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This chapter looks at the black radical claim on Bolshevism through a study of the African-American radical press in the years following the Russian Revolution. In the myriad of articles that engage with Bolshevism, writers and activists of the black left in the US produce political imaginaries which inaugurate a very particular transnational anti-racist class politics. In the pages of the Crusader, the Messenger and Negro World, writers like Cyril Briggs, W.A. Domingo and Claude McKay polemicised against a colour-blind labour movement in the US and against a class-blind black nationalism. They saw in Bolshevism a model which could crack the monolith of white supremacy and colonial oppression. In their celebratory accounts of events in Russia, the African-American radical press insisted on the centrality of black workers as a vanguard of revolutionary struggle.
This book excavates forgotten histories of solidarity which were vital to radical political imaginaries during the ‘long sixties’. It decentres the conventional Western focus of this critical historical moment by foregrounding transnational solidarity with, and across, anticolonial and anti-imperialist liberation struggles. It traces the ways in which solidarity was conceived, imagined and enacted in the border-crossings – of nation, race and class identifications – of grassroots activists.
Exiled revolutionaries in Uruguay, postcolonial migrants in Britain, and Greek communist refugees in East Germany campaigned for their respective causes from afar while identifying and linking up with liberation struggles in Vietnam and the Gulf and with civil rights movements elsewhere. Meanwhile, Arab migrants in France, Pakistani volunteers and Iraqi artists found a myriad of ways to express solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Neglected archives also reveal Tricontinental Cuban-based genealogies of artistic militancy, as well as stories of anticolonial activist networks and meetings in North America, Italy, the Netherlands and Sudan, forging connections with those freedom fighters attempting to overthrow Portuguese colonial rule in Africa. These entwined routes of the 1960s chart a complex map of transnational political recognition and radical interconnections.
Bringing together original research with contributions from veteran activists and artists, this interdisciplinary volume explores how transnational solidarity was expressed in and carried through the itineraries of migrants and revolutionaries, film and print cultures, art and sport, political campaigns and armed struggle. It presents a novel perspective on radical politics of the global sixties which remains crucial to understanding anti-racist solidarity today.
This introduction argues that anticolonial solidarity is central to understanding the radical politics of the long sixties. More than an attempt to complicate the spatial and temporal coordinates of traditional scholarship of the period, we trace how solidarity was imagined and enacted across metaphorical and literal border zones. Beyond its articulation within the Global South, the anticolonial liberation project conjured up a broader framework of solidarity that intersected with African American civil rights movements and revolutionary anti-imperialism in the Global North and, not least, mobilised diasporic and postcolonial immigrant communities in the metropoles. The inauguration of powerful forms of transnational identification is evident in and through the radical cultures of circulation that linked up the diverse, yet interconnected, liberation struggles of the global sixties. Emphasising the necessity for an interdisciplinary approach in order to access these marginalised histories, we propose that the trajectories of anticolonial solidarity in the long sixties provide potent models of resistance that can speak to the racialising power structures of the early twenty-first century.