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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

Hubert Harrison, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Theodore W. Allen on Enslaved Black Laborers as Proletarians

“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 --
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