  http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/archival/collections/ldpd_6134799/

with an important portion available online at https://dlc.library.columbia.edu/hubert_h_harrison .

. . .

"A Hubert Harrison Reader" and the two-volume biography provide a window for those interested in: the struggle against white supremacism; capitalism and Imperialism in the early 20th century; the rise of the New Negro Movement; the Garvey movement; early efforts to build mass-based radical Black organization; questions of leadership arising in mass-based radical organizations; and the signal importance of education and culture to the growth of social movements.  Labor and Black activists, students and educators interested in such topics as Critical Race Theory and Black Marxism may find in Harrison an early, though heretofore unacknowledged, resource.

. . .

"A Hubert Harrison Reader" contains published and unpublished articles, book reviews, letters and diary entries organized thematically and preceded by brief contextual remarks by Perry. Harrison's own words will readily engage the modern reader just as his talks and writings influenced a wide audience in the socialist and New Negro movements between 1911-1927.

The biography's two-volumes are prodigious, scholarly tomes, chronological, thoroughly documented and richly evocative of Harrison's struggles to juggle family and personal relationships with his political commitments often in the face of dire poverty.  They stand as a challenge to historians and serious students of US social history who have, with few exceptions, overlooked Harrison's seminal contributions and leading roles in both the Socialist Party and the New Negro Movement. 

 . . .

In his introduction to the first volume, "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1917," Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry describes Harrison as "the most race conscious of the class radicals and the most class conscious of the race radicals."  Given the over 1,800 pages of text and notes in the volumes under consideration here, it may take some time for students and radical activists to digest Harrison's contributions, yet the evidence strongly supports the view that Hubert H. Harrison was one of the most influential and most radical of the radicals (in the sense of going to the root) in 20th century America.

 . . .

Perry's intriguing description of Harrison's place in US social history offers historians a window for future inquiries.  Even more importantly, Harrison's life and work offers some urgent lessons for today's "class" and "race" radicals who wrestle with similar defining features of American society that Harrison challenged a century ago at the beginning of the "American Century"; racial oppression, capitalism, imperialism, opportunism and narrow mindedness in those who would profess to lead the people's movements.   Harrison's experiences and reflections upon leadership, program, and organization are particularly relevant for those today asking "what is to be done?"

 "The most race conscious of the class radicals"

. . .

From 1911-1914 Harrison was the Socialist Party's leading Black organizer.  He sought to enlist the Party to demand the enforcement of the 14 and 15th amendments passed in the wake of the Civil War, but which were not enforced after the end of Reconstruction. The defense of the Black community which he described as "a group that is more essentially proletarian than any other group," was clearly the duty of Socialists. He hoped that the Socialists would offer a clear alternative to the Republican Party for Black voters, particularly as they migrated to Northern cities.

 . . .

In 1911 Harrison began by introducing a socio-economic analysis of racial oppression that challenged the Socialist Party's biological conception of race:

. . .

"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.  Take the Declaration of Independence for instance.  That seemed a splendid truth.  But the black man merely touched it and it became a splendid lie. And in this matter of the suffrage in the Southern States it is expedient to keep the Negro a serf politically because he is still largely an economic serf.  If he should attain to political freedom he would free himself from industrial exploitation and contempt. Of course such a revolution is startling to even think of…" ("New York Call," November 28, 1911)


He elsewhere writes:


"…the mission of the Socialist Party is to free the working class from exploitation, and since the Negro is the most ruthlessly exploited working class group in America, the duty of the party to champion his cause is as clear as day.  This is the crucial test of Socialism's sincerity…" ("International Socialist Review," July 1912)

 In hindsight, Harrison's writings, published by the "New York Call" and the "International Socialist Review," offer one of the earliest, most pointed critiques of white racial opportunism in the US socialist and labor union movements. Harrison's writings should be required reading for a new generation of socialist minded "class" radicals concerned to place the struggle against white supremacism at the center of their efforts for labor solidarity and fundamental social change. Harrison's final assessment was that the Socialist Party leadership put the white "race first and class after." 

The enduring significance of Harrison's contributions for activists today may be his vision and tireless efforts to base organization of the overwhelmingly working-class Black community on the people themselves.  

Carlett Spike, "Princeton Alumni Weekly," May 2022.


Most recently, Perry published the 1,000-page second volume of a massive biography titled "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927" (Columbia University Press). The book focuses on the final decade of Harrison's life, from his writings to his activism. It ultimately illustrates the continued relevance of Harrison's insights on various topics including race, class, and social change, which were seen as radical at the time. Perry pulled it all together, but his goal was to let Harrison's writings speak for themselves. 

What ultimately motivates him, Perry says, is the hope that Harrison will finally "get the attention he merits and that people will draw from him and learn from him." See HERE

Jeff Stein, "Black Wobblies: Hubert Harrison and Ben Fletcher," "Anarcho-Syndicalist Review," #85, Spring, 2022, pp. 21ff


Why is there no socialism in America? According to Jeffrey Perry, in his two-volume biography of Black socialist Hubert Harrison, it is because radicals in the United States have unfinished business: winning the full social, political, and economic equality of Blacks. Drawing on the theories of Theodore William Allen, Perry argues that the white socialist and labor movements were afraid to confront white supremacy among their followers, and this led to not only the rejection of socialism by the Black working class, but an acceptance of white privilege instead of class consciousness by white workers. As Perry shows, this was a theory first proposed by former IWW Hubert Harrison, causing Harrison to advocate the idea of "Race First"—that Blacks should organize independently of white liberals and socialists by backing only Black candidates for political office, leading to a Black political party, and forming Black-only labor unions, until white workers and their leaders recognized them as equals.

 , , , 

Hubert Harrison did not give up on socialism, however. Instead, he modified his views that as long as white socialists put white workers first, Black socialists needed to put their own race first. Harrison pointed out the hypocrisy of the AFL for denying Black workers jobs, and at the same time accusing them of breaking strikes when they took jobs as replacements for white workers. Neither was the Socialist Party particularly concerned with protecting the rights of Blacks to vote, nor passing laws against lynching which might offend Southern whites. If the Socialist Party and the AFL put white workers first over their common interests as a united working class, why should Black workers not do the same?


As Perry notes, Harrison told Black workers they should

"not wait for white labor to act in its own class interest by struggling against white supremacy. Harrison pointed out that 'the Black worker was opposed by the general run of white working men, who kept them out of their unions for the most part, and yet called him 'scab' for getting their jobs at the only time when those jobs were available to him.'...when confronted by racist unions—form your own unions." (Volume 1, p. 279)

 Luiz Bernardo Pericás University of São Paulo, Brazil in "Afro-Asia" translated from the Portuguese by Ellen Alencar Lopes


A true tour de force. Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918–1927 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2021, 998 pages), part two of Jeffrey B. Perry's ambitious biography, depicts the final years of what was considered "the father the radicalism of Harlem", completing the trajectory of one of the most important African-American political activists of the beginning of the last century.

Hubert was, without a doubt, a very important character, who never received the centrality he deserved.

. . .

Perry would fill that gap and finally put this iconic character in the leading role. Thus, in the author's words, in his introduction, this would be "the first complete biography, in more than one volume, of an Afro-Caribbean, and only the fourth of an African-American, after those of Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes (p. 1).

"Z-Net" –In the January 21, 2021 "Z-Net" appears (with thanks to publisher Michael Albert) Jeffrey B. Perry, "Hubert Harrison Biography Has Much to Offer Us Today" See HERE


Hubert H. Harrison Papers Digital Library Collection see HERE


Socialist Party, Jeffrey B. Perry was interviewed by Greg Pason of the Socialist Party on "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality" on October 2, 2020 see HERE


Harlem World September 27, 1920 see HERE


Jared McCallister, "Caribbeat: Hubert Harrison Bios," "New York Daily News," November 22, 2020 Caribbeat mentions both volumes of the biography.  See HERE


Todd Steven Burroughs' thought-provoking review of the two-volume biography of Hubert Harrison entitled "Book Review: The Prologue, The Prototype, The O.G. Hater" see HERE


See this ½ page ad in the Princeton Alumni Weekly of December 2020 available HERE


PU Class of 1968 Notes – see HERE


Princeton Progressives blog ran a piece entitled "Hubert Harrison biography" on September 30, 2020 see HERE 


Columbia University Press Blog Post for Harlem Week August 16-22, 2020 see HERE


Columbia University Press Blog Post for January 9, 2021"Hubert Harrison and Contemporary Struggles for Racial Equality" see HERE


National Coalition of Independent Scholars March 8, 2021, piece on Jeffrey B. Perry and Hubert Harrison -- see HERE


"Truth Seeker"– In the current Jan-April 2021 "Truth Seeker" there is an article by Jeffrey B. Perry on Hubert Harrison: The Father of Harlem Radicalism entitled "Freethought Influence and Comments on Christianity in 'Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927." To read the article use code – stone --. Editor Roderick Bradford also featured a full-page ad, which is appended below.  Download the January – April, 2021 issue of "The Truth Seeker" -- HERE


Paul Buhle discusses "The Souls of Black Folk, by W. E. B. Du Bois," Introduction by Jonathan Scott Holloway, 2020 edition and "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918–1927," by Jeffrey Perry (Columbia University Press, 2020) see HERE


Kimberly Veal, January 15, 2021 Interview for Black Fee Thinkers discusses Hubert Harrison with Jeffrey B. Perry see HERE      

An Interview with Jeffrey B. Perry on Hubert Harrison hosted by Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina for the Virgin Islands Cultural Center Notes, January 7, 2021, see HERE


January 14 G-Man -- "Hubert Harrison's Legacy and Story Showcased in Two-Volume Biography" see HERE


Jeffrey B. Perry, "Hubert Harrison: December 17th Marks 93rd Anniversary of Death," "Black Star News" – see HERE




Hettie Williams 'Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927," Interview January, 7, 2020, New Books Network January 18, 2021 -- see HERE


Dr. Clemson Brown December 23, 2020 Show. Jeffrey B. Perry discusses "Hubert Harrison: The Black Socrates" with Rev. Clemson Brown and Dorrell Good, Trans Atlantic Productions see HERE


Jan 8, 2020, Jared Ball interview with Jeffrey B. Perry on "Hubert Henry Harrison" see HERE or see HERE


Columbia Alumni website "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927" see HERE   


"Black Agenda Report" Editor Glen Ford Interviews Jeffrey B. Perry on "Hubert Harrison" on August 31, 2020 begins at 35:20

see HERE

New Publication by National Coalition of Independent Scholars Member Jeffrey B. Perry "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927" ( Columbia University Press) Discussed Here.

"Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927" (Columbia University Press) by Jeffrey B. Perry mentioned in Princeton University Class of 1968 notes-- SEE HERE

Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927
Jeffrey B. Perry

 "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927" (Columbia University Press) follows "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918". This two-volume biography by Jeffrey B. Perry is based on extensive use of the Hubert H. Harrison Papers and Diary at Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
   Born to a Barbadian mother and Crucian father in St. Croix, Harlem-based Hubert Harrison (1883-1927) was a brilliant writer, orator, editor, educator, critic, and activist. He combined class consciousness and anti-white-supremacist race consciousness, internationalism, and struggle for equality into a potent political radicalism. Harrison's ideas profoundly influenced "New Negro" militants, including A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey, and his work is a key link in the two great strands of the Civil Rights/Black Liberation struggle: the labor- and civil-rights movement associated with Randolph and Martin Luther King Jr. and the race and nationalist movement associated with Garvey and Malcolm X.
    The second volume of this acclaimed biography traces the final decade of Harrison's life, from 1918 to 1927. It details Harrison's literary and political activities, foregrounding his efforts against white supremacy and for racial consciousness and unity in struggles for equality and radical social change. The book explores Harrison's role in the militant "New Negro Movement" and with the International Colored Unity League, as well as his prolific work as a writer, educator for the New York City Board of Education, and editor of the New Negro and the Negro World. It also examines his interactions with major figures such as Garvey, Randolph, Du Bois, Cyril Briggs, W. A Domingo, Richard B. Moore, Claude McKay, John E. Bruce, J. A. Rogers, Eugene O'Neill, Elizabeth Hendrickson, D. Hamilton Jackson, Rothschild Francis, Casper Holstein, Alain Leroy Locke, Amy Ashwood Garvey, Augusta Savage, William Pickens, Willis Huggins, Williana Jones Burroughs, Arthur Schomburg, and other prominent individuals and organizations as he agitated, educated, wrote and organized for democracy and equality from a race-conscious, radical internationalist perspective. This biography demonstrates how Harrison's life and work continue to offer profound insights on race, class, war, religion, literature, theater, immigration, democracy, and social change in America.
    These two volumes can be ordered from Columbia University Press at 20% discount by using Code "CUP20". Please share this information with others and please encourage your public library and your college and/or university library to include the Harrison biography in their collections.