This book deals with the forgotten history of the civil rights movement. The American Left played a significant part in the origins of that movement, whose history has traditionally been focused on the later 1940's and early 1950's. This approach needs serious re-thinking in light of what took place in the later 1930's with the organization and activity of groups like the Southern Negro Youth Congress that brought both African-American and white workers and students together in the fight for economic and social justice. Thanks to the post-World War II Red Scare such groups as well as Left African-American leaders like Esther and James Jackson have been overlooked or excised from an exciting, controversial, and important story. With all due credit to the churches which played such a pivotal role in finally winning Blacks their civil rights, the early history involving the Left, workers of both races, and the labor unions must be assimilated into America's memory, for there were important continuities between what they did and the later church-based struggle.
This book was published as a special issue of American Communist History.
Table of Contents
1. Preface Daniel J. Leab 2. Foreword Michael H. Nash 3. Introduction David Levering Lewis 4. The Jacksons Robin D. G. Kelley 5. James and Esther Jackson: A Historical Assessment David Levering Lewis 6. Fundamentally Determined: James E. Jackson and Esther Cooper Jackson and the Southern Negro Youth Congress – 1937–1946 Johnetta Richards 7. Esther V. Cooper’s ‘‘The Negro Woman Domestic Worker in Relation to Trade Unionism’’: Black Left Feminism and the Popular Front Erik S. McDuffie 8. ‘‘All those rosy dreams we cherish’’: James Jackson and Esther Cooper’s Marriage on the Front Lines of the Double Victory Campaign Sara E. Rzeszutek 9. FREEDOMWAYS Michael Nash and Daniel J. Leab 10. James and Esther Jackson: A Personal Perspective Maurice Jackson 11. ‘‘Death for Negro lynching!’’ The Communist Party, USA’s Position on the African American Question Timothy Johnson 12. Civil Rights Unionism and the Black Freedom Struggle Robert Korstad 13. Lorraine Hansberry’s Freedom Family Michael Anderson 14. James and Esther Jackson: Connecting the Past to the Present Angela Davis
David Levering Lewis is a Pulitzer Prize winning historian who is Julius Silver University Professor at New York University.
Michael H. Nash has been Director of the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University since 2001. He holds a PhD in American History from SUNY Binghamton, and has served as Curator at the Hagley Museum and Library (Wilmington, DE).
Daniel J. Leab is Professor of History at Seton Hall University, and founding editor of American Communist History. His most recent book is Orwell Subverted: the CIA and the filming of Animal Farm (2007).