Hubert Harrison PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 October 2008 10:42

Hubert Henry Harrison

Born: April 27, 1883, Estate Concordia, St. Croix, Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands)

Died: December 17, 1927, New York, NY, USA

Age: 44

Cause of death: Apendix related illness.

Notable because: Important Black activist who influenced many minds. Wrote 'The Black Mans Burden' which is listed below.


Hubert Harrison was a Harlem-based writer, orator, educator, critic, and radical political activist was described by the activist A. Philip Randolph as “the father of Harlem radicalism” and by the historian Joel Augustus Rogers as “the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time.”

Harrison uniquely played significant roles in the largest class radical and the largest race radical movements of his era. From 1912-1914 he was the leading Black organizer, agitator, and theoretician in the Socialist Party of America and in 1917 he founded the Liberty League and the The Voice, the first organization and the first newspaper of the militant, race conscious “New Negro” movement. From his Liberty League and Voice came the core leadership individuals and race conscious program of the Garvey (Marcus Garvey) movement.

Harrison was a seminal and influential thinker who encouraged the development of class consciousness among working people, anti white-supremacist race consciousness among Black people, secular humanism, modern thinking, and a critical intellectual independence. He was also a self-described "radical internationalist" who advocated that African Americans develop ties with Caribbean, African, Latin, Asian, and Arab peoples and who contributed significantly to the Caribbean radical tradition. He profoundly influenced a generation of “New Negro” militants including A. Philip Randolph, Chandler Owen, Marcus Garvey, Richard Benjamin Moore, W. A. Domingo, Williana Burroughs, and Cyril Briggs. His biographer Jeffrey B. Perry writes that, among the African American leaders of his era, Harrison was “the most class conscious of the race radicals and the most race conscious of the class radicals” and he emphasizes that Harrison is a key unifying link between two major trends of African American struggle--the labor/civil rights trend (identified with Randolph and Owen and later, with Martin Luther King, Jr.) and the race/nationalist trend (identified with Garvey, and later with Malcolm X).

Hubert Harrison

from When Africa Awakes (New York, 1920)

Take up the Black Man’s burden---
Send forth the worst ye breed,
And bind our sons in shackles
To serve your selfish greed;
To wait in heavy harness
Be-devilled and beguiled
Until the Fates remove you
From a world you have defiled.

Take up the black Man’s burden---
Your lies may still abide
To veil the threat of terror
And check our racial pride;
Your cannon, church and courthouse
May still our sons constrain
To seek the white man’s profit
And work the white man’s gain.

Take up the Black Man’s burden---
Reach out and hog the earth,
And leave your workers hungry
In the country of their birth;
Then, when your goal is nearest,
The end for which you fought
Watch other’s trained efficiency
Bring all your hope to naught.

Take up the Black Man’s burden---
Reduce their chiefs and kings
To toil of serf and sweeper
The lot of common things:
Sodden their soil with slaughter,
Ravish their lands with lead;
Go, sign them with your living
And seal them with your dead.

Take up the Black Man’s burden---
And reap your old reward;
The curse of those ye cozen,
The hate of those ye barred
From your Canadian cities
And your Australian ports;
And when they ask for meat and drink
Go, girdle them with forts.
Take up the Black Man’s burden---
Ye cannot stoop to less.
Will not your fraud of "freedom"
Still cloak your greediness?
But, by the gods ye worship,
And by the deeds ye do,
These silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the Black Man’s burden---
Until the tail is told,
Until the balances of hate
Bear down the beam of gold.
And while ye wait remember
The justice, though delayed
Will hold you as her debtor
Till the Black Man’s debt is paid.




Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:49

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