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How Black Nationalism Became Sui Generis

Daryl Michael Scott
Fire!!!
Vol. 1, No. 2 (Summer/Winter 2012), pp. 6-63
DOI: 10.5323/fire.1.2.0006
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5323/fire.1.2.0006
Page Count: 58
Subjects: History African American Studies
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How Black Nationalism Became Sui Generis

Daryl Michael Scott Howard University

This essay explores how Black nationalism as a concept in Black Studies scholarship became sui generis, becoming disassociated from the concept of sovereignty. It argues that the peculiar labeling of Black solidarity and cultural consciousness as nationalism had its origins in two developments beginning in the late 1920s: sociology's rising fear of ethnoracial nationalism and the ideological developments of the Old Left during the interwar years. Yet it was the interwar praxis of socially identified Black nationalists that gave it a peculiarly Black definition, and the revolutionary nationalism of the 1960s that institutionalized it within both the Black and scholarly communities and the society at large.

In recent years, a problem at the heart of the literature on Black nationalism has become obvious to a number of scholars. Put baldly, the definition of Black nationalism is sui generis. Nationalism is generally defined as a people's pursuit, attainment, or maintenance of sovereignty, or at least self-rule in a multinational system. While nationalism calls into play all facets of the human experience ranging from psychology and economics to music and religion, it is fundamentally a political concept.1 It is about a people exercising state power and governing themselves. For African Americans, however, nationalism most often involves nothing so grand. Since the interwar years, racial solidarity has been accepted as the threshold of Black nationalism and only Black nationalism. At the beginning of the Black Studies movement, August Meier, Elliott Rudwick, and John Bracey, Jr., spoke for most when they wrote, “The simplest expression of racial feeling that can be called a form of black nationalism is racial solidarity.”2

In an effort to reconcile the literature of Black Studies with general scholarship on nationalism, some scholars writing since the late 1990s have differentiated between two kinds of Black nationalism: classical and modern. The historian Wilson J. Moses posits that classical Black nationalism conforms to the standard definition.3 According to the political scientist Dean Robinson, the modern variety involves the thought and activity of “those who favored more modest goals like black administration of vital private and public institutions—the latter being the common cause of those who invoked the slogan of ‘Black Power’ after 1966.” While Robinson points to minor forms of self-governance, racial solidarity remains both a necessary and sufficient condition of the definition of Black nationalism for most scholars.4 Additionally, the terms used—classical and modern—solve one problem only to create another: Most scholars of nationalism associate the terms classical and modern with historical periods, not types of nationalism, and they debate over whether nationalism began in classical antiquity or the modern era. Thus, students of nationalism might conflate the classical/modern dichotomy with the primordial versus modern debate.5 As a consequence, Black nationalism remains not only sui generis, but also confusing to many who are not specialists in Black Studies.

If one applies this so-called “modern” or stateless definition of nationalism to other ethnoracial groups in the United States, the lack of universalism becomes apparent. Ethnic churches such as the Korean Baptist Church and the Vietnamese Baptist Church, commercial districts such as Chinatown and Little Italy, and advocacy groups like La Raza and the Anti-Defamation League would all be seen as expressions of ethnoracial nationalism. The notable exception is Chicano solidarity in the 1960s, which gets treated as an expression of nationalism.6 Yet there is no body of scholarly literature or public discourse that generally treats other groups' expressions of ethnoracial solidarity as nationalisms of any kind. Even when it involves modest degrees of self-government or cultural or economic development, ethnoracial solidarity is hardly deemed politically significant. Theirs is simply ethnic or racial behavior. Only the cultural, political, religious, and economic solidarities of African Americans are imbued with the political meaning that nationalism denotes.7 Because of its sprawling definition, Black nationalism is the only “nationalism” espied everywhere in American history and culture by scholars, activists, and commentators alike.

With the hope of reining in the concept and its usage, this essay traces how Black nationalism became decoupled from the core concept of sovereignty or even self-government. It argues that the peculiar labeling of Black solidarity and cultural consciousness as nationalism originated with two developments beginning in the late 1920s: sociology's rising fear of ethnoracial nationalism and the ideological developments of the Old Left during the interwar years. Yet it was the interwar praxis of socially identified Black nationalists that gave it a peculiarly Black definition, and the revolutionary nationalism of the 1960s that institutionalized it within both the Black and scholarly communities and the society at large.

Nationalism without Sovereignty in Marxist-Leninist Ideology and Practice

The weakening of the association of Black nationalism with the exercise of state power began in the late 1920s. Other than Marcus Garvey and the Nation of Islam, the group best known for promoting the notion of a Black nation-state during the twentieth century was the Communist Party USA (CPUSA), when it advanced the idea that Blacks constituted a nation and had the right to self-determination replete with a state in the American South. At first glance, this call for a Black state fits the classical expression of nationalism. Yet the CPUSA began the process of intellectually hollowing out the concept, stripping it of its original meaning and import. Along with the Socialist Worker's Party, the CPUSA steered Blacks who came within their orbit away from sovereignty and self-rule and toward a post-nationalist world. Nationalism, Communist-Party-style, created a fundamental contradiction between theory and praxis, offering less than sovereignty and making self-rule a fleeting experience.

As the Communist Party struggled to advance their cause, it had to grapple with the reality of nationalism among peoples whom it was trying to bring into the international movement. For anyone trying to recruit others to the cause of revolution, the luxury of dismissing nationalism as passé in the tradition of Marx would not do. Expanding communism called for addressing the national question as many workers remained committed to their ethnic or racial identities. The communists developed a sophisticated theoretical framework for accessing nationalities and minority groups to determine the party's position on a potential relationship with them as their movements progressed. Oppressed minorities who did not have the attributes of a nation would be liberated from capitalism like all workers without any special consideration. On the other hand, workers of groups who shared enough in common to be considered a nation were deemed to be an oppressed nationality, which afforded them the right to self-determination and the formation of nation-states.8

It was within this framework that the Communist Party and later the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) worked out their positions on Blacks in America and nationalism. With the support of Harry Haywood, a Black communist who originally rejected the idea, Joseph Stalin endorsed the notion that Blacks who lived in what was known as the Black Belt were an oppressed nation, not an oppressed minority, and thus had a right to nationalism, liberation, and self-determination.9 In 1928, the Communist Sixth World Congress recognized the existence of oppressed Black nationality in a thin strip of the American South where Blacks comprised a majority. With the shift to the Popular Front against fascism, the Communist Party muted its promotion of self-determination in the Black Belt, but it remained a part of official communist ideology. As late as 1946, according to the prominent communist Benjamin J. Davis, the party “adopted a resolution which recognized the Negro question as the national question within our country and placed the Party squarely in support of the right of self-determination—or self-government—for the Negro people in the Black Belt area in the South where they are in the majority.”10 For its part, the SWP, in 1939, put forth a slightly different position. Rather than calling for the creation of a Black nation-state, the party decided it would support any move that Black Americans might make for self-determination at a future point. If the Communist Party removed the choice by presuming something not really in evidence, the Socialist Workers Party left the question open and would honor the African American position on self-determination.11

Their embrace of Black nationalism notwithstanding, both the Communist Party and the SWP were revolutionaries dancing with the very devil that they aimed to escort off the stage of history. For the CP and the SWP alike, nationalism had a non-discernible yet nonetheless real expiration date, and it was in the none-too-distant future. According to their own understanding of historical developments, sovereign nation-states would yield to the march of socialism, leaving only cultural vestiges. In contrast to liberals in the Age of Revolution who dreamed of a fraternity of liberal nations, Marxists—ranging from Lenin to Stalin to Trotsky—never accepted a world divided along national lines. As Michael Forman puts it, “In effect, Lenin simultaneously closed and opened the door for nationalism.”12 For Stalin, nationalists would be lured into the fold by promises of self-determination, and then they would assist the process of ending the age of nationalism by liquidating self-proclaimed nationalists.13 Ever the humanist, Trotsky believed that nationalism would lose its luster even in the eyes of nationalists, who would become satisfied with a state in a federation or simply “cultural self-determination.”14 The transitory nature of nationalism, as preached by the Communist Party, was understood by the Blacks who joined. Speaking of Black writers, Richard Wright argued, “They must accept the concept of nationalism because in order to transcend it, they must possess and understand it.”15 [Emphasis mine.]

Transcend the bonds of nationhood? Nationalists? A nationalist could never give voice to such an expression. Nationalism as conceived by the Old Left was the nationalism of non-nationalists and anti-nationalists. Historically, nationalists have ever tended to think in terms of the nation having a shared destiny that is assured through exercising sovereignty. In pursuit of their imagined destiny, nationalists tend to dream across centuries, not a few decades. The vision is one of permanence and stability, not of a fleeting historical moment. If members of religions hew places of worship in stone mountains, nationalists carve monuments into them to speak to subsequent generations. The German nationalists dreamed in terms of hundreds of years, and the American nationalist Abraham Lincoln deemed that four generations of an American nationality were hardly enough, and refused to allow the Southern states to pursue their own destiny. The idea of transcending the nation-state that a people are strenuously and even violently trying to bring into being or hold together is patently absurd. Similarly, for most aspiring nationalists, a return to cultural self-determination after exercising sovereignty would be seen at best as a cruel trick akin to being folded back into a polyglot empire.

Blacks who learned their nationalism from within the Communist Party had to absorb a peculiar understanding, one strong in intellectual sophistication yet weak at its political core. Worse still, the political culture of the Communist Party exposed Blacks in its circles to a conceptualization of Black nationalism devoid of Black self-determination, not to mention self-rule. Questions of racism aside, the Communist Party USA may have adopted a policy supporting Black nationalism, but party discipline prevented Blacks from exercising self-determination—that would have involved choices that no one in the party could exercise, namely freedom of thought and action. Yet for Blacks who saw self-determination for the entire race coming via an alliance with the Communist Party USA, the self-determined nationalism of Blacks had to be communist nationalism, not bourgeois. Viewing it as the equivalent of White chauvinism, Browder wrote, “The Communists fight against Negro bourgeois-nationalism.”16 Black communists would have to decide against the majority of Blacks if bourgeois nationalism pushed to the fore. Those who fit that description were a very broad group that included W. E. B. Du Bois, who favored Black communes in the South. Because he wondered aloud whether the Soviets would exploit Blacks on behalf of Whites after an American revolution, he was associated by James Allen with “all petty-bourgeois Negro nationalism.”17 More generally, feeding the tendency to equate nationalism with Black solidarity, even members of the Black left who favored racial unity, such as A. Philip Randolph, were deemed to be nationalists.18

To avoid being so labeled, one had to place class over race, a tortuous exercise for any ethnoracial nationalist, regardless of their commitment to socialism. Black communists were expected to participate in predominantly Black organizations and had the duty of clandestinely steering them away from bourgeois nationalism toward the Communist Party and its approved understanding of Black self-determination. If Black communists were unaware of what being loyal communists entailed for their commitment to Black people, they learned that the party did not allow Blacks to meet alone, not to mention self-segregate, as Erik McDuffie points out. As William Jelani Cobb puts it, “Nationalism was accepted in theoretical terms, but in the day-to-day functioning of the Party, a scripted social integration was the rule.” If Black communists could not be trusted to engage in the creation and leadership of a Black nationalist movement, then Black nationalism as Communist praxis was bereft of self-determination, not to mention sovereignty.19 Any Black who remained in the party had every reason to understand that Black nationalism would be short-lived and directed by non-Blacks who headed the party. Not surprisingly, many failed that test of sufficiently placing class above race. Black nationalists who joined the Communist Party may have agreed with the program, but certainly they recognized that they were communist first and thus not part of a sovereign race. Needless to say, Blacks introduced to nationalism by the communists imbibed the party's up-from-nationalism definition of the concept.

To be sure, most Blacks who became disillusioned with the Communist Party fell out over the perceived racism, not its self-serving theoretical formulations on nationalism. Inasmuch as some were nationalists when they joined, they accommodated the communist brand of nationalism to some degree, especially if they stayed in the party for any length of time. That Garveyites could become communists and put interracial class solidarity over racial sovereignty and self-determination reveals how committed they were to improving the lot of the downtrodden, and how the Great Depression could place Garveyites in the same boat with White anti-Garveyites. A former Universal Negro Improvement Association member, Queen Mother Moore, a native of Louisiana, joined the Communist Party in New York City because of its advocacy of Black nationalism in the South. McDuffie writes, “She read the Party's program for self-determination through Garvey lenses,” and when she left the party, she resumed her commitment to sovereign Black nation-states.20 Moore certainly was not alone in taking only what she found useful from the communist ideology.21

What matters here is that more than a few members of the Black left learned or relearned the meaning of nationalism according to the Communist Party, and with it encountered an ideology in which sovereignty and self-rule meant less and racial destiny meant nothing. Even those who left the party partially for the lack of racial autonomy often gravitated toward non-exclusionary nationalist ideologies that did not involve sovereignty or self-rule for African Americans. Years after leaving the Communist Party, Harold Cruse, referring to the Black Belt thesis, would fault the Old Left for wanting “a national question without nationalism.”22 Yet, the party had shaped his views to a greater extent than he knew, for his new vision of Black nationalism was unconcerned about sovereignty, self-rule, or territory.

The Social Science Origins of “Modern” Black Nationalism

If the left generated a peculiar understanding of Black nationalism, so did the social sciences with the rise of the second world crisis in the 1930s. As every student of Black Studies should know, the social sciences once believed that the aspiration of people of African descent was simply to assimilate. According to Robert E. Park, a leading figure in the Chicago School of Sociology and one-time ghostwriter for Booker T. Washington, the process of assimilation was ironically driven by conflicts arising from a minority group's rising consciousness, solidarity, cultural expression, and pride.23 Enamored of the spirituals and other aspects of Black folk culture, Park endorsed the idea of Blacks embracing their history, cultural traditions, and group achievements, and saw intergroup conflicts, including riots, as evidence of the process of assimilation at work. It is no coincidence that his student Charles S. Johnson became a promoter of Black literature and one of the architects of the Harlem Renaissance.24 All who came into Park's orbit, including Carter G. Woodson, understood his salutary view of Black culture and consciousness. Woodson recruited Park to serve on the board of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), and the head of the Chicago School became the organization's second president.25 For the nearly two decades that the Chicago School reigned supreme, few experts saw nationalism inherent in the religious, cultural, and economic development of Black Americans—even in the age of Garveyism and the New Negro.

By the late 1920s, however, this would change. The rise of fascism in Europe led many social scientists to worry about nationalist movements. Two who were affiliated with the University of Iowa ignored Park and his Chicago School's conflict theory of assimilation. Cutting against the grain, they began a pejorative tradition of viewing any expression of Black pride and solidarity as a form of nationalism. Thomas George Standing, a graduate of the University of Iowa, saw nationalism everywhere among Blacks. “One of the most interesting recent developments among American Negroes has been the growth of a militant sentiment of racial solidarity and race pride. It is this movement which is here referred to as Negro nationalism.”26 Sociologist Walter L. Dayton, a specialist in labor issues at Iowa, dabbled in nationalism and the study of the Negro. For Dayton, the production, study, and popularization of Negro history at once reflected and served Black nationalism.27 Dayton gave special mention to ASNLH for promoting Black nationalism by sponsoring Negro History Week.

In the minds of some, the development of this stateless ideology of Black nationalism was not good for America or the Negro. Accordingly, Standing pathologized it. He believed that the radicals in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (that is, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, and Walter White) and others like Alain Locke were developing a “nationalistic psychosis.” In his eyes, the radicals tended to be mulattos, and the best evidence of their condition was their “repudiation of white standards and the development of a culturally distinct Negro society.”28 Others might have rejected the extreme characterizations of Negro nationalism but viewed it as a spectrum that included any degree of collective agenda and consciousness. For the historian Preston Slosson, “Negro nationalism” included the quest for civil rights: “One tiny, picturesque group did indeed carry Negro nationalism far beyond the simple demand of Du Bois for equal rights in America.”29 As the interwar years progressed, increasing numbers of social scientists joined in with the broadly defined, pejorative definitions of Black nationalism. It took Everett V. Stonequist, the maverick Chicago School sociologist, to treat Du Bois's Depression program calling for a “self-sufficient economy” as a species of Black nationalism.30

The loose interpretation of nationalism could be a cudgel in the hands of those engaging in social-science polemics. At a moment when Woodson was at odds with the foundations, Horace Mann Bond, enjoying the fruits of a philanthropic fellowship, accused him and the ASNLH of promoting “black nationalism” by advocating the inclusion of Black history in the curriculum.31 Black intellectuals implicated in promoting Black history in the schools found themselves on the defensive and at times reinforced less rigorous notions of nationalism. As a promoter of Black culture, Charles Johnson was implicated in the self-consciousness-as-Black-nationalism thesis. Always dependent on philanthropy for his research and administration in college life, Johnson, in an essay critiquing negative textbooks for Black children, felt the need to state that he was not for a “glorified” past for them. He acknowledged that doing so “would tend toward a kind of nationalism that would further block off the essential channels of communication.”32

Those who detected nationalism, especially Black nationalism, without evidence of a desire among Blacks for their own nation-state got support from Louis Wirth, one of the inheritors of the Chicago School tradition and a soon-to-be member of the department. Writing in an age of nationalist unrest, Wirth sought to fit the rise of nationalism into the Chicago School's conflict model of intergroup relations and lay out a clearer understanding of minority groups and their potential for seeking political sovereignty. He felt compelled to study nationalism, differentiate among the varieties, and come up with a predictive model of the rise of nationalism, especially among minority groups, that did not rely on the expressions of group leaders. In his estimation, the key was culture and a people's call for pluralism. He observed that minority groups that demanded cultural autonomy ended up seeking more. “The nationalities of Europe,” he held, “began their careers as pluralistic minorities bent merely upon attaining cultural autonomy.” Emphasizing processes that go beyond the beliefs and aspirations of individuals, “Pluralistic minorities … are merely waystations on the road to further developments,” he said. By the 1940s, Wirth was clear on the direction of cultural pluralism. Of the paths a minority could take, only one—assimilation—would serve the status quo. Pluralism led to the other two paths, namely succession or militancy. The latter involved the minority seeking not simply sovereignty but to establish dominion over others.33 Here was a theory that reaffirmed the wholesomeness of assimilationist minorities only.

In treating pluralists as nationalists still baking in the oven, Wirth effectively gave analytical license to scholars seeking to ferret out nationalists among individuals who believed in their group's cultural heritage, and he gave legitimacy to those with outsized fears of minorities unwittingly yet inexorably headed down the path of militant nationalism. Wirth made clear that his works spoke mostly to Europe, but he made one or two potential American exceptions—Blacks and Jews. Certainly, there was nothing anti-Semitic or anti-Black about Wirth. He was proudly and professionally self-consciously Jewish, and, in the tradition of the Chicago School, staunchly pro-Black. Though he had Black nationalists like Richard Wright in his circle, it appears that Wirth thought that the main thrust of the Black community was assimilationist, not pluralist.34 Yet to a growing group of scholars, including one of his students, Black nationalism was real enough and Black pluralism was in full evidence.

It is easy to exaggerate the social science treatment of racial solidarity or cultural pluralism as nationalism among Blacks. Indeed, few thought of Blacks as pluralists. During the interwar years, the major social science statements emphasized the assimilationist nature of African Americans. Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma, the landmark research project funded by the Carnegie Foundation, leaned heavily on the traditional work produced by the Chicago School and the academics associated with it. Traditional Chicago School scholars such as E. Franklin Frazier and Charles Johnson may have differed with Myrdal on many points, but could agree that Blacks shared the American creed and had been acculturated into American society.35 Other participants, like Ralph Bunche, had noted “a spirit of nationalism” among Negroes, but only Garveyism had risen to the level of Black nationalism.36

Much has been written about how Myrdal's study dominated discussions of race relations after World War II, and yet the tendency for experts to see stateless nationalism only grew after World War II. From the revitalized and updated Chicago School, there were those who took up Wirth's view that Negroes were potentially a minority that could go down the path of nationalism. In fact, Arnold Marshall Rose, Wirth's student, saw nationalism in Black folks' effort to develop a group economy. He held that in the 1930s the “Jobs for Negroes” campaigns in Northern cities turned into efforts by Negro merchants to get Blacks to buy from them instead of Whites. In Chicago and New York, he pointed out, “racketeers put themselves in the leadership and began to harangue the Negro mobs against Jewish storekeepers. Some of them made a tie-up with white-led fascist groups. There is no doubt that this movement enhanced Negro nationalism.”37

Another Wirth student, Howard Brotz, would examine stateless Black nationalism. Brotz, however, would differ with Wirth in seeing culturalism as a waystation to secessionist or militant nationalism. In fact, he would harken back to the original Parkian interpretation, making Black culture—even in the guise of nationalism—a phase in assimilation. In a 1952, he referred to the Black Jews of Harlem as having an “a-political, self-indulgent nationalism.” Over a decade later, he divided the Black intellectual universe starkly between assimilationists and various kinds of nationalists, lumping Du Bois—cofounder of the NAACP—into the cultural nationalist camp for his belief in Blacks as a voluntary community. Although sympathetic toward the Black community, Brotz had an interpretation of “Black nationalism” that comported with the familiar Chicago School view (and as we shall see, that of the Socialist Workers Party) that group self-consciousness and racial pride were necessary developments on the road to acceptance. “In short, the Negroes, if they are to acquire equality in more than a merely legal sense, but in the sense of equal respect, must transform themselves into a people with sufficient pride so that they will be wooed.”38

Among historians, the stateless Black nationalism interpretation came from August Meier. Despite having been a research assistant to Charles Johnson, Meier adopted the treatment of Black pride and solidarity as evidence of Black nationalism.39 In an essay published in 1950, Meier claimed that his work had been influenced by Carlton Hayes and Hans Kohn, leaders in the study of nationalism, and Ralph Bunche, the most astute student of Black ideologies. While he borrowed from Hayes and Kohn concepts such as humanitarian and integral nationalism, they never treated cultural and economic solidarity as nationalism when it did not come coupled with political sovereignty. What he took from Ralph Bunch remains unclear, for Bunch limited his use of the term nationalism to his discussion of Garveyism. Like the Iowa school, Meier treated the rise of Black history, especially when combined with racial pride and solidarity, as an expression of cultural nationalism, and those who called for Black economic uplift, most notably Booker T. Washington, were seen as economic nationalists.40 In the hands of Meier, who would become a force in the rising field of Black history in the academy, the pejorative nature of the analysis would fall to the wayside, but Blacks who questioned assimilation or called for solidarity were put in some nationalist category for analysis.41

If Meier found nationalism everywhere, he shared with Brotz the original Chicago School belief that it was simply a phase in a process. He argued that “the journals of the Washington orbit unwittingly made explicit the contradictions implicit in the Tuskegeean's social philosophy. And indeed, their ideologies of racial solidarity, militant self-help and economic advancement were transmutations of the philosophies of modern nationalism and bourgeois individualism into techniques for racial advancement leading to ultimate integration into American society.”42 Before the late 1960s, it is not clear how far the interpretation of Black solidarity, consciousness, and pride as amounting to nationalism extended beyond the small group of specialists.

The Praxis of Black Nationalists

Those who sought to stigmatize Black leaders and intellectuals and their programs by associating them with nationalism failed in their efforts. Neither Woodson nor Du Bois felt compelled to defend himself against charges of being a Black nationalist. Negro History Week grew by leaps and bounds, and Black culture became part and parcel of the civil rights movement without fear of it being deemed un-American. To the contrary, the mainstream of the Black cultural movement insisted that Black history was American history and that the spirituals and the blues were part and parcel of American music. The extreme version of this argument often claimed Black music was the only truly American music. While clearly many rejected their view, it established the terrain on which Black culture would be debated.

Outside the mainstream, Black intellectuals and activists who identified as nationalists adopted the sobriquet before anyone sought to impose it. After the demise of the Garvey movement, there would always be people of African descent in the United States who believed that people of African descent needed and should pursue their own nation-states. From the Nation of Islam, the Pioneer Movement, the Ethiopian Movement, the Forty-Ninth State Movement, and the New Republic of Africa to the All African People's Revolutionary Party, Black nationalists—self-described and self-defined—existed in a virtually unbroken chain. This continuity would matter greatly in the development of the tendency to see Black nationalism in the absence of the goal for a state.

One of the central features of Black nationalist movements prior to the twentieth century is that they were episodic. Emigrationist movements waxed after the War of 1812, during the sectional crisis of the 1850s, in the wake of Reconstruction, and during the era of legal disfranchisement in the 1890s and 1900s.43 When they ended, they left few committed promoters of nationalism and no distinct nationalist subculture within the Black community. To be sure, the emigrationist movements were true manifestations of nationalism, for no one advocated Blacks returning to Africa as individuals and assimilating into traditional African societies. The movements generally promoted the idea of Blacks in America establishing independent or self-governing states.44 The modest success of the movements tended to meet the general needs of those wanting to return to Africa, for there was a flow of African Americans back and forth between Liberia and the United States throughout the postemancipation era. These connections, however, did not exhibit features of an ongoing movement. More importantly, the movements neither posited the existence of a separate Black culture nor called for its development. In effect, Liberia served as an outlet for individual Black Americans to return to Africa largely through the efforts of the White-led African colonization society.45

Like most nationalist movements, the emigrationist efforts resulted from America's refusal to incorporate individuals of a population as equals in the land of their birth. Just as colonists in British North America sought sovereignty when they were denied the rights of Englishmen, Blacks in America sought their own nation-states in Africa or the American West when they believed they no longer had a chance to gain citizenship in the United States.46 The Civil War brought a swift end to antebellum Black nationalism precisely because the erstwhile nationalists saw the opportunity for Blacks to gain freedom and citizenship. Indeed, those such as Henry McNeal Turner and Martin Delany joined the Union Army as officers and afterwards became part of the American political community as leading Black Republicans. More importantly, their organizations and allegiances to their proposed colonies faded with the war, leaving hardly a trace of their existence. Certainly one could not point to places where subcommunities of hard-core emigrationists remained, or to Black publications that continued to promote the ideology. Subsequent nationalist movements had to begin anew. A case in point: After the failure of Reconstruction, pre-war nationalists such as Richard Cain and Henry McNeal Turner, supporters of the African Civilization Society, had to form new structures such as the Liberian Exodus Association.47

Nineteenth-century emigrationism never pivoted from being a contingent option of an oppressed people to a commitment seen as inherently preferred and something to which one might commit one's life or for which one might die. The goals were for people of African descent to escape oppression and civilize Africa, not to serve one nation in America or elsewhere as a special people with their own culture and God-given destiny. Their emigrationism was a pragmatic nationalism.48 As such, emigrationist nationalism did not become deeply rooted in African American culture in the nineteenth century. This is not to say that Black nationalists were merely thwarted assimilationists at heart—many reveled in Black community life and were committed to the well-being of the race—but it is to say that they preferred inclusion in the American political community to building a new nation-state abroad. In the form of nation-building, nationalism is a hard, demanding ideology, requiring extreme effort and sacrifice that few can sustain or want to endure when presented with even a faint prospect of obtaining social justice in the land of their birth.

Since the Garvey movement, Black nationalism as an ideology has attracted many who have been committed to the most difficult, unlikely cause, and the true believers have made the ideology a permanent feature in American life. While Dean Robinson is right in arguing that American culture shaped the parameters of Black nationalism, the persistence arises from the fact that it became an ideology of discontent and dissent, providing Black people a collective way of opposing what they believed was wrong in American society.49 Twentieth-century nationalists were often anti-American; at times they were anti-White; and beginning with the 1960s, they were stridently anti-European culture. More revealingly, many viewed Black culture as essentially African rather than a New World blend. Black nationalists formed not simply organizations, but identifiable subcommunities within the larger African American culture, replete with their own dress and hairstyles.

The full-throated Black nationalism of the Garvey movement revealed the extent to which many Blacks, native and foreign-born, could identity with the concept of self-determination and the formation of a Black nation-state, for it resonated from coast to coast, North and South. After Garvey, the Nation of Islam would spread from the urban Midwest to all parts of the country, carrying with it a demand for a Black nation-state. In New York, Carlos Cooks, a stalwart Garveyite, would form the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement in the early 1940s, and the group would seek federal funds for emigration to Africa until the late 1950s.50 When the African scholar E.U. Essien-Udom came to America in the 1950s, he spent time in Chicago and New York, and discovered that the Nation of Islam was not alone among Blacks still wanting their own homeland. However, despite the continued expressions of true nationalism, the idea of a separate Black nation-state would never again fire the imagination of any appreciable percentage of either the middle or working class.

To understand how the Black community came to view Black nationalism as a stateless ideology, one has to explore the praxis of the nationalists. Along with their vision of a sovereign Black nation, the nationalists attempted to address the needs of their nation in exile. As it is now well acknowledged, Garvey never believed that the Black race en masse would migrate to Africa, making a program for those in the New World, especially predominantly White countries, a must. The praxis of Black nationalism would include the treatment of Black folks by the White majority, programs for Black economic development and cultural advancement, and collective pride.

While the rising generation of integrationists sought the entry of Blacks into society as individuals, Black nationalists tended to think of their dealing with Whites along the lines of foreign affairs. Accepting America as a White man's country, Garvey wanted Blacks who remained to be treated with dignity and respect. It was also in this light that he sought détente with the Ku Klux Klan. Notably, the idea of reparations began its life as a central aspect of nationalism, for nationalists believed that America owed Blacks not as individuals but as a people. The Nation of Islam held that White America owed Blacks land on this continent because “our former slave owners are obligated to provide such land.”51 Groups like the Ethopian Peace Movement sought to negotiate with White nationalists in the federal government, namely Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi, to seek reparations for repatriation.52

Ironically, the social prescriptions and strategies for the Black nation in exile, not the desire for a nation-state, became what Black people associated most with nationalists and nationalism. Until the rise of the Garvey movement, Black self-help and solidarity were never treated as inherently nationalist. Neither was Black economic development, including the call for Blacks to form their own communities in rural areas of the Midwest. Southern Whites who witnessed and at times encouraged the development of Black business districts and the Negro Business League certainly did not think of themselves as endorsing Black nationalism in any guise, nor did the federal government when it hired a businessman in the 1920s to promote Black business.53 Booker T. Washington, the great booster of Black economic solidarity and harmonious race relations, did not aim to embark on a path of self-governance with either the National Business League or his support for Black towns. Yet Garveyism and other forms of organized Black nationalism yoked the idea of Black economic solidarity so closely to their political agenda that the bond was henceforth sealed. If his steamship line or Black Cross Nurses symbolized the movement's economic program, his “Be Black, Buy Black, Build Black” slogan captured the spirit of what would become known as economic Black nationalism.54 The experience of Garveyism transformed how Blacks and Whites alike viewed Black economic solidarity. In fact, the notion of a separate Black economy became interpreted as nationalism, and generations of scholars would read it in Black behavior back to the founding of the American nation.55

Buy Black campaigns became a feature of the post-Garvey Black nationalist praxis. The Nation of Islam and other self-identified nationalists emphasized the need for Blacks to do business among themselves and keep the dollars in the community.56 In Harlem, Carlos Cooks took up the mission in the aftermath of the Harlem Riot of 1935, and frequently participated in community events spreading the message by carrying and handing out “Buy Black” placards.57 Writing of Harlem, the historian Cheryl Greenberg holds, “Many middle-class and professional blacks joined with Garveyites in advocating the creation of a separate economy, since a commitment to ‘buy black’ meant more business for them.”58 With buying Black as staple value in Black nationalist ideologies, what was once a marketing scheme of self-interested businessmen became elevated to a form of racial autarky without territorial boundaries or state enforcement. In contrast with immigrant groups who advocated economic solidarity as a means of making a place for themselves in America, the loudest advocates of a Black economy saw it as uplifting a nation within a nation.

Self-defined nationalists who wanted the creation of strong nation-states in Africa also began to develop an appreciation for African culture and the promotion of Black ideals. In Chicago, Frederick Robb, a Howard University alumnus and Northwestern-trained attorney, changed his name to Hammurabi and opened the House of Knowledge, a place where Blacks could learn of their African heritage.59 Whereas earlier generations had been interested in learning about great Black civilizations, an increasing appreciation for African culture more generally developed. This emphasis on Pan-Africanism could and did go so far that some thought of themselves as Africans. In New York, the African National Memorial Bookstore, owned by Louis Michaux, became a hub of Black nationalism from the early 1930s forward. Like Hammurabi in Chicago, Michaux identified as African and led an organization, African Nationals in America, Inc. This political stance was no idle affiliation. According to Dr. Yosef ben-Joachannan, the group supported African liberation efforts.60

In New York, Cooks and those in his circle promoted a new aesthetic for Blacks, calling on them to see the beauty of their people. They promoted the notion that “Black is beautiful” and the wearing of natural hairstyles.61 This was an extension of earlier efforts of nationalists to promote trends that would boost Black self-worth. To be sure, many non-nationalists were concerned about a positive group image and promoted racial ideals, but it took the nationalists who looked to Africa to make those ideals fall in line with African images.

Perhaps there is no better illustration of the continuity of Black nationalist ideas and praxis than their influence on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the mid-1960s. In his autobiography, Abdul-Jabbar recounts that his family migrated to Harlem in 1917 and that his grandparents were proponents of Garveyism. While in high school, he went to hear Malcolm X speak on 125th Street, but when he did not arrive, Abdul-Jabbar stayed to hear Charles Peaker of the African National Pioneer Movement, who spoke on the theme of “buying black.” Abdul-Jabbar quoted the movement's constitution: “We submit that the Black people of Harlem and all other Homogeneous African communities, have the same natural and moral right to be clannish in their patronage as all other people have dramatized that they are. We advocate as a matter of sound racial economics, the BUY BLACK Campaign. Patronize the merchants of your own race.” In 1968, Abdul-Jabbar, already a rising star, was little interested in leaving the United States, but he joined the Nation of Islam.62

When the African political scientist E. U. Essien-Udom came to the United States in 1952 to study at the University of Chicago, his encounters led him to study Black nationalism and write a book bearing that title. As a political scientist, he was capable of distinguishing between what was passing as Black nationalism in America's large cities and what his field considered nationalism. The Garvey movement, he wrote, was “the only truly nationalist movement among Negroes during the twenties.” In his writings, Essein-Udom studied the Nation of Islam and other self-defined nationalists, referring to them all as “the nationalists.” In interacting with the self-defined Black nationalists that he found in New York and Chicago, Essein-Udom came to use the community's broad definition of Black nationalism.63 In the early 1960s, he noted that there were approximately 5,000 “nationalists” in Harlem, who belonged to nearly two dozen organizations.64

Malcolm X, Revolutionary Black Nationalism, and the Consolidation of Stateless Black Nationalism

During the course of the 1960s, Black nationalism's link to the quest for sovereignty was almost wholly broken. Black communities across the country were chock-full of self-defined nationalists who called for self-determination and liberation but among them only a few desired racially exclusive self-governance in traffic courts, not to mention living under the flag of a sovereign Black state. While some Black Powerites were indeed nationalists, the mainstream of Black Power was faux nationalism. Self-styled cultural nationalists, Christian nationalists, nationalist Black workers, and bourgeois nationalists dotted the urban landscape and parts of the rural South.65 Most either wanted to retreat into a Black cultural space within a White world or to take a seat at a power-sharing table with Whites and others. Not only were those wanting sovereignty a minuscule minority, one is hard pressed to find anyone who articulated a vision of an America organized around multinational concepts such as ethnoracial elections and representation in Congress, separate cultural ministries, separate state governments, or even community-based petty courts.66 The much promoted idea of community control amounted to virtually no degree of self-governance, though it gave birth to endless protests. In most guises, Black Power amounted to dyspeptic cultural pluralism.

At the heart of this shift away from Black nationalism was the rise of revolutionary Black nationalism—the post-nationalism “Black nationalist” ideology.67 Its origins lay outside both the United States and Europe. In 1955, the Bandung Conference highlighted a new age of revolutionary nationalism. Once a term applied largely to the French Revolution, it now became identified with the movements in which colonized people threw off the yoke of the West.68 In contrast to the eighteenth century, when revolutionary nationalism generated capitalist nations, the new movements brought about one socialist nation-state after another. Moreover, they had a new dimension—the liberation of peoples of color from White colonial powers. Revolutionary nationalism fired the imagination of Black nationalists in 1950s America in the same manner that the Haitian Revolution had over a century earlier. New World Pan-Africanists such as Du Bois and Garvey had once believed that they would usher in an age of nationalism in Africa, but now it became clear that Africans would. Rather than being inspired by Blacks in America, Africans became the source of inspiration for them.69 Many Black Americans would take their intellectual cue from African and other non-White countries that were throwing off colonialism. They thought citizenship and civil rights were hardly enough, especially for a people who had been long enslaved and then segregated. Malcolm X, Harold Cruse, Robert Williams, Max Sanford, Huey P. Newton, James Boggs, and innumerable others would come to believe that Black Americans had to fit in somewhere amid the rising tide of revolutionary nationalism.

“Revolutionary black nationalism,” as the ideologies would become known, moved from the premise that Blacks in the United States were also colonized by a capitalist power. In contrast to most peoples of color who were being oppressed in their homeland by a foreign power, Blacks in the United States represented an internal colony, a people situated in ghettoes, who were being oppressed by White America. Those who sought to foment revolution from inside “the belly of the beast” had unique challenges and ideological obstacles. Elsewhere revolutionaries could wage wars for national liberation on grounds other than race and create nation-states that rejected race as a basis for belonging. Their supermajorities over European settlers allowed them to do so without fear of losing cultural traditions or ethnoracial control.70 Algerians could absorb the French, and even South Africans could absorb the Afrikaners and still have what amounted to their own sovereign nation. Blacks in America could not form a nation-state that Blacks governed as sovereigns while presenting it as a multiracial democracy. Further, in contrast to other socialists, most Black revolutionaries, especially the younger generation, would find generating patriotism for America undesirable. Because they saw themselves as liberating their own countries, Cubans, South Africans, Algerians, and others could condemn the colonizing country while maintaining patriotism for the land of their birth. Those who saw themselves as an internal colony tended to think of the land of their birth as the site of oppression rather than a country with a claim to their patriotism. In fact, they felt their national liberation required the destruction of the land of their birth, unaffectionately known to many as Babylon.

Putting aside the Herculean task of slaying the colonizing beast in his lair, Black revolutionary nationalists in the United States had to decide whether they would seek to be a sovereign nation with their own territory (that is, pursue Black nationalism) or whether they would follow other anti-colonial revolutionaries and seek a new multiracial, post-imperialist America. Would they be true revolutionary Black nationalists or simply revolutionary nationalists? They pursued a course closer to the latter while calling themselves the former. Between 1962 and 1970, only one well-known group, the New Republic of Africa, would launch a movement to create a sovereign Black nation state. To be sure, everyone embraced their Black identity and opposed integrationism, but with anger rather than love they sought to transform America without promoting a revolutionary American nationalism. In this regard, their socialism gave them more in common with the post-nationalist communists than the revolutionary nationalism from which they took their inspiration. They could see their way to destroying a nation-state, but not to building a new one—Black or multiracial.

One of the ironies of so-called revolutionary Black nationalism in America is that the groundwork for its popularity was laid by one of the most conservative Black nationalisms, the Nation of Islam. More than anyone else, the NOI's Malcolm X put a spotlight on Black nationalism, however defined, and his intellectual journey from the NOI to revolutionary nationalism would expand the sheer number of Blacks who considered themselves Black nationalists and revolutionaries. By dint of his labors on behalf of the Nation of Islam, the public learned that there were in their midst Blacks who not only opposed integration but also thought of White people as devils, opting to stay clear of their political community. The NOI opposed political participation and military service—the modern hallmarks of citizenship. Their nationalism was classical in key ways: First, the NOI taught that Blacks in America, or the Asiatic Black man, were a people of long standing, and that Allah had come to North America to gather his lost nation. Secondly, this primordialism was coupled with the belief that the descendants of the slaves, the lost-now-found people, deserved their own sovereign state. Malcolm X was neither the leading theologian nor ideologist of the NOI, but he carried their message to larger audiences than any other member of the Nation, including Elijah Muhammad. As a result of Malcolm's ability, the religion spread from coast to coast and from the North to the South during the decade of his labors.

Widely regarded as the father of revolutionary Black nationalism by those who followed his example, Malcolm made the ideological shift away from primordialism in the months between his departure from the NOI and his death at their hands in February 1965. Scholars still debate the degree to which Malcolm was rethinking his views of White people, capitalism, and Islam, but they agree that he remained a Black nationalist, though in that stateless way now uniquely African American. In an interview given to the Canadian Broadcasting Company on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was asked whether he still believed in a separate Black state and he explained his shift away from state-based nationalism:

I don't believe in any form of segregation or any form of racism… Elijah Muhammad taught his followers that the only solution was a separate state for black people. And as long as I thought he genuinely believed that himself, I believed in him and believed in his solution. But when I began to doubt that he himself believed that that was feasible, and I saw no kind of action designed to bring it into existence or bring it about, then I turned in a different direction.71

The group that he established, the Organization of Afro-American Unity, spoke of a “cultural revolution” that would tie Blacks to Africa “culturally, psychologically, economically, and share with them the sweet fruits of freedom from oppression and independence of racist governments.” In effect, Malcolm's plan for African Americans amounted to cultural and psychological sovereignty arising from the growing stature of Africa.

While rejecting any form of sovereign nation-state for Black Americans, Malcolm still considered himself as a nationalist and an advocate of Black nationalism. In fact, many of Malcolm's post-NOI speeches make clear his commitment to the ideology. Setting the ideological tone for most future self-styled Black nationalists, Malcolm most often spoke of the need for Blacks to control their own communities. Only in a few places in America did Blacks have the numbers to control municipal or county government. In no case did they stand the chance of controlling a state government. Despite having only recently been a nationalist who believed in self-rule, Malcolm X clearly accepted the general sense that Black nationalism involved self-determination in a stateless form.

Video 1.01.

Malcolm X defines Black nationalism.

If Malcolm moved away from the notion of an African American state, he identified with the revolutionary nationalisms in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. In 1963, before leaving the NOI, Malcolm spoke of the importance of the Bandung conference in his “Message to the Grassroots Speech,” which became widely known as one of his most important.72 He spent much of his time after the NOI traveling abroad, where he met with revolutionary nationalists from other countries. What made Malcolm a revolutionary Black nationalist was not his stance on Blacks in America per se, but his support for revolutionary nationalism in Africa. He supported revolutionary nationalists in the Congo and the Mau Mau in Kenya. Moreover, while Malcolm never called for socialism in the United States, he spoke approvingly of the development of African socialism.

Video 1.02.

Malcolm X comments on African Socialism.

It is difficult to overstate the symbolic and substantive role of Malcolm X in the subsequent development of self-identified Black nationalists. As Scot Brown has observed, Malcolm became “a common reference point for diverse ideological expressions of Black nationalism and radicalism in the late 1960s and early 1970s.”73 Nor did William Van DeBerg exaggerate when he opined that Malcolm X was the “spiritual advisor in absentia.”74 His embrace of revolutionary nationalism abroad, his efforts to internationalize the racial oppression of Blacks in the United States, and his advocacy of self-defense, self-help, and racial pride all became important aspects of Black Power ideologies as they developed. And so did his stateless nationalism focused on community control.

That Malcolm never called for Black Americans to exercise sovereignty places him in sync with most subsequent self-styled revolutionary Black nationalists. In fact, of the notable revolutionary Black nationalist groups, only the New Republic of Africa staked out an unambiguous commitment to Blacks being a nation who had the right to exercise sovereignty. Organized in 1968, the NRA's vision was for the creation of a nation-state in five states of the Deep South. They moved to the American South and insisted that the five states that had historically been majority Black should be allowed to cede from the American union. In short order, members of the group found themselves in jail, and the movement quickly faltered. It is revealing that many other nationalists referred to the RNA as “territorial” nationalists, suggesting that their desire for sovereignty set them apart. Given that the NOI's aspirations for a separate state were increasingly seen as symbolic, the short-lived NRA was the most notable expression of authentic Black nationalism in the 1960s.

Video 1.03.

Milton Henry of the Republic of New Africa on Firing Line, 1968.

It is important to note that two major figures who would become identified with revolutionary nationalism did not think of themselves as Black nationalists in the early 1960s. Robert Williams and James Boggs were first and foremost socialist revolutionaries, not Black nationalists. As a Black man willing to take up arms to defend himself and his community, Robert Williams appeared to many observers as a Black nationalist. After all, armed racial solidarity against a White state smacks of racial nationalism. Yet it begs the question of what kind of nation-state Robert Williams envisioned. More than anything else, Williams wanted to live in a racial democracy, not a Black nation-state, and he was willing to put his life on the line to bring one about. Wherever he found himself—the United States Army, the Marines, revolutionary Cuba, or China—Williams organized with those who believed in furthering social justice, especially along racial lines. And while he would break with the United States, the Cuban government, and China, he never articulated a vision of a sovereign Black nation. Historians have made much of the failure of the NAACP to accept a proponent of Black defense in its ranks, but have focused relatively little on Williams's willingness to identify and work through an organization dedicated to integration and later to flee to a country that articulated a post-racial vision.

For most of his years of activism, Williams remained committed to multiracial democracy, not the creation of a Black nation-state. While working for his rights as an American, Williams exhibited a tendency to ally himself with the left, including the Socialist Workers Party, to pursue his goals.75 After the revolution in Cuba, Williams became intrigued by the country's progressive race relations, and he traveled there twice to learn more.76 Not surprisingly, it was there that he went into exile when local and national authorities sought to arrest him. In 1962, Williams took up his pen and wrote Negroes with Guns, in which he responded to the charge that he was a Black nationalist. “The label ‘Black Nationalist’ is as meaningless as the Communist label,” he held. Seeing Black solidarity as a result of oppression, Williams claimed that Blacks formed their own societies in response to being prevented from entering into the mainstream. Williams at once revealed his own stateless, non-territorial understanding of the term and made clear his preferred understanding of himself. “No, I'm not a ‘Black Nationalist’ to the point that I would exclude whites or that I would discriminate against whites or that I would be prejudiced toward whites. I would prefer to think of myself as an Inter-Nationalist.”77 At heart, Williams was a race-conscious advocate of a multiracial democracy. While in exile, he would allow himself to be the nominal head of RAM and the New Republic of Africa. At the time that he became the head of RAM, the organization's espoused position appeared as “revolutionary nationalism,” not Black nationalism. In 1967, when he was in Africa, Williams was informed that the NRA had elected him as their head. His first biographer noted that Williams assented, justifying his position largely on the grounds of reparations. One wonders whether this was a position he would have arrived at as part of the struggle.78

Similarly, James Boggs, born and raised in Alabama, somehow managed to keep faith in an interracial democracy, and, to a degree rare amongst the left, the promise of America. Boggs, an auto worker in Detroit, became well-known in radical circles for his writings throughout the 1950s. During that decade, he affiliated himself with C. L. R. James and the Socialist Workers Party. James had always rejected the notion that Blacks in the United States wanted their own nation-state, and had become well known for his work on the Haitian Revolution, which featured Toussaint L'Ouverture as the head of a movement that believed in a multiracial Haitian Republic. (Notably, he had no use for the Desselines, who had no use for White Haitians and envisioned a truly Black Republic.) By the early 1960s, Boggs would question integrationism and embrace a greater degree of Black consciousness, as Stephen Ward has pointed out. In 1963, Boggs published “The American Revolution” in the Monthly Review, which called for Black political empowerment as central to “an American” revolution that would transform America into a multiracial, socialist Democracy. A worker and believer in interracialism, Boggs would affiliate with revolutionary Black nationalism, but would never embrace the concept of a separate Black nation-state.79

If Williams and Boggs would eventually adopt revolutionary nationalism, Harold Cruse made the case for it among the older members of the left. His time in the Communist Party led him to see its hypocrisy on race and its theoretical shortcomings on Black nationalism. Holding that Western Marxism could not accept nationalism, he faulted the Communist Party for failing to recognize the Black nationality of Blacks who lived outside of the Black Belt. In their scheme, Northern Blacks were simply a “national minority” and would not be part of the Black nation that would be established in the Black Belt. For Cruse, “The national character of the Negro has little to do with what part of the country he lives in…. His national boundaries are the color of his skin, his racial characteristics, and the social conditions within his subcultural world.”80 In his estimation, the Communist Party wanted “a national question without nationalism.”

Cruse's writings reveal an intellectual excitement with the rise of revolutionary nationalism in the 1950s. In part, his delight seemed to derive simply from the rise of a non-White, non-European socialist alternative. The Communist Party had left a bad taste in his mouth for integrationism. It appears the party's control over how to view Black culture and group aspiration did not sit well with him. The self-determination of revolutionary nationalism emanating from peoples of color had none of the disadvantages of laboring under the thumb of a movement emanating from eastern Europe. More than most writers, Cruse set out to determine what revolutionary nationalism offered Black Americans.

Cruse came to the question with his own understanding of nationalism. However much he critiqued the Communist Party for its hypocrisy on Black self-determination and national identity, Cruse went further in divorcing nationalism from the pursuit of self-government than the Communist Party. While he dated the integrationist-separatist debate within the Black community back to the nineteenth century, he saw the presence of Black nationalism as coming with Garveyism and never dying out afterwards. “The Negro nationalist ferment has been working at various levels of intensity in the Negro ghetto ever since Marcus Garvey's ‘Back to Africa’ movement went into eclipse back in 1927.” For Cruse, Black nationalism was more about a community of self-defined nationalists than a movement for a sovereign state. Black nationalism, he believed, was here to stay—a permanent force—and the Black nation's quest for sovereignty was merely an option: “The nationalists may be forced to demand the right of political separation,” he held. [Italics mine.]81

The new revolutionary nationalism provided Cruse with analytical tools for understanding the condition of the Black nation in the United States. Most notably, he explored the comparison between Blacks in America and colonized people of color elsewhere. Unlike most who embraced the analogy, Cruse understood the problems and limits associated with seeing Black Americans as a colonized people. Revolutionary nationalism among Black Americans had little chance for success, according to Cruse: “People in colonies can succeed and American Negro nationalists cannot.” And what was the fate of the nation within another's nation-state? “The peculiar position of the Negro nationalists in the United States requires them to set themselves against the dominance of Whites and still manage to live in the same country.”82 Given this lack of potential for success, it is a wonder that Cruse considered himself a nationalist.

More remarkably, a number of young activists organized under the name “Challenge” were urged to read the article by Donald Freeman, who took the leadership to form the group in the wake of Robert Williams's exile in Cuba. Originally based at Central State University in Ohio, the group would develop into the Revolutionary Action Movement and the concept of an internal colony would influence the formation of their ideology.83 Yet, the place of Black sovereignty in the evolving thought of RAM is as difficult to pin down as the direct line of their development. To be sure, it is clear that both nationalists who wanted a state and stateless nationalists belonged to RAM, and the decentralized nature of the largely clandestine movement left room for a range of ideological dissonance. Max Stanford, for instance, writes of one meeting in which the division between the two wings was apparent—the nationalists who wanted an independent nation-state in the Black Belt and those who leaned against it. True to their interracialism and socialism, James and Grace Boggs advocated the latter. Revealingly, in an article excerpted in the Monthly Review in 1964, Stanford posed nationalism as a conflict between Black and White nations, and emphasized that nationalism “is really internationalism today.” This world-wide struggle of “revolutionary black nationalism,” as he referred to it, included all of the darker races.84 This was not the tradition of Cruse, but of Du Bois and Robert Williams. Given this multiracial, socialist nationalism of Stanford, it is not surprising that Williams could assent to being the titular leader of RAM.85

Perhaps the best indication of Black nationalism having become a stateless affair is seen in its embrace by Harry Haywood, who placed the Communist Party on the track to accept Blacks in America as a national minority who needed a state. Now out of favor within the post-Stalinist CPUSA, Haywood evinced an astounding degree of intellectual flexibility. Arguing against Allen, who said classical conditions for Black nationalism had not obtained, Haywood pretended that Blacks had met the standard for nationalism within the context of imperialism and defined nationalism as a sentiment rather than a movement for national sovereignty. “If nationalism in its broad sense can be defined as an effort of a people to assert its identity and its human right to become master of its own destiny, then, today, Negro nationalism is indeed a broad and growing trend embracing the vast majority of the Negro people.” It is likely that Haywood could so easily redefine nationalism because he had always seen it as an intermediate phase in the movement toward socialism. “The growth of Negro nationalist sentiment is a positive development in itself. It is in fact an essential precondition for the emergence of a national revolutionary movement.” In effect, revolutionary Black nationalism, from the standpoint of Haywood, dispensed of the intermediate step of creating a Black state before creating a socialist America.86

Of the major Black Power organizations, the Black Panther Party struck the pose of nationalists who equated self-determination with the right and desire to form a state that would give Black Americans a destiny. Like nationalists, they spoke of and organized Blacks as nationalists do: viewing Blacks as a nation, they saw themselves acting on their behalf, including the formation of paramilitary units for (racial) self-defense. Like a dedicated nationalist, Huey P. Newton could write of the ultimate nationalist sacrifice with a book entitled To Die for the People. Though critical of groups who focused on culture, the Panthers attracted a following within the community by working the Black vernacular in their dress and speech. Their cultural authenticity was above reproach, as was their willingness to die for the cause of Black folks.

Yet, Newton and the Panthers were revolutionary nationalists with a commitment to Black people—the Black nation—but not Black nationalism. The critical issue and distinction is straightforward: For what issue would the Panthers fight and die? Not for Black sovereignty. For the Panthers, a Black nation-state was optional, but a socialist revolution was not. The Black Panther Party was more than willing for Blacks to join in a multiracial nation, as suggested by their call for a Black plebiscite on the question. If Blacks wanted to go it alone, they were for it. If Blacks wanted to simply be part of a multiracial socialist nation-state, they were for that, too. In fact, in 1970, the Panthers called for a “revolutionary people's constitutional convention” to transform America into a country in which all, including Blacks, could live.87 If Black sovereignty could be decided by a vote, their core ideology could not: They never offered to hold a Black plebiscite to determine whether the Black nation wanted to be socialist. Bedrock beliefs begin where pragmatism ends.

Video 1.04.

From jail, Newton articulates Panther's position on Black independence after revolution.

Video 1.05.

In 1973, after trip to China, Newton endorses community control.

In their struggle with Us, the nationalist organization headed by Maulana Ron Karenga, the Black Panther Party dismissed cultural nationalism as “pork chop” nationalism, holding that it was inherently apolitical. As Louis Wirth argued, the cultural consciousness of a people could and did lead to movements for the formation of separate nation-states. In fact, Us came closer to being a state-based Black nationalist organization than the rival the Black Panther Party. As Scot Brown has demonstrated, Us had an understanding of culture and its functions that went well beyond what typically has been discussed under the rubric of cultural nationalism. In most cases, so-called cultural nationalists are really no more than celebrants, devotees, and preservers of a people's cultural heritage. It is in this sense that ASNLH was considered a nationalist organization. To be sure, such culturalists tend to believe that a group's self-image and political possibilities are enhanced with its group image. Yet modern nationalists have often been proponents of cultural development as a means of furthering the cause of bringing about or maintaining a sovereign nation-state. In the case of Us, its leader, Karenga, believed that Blacks had to undergo a cultural revolution to succeed at a political revolution. Moreover, Us, unlike the Black Panthers, formed relations with Chicano groups who wanted to liberate the Southwest. On the other hand, Us was slow to form alliances with White groups, suggesting that it was not aiming at a multiracial socialist America. Indeed, Karenga insisted that African socialism was communal, hinting at a separate socialist future for Blacks after the revolution.

Despite understanding how a cultural revolution would lay the foundation for a political revolution, Us never articulated a vision of an independent Black nation-state. For Karenga, the nationalist served the Black nation and his purpose “should be to build and make the Black Nation eternal.” Yet the Black nation did not have to be sovereign; it only had to have power within the state in which the Black nation belonged. In the Quotable Karenga, he states explicitly, “We can live with whites interdependently once we have Black Power.”88 Nothing he deemed essential precluded the possibility that Blacks would press for a multinational state in which Blacks as a nation had representation. Yet he never outlined such a multinational America in which groups would have self-governance via their own states. Much the same can be said of Baraka's cultural nationalism, which he derived from his association with Karenga. In fact, Baraka used cultural nationalism as a basis for political mobilization in Newark, but he found it necessary, as Kevin Mumford has shown, to jettison it for pluralism in hopes of remaining viable in a multiracial city.89 Indeed, the dyspeptic “pluralism” of cultural nationalism often mellowed into inward-looking multiculturalism by the late 1970s.

In the near future, the sui generis definition of Black nationalism is likely to continue in the literature. As American historians know, the early twentieth century—the age that brought disfranchisement and segregation—is known as the Progressive Era because reformers and scholars writing about the reforms considered themselves “progressives.” Similarly, the literature on Black Power began with scholars enamored of Malcolm X and revolutionary Black nationalism. Theodore Draper, a White scholar whose case was injured by his racial arrogance, met a barrage of criticism from those who insisted on the right of Blacks to define their own intellectual universe.90 William Jeremiah Moses has recalled that his study The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, still the best history on the topic, was a response to Draper's work. The writings of the Black Power generation reflected and reinforced their lived experience of Black nationalism, and in turn they have influenced two generations of educated Americans, including those now in the professoriate.

Yet the scholarly community now pays a high price for honoring the mid-twentieth century's self-understanding of Black nationalism. The literature has shrouded much of the African American past in the fog of an enormous misnomer. Just as integrationist scholars tended to people the past with integrationists, Black Studies scholars and others have repopulated previous centuries with Black nationalists, real and contrived. David Walker, W. E. B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, and even Mary Church Terrell have all been treated as nationalists by prominent scholars.91 More detrimental still, the African American past has lost much of its contextual accuracy. By conflating expressions of racial solidarity with nationalism, the best American nationalists in the American South, including Black Populists, have been treated by historians as Black nationalists. Yet the White nationalists who sought to eviscerate Black folks' citizenship have been lumped into America's liberal nationalist tradition.92 By sanding away the thin veneer of Black nationalism that covers the 1960s, we can see the period for what it was—a period in which Black radicalism mattered. The Black left mounted one of the major struggles against American imperialism and capitalism and sought to imagine a multiracial, socialist democracy. The 1960s was the golden age of the Black left, not Black nationalism.

Notes

  1. 1

    Louis L. Snyder, Varieties of Nationalism: A Comparative Study (Hinsdale, IL: The Dryden Press, 1976), 18.

  2. 2

    If nationalism began watered, cognate concepts also lost their political content and widely accepted meanings. Self-determination-made famous by Woodrow Wilson to express a nation's right to sovereignty-became inflated beyond recognition. Black liberation not only denoted an oppressed nationality gaining the ability to determine its own destiny, but also could connote Blacks ceasing to be thought of as a group. The Black “nation” often was used without any presupposing Black self-governance, only the sense of peoplehood, reverting back to a Biblical concept. On nationalism, see John H. Bracey, Jr., August Meier, and Elliott Rudwick, Black Nationalism in America (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1970), 26; Alphonso Pinkney, Red, Black, and Green: Black Nationalism in the United States (London: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 76; Joseph R. Washington, Jr., “Black Nationalism: Potentially Anti-Folk and Anti-Intellectual,” The Black World 22 (July 1973): 32–39; and Raymond L. Hall, Black Separatism in the United States (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1978), 1–2.

  3. 3

    The distinction between classical and modern Black nationalism was delineated by Wilson J. Moses and caught on in the profession with the publication of two edited collections by the New York University Press in the mid-1990s. See William L. Van Deburg, ed., Modern Black Nationalism: From Marcus Garvey to Louis Farrakhan (New York: New York University Press, 1996); Wilson J. Moses, ed., Classical Black Nationalism: From the American Revolution to Marcus Garvey (New York: New York University Press, 1996); Dean E. Robinson, Black Nationalism in American Politics and Thought (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 5; Michael C. Dawson, Black Visions: The Roots of Contemporary African-American Political Ideologies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 100–102; Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 12, 208; James Braxton Peterson, “Graphic Black Nationalism: Visualizing Political Narratives in the Graphic Novel,” in The Rise and Reason of Comics and Graphic Literature: Critical Essay on the Form, ed. Joyce Goggin and Dan Hassler-Forest (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010), 205.

  4. 4

    “Black Nationalism,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, accessed August 22, 2012, http://www.encyclopedia.com; Jessica Christina Harris, “Revolutionary Black Nationalism: The Black Panther Party,” The Journal of Negro History 85 (Summer, 2000): 162.

  5. 5

    The primordial versus modern debate figures in both popular and scholarly understandings of nationalism, especially as modernists and anti-racialists seek to emphasize the importance of the role of capitalism. In terms of this mainstream debate, most students of Black nationalism are not seeking to view Black nationalism as anything other than modern, since all see it as a response to racism in America's national history. Yet the problem is all the more acute in the case of Van Deburg, for he subscribed to primordialism. Van Deburg, Modern Black Nationalism, 2. See John Hutchinson and Anthony D. Smith, eds., Nationalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).

  6. 6

    See Ernesto Chavez, “¡Mi Raza Primero!” (My People First!): Nationalism, Identity, and Insurgency in the Chicano Movement in Los Angeles, 1966–1978 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002); Lee Bebout, Mythohistorical Interventions: The Chicano Movement and Its Legacies (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).

  7. 7

    For Meier and Rudwick, the “mild” form of Black nationalism was part of American pluralism, but they do not point to the other nationalisms that make up America's pluralism and certainly scholars of other identity groups have not developed such a literature. See Meier and Rudwick, Black Nationalism, xxvii-xxviii. The work of James Edward Smethurst, writing from within the Black Studies literature, is one of the rare exceptions that sees nationalism in the solidarities of other minorities. See James Edward Smethurst, The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975).

  8. 8

    Theodore Draper, American Communism and Soviet Russia (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction, 2003), 315–56.

  9. 9

    Harry Haywood, Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist (Chicago: Liberator Press, 1978), 218–31; Lawrence P. Jackson, The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934–1960 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), 24–25.

  10. 10

    Benjamin J. Davis, Negro Liberation (New York: New Century, 1947), 3.

  11. 11

    Leon Trotsky, Leon Trotsky on Black Nationalism and Self-Determination, 2nd ed., ed. George Breitman. (New York: Pathfinder, 2004), 26–27; Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 2000), 63.

  12. 12

    Michael Forman, Nationalism and the International Labor Movement: The Idea of the Nation in Socialist and Anarchist Theory (University Park: Penn State University Press, 1998), 82.

  13. 13

    Steven Merritt Miner, Stalin's Holy War: Religion, Nationalism, and Alliance Politics, 1941–1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 38–44; David Lloyd Hoffmann, Stalinist Values: The Cultural Norms of Soviet Modernity, 1917–1941 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003), 166–72.

  14. 14

    Trotsky, Black Nationalism, 48.

  15. 15

    Richard Wright, “Blueprint for Negro Writing,” in Double-Take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology, ed. Venetria Patton and Maureen Honey (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001), 56.

  16. 16

    Earl Russell Browder, Communism in the United States (New York: International, 1935), 49.

  17. 17

    James S. Allen, The Negro Question in the United States (New York: International, 1936), 167.

  18. 18

    Lawrence S. Wittner, “The National Negro Congress: A Reassessment,” American Quarterly 22 (Winter 1970): 898.

  19. 19

    Erik S. McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011); William Jelani Cobb, Antidote to Revolution (New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming), 114.

  20. 20

    Confronted with conflicting evidence, Erik McDuffie understandably calls into question Queen Mother Moore's account of her leaving the Communist Party over its views on Black nationalism, but provides ample evidence that a Black nationalist had to unlearn self-direction to be a good communist. McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom, 82, 135–36.

  21. 21

    Robin D. G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press).

  22. 22

    Harold Cruse, “Revolutionary Nationalism and the Afro-American,” in Rebellion or Revolution (New York: William Morrow, 1968), 78.

  23. 23

    Daryl Michael Scott, Contempt and Pity: Social Policy and the Image of the Damaged Black Psyche, 1880–1996 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997).

  24. 24

    David Levering Lewis, When Harlem Was in Vogue (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 125.

  25. 25

    August Meier and Elliott M. Rudwick, Black History and the Historical Profession (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980), 32.

  26. 26

    T. G. Standing, “Nationalism in Negro Leadership,” American Journal of Sociology 40 (September 1934): 180.

  27. 27

    Walter L. Daykin, “Nationalism as Expressed in Negro History,” Social Forces 13 (December 1934): 257–63.

  28. 28

    Standing, Negro Leadership, 188.

  29. 29

    Preston William Slosson, The Great Crusade and After, 1914–1928, Vol. 12 (New York: Macmillan, 1930), 260.

  30. 30

    Everett V. Stonequist, “Race Mixture and the Mulatto,” in Race Relations and the Race Problem: A Definition and an Analysis, ed. Edgar T. Thompson (Durham: Duke University Press, 1939), 269–70.

  31. 31

    Horace Mann Bond, “The Curriculum and the Negro Child,” The Journal of Negro Education 4 (April 1935):159–68.

  32. 32

    Charles S. Johnson, “The Education of the Negro Children,” American Sociological Review 1 (April 1936): 268.

  33. 33

    Louis Wirth, “The Problem of Minority Groups,” in The Science of Man in the World Crisis, ed. Ralph Linton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1945), 356–57; Louis Wirth, “Types of Nationalism,” American Journal of Sociology 41 (May 1936): 723–37.

  34. 34

    Hazel Rowley, Richard Wright: The Life and Times (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2001), 68, 81–82, 108: Jerry W. Ward, Jr., and Robert J. Butler, eds., The Richard Wright Encyclopedia (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008), 412.

  35. 35

    By far the best work on the study undertaken by Myrdal is Walter Jackson, Gunnar Myrdal and America's Conscience: Social Engineering and Racial Liberalism, 1938–1987 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994).

  36. 36

    Ralph J. Bunche, “Conceptions and Ideologies of the Negro Problem,” Contributions in Black Studies 9 (January 1992):70–114.

  37. 37

    Arnold Marshall Rose and Caroline Baer Rose, America Divided: Minority Group Relations in the United States (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1948), 191; Arnold Rose, The Negro's Morale (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1949), 52.

  38. 38

    Howard Brotz, The Black Jews of Harlem: Negro Nationalism and the Dilemmas of Negro Leadership (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1964), 127.

  39. 39

    August Meier, “Black Sociologists in White America,” in A White Scholar and the Black Community, 1945–1965: Essays and Reflections (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992), 77.

  40. 40

    In his notes, Meier lists those influencing him as Carlton Hayes, Ralph Bunche, and Hans Kohn. In the essay cited, Bunche did not delineate types of nationalism, and did not refer to anyone but Garvey and his movement as nationalism. All else he discussed as being influenced by “the spirit of nationalism,” which appears to have applied to virtually everyone. In the work cited and others, the historian Carlton Hayes never spoke of any brand of nationalism that did not involve the people in question seeking or enjoying sovereignty. Economic nationalism, for instance, was a program pursued by existing nation-states such as the United States. Instructively, Hans Kohn, in the work cited, spoke of “the religious nationalism” of Lord Cromwell, but emphasized the English desire for a free church and a free state. To be sure, Meier's use of the terms humanitarian or cosmopolitan nationalism and integral nationalism corresponded with Hayes and others, but the idea of cultural nationalism or economic nationalism without sovereignty came more from the pejorative school of Black nationalism, not from the mainstream students of nationalism. See August Meier, “The Emergence of Negro Nationalism,” in Along the Color Line: Explorations in the Black Experience, ed. August Meier and Elliott Rudwick (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002), 190, 215; Hans Kohn, The Idea of Nationalism: A Study in Its Origins and Background (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2005), 174; Bunche, “Conceptions and Ideologies,” 70–114; Ralph J. Bunche, A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership, ed. Jonathan Scott Holloway (New York: New York University Press, 2005).

  41. 41

    Although Meier was non-pejorative, some of those who relied on his interpretation were not. Wilson Record, “The Negro Intellectual and Negro Nationalism,” Social Forces 33 (October 1954): 10–18.

  42. 42

    August Meier, “Booker T. Washington and the Negro Press,” in Along the Color Line: Explorations in the Black Experience, ed. August Meier and Elliott Rudwick (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002), 70.

  43. 43

    Edwin S. Redkey, Black Exodus: Black Nationalist and Back-to-Africa Movements, 1890–1910 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969).

  44. 44

    The notable exception was Theodore Holly's promotion of emigration to Haiti. James Theodore Holly, A Vindication of the Capacity of the Negro Race for Self-Government and Civilized Progress, as Demonstrated by the Historical Events of the Haytian Revolution and the Subsequent Acts of that People since Their National Independence (New Haven: William H. Stanley, 1857).

  45. 45

    Philip J. Staudenraus, The African Colonization Movement: 1816–1865 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961).

  46. 46

    Theodore Draper begins the view that Black nationalism was born of rejection, suggesting that it was somewhat illegitimate because it was psychological rather than rational. The pejorative psychologizing aside, it can be argued that most nationalisms are born of a group's failure to receive the justice they believe they are due by a ruling power. See Draper, Discovery, 24, 49; Jack P. Greene, The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution (London and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 14–15.

  47. 47

    Carol Faulkner, “A Proper Recognition of Our Manhood': The African Civilization Society and the Freedmen's Aid Movement,” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History 24 (January 2000); Bernard E. Power, Jr., Black Charlestonians: A Social History, 1822–1885 (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994), 258.

  48. 48

    Tommie Shelby has offered “pragmatic nationalism” as a concept to explain how Black nationalists' major concern has been social justice rather than the creation of sovereign nation-states. To my mind, his position has the advantage over “modern” nationalism because it sees the necessary solidarity as political rather than cultural or religious. Moreover, I believe the concept has universal potential. Most nationalisms begin as contingent forms of political mobilization resulting from perceived or real injustices. Some remain contingent; others become permanent commitments. See Tommie Shelby, “Two Conceptions of Black Nationalism: Martin Delany and the Meaning of Black Political Solidarity,” Political Theory 31 (October 2003): 664–92.

  49. 49

    Robinson, Black Nationalism in American Politics and Thought.

  50. 50

    Pedro R. Rivera, “Carlos Cooks and the UNIA: From San Pedro to Harlem” (PhD diss., Howard University, 2012), 82.

  51. 51

    “What Do the Muslims Want,” cited in Draper, 80.

  52. 52

    Neil R. McMillen, Dark Journey: Black Mississippians in the Age of Jim Crow (University of Illinois Press, 1990), 312.

  53. 53

    Robert E. Weems, Jr., and Lewis A. Randolph, ‘The Right Man': James A. Jackson and the Origins of U.S. Government Interest in Black Business,” Enterprise and Society 6 (2005): 254–77.

  54. 54

    Richard W. Leeman, African American Orators: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996), 155.

  55. 55

    Black women would be seen as playing a critical role in “economic nationalism.” See Darlene Clark Hine, “The Housewives' League of Detroit: Black Women and Economic Nationalism,” in Hine Sight: Black Women and the Reconstruction of American History (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1997), 129–47; Victoria W. Wolcott, Remaking Respectability: African American Women in Interwar Detroit (University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 175–83.

  56. 56

    W. Haywood Burns, The Voices of Negro Protest in America (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1963), 70.

  57. 57

    Rivera, “Carlos Cooks and the UNIA,” 51, 85.

  58. 58

    Cheryl Lynn Greenberg, Or Does It Explode? Black Harlem in the Great Depression (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 117.

  59. 59

    Much about Hammurabi and the House of Knowledge remains unknown. Adam Green, Selling the Race: Culture, Community, and Black Chicago, 1940–1955 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 227.

  60. 60

    Yosef A. A. ben-Jochannan, Africa: Mother of Western Civilization (New York: Alkebu-Lan Books Associates, 1971), 588–9.

  61. 61

    Ibid., 589.

  62. 62

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Raymond Obstfeld, On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010), 126.

  63. 63

    E. U. Essien-Udom, Black Nationalism: A Search for an Identity in America (New York: Dell Publishing, 1964), 378, 380.

  64. 64

    E. U. Essien-Udom, “The Nationalist Movements of Harlem,” in Harlem: A Community in Transition, ed. John Henrik Clarke (New York: The Citadel Press, 1969), 97–98. See also John Henrik Clarke, “The New Negro Nationalism,” Freedomways 1 (Fall 1961): 285–95.

  65. 65

    Black workers were most radicalized in Detroit, and as scholars have noted, they were divided between revolutionary nationalists and revolutionary Black nationalists. Since neither side appears to have called for a Black nation-state, their divisions, while important, only reinforce rather than illuminate my view that Black nationalism was on the road to statelessness in its aspirations. A former member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Ernest Allen long ago pointed out the tendency to downplay and criticize Black nationalism among the rank and file of the members of the movement in favor of emphasizing the Marxist-Leninist influence. In his accounts, he maintains that the nationalism that had generally manifested itself in Detroit influenced the league. See Ernest Allen, “Review of Detroit: I Do Mind Dying,” Radical America 11 (January-February 1977): 69–73, accessed October 14, 2012, http://www.freedomarchives.org/Documents/Finder/Black%20Liberation%20Disk/Black%20Power!/SugahData/Essays/Allen1.S.pdf; Ernest Allen, “Dying from the Inside: The Decline of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers,” in They Should Have Served That Cup of Coffee, ed. Dick Cluster (Boston: South End Press, 1979), 83; James A. Geschwender, Class, Race and Worker Insurgency: The League of Revolutionary Black Workers (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977); Heather Ann Thompson, Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004), 123, 110.

  66. 66

    See Draper for 49th State fellow.

  67. 67

    For at least one intellectual, revolutionary Black nationalism did indeed involve the effort to gain state power. In a defense of cultural nationalism against charges of backwardness, Ernest Allen held that culture could serve revolutionary purposes when “politics evolves into a {revolutionary} struggle for control of the state (the seizure of state power), when the leadership is one which represents the broadest masses of the nation.” Ernie Mkalimoto [Allen], “Revolutionary Black Culture: The Cultural Arm of Revolutionary Nationalism,” Negro Digest 19 (December 1969): 14.

  68. 68

    George B. De Huszar, Soviet Power and Policy (New York: Crowell, 1955), accessed July 14, 2012, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=475243, 499.

  69. 69

    For a study that explored the effects of rising African states on Black Americans, see Harold Issacs, The New World of Negro Americans (New York: Viking Press, 1964).

  70. 70

    For the best critique of race-based nationalism by a black revolutionary see, Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1968), 163.

  71. 71

    “Malcolm X on Front Page Challenge,” CBC Digital Archives, accessed December 21, 2012, http://www.cbc.ca/archives/discover/great-interviews/assassination-of-malcolm-x.html.

  72. 72

    Scot Brown, Fighting for US: Maulana Karenga, the US Organization, and Black Cultural Nationalism (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 16.

  73. 73

    Ibid. 33.

  74. 74

    William L. Van Deburg, New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965–1975 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 2.

  75. 75

    Timothy B. Tyson, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), 111–14.

  76. 76

    Robert F. Williams, Negroes with Guns, with a Foreword by Gloria House and an Introduction by Timothy B. Tyson (1962; repr., Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), 32–34.

  77. 77

    Ibid., 81–82.

  78. 78

    Robert Carl Cohen, Black Crusader: A Biography of Robert Franklin Williams (Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart, 1972), 333. Robin Kelley shares the interpretation of Williams as a radical internationalist rather than a Black nationalist. See Robin D. G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002), 71.

  79. 79

    Stephen M. Ward edited an indispensable collection of Boggs's writings and included a very insightful introduction. James Boggs, Pages from a Black Radical's Notebook: A James Boggs Reader (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2011).

  80. 80

    Harold Cruse, “Negro Nationalism's New Wave,” in Rebellion or Revolution, 71.

  81. 81

    Ibid., 94.

  82. 82

    Ibid., 95.

  83. 83

    Maxwell C. Stanford, “Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM): A Case Study of an Urban Revolutionary Movement in Western Capitalist Society” (Master's thesis, Department of Political Science, Atlanta University, 1986), 75–76; Ogbar, Black Power, 78–79.

  84. 84

    Editors, “The Colonial War at Home,” Monthly Review 16 (May 1964): 1–13.

  85. 85

    In 1964, the 12 Point Program of RAM listed the need to develop a “government -in-exile” supporting the notion that clearly the nationalist position was well represented. Stanford maintains that later RAM would solve its division over Black sovereignty and articulate a vision of a Black nation-state in the Black Belt. Stanford, “RAM,” 135, 161.

  86. 86

    Harry Haywood, “The Two Epochs of Nation-Development: Is Black Nationalism a Form of Classical Nationalism?” Soulbook: A Quarterly Journal of Revolutionary Afroamerica 1 (Winter 1965–1966): 257–65.

  87. 87

    “Call for Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention, September 7, 1979, Philadelphia Pa,” in The Black Panther Speaks, ed. Philip S. Foner (New York: Da Capo Press, 1995), 271.

  88. 88

    Maulana Ron Karenga, “From the Quotable Karenga,” in The Black Power Revolt, ed. Floyd B. Barbour (Boston: Extending Horizons Books, 1968), 164.

  89. 89

    Kevin Mumford, Newark: A History of Race, Rights, and Riots in America (New York: New York University Press, 2007), 209.

  90. 90

    Wilson Jeremiah Moses, The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850–1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 5; Theodore Draper, “Fantasy of Black Nationalism,” Commentary (September 1969): 27–54; Eric Foner, “In Search of Black History: A Review of Theodore Draper's The Rediscovery of Black Nationalism,” The New York Review of Books (October 22, 1970); Ron Walters, “African-American Nationalism,” The Black World 22 (October 1973): 9–27, 84–85.

  91. 91

    Sterling Stuckey held that Robert Young and David Walker “created black nationalist ideology.” Holding that Du Bois's position on Black nationalism was ambivalent, Moses includes Du Bois's “Conservation of Races,” a statement on the preservation of group identity, in his classical Black nationalism collection. Sterling Stuckey, The Ideological Origins of Black Nationalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972), 7; Moses, Classical Black Nationalism, 228.

  92. 92

    Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 1.

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  83. Rowley, Hazel . Richard Wright: The Life and Times. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2001.
  84. Scott, Daryl Michael . Contempt and Pity: Social Policy and the Image of the Damaged Black Psyche, 1880-1996. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.
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  86. Slosson, Preston William . The Great Crusade and After, 1914-1928. Vol. 12. New York: Macmillan, 1930.
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  91. Staudenraus, Philip J. The African Colonization Movement: 1816-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961.
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  105. Wirth, Louis . “Types of Nationalism.” American Journal of Sociology 41 (May 1936): 723–37.
  106. Wittner, Lawrence S. “The National Negro Congress: A Reassessment.” American Quarterly 22 (Winter 1970): 898.
  107. Wolcott, Victoria W. Remaking Respectability: African American Women in Interwar Detroit. University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
  108. Wright, Richard . “Blueprint for Negro Writing.” In Double-Take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology, edited by Venetria Patton and Maureen Honey. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001.

Notes

  1. 1

    Louis L. Snyder, Varieties of Nationalism: A Comparative Study (Hinsdale, IL: The Dryden Press, 1976), 18.

  2. 2

    If nationalism began watered, cognate concepts also lost their political content and widely accepted meanings. Self-determination-made famous by Woodrow Wilson to express a nation's right to sovereignty-became inflated beyond recognition. Black liberation not only denoted an oppressed nationality gaining the ability to determine its own destiny, but also could connote Blacks ceasing to be thought of as a group. The Black “nation” often was used without any presupposing Black self-governance, only the sense of peoplehood, reverting back to a Biblical concept. On nationalism, see John H. Bracey, Jr., August Meier, and Elliott Rudwick, Black Nationalism in America (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1970), 26; Alphonso Pinkney, Red, Black, and Green: Black Nationalism in the United States (London: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 76; Joseph R. Washington, Jr., “Black Nationalism: Potentially Anti-Folk and Anti-Intellectual,” The Black World 22 (July 1973): 32–39; and Raymond L. Hall, Black Separatism in the United States (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1978), 1–2.

  3. 3

    The distinction between classical and modern Black nationalism was delineated by Wilson J. Moses and caught on in the profession with the publication of two edited collections by the New York University Press in the mid-1990s. See William L. Van Deburg, ed., Modern Black Nationalism: From Marcus Garvey to Louis Farrakhan (New York: New York University Press, 1996); Wilson J. Moses, ed., Classical Black Nationalism: From the American Revolution to Marcus Garvey (New York: New York University Press, 1996); Dean E. Robinson, Black Nationalism in American Politics and Thought (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 5; Michael C. Dawson, Black Visions: The Roots of Contemporary African-American Political Ideologies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 100–102; Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), 12, 208; James Braxton Peterson, “Graphic Black Nationalism: Visualizing Political Narratives in the Graphic Novel,” in The Rise and Reason of Comics and Graphic Literature: Critical Essay on the Form, ed. Joyce Goggin and Dan Hassler-Forest (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010), 205.

  4. 4

    “Black Nationalism,” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, accessed August 22, 2012, http://www.encyclopedia.com; Jessica Christina Harris, “Revolutionary Black Nationalism: The Black Panther Party,” The Journal of Negro History 85 (Summer, 2000): 162.

  5. 5

    The primordial versus modern debate figures in both popular and scholarly understandings of nationalism, especially as modernists and anti-racialists seek to emphasize the importance of the role of capitalism. In terms of this mainstream debate, most students of Black nationalism are not seeking to view Black nationalism as anything other than modern, since all see it as a response to racism in America's national history. Yet the problem is all the more acute in the case of Van Deburg, for he subscribed to primordialism. Van Deburg, Modern Black Nationalism, 2. See John Hutchinson and Anthony D. Smith, eds., Nationalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).

  6. 6

    See Ernesto Chavez, “¡Mi Raza Primero!” (My People First!): Nationalism, Identity, and Insurgency in the Chicano Movement in Los Angeles, 1966–1978 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002); Lee Bebout, Mythohistorical Interventions: The Chicano Movement and Its Legacies (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).

  7. 7

    For Meier and Rudwick, the “mild” form of Black nationalism was part of American pluralism, but they do not point to the other nationalisms that make up America's pluralism and certainly scholars of other identity groups have not developed such a literature. See Meier and Rudwick, Black Nationalism, xxvii-xxviii. The work of James Edward Smethurst, writing from within the Black Studies literature, is one of the rare exceptions that sees nationalism in the solidarities of other minorities. See James Edward Smethurst, The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975).

  8. 8

    Theodore Draper, American Communism and Soviet Russia (Piscataway, NJ: Transaction, 2003), 315–56.

  9. 9

    Harry Haywood, Black Bolshevik: Autobiography of an Afro-American Communist (Chicago: Liberator Press, 1978), 218–31; Lawrence P. Jackson, The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934–1960 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), 24–25.

  10. 10

    Benjamin J. Davis, Negro Liberation (New York: New Century, 1947), 3.

  11. 11

    Leon Trotsky, Leon Trotsky on Black Nationalism and Self-Determination, 2nd ed., ed. George Breitman. (New York: Pathfinder, 2004), 26–27; Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 2000), 63.

  12. 12

    Michael Forman, Nationalism and the International Labor Movement: The Idea of the Nation in Socialist and Anarchist Theory (University Park: Penn State University Press, 1998), 82.

  13. 13

    Steven Merritt Miner, Stalin's Holy War: Religion, Nationalism, and Alliance Politics, 1941–1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 38–44; David Lloyd Hoffmann, Stalinist Values: The Cultural Norms of Soviet Modernity, 1917–1941 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003), 166–72.

  14. 14

    Trotsky, Black Nationalism, 48.

  15. 15

    Richard Wright, “Blueprint for Negro Writing,” in Double-Take: A Revisionist Harlem Renaissance Anthology, ed. Venetria Patton and Maureen Honey (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001), 56.

  16. 16

    Earl Russell Browder, Communism in the United States (New York: International, 1935), 49.

  17. 17

    James S. Allen, The Negro Question in the United States (New York: International, 1936), 167.

  18. 18

    Lawrence S. Wittner, “The National Negro Congress: A Reassessment,” American Quarterly 22 (Winter 1970): 898.

  19. 19

    Erik S. McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011); William Jelani Cobb, Antidote to Revolution (New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming), 114.

  20. 20

    Confronted with conflicting evidence, Erik McDuffie understandably calls into question Queen Mother Moore's account of her leaving the Communist Party over its views on Black nationalism, but provides ample evidence that a Black nationalist had to unlearn self-direction to be a good communist. McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom, 82, 135–36.

  21. 21

    Robin D. G. Kelley, Hammer and Hoe (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press).

  22. 22

    Harold Cruse, “Revolutionary Nationalism and the Afro-American,” in Rebellion or Revolution (New York: William Morrow, 1968), 78.

  23. 23

    Daryl Michael Scott, Contempt and Pity: Social Policy and the Image of the Damaged Black Psyche, 1880–1996 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997).

  24. 24

    David Levering Lewis, When Harlem Was in Vogue (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 125.

  25. 25

    August Meier and Elliott M. Rudwick, Black History and the Historical Profession (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980), 32.

  26. 26

    T. G. Standing, “Nationalism in Negro Leadership,” American Journal of Sociology 40 (September 1934): 180.

  27. 27

    Walter L. Daykin, “Nationalism as Expressed in Negro History,” Social Forces 13 (December 1934): 257–63.

  28. 28

    Standing, Negro Leadership, 188.

  29. 29

    Preston William Slosson, The Great Crusade and After, 1914–1928, Vol. 12 (New York: Macmillan, 1930), 260.

  30. 30

    Everett V. Stonequist, “Race Mixture and the Mulatto,” in Race Relations and the Race Problem: A Definition and an Analysis, ed. Edgar T. Thompson (Durham: Duke University Press, 1939), 269–70.

  31. 31

    Horace Mann Bond, “The Curriculum and the Negro Child,” The Journal of Negro Education 4 (April 1935):159–68.

  32. 32

    Charles S. Johnson, “The Education of the Negro Children,” American Sociological Review 1 (April 1936): 268.

  33. 33

    Louis Wirth, “The Problem of Minority Groups,” in The Science of Man in the World Crisis, ed. Ralph Linton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1945), 356–57; Louis Wirth, “Types of Nationalism,” American Journal of Sociology 41 (May 1936): 723–37.

  34. 34

    Hazel Rowley, Richard Wright: The Life and Times (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2001), 68, 81–82, 108: Jerry W. Ward, Jr., and Robert J. Butler, eds., The Richard Wright Encyclopedia (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2008), 412.

  35. 35

    By far the best work on the study undertaken by Myrdal is Walter Jackson, Gunnar Myrdal and America's Conscience: Social Engineering and Racial Liberalism, 1938–1987 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994).

  36. 36

    Ralph J. Bunche, “Conceptions and Ideologies of the Negro Problem,” Contributions in Black Studies 9 (January 1992):70–114.

  37. 37

    Arnold Marshall Rose and Caroline Baer Rose, America Divided: Minority Group Relations in the United States (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1948), 191; Arnold Rose, The Negro's Morale (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1949), 52.

  38. 38

    Howard Brotz, The Black Jews of Harlem: Negro Nationalism and the Dilemmas of Negro Leadership (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1964), 127.

  39. 39

    August Meier, “Black Sociologists in White America,” in A White Scholar and the Black Community, 1945–1965: Essays and Reflections (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1992), 77.

  40. 40

    In his notes, Meier lists those influencing him as Carlton Hayes, Ralph Bunche, and Hans Kohn. In the essay cited, Bunche did not delineate types of nationalism, and did not refer to anyone but Garvey and his movement as nationalism. All else he discussed as being influenced by “the spirit of nationalism,” which appears to have applied to virtually everyone. In the work cited and others, the historian Carlton Hayes never spoke of any brand of nationalism that did not involve the people in question seeking or enjoying sovereignty. Economic nationalism, for instance, was a program pursued by existing nation-states such as the United States. Instructively, Hans Kohn, in the work cited, spoke of “the religious nationalism” of Lord Cromwell, but emphasized the English desire for a free church and a free state. To be sure, Meier's use of the terms humanitarian or cosmopolitan nationalism and integral nationalism corresponded with Hayes and others, but the idea of cultural nationalism or economic nationalism without sovereignty came more from the pejorative school of Black nationalism, not from the mainstream students of nationalism. See August Meier, “The Emergence of Negro Nationalism,” in Along the Color Line: Explorations in the Black Experience, ed. August Meier and Elliott Rudwick (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002), 190, 215; Hans Kohn, The Idea of Nationalism: A Study in Its Origins and Background (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2005), 174; Bunche, “Conceptions and Ideologies,” 70–114; Ralph J. Bunche, A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership, ed. Jonathan Scott Holloway (New York: New York University Press, 2005).

  41. 41

    Although Meier was non-pejorative, some of those who relied on his interpretation were not. Wilson Record, “The Negro Intellectual and Negro Nationalism,” Social Forces 33 (October 1954): 10–18.

  42. 42

    August Meier, “Booker T. Washington and the Negro Press,” in Along the Color Line: Explorations in the Black Experience, ed. August Meier and Elliott Rudwick (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002), 70.

  43. 43

    Edwin S. Redkey, Black Exodus: Black Nationalist and Back-to-Africa Movements, 1890–1910 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969).

  44. 44

    The notable exception was Theodore Holly's promotion of emigration to Haiti. James Theodore Holly, A Vindication of the Capacity of the Negro Race for Self-Government and Civilized Progress, as Demonstrated by the Historical Events of the Haytian Revolution and the Subsequent Acts of that People since Their National Independence (New Haven: William H. Stanley, 1857).

  45. 45

    Philip J. Staudenraus, The African Colonization Movement: 1816–1865 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961).

  46. 46

    Theodore Draper begins the view that Black nationalism was born of rejection, suggesting that it was somewhat illegitimate because it was psychological rather than rational. The pejorative psychologizing aside, it can be argued that most nationalisms are born of a group's failure to receive the justice they believe they are due by a ruling power. See Draper, Discovery, 24, 49; Jack P. Greene, The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution (London and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 14–15.

  47. 47

    Carol Faulkner, “A Proper Recognition of Our Manhood': The African Civilization Society and the Freedmen's Aid Movement,” Afro-Americans in New York Life and History 24 (January 2000); Bernard E. Power, Jr., Black Charlestonians: A Social History, 1822–1885 (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994), 258.

  48. 48

    Tommie Shelby has offered “pragmatic nationalism” as a concept to explain how Black nationalists' major concern has been social justice rather than the creation of sovereign nation-states. To my mind, his position has the advantage over “modern” nationalism because it sees the necessary solidarity as political rather than cultural or religious. Moreover, I believe the concept has universal potential. Most nationalisms begin as contingent forms of political mobilization resulting from perceived or real injustices. Some remain contingent; others become permanent commitments. See Tommie Shelby, “Two Conceptions of Black Nationalism: Martin Delany and the Meaning of Black Political Solidarity,” Political Theory 31 (October 2003): 664–92.

  49. 49

    Robinson, Black Nationalism in American Politics and Thought.

  50. 50

    Pedro R. Rivera, “Carlos Cooks and the UNIA: From San Pedro to Harlem” (PhD diss., Howard University, 2012), 82.

  51. 51

    “What Do the Muslims Want,” cited in Draper, 80.

  52. 52

    Neil R. McMillen, Dark Journey: Black Mississippians in the Age of Jim Crow (University of Illinois Press, 1990), 312.

  53. 53

    Robert E. Weems, Jr., and Lewis A. Randolph, ‘The Right Man': James A. Jackson and the Origins of U.S. Government Interest in Black Business,” Enterprise and Society 6 (2005): 254–77.

  54. 54

    Richard W. Leeman, African American Orators: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996), 155.

  55. 55

    Black women would be seen as playing a critical role in “economic nationalism.” See Darlene Clark Hine, “The Housewives' League of Detroit: Black Women and Economic Nationalism,” in Hine Sight: Black Women and the Reconstruction of American History (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1997), 129–47; Victoria W. Wolcott, Remaking Respectability: African American Women in Interwar Detroit (University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 175–83.

  56. 56

    W. Haywood Burns, The Voices of Negro Protest in America (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1963), 70.

  57. 57

    Rivera, “Carlos Cooks and the UNIA,” 51, 85.

  58. 58

    Cheryl Lynn Greenberg, Or Does It Explode? Black Harlem in the Great Depression (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 117.

  59. 59

    Much about Hammurabi and the House of Knowledge remains unknown. Adam Green, Selling the Race: Culture, Community, and Black Chicago, 1940–1955 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 227.

  60. 60

    Yosef A. A. ben-Jochannan, Africa: Mother of Western Civilization (New York: Alkebu-Lan Books Associates, 1971), 588–9.

  61. 61

    Ibid., 589.

  62. 62

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Raymond Obstfeld, On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2010), 126.

  63. 63

    E. U. Essien-Udom, Black Nationalism: A Search for an Identity in America (New York: Dell Publishing, 1964), 378, 380.

  64. 64

    E. U. Essien-Udom, “The Nationalist Movements of Harlem,” in Harlem: A Community in Transition, ed. John Henrik Clarke (New York: The Citadel Press, 1969), 97–98. See also John Henrik Clarke, “The New Negro Nationalism,” Freedomways 1 (Fall 1961): 285–95.

  65. 65

    Black workers were most radicalized in Detroit, and as scholars have noted, they were divided between revolutionary nationalists and revolutionary Black nationalists. Since neither side appears to have called for a Black nation-state, their divisions, while important, only reinforce rather than illuminate my view that Black nationalism was on the road to statelessness in its aspirations. A former member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Ernest Allen long ago pointed out the tendency to downplay and criticize Black nationalism among the rank and file of the members of the movement in favor of emphasizing the Marxist-Leninist influence. In his accounts, he maintains that the nationalism that had generally manifested itself in Detroit influenced the league. See Ernest Allen, “Review of Detroit: I Do Mind Dying,” Radical America 11 (January-February 1977): 69–73, accessed October 14, 2012, http://www.freedomarchives.org/Documents/Finder/Black%20Liberation%20Disk/Black%20Power!/SugahData/Essays/Allen1.S.pdf; Ernest Allen, “Dying from the Inside: The Decline of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers,” in They Should Have Served That Cup of Coffee, ed. Dick Cluster (Boston: South End Press, 1979), 83; James A. Geschwender, Class, Race and Worker Insurgency: The League of Revolutionary Black Workers (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977); Heather Ann Thompson, Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004), 123, 110.

  66. 66

    See Draper for 49th State fellow.

  67. 67

    For at least one intellectual, revolutionary Black nationalism did indeed involve the effort to gain state power. In a defense of cultural nationalism against charges of backwardness, Ernest Allen held that culture could serve revolutionary purposes when “politics evolves into a {revolutionary} struggle for control of the state (the seizure of state power), when the leadership is one which represents the broadest masses of the nation.” Ernie Mkalimoto [Allen], “Revolutionary Black Culture: The Cultural Arm of Revolutionary Nationalism,” Negro Digest 19 (December 1969): 14.

  68. 68

    George B. De Huszar, Soviet Power and Policy (New York: Crowell, 1955), accessed July 14, 2012, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=475243, 499.

  69. 69

    For a study that explored the effects of rising African states on Black Americans, see Harold Issacs, The New World of Negro Americans (New York: Viking Press, 1964).

  70. 70

    For the best critique of race-based nationalism by a black revolutionary see, Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1968), 163.

  71. 71

    “Malcolm X on Front Page Challenge,” CBC Digital Archives, accessed December 21, 2012, http://www.cbc.ca/archives/discover/great-interviews/assassination-of-malcolm-x.html.

  72. 72

    Scot Brown, Fighting for US: Maulana Karenga, the US Organization, and Black Cultural Nationalism (New York: New York University Press, 2003), 16.

  73. 73

    Ibid. 33.

  74. 74

    William L. Van Deburg, New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965–1975 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 2.

  75. 75

    Timothy B. Tyson, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999), 111–14.

  76. 76

    Robert F. Williams, Negroes with Guns, with a Foreword by Gloria House and an Introduction by Timothy B. Tyson (1962; repr., Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), 32–34.

  77. 77

    Ibid., 81–82.

  78. 78

    Robert Carl Cohen, Black Crusader: A Biography of Robert Franklin Williams (Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart, 1972), 333. Robin Kelley shares the interpretation of Williams as a radical internationalist rather than a Black nationalist. See Robin D. G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002), 71.

  79. 79

    Stephen M. Ward edited an indispensable collection of Boggs's writings and included a very insightful introduction. James Boggs, Pages from a Black Radical's Notebook: A James Boggs Reader (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2011).

  80. 80

    Harold Cruse, “Negro Nationalism's New Wave,” in Rebellion or Revolution, 71.

  81. 81

    Ibid., 94.

  82. 82

    Ibid., 95.

  83. 83

    Maxwell C. Stanford, “Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM): A Case Study of an Urban Revolutionary Movement in Western Capitalist Society” (Master's thesis, Department of Political Science, Atlanta University, 1986), 75–76; Ogbar, Black Power, 78–79.

  84. 84

    Editors, “The Colonial War at Home,” Monthly Review 16 (May 1964): 1–13.

  85. 85

    In 1964, the 12 Point Program of RAM listed the need to develop a “government -in-exile” supporting the notion that clearly the nationalist position was well represented. Stanford maintains that later RAM would solve its division over Black sovereignty and articulate a vision of a Black nation-state in the Black Belt. Stanford, “RAM,” 135, 161.

  86. 86

    Harry Haywood, “The Two Epochs of Nation-Development: Is Black Nationalism a Form of Classical Nationalism?” Soulbook: A Quarterly Journal of Revolutionary Afroamerica 1 (Winter 1965–1966): 257–65.

  87. 87

    “Call for Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention, September 7, 1979, Philadelphia Pa,” in The Black Panther Speaks, ed. Philip S. Foner (New York: Da Capo Press, 1995), 271.

  88. 88

    Maulana Ron Karenga, “From the Quotable Karenga,” in The Black Power Revolt, ed. Floyd B. Barbour (Boston: Extending Horizons Books, 1968), 164.

  89. 89

    Kevin Mumford, Newark: A History of Race, Rights, and Riots in America (New York: New York University Press, 2007), 209.

  90. 90

    Wilson Jeremiah Moses, The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850–1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 5; Theodore Draper, “Fantasy of Black Nationalism,” Commentary (September 1969): 27–54; Eric Foner, “In Search of Black History: A Review of Theodore Draper's The Rediscovery of Black Nationalism,” The New York Review of Books (October 22, 1970); Ron Walters, “African-American Nationalism,” The Black World 22 (October 1973): 9–27, 84–85.

  91. 91

    Sterling Stuckey held that Robert Young and David Walker “created black nationalist ideology.” Holding that Du Bois's position on Black nationalism was ambivalent, Moses includes Du Bois's “Conservation of Races,” a statement on the preservation of group identity, in his classical Black nationalism collection. Sterling Stuckey, The Ideological Origins of Black Nationalism (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972), 7; Moses, Classical Black Nationalism, 228.

  92. 92

    Steven Hahn, A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 1.

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