Marcus Garvey, Amy Jacques Garvey, Claude McKay, Claudia Jones, C.L.R. James, Stokely Carmichael—the roster of immigrants from the Caribbean who have had a profound impact on the development of radical politics in the United States is a long one. In this magisterial work, Winston James focuses on the twentieth century’s first wave of inspirational writers and activists from the Caribbean and their contribution to political dissidence in America.
Examining the way in which the characteristics of the societies they left shaped their perceptions of the land to which they traveled, Winston James draws sharp differences between Hispanic, Anglophone, and other non-Hispanic arrivals. He explores the interconnections between the Cuban independence struggle, Puerto Rican nationalism, Afro-American feminism, and black communism in the first turbulent decades of the twentieth century. He also provides fascinating insights into the peculiarities of Puerto Rican radicalism’s impact in New York City and recounts the remarkable story of Afro-Cuban radicalism in Florida. Virgin Islander Hubert Harrison, whom A. Philip Randolph dubbed “the father of Harlem radicalism,” is rescued from the historical shadows by James’s analysis of his pioneering contribution to Afro-America’s radical tradition. In addition to a subtle re-examination of Garvey’s Universal Negro Movement Association—including the exertions and contributions of its female members—James provides the most detailed exploration so far undertaken of Cyril Briggs and his little-known but important African Blood Brotherhood.
This diligently researched, wide ranging and sophisticated book will be welcomed by all those interested in the Caribbean and its émigrés, the Afro-American current within America’s radical tradition, and the history, politics, and culture of the African diaspora.