Minkah Makalani is the author of a new intellectual history on the efforts of early twentieth century black radicals to organize an international movement, one that would address both racial and class oppression around the globe. The book is called In the Cause of Freedom: Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917-1939 (The University of North Carolina Press, 2011). As the title suggests, the focus of the study is on two black radical groups: One in Harlem, the African Blood Brotherhood; and the other in London, the International African Service Bureau. The book examines among other things, “how they communicated across continents.” This is important not only because it illustrates that race was a concern outside of the U.S., but to show just how intricately race and class are linked; so much so that the two cannot be separated.
This new study explores provocative questions, and also definitively adds to ongoing debates regarding:
- African Americans and communism
- Tensions about which is more important, race or class?
- Definitions of black radicalism
- International black figures of the Harlem Renaissance
- The relationship among artists, the arts and politics during the Harlem Renaissance
- How the Communist Party perceived race in relation to class oppression
These and other insightful topics are addressed at length in this wonderful history. But you can find an appetizing introduction to them in this lively interview. Please, listen in.