The introduction sets out the ways in which the volume uses an engagement with the inspiring international reverberations of the Russian Revolution across the Black Atlantic world to understand the contested articulations of left politics and different struggles against racism and colonialism. The first section situates the volume in relation to the historiography of the Russian Revolution while outlining some of the key ways in which black radicals drew inspiration from these events. The second section positions the volume in relation to recent literatures on black internationalism, drawing attention to how the chapters in this volume take forward these debates. The final section draws attention to the implications of the book for key contemporary debates on the intersection of race and class, on the emergence of politicised forms of anti-racism, in particular those arising out of a revolutionary struggle, and on racialised forms of internationalism and agency. We conclude by positioning the introduction in relation to recent political events, including the resurgent Black Lives Matter movement.
This volume explores the life histories of a wide range of radical figures whose political activity in relation to the black liberation struggle was catalysed or profoundly shaped by the global impact and legacy of the Russian Revolution of October 1917. The volume includes new perspectives on the intellectual trajectories of well-known figures such as C.L.R. James, Paul Robeson, Raya Dunayevskaya and Walter Rodney, as well as the important South African trade union leader Clements Kadalie and the poet Amiri Baraka. The volume also brings together new research and scholarship on a number of critical activists who were influenced by ‘black Bolshevism’ such as Henry Hubert Harrison, Wilfred Domingo, Cyril Briggs, Grace P. Campbell and Lamine Senghor. Detailed engagements with the political trajectories of such revolutionary figures opens up a set of diverse perspectives and engagements with different articulations of black internationalisms in the wake of the Russian Revolution. This enables a focus on the different and contested terms on which these relations were shaped, and some of the nuanced situated ways in which these relations were negotiated and lived. The engagement with particular lives and experiences offers a focus on different forms of political agency and solidarity shaped at the intersection of the Russian Revolution and the wider Black Atlantic world. Such a biographical approach brings a vivid and distinctive lens to bear on how racialised social and political worlds were negotiated and experienced, and also on historic black radical engagements with left political movements and organising.