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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

On Hubert Harrison's August 15, 1920 "Introductory" to "When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story' of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World"

Hubert Harrison, in the "Introductory" to his August 15, 1920 publication of "When Africa Awakes: The 'Inside Story' of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World," provides important insights for understanding the militant, political and literary, "New Negro Movement" that he founded.
The book contains fifty-three of his writings between 1915 and 1920 that establish his pioneering theoretical, educational, and organizational role in the founding and development of the militant "New Negro Movement." Harrison compiled this collection of his editorials, articles, and reviews from newspapers that he edited -- "The Voice" (1917-1919), "The New Negro" (1919), and "The Negro World" (1920) -- in order to explain the "new point of view" that developed during the Great War.
That new point of view, wrote Harrison, included an internationalist perspective describing how: during the Great War "the idea of democracy was widely advertised . . . as a convenient camouflage behind which competing imperialists masked their sordid aims"; "those who so loudly proclaimed and formulated the new democratic demands never had the slightest intention of extending the limits or the applications of 'democracy'"; "subject populations" put forth their own demands for democracy leading to "great unrest"; "black, brown and yellow peoples" were "insisting that democracy shall be made safe for them"; and the "race-consciousness" of the "Negro people" in the United States quickened and they put forth "new demands."


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