Sojourning for Freedom

Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism

Sojourning for Freedom

Illuminates a pathbreaking black radical feminist politics forged by black women leftists active in the U.S. Communist Party between its founding in 1919 and its demise in the 1950s.

Decolonization and the Cold War

Negotiating Independence

Decolonization and the Cold War

The Cold War and decolonization transformed the twentieth century world. This volume brings together an international line-up of experts to explore how these transformations took place and expand on some of the latest threads of analysis to help inform our understanding of the links between the two phenomena. The book begins by exploring ideas of modernity, development, and economics as Cold War and postcolonial projects and goes on to look at the era's intellectual history and investigate how emerging forms of identity fought for supremacy. Finally, the contributors question ideas of sovereignty and state control that move beyond traditional Cold War narratives. Decolonization and the Cold War emphasizes new approaches by drawing on various methodologies, regions, themes, and interdisciplinary work, to shed new light on two topics that are increasingly important to historians of the twentieth century.

Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women

Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women

Despite recent advances in the study of black thought, black women intellectuals remain often neglected. This collection of essays by fifteen scholars of history and literature establishes black women's places in intellectual history by engaging the work of writers, educators, activists, religious leaders, and social reformers in the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean. Dedicated to recovering the contributions of thinkers marginalized by both their race and their gender, these essays uncover the work of unconventional intellectuals, both formally educated and self-taught, and explore the broad community of ideas in which their work participated. The end result is a field-defining and innovative volume that addresses topics ranging from religion and slavery to the politicized and gendered reappraisal of the black female body in contemporary culture. Contributors are Mia E. Bay, Judith Byfield, Alexandra Cornelius, Thadious Davis, Corinne T. Field, Arlette Frund, Kaiama L. Glover, Farah J. Griffin, Martha S. Jones, Natasha Lightfoot, Sherie Randolph, Barbara D. Savage, Jon Sensbach, Maboula Soumahoro, and Cheryl Wall.

The Other Blacklist

The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s

The Other Blacklist

Mary Helen Washington recovers the vital role of 1950s leftist politics in the works and lives of modern African American writers and artists. While most histories of McCarthyism focus on the devastation of the blacklist and the intersection of leftist politics and American culture, few include the activities of radical writers and artists from the Black Popular Front. Washington's work incorporates these black intellectuals back into our understanding of mid-twentieth-century African American literature and art and expands our understanding of the creative ferment energizing all of America during this period. Mary Helen Washington reads four representative writers—Lloyd Brown, Frank London Brown, Alice Childress, and Gwendolyn Brooks—and surveys the work of the visual artist Charles White. She traces resonances of leftist ideas and activism in their artistic achievements and follows their balanced critique of the mainstream liberal and conservative political and literary spheres. Her study recounts the targeting of African American as well as white writers during the McCarthy era, reconstructs the events of the 1959 Black Writers' Conference in New York, and argues for the ongoing influence of the Black Popular Front decades after it folded. Defining the contours of a distinctly black modernism and its far-ranging radicalization of American politics and culture, Washington fundamentally reorients scholarship on African American and Cold War literature and life.

The East Is Black

Cold War China in the Black Radical Imagination

The East Is Black

During the Cold War, several prominent African American radical activist-intellectuals—including W.E.B. and Shirley Graham Du Bois, journalist William Worthy, Marxist feminist Vicki Garvin, and freedom fighters Mabel and Robert Williams—traveled and lived in China. There, they used a variety of media to express their solidarity with Chinese communism and to redefine the relationship between Asian struggles against imperialism and black American movements against social, racial, and economic injustice. In The East Is Black, Taj Frazier examines the ways in which these figures and the Chinese government embraced the idea of shared struggle against U.S. policies at home and abroad. He analyzes their diverse cultural output (newsletters, print journalism, radio broadcasts, political cartoons, lectures, and documentaries) to document how they imagined communist China’s role within a broader vision of a worldwide anticapitalist coalition against racism and imperialism.

The Prism of Race

W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, and the Colored World of Cedric Dover

The Prism of Race

A scholar of race and a leader in the Afro-Asian solidarity movement, Cedric Dover embodied the 20th-century cosmopolitan redefinition of racial identity. Tracing Dover's evolution through his relationships with W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, and Paul Robeson, this book tracks racial identity in the twentieth century.

What’s Left of Blackness

Feminisms, Transracial Solidarities, and the Politics of Belonging in Britain

What’s Left of Blackness

This book analyzes the political transformations in black women's socially engaged community-based political work in England in the late twentieth century. It situates these shifts alongside Britain's political economy and against the discourse and deployment of blackness as a political imaginary in which to engage in struggles for social justice.

Radical Moves

Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age

Radical Moves

In the generations after emancipation, hundreds of thousands of African-descended working-class men and women left their homes in the British Caribbean to seek opportunity abroad: in the goldfields of Venezuela and the cane fields of Cuba, the canal construction in Panama, and the bustling city streets of Brooklyn. But in the 1920s and 1930s, racist nativism and a brutal cascade of antiblack immigration laws swept the hemisphere. Facing borders and barriers as never before, Afro-Caribbean migrants rethought allegiances of race, class, and empire. In Radical Moves, Lara Putnam takes readers from tin-roof tropical dancehalls to the elegant black-owned ballrooms of Jazz Age Harlem to trace the roots of the black-internationalist and anticolonial movements that would remake the twentieth century. From Trinidad to 136th Street, these were years of great dreams and righteous demands. Praying or "jazzing," writing letters to the editor or letters home, Caribbean men and women tried on new ideas about the collective. The popular culture of black internationalism they created--from Marcus Garvey's UNIA to "regge" dances, Rastafarianism, and Joe Louis's worldwide fandom--still echoes in the present.

Rethinking American Women's Activism

Rethinking American Women's Activism

In this enthralling narrative, Annelise Orleck chronicles the history of the American women's movement from the nineteenth century to the present. Starting with an incisive introduction that calls for a reconceptualization of American feminist history to encompass multiple streams of women's activism, she weaves the personal with the political, vividly evoking the events and people who participated in our era's most far-reaching social revolutions. In short, thematic chapters, Orleck enables readers to understand the impact of women's activism, and highlights how feminism has flourished through much of the past century within social movements that have too often been treated as completely separate. Showing that women’s activism has taken many forms, has intersected with issues of class and race, and has continued during periods of backlash, Rethinking American Women’s Activism is a perfect introduction to the subject for anyone interested in women’s history and social movements.

New Perspectives on the Black Atlantic

Definitions, Readings, Practices, Dialogues

New Perspectives on the Black Atlantic

This collection of essays attempts to expand the notion of the «Black Atlantic» beyond its original racial, geographical, linguistic and cultural borders while acknowledging its remarkable ability to disturb established historical truths and to go beyond traditional dichotomies, thereby providing an essential tool for cross-cultural understanding. It is divided into four sections, each of them dealing with a different approach to the question of the «Black Atlantic». «Definitions» touches on the various limitations of Gilroy's original concept. «Readings» focuses on how the «Black Atlantic» can be productively used in readings of certain literary texts. «Practices» shifts towards the practical applications of the concept in order to explore the impact it has had on academic disciplines and examine to what extent it may have altered their epistemology and working procedures. Finally, «Dialogues» engages with the «Black Atlantic» from the perspectives of two creative writers whose work includes transatlantic themes and characters.