U.S. Intellectual History Blog

Jeffrey B. Perry’s Work On Hubert H. Harrison

Last week Jeffrey B. Perry submitted a notice to H-Ideas on the availability of a finding aid for the papers of Hubert H. Harrison.

Who is Harrison? According to A. Philip Randolph, Harrison was the “father of Harlem radicalism” in the 1920s. Harrison’s papers are located at Columbia University, who acquired the collection a few years ago. Here’s an article, not coincidentally authored by Perry, on Harrison’s significance to U.S. intellectual history and the Harlem Renaissance.

Perry’s attachment to Harrison is also evident in a 2001 edited—and annotated—collection titled A Hubert Harrison Reader. Here’s a blurb from Wesleyan University Press on the book:


The brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic, and activist Hubert Harrison (1883 – 1927) is one of the truly important, yet neglected, figures of early twentieth-century America. Known as “the father of Harlem radicalism,’ and a leading Socialist party speaker who advocated that socialists champion the cause of the Negro as a revolutionary doctrine, Harrison had an important influence on a generation of race and class radicals, including Marcus Garvey and A. Philip Randolph.

Harrison envisioned a socialism that had special appeal to African-Americans, and he affirmed the duty of socialists to oppose race-based oppression. Despite high praise from his contemporaries, Harrison’s legacy has largely been neglected. This reader redresses the imbalance; Harrison’s essays, editorials, reviews, letters, and diary entries offer a profound, and often unique, analysis of issues, events and individuals of early twentieth-century America. His writings also provide critical insights and counterpoints to the thinking of W. E. B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey.

The reader is organized thematically to highlight Harrison’s contributions to the debates on race, class, culture, and politics of his time. The writings span Harrison’s career and the evolution of his thought, and include extensive political writings, editorials, meditations, reviews of theater and poetry, and deeply evocative social commentary.


– TL