328 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 11 illus., notes, bibl., index
Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917-1939
In this intellectual history, Minkah Makalani reveals how early-twentieth-century black radicals organized an international movement centered on ending racial oppression, colonialism, class exploitation, and global white supremacy. Focused primarily on two organizations, the Harlem-based African Blood Brotherhood, whose members became the first black Communists in the United States, and the International African Service Bureau, the major black anticolonial group in 1930s London, In the Cause of Freedom examines the ideas, initiatives, and networks of interwar black radicals, as well as how they communicated across continents.
Through a detailed analysis of black radical periodicals and extensive research in U.S., English, Dutch, and Soviet archives, Makalani explores how black radicals thought about race; understood the ties between African diasporic, Asian, and international workers' struggles; theorized the connections between colonialism and racial oppression; and confronted the limitations of international leftist organizations. Considering black radicals of Harlem and London together for the first time, In the Cause of Freedom reorients the story of blacks and Communism from questions of autonomy and the Kremlin's reach to show the emergence of radical black internationalism separate from, and independent of, the white Left.
“[A] fine study of black internationalism. . . . Anyone seriously interested in domestic or international aspects of black life has much to gain from a careful reading of Makalani’s work. Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.”
“The work contains generally accurate and insightful biographical portraits of a whole host of Black radicals.”
--Black and Asian Studies Association Newsletter
"Establishes a learned, provocative, and innovative beachhead in the areas of transnational diaspora history and the history of the Left."
--Journal of American History
"Makalani's book is nuanced and deeply internationalist, as wide-ranging and far-flung as the struggles for black liberation in the interwar years that it charts. It is a book that keeps faith with the African American quest for emancipation, a project with origins in the proposition that the circle of freedom should be unbroken and unbounded by the lines of separation imposed by nations and empires."
--Michael O. West, Binghamton University, coeditor of From Toussaint to Tupac: The Black International Since the Age of Revolution
"With an eye for the story beneath the details and with lively prose, Makalani provides a thorough analysis of the inner workings of black radical internationalism. He examines familiar and less known organizations and actors to show how radical ideas got produced and how these ideas circulated among and emboldened peoples engaged in anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles."
--Craig Steven Wilder, author In the Company of Black Men
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