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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

A Letter of Support Re: The Black Justice League Protests at Princeton by Jeffrey B. Perry and Gene Bruskin--

In 1964, as Princeton freshmen we were told that Woodrow Wilson had been a leading Progressive, a proponent of “Democracy,” and a champion of self-determination abroad. It is good to see students today challenging that picture.

Wilson’s record was deplorable on the “race question.” He cut back federal appointments of African Americans; supported showings of the white-supremacist film "The Birth of a Nation" for himself, his Cabinet, Congress, and the Supreme Court; stood by silently as segregation was formalized in the Post Office, Treasury, Interior, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and Navy; did nothing as almost two dozen segregation-supporting legislative attempts including exclusion of Black immigrants, segregation of streetcars, and a ban on inter-racial marriages in the District of Columbia were introduced in the House and Senate; and declined to use any significant power of office to address lynching, segregation, and disfranchisement and the vicious white-supremacist attacks on twenty-six African American communities including Washington, DC, Chicago, and East St. Louis that occurred during his administration.

Under Wilson the U.S. not only implemented the Espionage Act of 1917, the Sedition Act of 1918, and the Palmer Raids of 1919-1920, it also occupied Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Nicaragua and intervened in Panama, Honduras, and Mexico. Nevertheless, Wilson ran for President in 1916 on a campaign slogan “he kept us out of war,” posed before the world as a champion of democracy, and prated of “the rights of small nationalities,” of “self-determination,” and of “the right of all who submit to authority to have a voice in their own government.” In addition to the awful horrors let loose on small countries pre-war, in the postwar period he also helped to pave the way for partition, occupation, and conquest in the Middle East and Africa and for future wars.

There were contemporaries of Wilson, people like the intellectual/activist Hubert Harrison, the founder of the first organization (the Liberty League) and first newspaper (The Voice) of the militant “New Negro Movement,” who saw through the misleading portrait of Wilson so often found in the media and history books. Harrison understood that while lynching, segregation, and disfranchisement marred this land, and while the U.S. brazenly attacked smaller countries, “Wilson's protestations of democracy were lying protestations, consciously, and deliberately designed to deceive.” At the founding meeting of the Liberty League in June 1917, Harrison posed a direct challenge to Wilson who had claimed the U.S. was entering World War I in order to “Make the World Safe for Democracy.” Harrison’s mass meeting was called, as its organizational flyer headlined, to "Stop Lynching and Disfranchisement in the Land Which We Love and Make the South 'Safe For Democracy.'" A month later Harrison led a second major Harlem rally to protest the white supremacist “pogrom” (his word) in East St. Louis, Illinois (15 miles from Ferguson, Missouri).

We are glad that the Black Justice League is raising some of these issues, opening the eyes of many, and helping to point the way forward in the 21st century.

Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry ‘68
Editor of the new expanded edition of Hubert H. Harrison, When Africa Awakes: The "Inside Story" of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World and author of Hubert Harrison, The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918 (Columbia University Press)

Gene Bruskin ‘68
Founder, U.S. Labor Against the War
Trade Unionist

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When Africa Awakes: The "Inside Story" of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World by Hubert H. Harrison Introductions and Notes by Jeffrey B. Perry at Book Culture

Diasporic Africa Press has just published a New (and greatly expanded) Edition of Hubert H. Harrison, “When Africa Awakes: The ‘Inside Story’ of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World” with Introductions and Notes by Jeffrey B. Perry. (ISBN 9781937306274).
The Book Can Be Bought at Book Culture, 536 W. 112th St., New York, NY, 212-865-1588 (near Columbia University.)
Click Here

The book is quite inexpensive in paperback and E-Book formats and with over 50 primary articles by Harrison and very important supplemental notes it is excellent for course use and study groups.

Virgin Islands-born, Harlem-based, Hubert H. Harrison's "When Africa Awakes: The "Inside Story" of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World" is a collection of over fifty articles that detail his pioneering theoretical, educational, and organizational role in the founding and development of the militant, World War I era "New Negro Movement."

Harrison was a brilliant, class and race conscious, writer, educator, orator, editor, book reviewer, political activist, and radical internationalist who was described by J. A. Rogers as "perhaps the foremost Aframerican intellect of his time" and by A. Philip Randolph as "the father of Harlem Radicalism." He was a major radical influence on Randolph, Marcus Garvey, and a generation of "New Negro" activists.

This new Diasporic Africa Press edition includes the COMPLETE TEXT (including his “Introductory”) of Harrison's original 1920 volume; contains essays from publications Harrison edited in the 1917-1920 period including “The Voice” (the first newspaper of the "New Negro Movement"), “The New Negro,” and the Garvey movement's “Negro World”; and offers a new introduction, biographical sketch, and supplementary notes by Harrison's biographer, Jeffrey B. Perry.

Look inside the book HERE

It sells for $13.50, has an IBSN of 9781937306274, and can be ordered in paperback format at Amazon by CLICKING HERE

It has an ASIN of B0164QH0EW and can be ordered for $6.99 in KINDLE format from Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

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