Racial Boundaries: The Origin and Consequences of the Color Line in the USA

4-week reading and discussion group
The Revolutions Study Group

This group is for for anyone who wants to better understand why White and Black retain their significance in U.S. society for so many years after the abolition of slavery. W.E.B. DuBois’ groundbreaking Black Reconstruction, and the recent PBS documentary on the same subject are both useful for these discussions. However, we are now taking on two readings which are keys to unlocking the power of the color line in shaping the political economy our world and in shaping the lives of African Americans. Theodore Allen’s pamphlet “Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race,” from 1975, explores why and how skin color became the basis of a rigid caste system in the U.S. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk is his first important book, takes readers into the world of racial caste as uniquely experienced by African Americans.

Our four week reading sources will be: Theodore W. Allen, “Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race,” first published 1975, 34 pages, available as printed pamphlet and a downloadable PDF (http://readsettlers.org/settlers-data/ii/02_THEODOREWALLEN_ClassStruggleAndTheOriginsOfSlavery_Somerville1976_p34.pdf), and W.E.B Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903, available in all formats including free e-book, 189 pages, in the 1989 Bantam paperback, available in libraries

Admission is sliding scale. No one is turned away for inability to pay

Black Reconstruction

Black Reconstruction: An American Revolutionary Period
with the Revolutions Study Group

13-week session

Some have called the U.S. Civil War the “second American revolution” or the completion of the first American revolution. Others claim that the war of independence and Civil War were not revolutions, but had tremendous revolutionary potential. By whichever historical claim, the great social revolution of that momentous period following the Civil War was surely the “reconstruction” of social relations in the former slave states. In his groundbreaking study (1935), W.E.B. DuBois reveals that this social revolution was both initiated by slaves in the midst of the war and carried through by the emancipated Black population during and after the period when federal troops occupied the former Confederate states. DuBois is concerned to refute the multiple slanders imputed to “Reconstruction” during the counter-revolutionary “Jim Crow” period that followed and to record the real advancements of democracy and social reform made under Reconstruction and partly lost when it was defeated. We will read DuBois’ Black Reconstruction (Oxford University Press, 2007) in whole, and for more recent research, the middle part of Steven Hahn’s A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South (Harvard University Press, 2003). Both books are readily available new and used, as e-books, and in libraries. Email to info@marxedproject.org for a reading syllabus.

THE REVOLUTIONS STUDY GROUP (originally at the Brecht Forum) has been meeting for 10 years. Individual participants have come and gone, however the group has held together, studying in depth a wide range of history including the French Revolution, the Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, the Mau-Mau Revolt in Kenya, the Haitian Revolution, the European Revolutions of 1848, the May movement in France of 1968 and the Hot Autumn of Italy the following year, the Spanish Civil War, the Mexican Revolution, the Socialist (2nd) International, the German revolutionary period of 1918-1924, and the Chinese revolutionary process of the 20th Century.

The listed fees are sliding scale. No one is denied admission for inability to pay.


TONIGHT, FEBRUARY 11 ONLY: The class will meet at The Brooklyn Commons, 388 Atlantic Avenue. A or G trains to Hoyt-Schermerhorn stop is a short walk from this venue.