The Impact of the Russian Revolution on the Black Left in the United States

Socialism 2017

August 15, 2017

Black radicals across the U.S. followed events in 1917 Russia with rapturous attentiveness, convinced that the victory of Lenin's Bolsheviks in the October Revolution held vital lessons for their own struggle for liberation. African-American activists from all backgrounds debated the meaning of the revolution, from nationalists like Marcus Garvey to the NAACP's W.E.B. Du Bois. Of all these groups, one of the most radical (and least-known) was the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB), founded in 1919 by Cyril Briggs. Members of the ABB would go on to become the key early Black cadre of the Communist Party, enabling it to recruit a base of thousands of Black members in the 1930s and 1940s, and to lead a militant struggle for Black liberation in those decades. This presentation will explore this important but neglected part of U.S. radical history.

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