Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Short List of African-American Socialists

These were tweets in response to an African-American objecting that socialism will not end racism. (The text has been preserved; I reworked the punctuation and paragraph divisions for this post.)

Socialists have been opposed to racism for over a century and many prominent African Americans activists have been socialist.

A short list of prominent African-American socialists: Paul Robeson; Richard Wright; Langston Hughes; Ella Baker; Angela Davis; Bell Hooks.


Rather than picking a fight, I left out W. E. B DuBois, Cornel West, and Glen Ford. Arguably, socialists could claim Martin Luther King, Jr. He didn't call himself a socialist, though in private correspondence he wrote about socialism. Instead he talked about anti-poverty activism.

I'm getting testy about this. Many people are trying very hard to erase the entire history of the African-American left. Researching these major figures online was surprisingly difficult, though I am sure that historians who study such matters are aware of their politics.

I am not entirely sure why these peoples' socialism is being written out of history. It seems to be partly a factional dispute among African-American activists. I think also that the American white fear of socialism bears some part of the blame. Black and white: Americans don't want to acknowledge how much the United States owes to socialism and how much the loss of socialist factions in the USA has cost us.

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