A mere shadow of its past, Harlem today gives almost no hint that it was the epicenter of the Black world. Segregationist, white-supremacist laws and policies rigidly controlled life in America, especially in its nonwhite communities, and the system thought it would permanently have the upper hand. It vastly underestimated the enduring impact of the Black church and radical Black political thought.
Longtime union activist and independent scholar Dr. Jeffrey Perry presents a portrait of Hubert Harrison, “the father of Harlem radicalism,” whose political philosophies were far ahead of their time. Harrison influenced the thinking of many Black leaders of the day—both within the United States and the African diaspora—but is not widely known.
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) and Harrison’s When Africa Awakes: The “Inside Story” of the Stirrings and Striving of the New Negro in the Western World (Diasporic Africa Press, 2014) and he is the author of Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918 (Columbia University Press, 2008). He currently is working on Volume 2 of the Hubert Harrison biography.