Happy Birthday Hubert Harrison (April 27th)
(The photo to the left shows Hubert Harrison's unmarked, shared gravesite in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. The gravesite reflects both the poverty that Harrison and his family lived in and the lack of recognition that he has received since his death)
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The St. Croix, Virgin Islands-born, Harlem-based Hubert Harrison (April 27, 1883 – December 17, 1927) was a brilliant writer, orator, editor, educator, critic, and political activist, and a self-described “radical internationalist.” Historian Joel A. Rogers in "World’s Great Men of Color" described him as “the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time” and the one with the sanest program. A. Philip Randolph, referring to a time when Harlem was recognized as the “international Negro Mecca” and “the center of radical black thought,” called him “the father of Harlem radicalism.”
Harrison was the major radical influence on both the class-conscious Randolph and the race-conscious Marcus Garvey as well as on a generation of “New Negro” activists and “common people.” He is the only person in United States history to play signal, leading roles in the largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical movement (the “New Negro”/Garvey movement) of his era. He is also a key link in the ideological unity of the two great trends of the Civil Rights/Black Liberation Struggle – the labor/civil rights trend associated with Randolph and Martin Luther King, Jr. and the race/nationalist trend associated with Garvey and Malcolm X.
Harrison was the founder of the militant, World War-I era “New Negro Movement”; a pioneering (and reportedly unrivalled) soap-box orator and regular Black book-reviewer; the author of two books, "The Negro and the Nation" (1917) and "When Africa Awakes: The Inside Story of the Stirrings and Strivings of the New Negro in the Western World" (1920); and the editor of important publications including "The Voice: A Newspaper for the New Negro" (1917-1918), the "New Negro" ("intended as an organ of the international consciousness of the darker races – especially of the Negro race” in 1919), the "Negro World" (newspaper of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1920), and "The Voice of the Negro" (the organ of the International Colored Unity League in 1927).
Hubert Harrison's life and work have much to offer current and future generations!
Let us continue to learn from Hubert Harrison!
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