Slavery

The Black Jacobins: the Haitian revolution against slavery

This is a speech by Dan Davison, a labour activist and sociology PhD student at the University of Cambridge, for a talk on C.L.R. James and the Haitian Revolution held in July 2020. All page references are to C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (London: New edn., Penguin 2001). Video, text, and audio.

The French revolution and black liberation

I’ve never read anything by the French novelist Alexandre Dumas. I might now, after reading the remarkable story of his father in Tom Reiss’ remarkable book, Black Count. I didn’t know that Dumas the novelist was mixed-race. His father, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, was born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (today’s Haiti), the son of a French nobleman and a black woman he owned as a slave. Eventually also known as just Alexandre or Alex Dumas, he became a top general in the French revolution - not in Haiti, but in Europe. He was the highest-ranking black officer in a...

The politics of some statues

Statues all across America have been pulled down and graffitied recently, as anti-racist protestors have sought to grapple with American history. Many of these statues depict straight-forwardly racist individuals, and were erected by racists for the purposes of defending racism. Confederate monuments were largely built in the early 1900s and then in the 1960s, by white supremacists fighting against upsurges in black struggle (1). However, there are two particular monuments which have come under attack that are particularly interesting, as they were intended to glorify black emancipation: the...

School history and Black Lives Matter

A good historian and history teacher is a blend of detective, lawyer, and story-teller. At its simplest history is story-telling with evidence, though for many years history in schools was simply the story of rulers, of so-called great men. The stories of the little people, often far more interesting, were neglected. And the more oppressed the people, the more likely that their story remained untold in history books. Imagine for a minute you are a trans man or woman, or a black trans man or woman. You have all the experience of isolation in a cruel world full of prejudice and, to add salt to...

"Active class struggle is central to anti-racist struggle"

The Repeat Beat Poet is a hip hop and spoken word artist, broadcaster and activist. He talked with Janine Booth from Solidarity; the whole conversation is online here. On recent events in the USA: There are shamefully still regularly extrajudicial killings of Black people in the US and across the world, but because of lockdown, the killing [of George Floyd] is a moment of vindication for a lot of activists. The protests are vital in achieving concessions from the oppressive system we’re living in, and show mobilised oppressed peoples how they can bring themselves together and collectivise...

Anti-racist resources

This page brings together various anti-racist resources to learn about anti-racist movements, and arm yourself with ideas to beat back racism: readings and pamphlets, video and audio.

British workers and American slavery

• This story is told in more detail in the pamphlet Workers against slavery: the US Civil War, the First International and the British working class • For a shorter version of the following article, see the PDF of Solidarity issue 554 In the 1860s, through a four year, 600,000-death civil war, slavery in the United States was destroyed. The defeat of revolutionary movements unleashed by the war, above all movements of the ex-slaves, created the system of white supremacy and racial segregation which endured till the 1960s and whose legacy shapes the US today. Solidarity has told this story...

Trump blocked putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 note. This is why

I’m struck by how many (left-wing, engaged) people I know haven’t heard of 19th century slave turned anti-slavery activist Harriet Tubman. Hopefully Harriet, the new film about a crucial decade of Tubman’s life, will help right that. She was one of the most remarkable of many remarkable figures in a world-altering social and political upheaval, the civil war and revolution that destroyed slavery in the US. Though not a socialist, she is firmly in our broad tradition. Despite the dark subject matter of slavery, the makers have told Tubman’s story as a pretty easy to watch action-adventure film...

Democratic Deficit USA

North Carolina’s 12th District was said to be the most gerrymandered in America. Until 2017 it was a long, straggling, narrow strip, at points extremely narrow. One critic quipped that a two hour drive down its length with both car doors open would endanger the lives of most people in the district. The term Gerrymandering dates from 1812 and refers to the manipulation of electoral boundaries to establish party political advantage. It was coined from the practice of Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts who had electoral districts drawn up in what looked like the shapes of a salamander...

Blues Power

Right-wing politicians always have great difficulty trying to get support from anyone with artistic integrity. In the Thatcher era, when numerous talented musicians sang up for the Labour cause under the banner of Red Wedge, all the Tories could cobble together were talentless tosh like Vince Hill, Jim Davidson and Mrs Mopp. Similarly, the Trump Presidency from the world of showbiz have been decidedly threadbare. Apart from the odd aged crooner or obscure country artist, the chief White House favourite has been the despicable Ted Nugent – NRA nut and serial slayer of North American wildlife...

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