New Negro Politics in the Jim Crow South

Title Details

Pages: 200

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 10/01/2016

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3512-4

List Price: $54.95


Pub Date: 10/15/2018

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5476-7

List Price: $26.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Sarah Mills Hodge Fund

New Negro Politics in the Jim Crow South

The South as an important source and developer of black activism during the 1920s and 1930s

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  • Description
  • Reviews

This study details how the development and maturation of New Negro politics and thought were shaped not only by New York–based intellectuals and revolutionary transformations in Europe, but also by people, ideas, and organizations rooted in the South. Claudrena N. Harold probes into critical events and developments below the Mason-Dixon Line, sharpening our understanding of how many black activists—along with particular segments of the white American Left—arrived at their views on the politics of race, nationhood, and the capitalist political economy.

Focusing on Garveyites, A. Philip Randolph’s militant unionists, and black anti-imperialist protest groups, among others, Harold argues that the South was a largely overlooked “incubator of black protest activity” between World War I and the Great Depression. The activity she uncovers had implications beyond the region and adds complexity to a historical moment in which black southerners provided exciting organizational models of grassroots labor activism, assisted in the revitalization of black nationalist politics, engaged in robust intellectual arguments on the future of the South, and challenged the governance of historically black colleges.

To uplift the race and by extension transform the world, New Negro southerners risked social isolation, ridicule, and even death. Their stories are reminders that black southerners played a crucial role not only in African Americans’ revolutionary quest for political empowerment, ontological clarity, and existential freedom but also in the global struggle to bring forth a more just and democratic world free from racial subjugation, dehumanizing labor practices, and colonial oppression.

An important addition to the field because it argues that black nationalist politics, labor activism, and political organizing among black southerners were also exemplary of the New Negro era . . . Harold’s text necessarily expands our understandings of the New Negro era and black southerners, who a generation later became the architects of the civil rights movement.

—Marcia Walker-McWilliams, Journal of Southern History

This book unquestionably adds to our broader sense of the New Negro Movement, taking it beyond the comfortable borders of the urban North into the messier field of operation in the South. This history is highly readable and should be read by contemporary activists and organizers doing their work in the South. New Negro Politics in the Jim Crow South fleshes out the legacy of broad and dynamic fronts against racism and worker exploitation in what is often dismissed as the nation’s retrograde region.

—J. T. Roane, Black Perspectives

Harold makes a cogent case for recovering the unheralded 1920s Southern black activists and intellectuals who 'helped to sow the seeds of change' (138) by challenging, promoting, and putting forth new working-class centered ideas for black liberation.

—Erik S. Gellman, The Black Scholar

Never again can scholars and public observers make the slipshod claim that the southern arm of the Black Freedom movement began after WW II. In this powerful and epic rendering of the southern New Negro movement, Claudrena Harold destroys the still resilient notions of Black southern backwardness awaiting uplift and politicization from northern interlopers or Cold War geopolitics.

—Davarian Baldwin, Journal of Social History

Claudrena Harold’s work will encourage scholars toward further research in New Negro and radical black nationalism that informed and enriched the African American freedom struggle in the South.

—Charles L. Lumpkins, American Historical Review

By placing New Negro thought as an essential part of black politics in the South, Harold provides both historical context for understanding the roots of political activism and insights into the critical analysis of how racism impacted the communities and therefore what were deemed to be the most effective models of political resistance. This insight serves to both complicate and clarify the impact of New Negro thought; it reveals how much of political activism took root from and overlapped with more recognized models of protest activity and how the cultural effects of New Negro thought inspired protest activity in Southern communities.

—Kevin Anderson, Journal of African American History

About the Author/Editor

CLAUDRENA N. HAROLD is an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia. She is the author of The Rise and Fall of the Garvey Movement in the Urban South, 1918–1942 and coeditor, with Deborah E. McDowell and Juan Battle, of The Punitive Turn: New Approaches to Race and Incarceration.