Red Seas: Ferdinand Smith and Radical Black Sailors in the United States and Jamaica

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Overview

"During the heyday of the American and international labor movements in the 1930s and 1940s, Ferdinand Smith, the Jamaican-born co-founder and second-in-command of the National Maritime Union (NMU), stands out as one of the most - if not the most - powerful black labor leaders in the United States. Smith's active membership in the Communist Party, however, coupled with his bold labor radicalism and shaky immigration status, brought him under continual surveillance by American authorities, especially during the Red Scare in the 1950s. Smith was eventually deported to his homeland of Jamaica, where he continued his radical labor and political organizing until his death in 1961." Gerald Horne draws on Smith's life to make insightful connections between labor radicalism, the Civil Rights Movement and American anticommunism, demonstrating that the gains of the former two were undermined by the latter. In so doing, he illustrates that although the left achieved some key legal victories in the mid-20th century, the right's war on labor unions resulted in dwindling job opportunities and shrinking salaries for African American workers. Moreover, Red Seas uncovers the little-known experiences of black sailors and their contribution to the struggle for labor and civil rights, the history of the Communist Party and its black members, and the significant dimensions of Jamaican labor and political radicalism.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Horne's latest work is a forceful tract that all scholars writing about radical maritime politics, unionism, and race must take into account. Horne thus sets the standard for future scholars in this area.”
-Working USA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814736685
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 6/20/2005
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gerald Horne is Moores Professor of History and African-American Studies at the University of Houston. His books include Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois and Race War!: White Supremacy and the Japanese Attack on the British Empire (both available from NYU Press).

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: Sailing from Jamaica
1 Sailing the Red Seas
2 Perilous Waters
3 The Black Ocean
4 Few Safe Harbors
5 Wind in Their Sails
6 Storm Signals
7 Storm, at Sea
8 Walking the Plank
9 Black Labor at Sea
10 Dropping Anchor in Jamaica
11 On the Beach
12 The Final Voyage of Ferdinand Smith
Epilogue
Notes
Index
About the Author

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