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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

Recent Reviews of 2-volume Columbia University Press Hubert Harrison Biography by Jeffrey B. Perry


Here are links to recent items on my 2-volume, Columbia University Press, biography ("Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918" and ubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality:"H"Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927").


Robert Greene, II, "The Stalwart: Hubert Harrison's Radical Life and Times," "The Nation," vol. 314, No. 12, June 13-20, 2022, pp. 38-42. -- See HERE or see HERE


John Woodford, "A Giant Rescued from Oblivion," "Against the Current," Vol. XXXVII, No. 3, July/August 2022, pp. 35-38 -- see HERE

 Carlett Spike, "Jeff Perry's Scholarship is Elevating 'the Father of Harlem Radicalism,/" "Princeton Alumni Weekly," published online April 27, 2022 -- see HERE

Sean I. Ahern, "Hubert Henry Harrison-Tribune of the People," "Black Agenda Report," in 3 parts June 8, 15, 22, 2022 online at -- part 1 see HERE part 2 see HERE and part 3 see HERE 

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Jeffrey B. Perry Interview with Laura Flanders


Jeffrey B. Perry Interview with Laura Flanders



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"A Giant Rescued from Oblivion" -- review by John Woodford of "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927" (Columbia University Press) by Jeffrey B. Perry -- in "Against The Current"

"A Giant Rescued from Oblivion" -- review by John Woodford of "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927" (Columbia University Press) by Jeffrey B. Perry -- in "Against The Current." Woodford has written for "Ebony,""The Chicago Sun-Times," "The New York Times,"and "The Black Scholar" and he was editor-in-chief of "Muhammad Speaks." 

See HERE  

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Epigraph (Part 2 of 4) From "The Developing Conjuncture and Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of Struggle Against White Supremacy" by Jeffrey B. Perry

"The ten million Negroes of America form a group that is more essentially proletarian than any other American group . . . and the Negro was . . . [under slavery] the most thoroughly exploited of the American proletariat, . . . the most thoroughly despised."
Hubert Harrison, "Socialism and the Negro," "International Socialist Review," 1912


"The South, after the [Civil] war, presented the greatest opportunity for a real national labor movement which the nation ever saw or is likely to see for many decades. Yet the [white] labor movement, with but few exceptions, never realized the situation. It never had the intelligence or knowledge, as a whole, to see in black slavery and Reconstruction, the kernel and the meaning of the labor movement in the United States."
W.E.B. Du Bois, "Black Reconstruction," 1935


"Given this understanding of slavery in Anglo-America as capitalism, and of the slaveholders as capitalists, it follows that the chattel bond-laborers were proletarians. Accordingly, the study of class consciousness as a sense the American workers have of their own class interests, must start with recognition of that fact."
Theodore W. Allen, "On Roediger's The Wages of Whiteness," 2001

"Politically, the Negro is the touchstone of the modern democratic idea. The presence of the Negro puts our democracy to the test and reveals the falsity of it . . . [True democracy and equality implies] a revolution . . . startling to even think of."
Hubert Harrison, "The Negro and Socialism," 1911


"The most vulnerable point at which a decisive blow can be struck against bourgeois rule in the United States is white supremacy. White supremacy is both the keystone and the Achilles heel of U.S. bourgeois democracy, the historic font of bourgeois rule in the United States."
Theodore W. Allen. "The Most Vulnerable Point," 1972


". . . the mission of the Socialist Party is to free the working class from exploitation, and . . . the duty of the party to champion . . . [the Negro's] cause is as clear as day. This is the crucial test of Socialism's sincerity."
Hubert Harrison, "Socialism and the Negro," "International Socialist Review," 1912
"The Negro problem, then, is the great test of the American socialists."
W.E.B. Du Bois, "Socialism and the Negro Problem," "The New Review," 1913


". . . your official documents [show] that the white men of your [Socialist] party officially put [the white] 'race first' rather than 'class first.'"
Hubert Harrison "An Open Letter to the Socialist Party of New York City," "Negro World," 1920

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Epigraph (Part 1 of 4) From "The Developing Conjuncture and Insights from Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of Struggle Against White Supremacy" by Jeffrey B. Perry

Epigraph (Part 1 of 4)
"The King James version of the Bible . . . does not contain the word 'race' in our modern sense . . . as late as 1611 our modern idea of race had not yet arisen."
Hubert Harrison, "World Problems of Race," 1926
"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."
Theodore W. Allen, "The Invention of the White Race," Vol. 1, 1994
(Written after searching through 885 county-years of Virginia's colonial records)
"In the latter half of the seventeenth century, [in] Virginia and Maryland, the tobacco colonies . . . Afro-American and European-American proletarians made common cause in this struggle to an extent never duplicated in the three hundred years since."
Theodore W. Allen, "Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race," 1975
" . . . the plantation bourgeoisie established a system of social control by the institutionalization of the 'white' race whereby the mass of poor whites was alienated from the black proletariat and enlisted as enforcers of bourgeois power."
Theodore W. Allen, "Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race," 1975
" . . . the record indicates that laboring-class European-Americans in the continental plantation colonies showed little interest in 'white identity' before the institution of the system of 'race' privileges at the end of the seventeenth century."
Theodore W. Allen, "The Invention of the White Race," Vol. 1, 1994
" . . . their (the poor "whites") own position, vis-a-vis the rich and powerful . . . was not improved, but weakened, by the white-skin privilege system."
Theodore W. Allen, "Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race," 1975

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"Author discusses fight against white supremacy" by Karyn Pereny, "Northern Valley Suburbanite" (South), Englewood, NJ, February 23, 2012, p. A5



Author discusses fight against white supremacy





ENGLEWOOD - Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry, of Westwood, is a self-described independent, working-class scholar. His work focuses on how white supremacy hinders progressive social change. Perry has written extensively on the topic and is the author of "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918."


Perry was a guest speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Palisades on Feb. 19. He lead a discussion called: The Current Crises and Centrality of the Struggle against White Supremacy.


Congregation President Eddie Hadden noted that the organization is intentionally diverse and that although they are spiritually based, they have other themes. Perry was an anticipated guess in celebration of Black History Month.


Perry began the discussion citing his residence in Englewood as a child and adolescent an igniting factor in his interest in social justice. He recalled anecdotes dating back to the 1960s, including the first organized northern sit-ins in Englewood in 1962. He distinctly remembered a 1963 high school sporting match between an all white Paramus team and nearly all black Englewood team.


The event ended in riot with players in the hospital. These events caused him to raise questions and seek involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, a catalyst for other movements.


Through his extensive research, Perry was able to reveal statistics on inequality in America. Of the most alarming was that 50 percent of all U.S. children will use food stamps once in their life and that 90 percent of black children will use food stamps once in their life. He continued to inform the audience of the relationship between poverty and incarceration.


Perry did not only speak about current issues, but went back and traced its roots. He spoke passionately about Hubert Harrison, who he considers a giant of black history, but most dont know anything about him.


Harrison promoted class consciousness and related class and race issues. Perry used Harrisons quote: Politically the Negro is the touchstone of modem democratic idea, to illustrate how democracy has and can be used as both a retardant and catalyst of social change.


Harrison was not the only activist Perry included; he also spoke about the work of Theodore William Allen. Perry has edited Allens "Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race."


Allen's work cites three major crises leading to the struggle against white supremacy. They are: Civil War Reconstruction, Populism, and The Great Depression.


Peny discussed that many New Deal programs were shaped through white supremacy and excluded domestic workers, most of whom were minorities.


The GI Bill was particularly important. Perry stated it provided homes with zero down payment and no interest loans. This was awarded to 70,000 people and less than 100 were people of color. This bill allowed the creation of white suburbs around America and continued a pattern of segregation.


The discussion raised many questions from the congregation and an overall heightened sense of awareness. A1 Stavsky, of Teaneck said, I have done a number of readings on the place of slavery in American history, so this was of special interest, but the discussion of Harrison is new to me. Quite a revelation.


Perry believes in speaking directly on the struggle against white supremacy and encourages European Americans to question what it means to be white.


(Notr -- this article is lso in "The Teaneck Suburbanite," February 23, 2012, p. A !8.

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"MLK Speaker: Inequality Remains," by Jenna Pizzi, "News Journal," Wilmington, Delaware

"Racism vs. White Supremacy Under Discussion" featuring Jeffrey B. Perry c. January 15, 2016 at the Wilmington, Delaware Public Library.

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"Amendment Needs a Closer Look," Jeffrey B Perry, "Passaic Herald News," July 5, 2017, p. B 7

Amendment needs a closer look


Regarding "Senate's effort fails to please both sides" (Page A-l, June 28): The story refers to the Lautenberg Amendment of 1990 as "allowing Jews and other religious minorities leaving the Soviet Union to receive protection in the United States."


The Congressional Research Service says the amendment allows those groups covered by the legislation to prove they are eligible for special refugee status "with a credible, but not necessarily individual, fear of persecution."


By contrast, the Immigration and Nationality Act "requires prospective refugees to establish a well-founded fear of persecution on a case-by-case basis."


Those covered by the Lautenberg Amendment are eligible for special cash assistance and for federal public assistance programs including, but not limited to, Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency has reported "The Lautenberg Amendment allowed some 350,000 to 400,000 Jews from the former Soviet Union to gain entry into the United States without having to prove they were individu ally persecuted."


Charles Kamasaki, executive vice president of the National Council of La Raza, has written, "To some Hispanic advocates, the inequity was obvious."


A brief look at the Lautenberg Amendment reveals disparities in classification and treatment between those who are covered and not covered by the amendment and related special programs and assistance. A much closer look at the disparities in classification and treatment can provide important information for those struggling for more equal and just immigration, refugee and domestic policies.


Jeffrey B. Perry


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Princeton Students Right About Woodrow Wilson," by Jeffrey B. Perry and Gene Bruskin, published in "The Record," November 23, 2015, p. A9

"Princeton students right about Wilson"


Woodrow Wilson's record was deplorable on the "race question." He cut federal appointments of African-Americans; supported showings of the white-supremacist film "The Birth of a Nation," and stood by silently as segregation was formalized in the Post Office and many other federal departments.


He also declined to use any significant power of office to address lynching, segregation, disfranchisement and the vicious white-supremacist attacks on 26 African-American communities including Washington, D.C., Chicago and East St. Louis, III, that occurred during his administration.


Under Wilson, the United States not only implemented the Espionage Act, the Sedition Act and the Palmer Raids, it also occupied Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Nicaragua and intervened in Panama, Honduras and Mexico.


There were people like Hubert Harrison, the founder in 1917 of the first organization and newspaper of the militant "New Negro Movement," who understood that while lynching, segregation and disfranchisement marred this land, and while the United States attacked smaller countries, "Wilson's protestations of democracy were lying protestations, consciously and deliberately designed to deceive."


Harrison posed a direct challenge to Wilson, who had claimed the U.S. entered World War I in order to "make the world safe for democracy." Harrison's organization was founded to "stop lynching and disfranchisement in the land which we love and make the south 'safe for democracy.'"


As graduates of Princeton University, class of 1968, we are glad that today's students are raising some of these issues, opening the eyes of many and helping to point the way forward in the 21st century. Jeffrey B. Perry Westwood, Nov. 20 The writer is author of "Hubert Harrison, The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918." The letter was also signed by Gene Bruskin of Silver Spring, Md.

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"It's more about power than race" by Jeffrey B. Perry, "The Record," Hackensck, NJ, April 12, 2015, p. 3

"It's more about power than race"


Regarding "Who's to say Jeb Bush isn't Hispanic?" (Other Views, April 9):


The writer raises the question of "Isn't 'Hispanic' partly a contrivance?" He then points out that regarding the Census, "Hispanics can call themselves white or black or something else." He is right on both counts.


The question arises, why do the decision-makers for the Census Bureau facilitate "Hispanics" being counted twice - as both Hispanic and as "white or black or something else?" One key to understanding the answer has to do with another contrivance - a political contrivance, the "white race," and with the question of ruling-class social control.


Theodore W. Allen in "The Invention of the White Race" writes: "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 60 years."


It is in the context of such findings that he offers his major thesis, that being that the "white race" was invented as a ruling class social control formation in response to labor solidarity as manifested in 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 2) the consequences were not only ruinous to the interests of African-Americans, they were also disastrous for European-American workers.


Today, when the gap between rich and poor is at record proportions and white supremacy mars the land, and when increasing numbers are realizing the need for social change, the powers that be are still interested in using the "white race" to maintain social control. One important aim of such political census-making, and of allowing "Hispanics" to be counted twice and to call themselves "white," is to enable the ruling powers to preserve the democratic gloss, if not of a "white" majority, then at least of a "white" plurality, in their efforts to maintain social control.


Jeffrey B. Perry Westwood, April 10

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"On Centrality of Black History" by Jeffrey B. Perry, "The Record," submitted February 3, published February 8, 2002

"On Centrality of Black History" by Jeffrey B. Perry, "The Record," submitted February 3, published February 8, 2002, p.90.


On centrality of black history In March 1927, Harlem's Hubert Harrison, the brilliant and much-neglected writer, author, and social activist who is described in J. A. Rogers' "World's Great Men of Color" as "the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time," pointed out that the idea of a "Negro Literary Renaissance" overlooked "the stream of literary and artistic products which have flowed uninterruptedly from Negro writers from 1850 to the present." I can appreciate the buzz value in Staff Writer Paul Johnson's Black History Month piece "A second Harlem Renaissance" (Page A-l, Feb. 3) and like many of its points. I also appreciate the fact that The Record is doing its daily box on black figures during Black History Month (February). However, I hope that such coverage of African-American history and writers will not downsize when February ends. I truly believe that African-American history and African-American contributions are central to understanding American history and that all people in this country are better served by deeper and more continuously developed understanding of black history and black contributions. Perhaps, one day, Record readers will even be told about Hubert Harrison. Jeffrey B. Perry Westwood, Feb. 3

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"Jeffrey B. Perry: Freethinker, Historian, Educator" by Karen F. Mranarevic

"Jeffrey B. Perry: Freethinker, Historian, Educator" by Karen F. Mranarevic in "Pascack Valley Community Life" (Westood, NJ), February 4, 2009 at HERE




It takes a lot of guts to challenge outdated, institutionalized modes of thinking, to hold a magnifying glass to the American past, and question how its events are recorded and interpreted. Jeff Perry, of Westwood, is a man who is unafraid of shaking things up, and he has made it the focus of his professional career to clear away the cobwebs that occlude the truth about the history of race relations in our country. His eventual objective is to convince the great minds of the future that things can and will change in America. But first we must acknowledge our weaknesses, and identify the ills we have committed, lest we be doomed to repeat them.


In November, Columbia University Press published the first volume of Perry's two-volume biography of Hubert Harrison, a black orator, writer, and activist whom Perry calls one of the most important 20th century thinkers in race and class in America. Harrison has been largely forgotten since his death in 1927 in part because he was ahead of his time. The book, "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918," is the culmination of decades of research, traveling, blood, sweat and tears. Perry says, "It is meant to be a tool and a weapon" in the study of race and class and social reform. Below, Perry discusses where he is coming from, the origins of his passion, and what he hopes to accomplish.


How long have you lived in Westwood?


Since 1990. But I grew up in Paramus.


What is your profession?


Independent scholar.


Iconoclast and activist:


I worked as a journalist at "The Record" for a while... My job title was "wire room boy," but I had problems when [the wire] came in and said "Black Rhodesian terrorists," and I would change it to, "Zimbabwe Liberation fighters." "I started working at the Post Office in 1974 in Jersey City. I wound up being a postal worker for 33 years. I was selected the head of the union for that facility for a while. We had strikes against the Post Office in 1978 - you're not allowed to strike against the Post Office in this country - and several hundred people were fired.


School Days


Graduayed Paramus High School in 1964. Graduated from Princeton University in 1968. Went to Harvard Graduate School of Education, and withdrew because we were studying education at the time, and the Coleman Report of the 1960s seemed very clearly to suggest to me that test scores and attitudinal values were significantly determined by socioe-conomic factors. So I left graduate school and traveled throughout the Americas. That experience helped to open my eyes, exposed me to a lot more of the world... I went back to Rutgers in the mid-'70s and got a Masters in labor studies. When I finished that, I went to Columbia University and I got a Masters in philosophy in American history and then a Ph.D. in American history. And along the way I became influenced by Theodore W. Allen - one . of the most important writers on class and race in America.


Did you always want to be a historian/writer?


Well, no. When I was growing up it was the high period for athletics in Paramus. We won county and state championships in just about every sport. And my world kind of revolved around that. That's how I got to go to school. I was the first person in my family to go to college, and ended up going to Princeton - I was recruited. At Princeton I started going through a lot of changes. I had been brought up and was pretty devoutly Catholic and learning theory and psychology courses caused me to rethink a lot of that. To go back to Karl Marx - the criticism of religion was the foundation of all criticism because the religious view is a worldview.


What motivates you to do what you do?


For the last 40 years, wherever I was living, it was interracial, in that there were people of color involved. And when you have normal contact you learn a lot. I did learn a lot through my personal experiences, through my writing. And what I became convinced me of is the following: in the United States, white supremacy is central to capitalist rule. It's the principal retardant to significant social change - that's what those "red states" were about. People don't want to hear that oftentimes in Bergen County, but that's what it's about. And significant social change can be effected if we challenge white supremacy in the context of making a better society. That's what my writing's about, and Harrison, of course, foresaw that. When I study education it points to this. When I work in the labor movement I see it. I have the antennas up and I know what I am seeing.


What historical figure do you most admire and why?


I like Hubert Harrison -- he was not perfect. In the biography I consciously try and portray him, warts and all, because I think that's how we learn. But he seems to me, as I understand him, to be a very nice human being, and his concerns were concerns that I have. And also Theodore W. Allen. The people I write about, I do because I think they said very important things, but I also like them as people.


If you could choose an era to have lived during, what era would it be?


I like when I live. I grew up in the '60s - a very exciting period. And I would like to see certain aspects of that period alive again. There was a lot of good spirit. When the civil rights movement was very active, you would go to meetings and people would have generally a very positive collective spirit - and it's that spirit of people pitching and trying to make a better world - and there was an openness to ideas and music and art.


What would you say is your greatest professional achievement?


I'm working on my greatest achievement, which is making the writings of Harrison and Theodore W. Allen available on a much wider basis. And that's what I hope to do if I stay healthy for another 25 or 30 more years.


What are you most proud of?


I am proud of the growing interest in Hubert Harrison. There's a younger generation of scholars who are now picking up on this.


What scares you?


That the powers that be will somehow remain ascendant and keep people throughout the world, and including people in this country, suffering and largely ignorant, at war needlessly with one another for reasons of profit and greed. And I don't hold Obama as any God or anything - we all put our pants on one leg at a time - but I do fear that something will happen to him, because in this country we do have a history of talented black leaders being removed.


What makes you laugh?


People make me laugh. I genuinely enjoy people. And I often laugh at when we hold up some of the things we do to a second look with a sense of humor. I often laugh just when greeted by people who are pleasant and welcoming and smiling. I will sometimes laugh by myself, but I enjoy sharing with others. Sometimes it's that intuitive spark that makes me laugh and the enjoyment of the intuitive experience.


What are your plans for the future?


For the immediate future, I am speaking and writing on Harrison. I will finish the second volume of the biography and try to get his writings up online at Columbia, and share what I can about him. I would also like to be more active in broader social issues. For more information about Jeff Perry visit www.jeffreybperry.net.

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