[Marxism] Fwd: April 27th is the 130th Anniversary of the Birth of Hubert Henry Harrison (1883-1927) - Please Share

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Apr 25 10:33:02 MDT 2013

April 27th is the 130th Anniversary of the Birth of Hubert Henry 
Harrison (1883-1927)

Please Help to Call Attention to His Important Life and Work and to the 
Struggles He and Others Waged

Hubert Harrison (1883-1927) is one of the truly important figures of
early twentieth-century America. A brilliant writer, orator, educator,
critic, and political activist, he was described by the historian Joel
A. Rogers, in "World’s Great Men of Color" as “the foremost
Afro-American intellect of his time.” Rogers adds that “No one worked
more seriously and indefatigably to enlighten” others and “none of the
Afro-American leaders of his time had a saner and more effective
program.” Labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph described
Harrison as “the father of Harlem Radicalism.” Harrison’s friend and
pallbearer, Arthur Schomburg, fully aware of his popularity, eulogized
to the thousands attending Harrison’s Harlem funeral that he was also
“ahead of his time.”

Born in St. Croix, Danish West Indies, in 1883, to a Bajan mother and
a Crucian father, Harrison arrived in New York as a seventeen-year-old
orphan in 1900. He made his mark in the United States by struggling
against class and race oppression, by helping to create a remarkably
rich and vibrant intellectual life among African Americans, and by
working for the enlightened development of the lives of “the common
people.” He consistently emphasized the need for working class people to 
develop class consciousness; for “Negroes” to develop race
consciousness, self-reliance, and self-respect; and for all those he
reached to challenge white supremacy and develop modern, scientific,
critical, and independent thought as a means toward liberation.

A self-described “radical internationalist,” Harrison was extremely
well-versed in history and events in Africa, Asia, the Mideast, the
Americas, and Europe. More than any other political leader of his era,
he combined class consciousness and anti-white supremacist race
consciousness in a coherent political radicalism. He opposed capitalism
and maintained that white supremacy was central to capitalist rule in
the United States. He emphasized that “politically, the Negro is the
touchstone of the modern democratic idea”; that “as long as the Color
Line exists, all the perfumed protestations of Democracy on the part of
the white race” were “downright lying”; that “the cant of ‘Democracy’”
was “intended as dust in the eyes of white voters”; and that true
democracy and equality for “Negroes” implied “a revolution . . .
startling even to think of.” Working from this theoretical framework, he 
was active with a wide variety of movements and organizations and played 
signal roles in the development of what were, up to that time, the 
largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical 
movement (the “New Negro”/Garvey movement) in U.S. history. His ideas on 
the centrality of the struggle against white supremacy anticipated the 
profound transformative power of the Civil Rights/Black Liberation 
struggles of the 1960s and his thoughts on “democracy in America” offer 
penetrating insights on the limitations and potential of America in the 
twenty-first century.

Harrison served as the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and
theoretician in the Socialist Party of New York during its 1912 heyday;
he founded the first organization (the Liberty League) and the first
newspaper ("The Voice") of the militant, World War I-era “New Negro”
movement; and he served as the editor of the Negro World and principal
radical influence on the Garvey movement during its radical high point
in 1920. His views on race and class profoundly influenced a generation
of “New Negro” militants including the class radical A. Philip Randolph
and the race radical Marcus Garvey. Considered more race conscious than
Randolph and more class conscious than Garvey, Harrison is the key link
in the ideological unity of the two great trends of the Black Liberation 
Movement--the labor and civil rights trend associated with Martin Luther 
King, Jr., and the race and nationalist trend associated with Malcolm X. 
(Randolph and Garvey were, respectively, the direct links to King 
marching on Washington, with Randolph at his side, and to Malcolm, whose 
parents were involved with the Garvey movement, speaking militantly and 
proudly on street corners in Harlem.)

Harrison was not only a political radical, however. Rogers described
him as an “Intellectual Giant and Free-Lance Educator,” whose
contributions were wide-ranging, innovative, and influential. He was an
immensely skilled and popular orator and educator who spoke and/or read
six languages; a highly praised journalist, critic, and book reviewer
(reportedly the first regular Black book reviewer "in Negro
newspaperdom"); a pioneer Black activist in the freethought and birth
control movements; a bibliophile and library builder and popularizer who 
helped develop the 135th Street Public Library into what became known as 
the internationally famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black 
Culture; a pioneer Black lecturer for the New York City Board of
Education, and one of its foremost orators). His biography offers
profound insights on race, class, religion, immigration, war, democracy, 
and social change in America.

For reviewer’s comments from scholars and activists on “Hubert Harrison:

The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” see –
http://www.jeffreybperry.net/disc.htm and see
http://www.jeffreybperry.net/bio.htm . For Columbia University Press’s
page on the book see

A link to some writings by and about Hubert Harrison can be found at –

“Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918” (the first
volume of a projected two-volume biography of Harrison) is now on sale
at a special 50% off discount. It is selling for $14 in paperback from
Columbia University Press at
http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-13910-6/hubert-harrison (To save
50% simply use the coupon code "SALE" in your shopping cart after you
have entered the book for your order, click "apply" and your savings
will be calculated.) If you do not have the book, please consider
getting it for your personal library -- and reading it. Please consider
it as a gift for a friend. Please recommend it to your library -- the
AmericanLibrary Association's "Choice" Magazine recommends it as
"Essential All levels/libraries"!!!

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