Summer 2022: The Black Question and the Left
The Black Question: From 1776 to #BLM
PAS Summer 2022 Reading Group
Dates: Thursdays, June 9 – July 28, 2021
Time: 2pm EST
Zoom link: https://bccte.zoom.us/j/92294820600
Meeting ID: 922 9482 0600
Week 1: From the Colonial Era to the Revolution
- New York Times, “Introduction to the 1619 Project”
- Barbara J. Fields, “Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America” New Left Review 181 (May/June 1990), 95-118.
- Abbé Raynal, Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies (1770) [Extract]
- John Locke, “Of Property,” Chapter 5 of the Second Treatise of Government from Two Treatises of Government: In the Former, The False Principles, and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, and His Followers, Are Detected and Overthrown. The Latter Is an Essay Concerning The True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government (Cambridge University Press, 1960), pp. 285–302.
- Thomas Jefferson's "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence before it was revised by the other members of the Committee of Five and by Congress, in The Papers of Thomas Jefferson Vol. 1, 1760-1776. Ed. Julian P. Boyd (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950) pp. 243–247.
- “Natural and Inalienable Right to Freedom”: Slaves’ Petition for Freedom to the Massachusetts Legislature, 17 January 1777, Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th Series, III (Boston, 1877), pp. 436–37.
Note: Petition to the Legislature on behalf of people in Massachusetts who remained enslaved, signed by Prince Hall (ca. 1735–1807), a free black man, and seven other black Americans.
- Decree of the French National Convention of 4 February 1794, Abolishing Slavery in all the Colonies
- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1782) [extract 3pp. Pdf]
+Thomas Jefferson to John Lynch, January 21, 1811, Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/03-03-02-0243. [Original source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Retirement Series, vol. 3, 12 August 1810 to 17 June 1811, ed. J. Jefferson Looney. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006, pp. 318–320.]
+ Thomas Jefferson to John Holmes 4/22/1820, in The American Debate over Slavery, 1760–1865: An Anthology of Sources, ed. Scott J. Hammond, Kevin R. Hardwick, and Howard Lubert (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2016), 101–102.
+ Thomas Jefferson to Henri Gregoire, February 25, 1809, from The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes. Federal Edition. Collected and Edited by Paul Leicester.
+ James Vaughn, “The Legacy of the American Revolution 1: (English) Colonial America” (06/12/20) in PlatypusLegacy of the American Revolution lecture series.
+ James Vaughn, “The Legacy of the American Revolution 2: The American Revolution” (06/19/20) in the PlatypusLegacy of the American Revolution lecture series.
+ James Vaughn, “1776 in world history: The American Revolution as bourgeois revolution” in The Platypus Review 62, December 2013–January 2014
+ Chris Cutrone, “The Jeffersonian Revolution” (06/26/2020) for the PlatypusLegacy of the American Revolution lecture series.
+ D.L. Jacobs and Luc Bronder-Giroux, “An interview with Gerald Horne” in The Platypus Review 129, September 2020
+ Keith Brooks, ”Would slavery have ended sooner if the British had defeated the Colonists’ bid for independence?” The Platypus Review 109, September 2018.
+ Wood, Revolutionary Characters Ch. 3 “The trials and tribulations of Thomas Jefferson” (2006), pp. 91–118.
+ Peter S. Onuf, “‘To Declare Them a Free and Independant People’: Race, Slavery, and National Identity in Jefferson's Thought” in Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 18, No. 1 (Spring, 1998), pp. 1-46.
+ Peter Onuf, The Mind of Thomas Jefferson, esp. pp. 213–270.
+ Richard Ashcraft, Revolutionary Politics & Locke’s Two Treatises of Government
+ Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (1944)
- Jefferson in Paris (1995)
- Sally Hemings: An American Scandal (2000)
Note: This is a four-hour miniseries
Week 2: The Slaveholders’ Rebellion: The American Civil War
- Frederick Douglas’s What is the Fourth of July for the Negro? Speech Text 1852
- Lincoln’s Cooper Union Address Text 1860
Video: Lincoln’s Cooper Union Address Video 1860
- Wendell Phillips’s Criticism of Lincoln and the Union War Effort Summer 1862
- Note from Spencer L.: Here's Marx's article quoting Wendell Phillips, which was published in the liberal Viennese paper (which, I believe, is still in operation), Die Presse. There's not much more to the piece than Marx's translation of Phillips's speech into German. Apart from the basic context, he also notes that the speech met with condemnation in the London Times, a paper that Marx treats as a mouthpiece of Palmerstonian bonapartism.
- Lincoln’s Address to Congress text 1862
- Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address Text 1863
Video: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address Video 1863
- Karl Marx, First International Address on Reelection of Abraham Lincoln (Written by Karl Marx) 1864
+ Lincoln’s Letter on Thomas Jefferson 1859
+ Spencer Leonard, “The Civil War and Failed Reconstruction” (7/10/20) in the Platypus Legacy of the American Revolution lecture series, video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giFmLHRQEks
+ Spencer Leonard, “For liberty and union: An interview with James McPherson” in The Platypus Review 53, February 2013.
- Pamela Nogales, “Jacksonian Democracy” (7/3/20) in the Platypus Legacy of the American Revolution lecture series, video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZz0th8Pgzw&t=2724s
- Lincoln’s full 1862 Address to Congress text 1862https://millercenter.org/the-presidency/presidential-speeches/december-1-1862-second-annual-message
- Lincoln, Letter to Horace Greeley (Washington, August 22, 1862)
- Glory (1989)
- Lincoln (2012)
Week 3: Early Twentieth Century Debates: Separatists, Communists, and Socialists
- W.E.B. Dubois, “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others,” in The Soul of Black Folk (pp. 33–44)
- Eugene V. Debs, The Negro in the Class Struggle (1903), Originally published in the International Socialist Review 4, no. 5 (November 1903): 257–60.
Eugene V. Debs, The Negro and His Nemesis (1904), Originally published in the International Socialist Review 4, no. 7 (January 1904): 391–97.
- Hubert Harrison, “Socialism and the Negro” (1912) (5pp. pdf)
- Claude McKay, “Socialism and the Negro” in P. Heideman, Class Struggle and the Color Line: American Socialism and the Race Question 1900–1930 (Chicago: Haymarket, 2018). Originally published in Workers’ Dreadnought, January 31, 1920, 1–2.
- John Reed, “The Negro Question in America” Speech at the 2nd World Congress of the Communist International, Moscow, July 26, 1920 in Second Congress of the Communist International: Minutes of the Proceedings (London: New Park Publications, 1977)
Note: Please read the PDF version included in the Black-Question-texts folder. The version available at Marxist.org is incomplete.
- Cyril Briggs, “The African Blood Brotherhood” Unsigned article published in The Crusader, vol. 2, no. 10 (June 1920), pp, 7, 22. Attributed to magazine editor and ABB founder Cyril V. Briggs.
- Cyril Briggs, “The Negro Convention” published in The Toiler [New York], v. 4, whole no. 190 (Oct. 1, 1921), pp. 13-14.
+ “Report on the Black Question” Session 22 – 25 November 1922 in John Riddell (ed.), Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922“ (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2012), pp. 800-811.
Note: Includes speeches by Otto Huiswoud (“Billings”), pp. 800–805 and Claude McKay, pp. 807–811, and Draft of the Theses on the Black Question, pp. 805–807.
+ “Theses on the Black Question” (1922) [Final Text] in John Riddell (ed.), Toward the United Front (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2012), pp. 947–951.
+ Trotsky, “A Letter to Comrade McKay,” (13 March 1923) in Trotsky, First Five Years of the Communist International, (Pathfinder Press, 1977) Vol. 2, pp. 476-479.
+ Sunit Singh, "Imperialism and the Left" in Platypus Review 128 (July 2020)
+ Letter to Theodore Draper in New York from Cyril Briggs in Los Angeles, March 17, 1958 [Long extract], Document in the Theodore Draper Papers, Hoover Institution Archives, Box 31. http://www.marxisthistory.org/history/usa/groups/abb/1958/0317-briggs-todraper.pdf
Note: First published in English March 13, 1923, International Press Correspondence, Vol. Ill, No. 25, p.197.
- Rosewood (1997)
Week 4: The Old Left and the Black Question
- Harry Haywood, “The Negro Problem and the Tasks of the Communist Party of the United States” (1928) in P. Foner and H. Shapiro, American Communism and Black Americans: A Documentary History, 1919-1929 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press 1991), pp. 172–178.
- Max Shachtman, Communism and the Negro (Race and Revolution) (1933)
+ Benjamin Blumberg, “An Unmet Challenge: Race and the Left in America” in The Platypus Review 19, January 2010
+ J.P. Cannon, “The Coming of the American Revolution” (1946)
+”Theses on the American Revolution, Adopted by the Twelfth National Convention of the SWP”
+ On the United Front by the Spartacists League
Week 5: Black Skin, White Masks: Frantz Fanon Before the New Left
- Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks (1952) (Introduction & Chs. 5–8 in pdf)
- Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth (1961) Ch 6: Conclusion
- Sunit Singh, “Book Review: Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks” The Platypus Review 21, March 2010.
Week 6: The New Left and the Black Question, pt. 1
- Richard Fraser, “For the Materialist Conception of the Negro Struggle” (1955)
- James Robertson and Shirley Stoute, “For black Trotskyism” (1963)
- Bayard Rustin, "From protest to politics" (1965)
- Spartacist League, “Black and red: Class struggle road to Negro freedom” (1966)
- Harold Cruse, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1967), [selections part 1, 3-10 and 11-63]
+Martin Luther King, "The Other America" (1967) (Video)
+ Richard Fraser, “Two lectures on the black question in America and revolutionary integrationism” (1953)
+ Coleman Hughes and Jim Creegan, “Bayard Rustin: Black Liberation and Socialism” The Platypus Review 131, November 2020
- Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin (2003)
- All the Way (2016)
Week 7: The New Left and the Black Question, pt. 2: The Black Power Turn
- Stockley Carmichael, Black Power Speech (1966) [Audio]
Edited transcription of speech (9 pp.)
Note: Audio silence from 29:02–30:05, but picks up where it left off.
- Harold Cruse, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (1967) (part 2, 451–475 and 544–565)
- Bayard Rustin, “The failure of black separatism” (1970) (9 pp.)
- Bayard Rustin, "The blacks and the unions" (1971) (6 pp.)
- Spartacist League, "Soul power or workers' power: The rise and fall of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers" (1974) (18 pp.)
- Adolph Reed, “Black particularity reconsidered” (1979) (23 pp.)
- Adolph Reed, “The limits of anti-racism” (2009) (5 pp.)
+ Malcolm X., “And I Don’t Mean Bananas” (1964) (16 pp.)
+ Black Panther Party, “Ten-Point Program” (1966)
+ Audrey Crescenti, “The Black Panther Party and community organizing: An interview with Bobby Seale” in The Platypus Review 113, February 2019
+ Sophia Freeman, “The Black Panther Party, Malcolm X, and the question of revolutionary politics today: An interview with Kathleen Cleaver” in The Platypus Review 113, February 2019
- Finally Got the News (1970)
- Newsreel films on the Black Panthers, “Off the Pig” (Newsreel #19) (1967)
Week 8: Platypus Hosts the Conversation: From Obama to #BLM
- “Progress or regress? The future of the Left under Obama” (2009)
Panelists: Chris Cutrone, Platypus; Stephen Duncombe, NYU, author of Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy (2007); Pat Korte, new Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); Charles Post, Solidarity; and Paul Street, author of Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (2008).
- “Black Politics and State Violence,” UC Santa Cruz (03/27/2015) [Video]
Panelists: Boots Riley of the hip-hop group “The Coup,” Clarence Thomas former Secretary-Treasurer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and Nancy Kato from the People of Color caucus of the Freedom Socialist Party.
- Police Brutality and the Left (July 11, 2020)
Panelists: Gerald Smith (Oscar Grant Committee), Larry Holmes (Workers World Party), Andrea Pritchett (Berkeley Copwatch), and Conrad Cartmell (DSA, Class Unity Caucus).
- "The Fate of the American Revolution," in the Platypus Review 130, October 2020.
- Pamela Nogales, “The Black Question and the Left: from 1776 to #BLM” (May 6, 2022)
+“Black Politics in the Age of Obama” (Chicago, 2013)
Panelists: Cedric Johnson, author of Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics (2007) and The Neoliberal Deluge (2011); and Mel Rothenberg, veteran of the Sojourner Truth Organization and coauthor of The Myth of Capitalism Reborn (1980).
+ “Black Politics and State Violence” (2015)
+ Platypus at Left Forum NYC 2010: The American Left and the "black question:" from politics to protest to the post-political (2010) [Audio]
Panelists: Tim Barker, Columbia U.; Benjamin Blumberg, Platypus; PamelaNogales, Platypus; Chris Cutrone, Platypus
+ Platypus Public Panel Series: “Black Politics and State Violence” (2015)
University of Chicago (03/20/15) [Audio]
Panelists: Michael Dawson and Mel Rothenberg
+ Platypus Public Panel: “The American left and the ‘Black Question’: From politics to protest to the post-political” (Chicago, 2015)
Panelists: Toby Chow, Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) and The People’s Lobby; Brandon Johnson, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU); August Nimtz, author of Lenin's Electoral Strategy from 1907 to the October Revolution of 1917 (2014); and Adolph Reed, Jr., author of Stirrings in the Jug: Black Politics in the Post-Segregation Era (1999).