"The Most Exciting and Eagerly Awaited Title from a Scholarly Press." — Scott McLemee on Hubert Harrison, by Jeffrey Perry
Scott McLemee qualifies this remark somewhat in his Inside Higher Ed article on Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918, admitting that he has been eagerly awaiting this title and he explains why in the article and the accompanying podcast. (However, judging by the reception the book has already received, McLemee is not alone in his enthusiasm for Hubert Harrison.)
Perry’s biography, McLemee suggests, not only reclaims the importance of Hubert Harrison but also provides a new perspective on twentieth-century African American thought:
A familiar account of African-American culture during the first two decades of the 20th century frames it as a conflict between Booker T. Washington (champion of patient economic self-improvement within the existing framework of a racist society) and W.E.B. Du Bois (strategist of an active struggle for civil rights under the leadership of the black community’s “talented tenth”). The life and work of Hubert Harrison does not just complicate this picture; he breaks right through its frame.
The article also describes Jeffrey Perry’s unique journey from Princeton to becoming a postal worker and an active leader of the postal workers’ union to a Ph.D. at Columbia University and his pathbreaking research on Hubert Harrison.