Slavery

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...

"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...

Creativity in the face of cruelty and oppression

Shortlisted for the 2018 Booker Prize, Washington Black is the story of George Washington Black, a child slave on a sugar plantation in Barbados. The book continues the theme of author Esi Edugyan’s previous novel, Half Blood Blues, which features Hiero, a black musician sent to Sachsenhausen. Both stories centre on how human creativity persists in the face of cruelty and oppression. In Washington Black, Wash is brutalised by the horrors of plantation life, intensified after the late slave rebellions in Barbados, Jamaica and Demerara, and carries a reminder of this violence after being badly...

Trump and Charlottesville

After hundreds of far right activists marched on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on 12 August US President, Donald Trump, condemned both sides. In other words he placed Nazi sympathisers who chanted antisemitic slogans on the same moral level as the anti-racist black and white youth who rallied against them. The anti-fascists faced extreme violence from the far-right, including one murder, of Heather Heyer, mowed down by a racist who rammed a car into a group of protesters. Trump’s remarks were met with outrage, and even some Republican politicians openly protested...

Darcus Howe on Black Power

A new TV drama — Guerilla — tells the story of the British Black Panthers. Long-time black and left activist Darcus Howe, who recently died, was a founder member of the group and consultant for the show. In this interview from 1995 Howe discussed the politics of “black power” with Dan Katz. DH: The Panthers have been grossly misrepresented in political circles. They were an intensely revolutionary organisation, the largest non-establishment political party ever to exist in America — larger than the Communist Party or any left-wing group. There were thousands of them all over the United States...

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