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In primary sources, unearthing the writings of African American Communists and the forgotten promise of radical politics

We Shall Be Free!

Black Communist Protests in Seven Voices

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Walter T. Howard

"Howard presents a combination of black men and women who were active in left movements before the rise of the Civil Rights/Black Power movements. We Shall Be Free! provides documents and essays which are a welcome contribution to knowledge of this period."
Carole Boyce Davies, Professor of Africana Studies and English at Cornell University and author of Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones

A groundbreaking contribution to scholarship of the African American Left, We Shall Be Free! gives voice to black Communists and recognizes the intellectual contributions found in their protest writings. Walter Howard provides a fascinating documentary history of seven diverse and historically significant black CommunistsóB. D. Amis, Harry Haywood, James W. Ford, Benjamin J. Davis, Jr., Louise Thompson Patterson, William Patterson, and Claudia Jonesówho attempted to foster a black culture of resistance to white racism within the workings of the Communist Party.

Howard draws on FBI files, Moscow documents, and the records of the U.S. Communist Party. He surveys these black Communists addressing a wide range of vital issues such as the Great Depression, World War II, genocide and the Cold War.

We Shall Be Free! presents an important section of the African American community whose thought has been minimized, discounted, or overlooked altogether by the historical profession in general.

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Excerpt

Read the Prologue (pdf).

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Reviews

"In Howard's book we see - over time - the evolution of the party's approach, its strategy and tactics, as it experimented with different organizational forms in its efforts to recruit African Americans and to build the black liberation and African American equality movements. This is probably one of the most important aspects of this collection of voices.... We Shall Be Free! is an important contribution to African American and Communist history."
People's World

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Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments

Prologue: The CPUSA and Black America, 1919 -1928
Chronology: The CPUSA and African Americans

B. D. Amis
Harry Haywood
James W. Ford
Benjamin J. Davis Jr.
Louise Thompson Patterson
William L. Patterson
Claudia Jones

Epilogue

Selected Bibliography
Index

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About the Author(s)

Walter T. Howard is Professor of American History at Bloomsburg University in northeastern Pennsylvania. He is the editor of B.D. Amis, African American Radical: A Short Anthology of His Writings and Speeches and the author of Lynchings: Extralegal Violence in Florida during the 1930s as well as Black Communists Speak on Scottsboro: A Documentary History.

Subject Categories

African American Studies
History
Race and Ethnicity

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