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Jeffrey B. Perry Blog

"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

Westwood

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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

 


BLACK HISTORY MONTH

 

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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"Hubert Harrison: Tribune of the People" The Struggle for Equality" reviewed by Sean I. Ahern in Marxism-Leninism Today

"Hubert Harrison: Tribune of the People" The Struggle for Equality" reviewed by Sean I. Ahern in "Marxism-Leninism Today," June 27, 2022

 

see HERE

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Português Review of Jeffrey B. Perry "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1818-1927" (Columbia University Press) in "Afro-Asia" Journal (n. 65, 2022

Português Review of Jeffrey B. Perry "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1818-1927" (Columbia University Press) in "Afro-Asia" Journal (n. 65, 2022, pp. 803-812) by Luiz Bernardo Pericás Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil at

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"Hubert Harrison: Tribune of the People" by Sean I. Ahern in "Black Agenda Report" reviews Jeffrey B. Perry's 3 major books on Hubert Harrison

"Hubert Harrison: Tribune of the People" by Sean I. Ahern in "Black Agenda Report" reviews Jeffrey B. Perry's 3 major books on Hubert Harrison (a two-volume biography published by Columbia University Press and "A Hubert Harrison Reader" published by Wesleyan University Press).

 

Part 1 June 8, 2022 see HERE

Part 2 June 15, 2022 see HERE

Part 3 June 22, 202 see HERE

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"Hubert Harrison's on Thomas Paine's Place in the Deistical Movement," Originally published in "Truth Seeker," February 11, 1911

"Hubert Harrison's on Thomas Paine's Place in the Deistical Movement," Originally published in "Truth Seeker," February 11, 1911, edited with a new Introduction by Jeffrey B. Perry in the May–August 2022 "Truth Seeker ("World's Oldest
Magazine for Freethinkers").

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Hubert Harrison on Re-Starting His Diary on September 18, 1907

When he restarted a new diary on September 18, 1907, at age twenty-four, Hubert Harrison wrote down his thoughts on why he made that decision:
"It must surely be instructive to look back after long years on one's past thoughts and deeds and form new estimates of ourselves and others. Seen from another perspective large things grow small, small ones large and the lives of relative importance are bound to change position. At any rate it must be instructive to compare the impression of the moment, laden as it may be with the bias of feeling and clouded by partisan or personal prejudice, with the more broad and impartial review which distance in time or space makes possible."

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Capitalist (Not Racial Capitalist) Relations of Production in the Virginia Colony in 1618.

Capitalist (Not Racial Capitalist) Relations of Production in the Virginia Colony in 1618. --
Allen describes capitalist relations of production in Jamestown in the period before Africans arrived in the pattern-setting Virginia colony and before the establishment (later in the century) of a system of racial oppression and "the invention of the white race." He writes that "at the close of the 1610–1618 period ... It was to be a capitalist farming system in Virginia."
This point is important because, if we understand the Virginia plantations as agricultural capitalism, and the plantation owners as capitalists, then we are better able to understand enslaved Black laborers as proletarians (as both Hubert Harrison and W. E. B. Du Bois would later do). This enables us to tear the covers off "white" labor's betrayals of Black labor; to learn many important lessons of "labor history;" and to understand the origin of the invention of the "white race" – all of which have great importance for today.  See HERE

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Zinn Education Project on Hubert Harrison

See HERE

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Liberty League Meeting July 4, 1917

A July 4, 1917 rally of Hubert Harrison's Liberty League at Harlem's Metropolitan Baptist Church on 138th Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenues drew national attention and saw the first edition of "The Voice: A Newspaper for the New Negro." Harrison's Liberty League was the first organization of the militant "New Negro Movement" and his newspaper, "The Voice," was the first newspaper of the movement and a prime example of the militant new spirit that was developing.
Historian Robert A. Hill points out that Harrison's "Voice" was "the radical forerunner" of the periodicals that would express the developing political and intellectual ferment in the era of World War I. It was followed in November 1917 by the "Messenger" of A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owen and in August 1918 by the "Negro World" of Marcus Garvey and the "Crusader" of Cyril Briggs. These four publications, led by "The Voice," manifested "the principal articulation of the New Negro mood."
The July 4 meeting came in the wake of the July 1-3 white supremacist pogrom in East St. Louis, Illinois (which is 12 miles from Ferguson, Missouri). Reports on the number of African Americans killed ranged from thirty-nine to two-hundred-and-fifty and 244 buildings were totally or partially destroyed. Historian Edward Robb Ellis reports that in East St. Louis Black women were scalped and four Black children slaughtered.
These riots were widely attributed to "white" labor's opposition to Black workers coming into the labor market and they were directly precipitated by a car of white "joy riders" who fired guns into the African-American community. Officials of organized labor served as prominent apologists for "white" labor's role in the rioting. Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor, placed principal blame for the riots on "the excessive and abnormal number of negroes" in East St. Louis while W. S. Carter, President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, maintained that "the purpose of the railroads in importing Negro labor is to destroy the influence of white men's labor organizations." A subsequent House of Representatives committee found that the local police and Illinois National Guard were inept and indifferent, and, in specific instances, supported the white mobs.
The Liberty League's July 4 meeting in the largest church in Harlem came one day after a "race riot" in the San Juan Hill section of Manhattan (the third in six weeks) in which two thousand people fought after a reserve policemen arrested a uniformed Black soldier standing on a street corner who allegedly refused to move fast enough.
The "New York Times" reported that at the July 4 Liberty League rally a thousand Black men and women were present and enthusiastically cheered the speakers who were "all Negroes." Every speaker was reported to have denounced the East St. Louis rioters as ruthless murderers and each condemned the authorities for not preventing the atrocities and for not providing protection.
As president of the Liberty League, Harrison advised Black people who feared mob violence in the South and elsewhere to take direct action and "supply themselves with rifles and fight if necessary, to defend their lives and property." As he later put it -- "'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,' and sometimes two eyes or a half dozen teeth for one is the aim of the New Negro." Harrison stressed that it was imperative to "demand justice" and to "make our voices heard."
The emphasis on a political voice ran across the masthead of "The Voice," which proclaimed "We will fight for all the things we have held nearest our hearts--for democracy--for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own government."
Several years later Marcus Garvey, who learned from Harrison and joined Harrison's Liberty League, emphasized that "[the] new spirit of the new Negro . . . seeks a political voice, and the world is amazed, the world is astounded that the Negro should desire a political voice, because after the voice comes a political place, and . . . we are not only asking but we are going to demand--we are going to fight for and die for that place." According to Robert A. Hill, this demand for a political voice marked the new spirit of the "New Negro" and keyed the later radicalism of Garvey's UNIA.
The call for armed self-defense, the publishing of "The Voice," and the desire to have the political voice of the militant New Negro heard were important components of Hubert Harrison's activities in 1917.

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Harrison's seminal article "Socialism and the Negro" in the July 1912 "International Socialist Review"

110 Years ago – in the July 1912 "International Socialist Review," appeared Hubert Harrison's seminal article "Socialism and the Negro."
Harrison's article described "the Negro" as "a group that is more essentially proletarian than any other American group" and urged, since "the Negro" was the "most ruthlessly exploited working class group in America, that the duty of the party to champion his cause" was "as clear as day."
To Harrison this was "the crucial test of Socialism's sincerity."
For the majority in the party the key political debates concerned positions on revolutionary vs. evolutionary socialism and revolutionary unionism vs. AFL craft unionism. Harrison proposed a new litmus test, a new "crucial test," for U.S. socialists — "to champion" the cause of the "Negro." He thought this was the key to revolutionary change strategy.

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Hubert Harrison Caribbean Elections Biography

Hubert Harrison Caribbean Elections Biography see HERE

 

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"The Most Vulnerable Point"

"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 [in the arch] and the Achilles heel of U.S. bourgeois democracy."

Theodore W, Allen in "The Most Vulnerable Point," October 20, 1972, see HERE

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John Woodford reviews "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927" in "Against the Current" No. 219, July/August 2022

"When I reviewed the first volume of Jeffrey B. Perry's monumental double-barreled biography of Harrison in 2011 'Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism.1883-1918' I said it was the best biography I'd ever read. But this massive second volume is even better." John Woodford reviews "Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927" in "Against the Current" No. 219, July/August 2022. See HERE

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Princeton Alumni Weekly on Jeffrey B. Perry and Hubert Harrison

See Here

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Hubert Harrison and W.E.B. Du Bois, July 1918


Following the 1918 Liberty Congress, Hubert Harrison initiated "New Negro" criticism of W. E. B. Du Bois for urging African Americans to forget justifiable grievances [lynching, segregation, disfranchisement], for "closing ranks" behind President Woodrow Wilson's war effort, and for following Joel A. Spingarn's lead and seeking a captaincy in Military Intelligence, the branch of government that monitored radicals and the African American community. Harrison's exposé, "The Descent of Du Bois" ("The Voice," July 25, 1918) was a principal reason that Du Bois was denied the captaincy he sought in Military Intelligence, and more than any other document it marked the significant break between the "New Negroes" and the older leadership.

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"Hubert Harrison's on Thomas Paine's Place in the Deistical Movement"

"Hubert Harrison's on Thomas Paine's Place in the Deistical Movement," Originally published in The Truth Seeker, February 11, 1911, edited with a new Introduction by Jeffrey B. Perry in the May–August 2022 "Truth Seeker ("World's Oldest
Magazine for Freethinkers"). People can watch a 6-minute video on the issue HERE

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