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 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.


Black Reconstruction in America: W.E.B. DuBois

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Black Reconstruction in America: W.E.B. DuBois


Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:30PM
February 4 through May 13, 2015
@ The Brooklyn Commons

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Black Reconstruction is an essential and primary building block in understanding the culture and politics of the United States. It is also an excellent (arguably the best) place to start understanding the workers movements in the U.S and the historical and current challenges to building a labor movement, and the relationship a real labor movement must have to democratic movements of the oppressed.

In fifteen weeks we will cover the 17 chapters of Black Reconstruction with a concentration on labor organization and the relationship to the fight against slavery, and the revolutionary democratic movement of African Americans.

People interested in this reading group, should get the book and try to read the first two chapters before the first session.

Tim Schermerhorn is a 30-year transit worker and a rank-and-file- oriented organizer throughout that time. He was vice president of Local 100 and vice chairman (chief steward) for train operators. Tim is a founding member of the Black Workers Rank and File Network (at the 2008 Labor Notes Conference) and a Labor Notes Policy Committee Member.


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