Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918by Jeffrey B Perry
Hubert Harrison was an immensely skilled writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist who, more than any other political leader of his era, combined class consciousness and anti-white-supremacist race consciousness into a coherent political radicalism. Harrison's ideas profoundly influenced "New Negro" militants, including A. Philip Randolph and Marcus
Hubert Harrison was an immensely skilled writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist who, more than any other political leader of his era, combined class consciousness and anti-white-supremacist race consciousness into a coherent political radicalism. Harrison's ideas profoundly influenced "New Negro" militants, including A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey, and his synthesis of class and race issues is a key unifying link between the two great trends of the Black Liberation Movement: the labor- and civil-rights-based work of Martin Luther King Jr. and the race and nationalist platform associated with Malcolm X.
The foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician of the Socialist Party of New York, Harrison was also the founder of the "New Negro" movement, the editor of Negro World, and the principal radical influence on the Garvey movement. He was a highly praised journalist and critic (reportedly the first regular Black book reviewer), a freethinker and early proponent of birth control, a supporter of Black writers and artists, a leading public intellectual, and a bibliophile who helped transform the 135th Street Public Library into an international center for research in Black culture. His biography offers profound insights on race, class, religion, immigration, war, democracy, and social change in America.
Early 20th-century black liberation activist Hubert Harrison has not received much academic attention, and this initial volume of a projected two-volume biography by independent scholar Perry is the first book-length treatment of his life. Why bother to try to revive Harrison's reputation as a political leader, influential orator and journalist, and philosopher of liberation? Perry argues that Harrison's catholic views (he fought for equality on the basis of class, sex, employment, and immigration status as well as race) have kept history from recalling the influence he had in his own time: he was too independent and complicated to be easily pigeonholed by scholars. Perry attempts to redress this with his carefully researched and finely drawn study. Each aspect of Harrison's early life is delivered in deliberate context, with attention to the minutiae of personality, politics, neighborhood history, and other issues. This slow, rich storytelling style may bore some readers, but Perry's clear prose allows access to a three-dimensional picture of Harrison's life for readers with little intellectual foundation in the period. Recommended for African American history collections and larger general American history collections.
Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Wilson J. Moses
Carole Boyce Davies
Larry A. Greene
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Meet the Author
Jeffrey B. Perry is an independent scholar of the working class formally educated at Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia University. Perry preserved and inventoried the Hubert H. Harrison papers (now at Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library) and is the editor of A Hubert Harrison Reader. He is also literary executor for Theodore W. Allen and edited and introduced Allen's Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race.
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