Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality. A discussion of Volume 2 with Jeff B. Perry

Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927

A discussion Volume 2 with author Jeffrey B. Perry

Interviewed by Sean Ahern

Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry will be interviewed by Sean Ahern on his new book Hubert Harrison: The Struggle for Equality, 1918-1927(Columbia University Press, December 2020). The book follows Dr. Perry’s earlier Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918. Together, these two volumes comprise what is believed to be the first, full-life, two volume biography of an Afro-Caribbean and only the fourth of an Afro-American after those of Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Langston Hughes.

In this second volume of his acclaimed biography, Jeffrey B. Perry traces the final decade of Harrison’s life, from 1918 to 1927. Perry details Harrison’s literary and political activities, foregrounding his efforts against white supremacy and for racial consciousness and unity in struggles for equality and radical social change. The book explores Harrison’s role in the militant New Negro Movement and the International Colored Unity League, as well as his prolific work as a writer, educator, and editor of the New Negro and the Negro World. Perry examines Harrison’s interactions with major figures such as Garvey, Randolph, J. A. Rogers, Arthur Schomburg, and other prominent individuals and organizations as he agitated, educated, and organized for democracy and equality from a race-conscious, radical internationalist perspective. This magisterial biography demonstrates how Harrison’s life and work continue to offer profound insights on race, class, religion, immigration, war, democracy, and social change in America.

Jeffrey B. Perry is an independent scholar and archivist. He is the author of Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883–1918 (Columbia, 2008) and the editor of A Hubert Harrison Reader (2001), and he preserved and placed Harrison’s papers. He is also the literary executor for Theodore W. Allen, preserved and placed his papers, and edited and introduced the expanded 2012 edition of Allen’s two-volume The Invention of the White Race.


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Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918

Hubert Harrison, (1883-1927) was a brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist, who was described by the historian Joel A. Rogers as “the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time” and by A. Philip Randolph as “the father of Harlem Radicalism.” Harrison played unique, signal roles in the largest class radical movement (socialism) and the largest race radical movement (the New Negro/Garvey) movement of his era. He was the foremost Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician of the Socialist Party of New York, the founder of the “New Negro” movement, the editor of the “Negro World,” and the principal radical influence on the Garvey movement. A self-described, “radical internationalist,” he was also a highly praised journalist and critic (reportedly the first regular Black book reviewer), a postal labor unionist, a union organizer (with both the Hotel Workers and the Pullman Porters), an IWW supporter, a speaker at the 1913 Paterson strike, a freethinker and early proponent of birth control, a supporter of Black writers and artists, a leading community-based public intellectual, and a bibliophile who helped transform the 135th Street Public Library into an international center for research in Black culture (known today as the world-famous Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture).

JEFFREY B. PERRY edited A Hubert Harrison Reader and authored Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918. Perry also contributed new front and back matter to the new edition of Allen’s The Invention of the White Race and he authored “The Developing Conjuncture and Some Insights From Hubert Harrison and Theodore W. Allen on the Centrality of the Fight Against White Supremacy”.