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Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry discusses "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism 1883-1918"


March 5, 2011

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For all ages

St. Croix-born, Harlem-based Harrison  (1883-1927) was a brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and political activist who played unique, signal roles in the largest class radical movement and the largest race radical movement  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 "in Negro newspaperdom"), 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, an adult education lecturer for the New York City Board of Education,  a bibliophile who helped transform the 135th Street Public Library into an international center for research in Black culture (known today as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture), and the major radical influence on both A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey.

Dr. Perry is an independent, working class scholar who was formally educated at Princeton, Harvard, Rutgers, and Columbia University. He was a long-time (33 years) activist, elected union officer with Local 300, and editor for the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (div. of LIUNA, AFL-CIO, CTW). Dr. Perry preserved and inventoried the Hubert H. Harrison Papers (now at Columbia University's Rare Book and Manuscript Library) and is the editor of "A Hubert Harrison Reader" (Wesleyan University Press, 2001).  He is also literary executor for Theodore W. Allen (author of "The Invention of the White Race") and edited and introduced Allen's "Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race."