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May 26 , 2008

Red Activists and Black Freedom

James and Esther Jackson and the Long Civil Rights Revolution


This book deals with the forgotten history of the civil rights movement. The American Left played a significant part in the origins of that movement, whose history has traditionally been focused on the later 1940's and early 1950's. This approach needs serious re-thinking in light of what took place in the later 1930's with the organization and activity of groups like the Southern Negro Youth Congress that brought both African-American and white workers and students together in the fight for economic and social justice. Thanks to the post-World War II Red Scare such groups as well as Left African-American leaders like Esther and James Jackson have been overlooked or excised from an exciting, controversial, and important story. With all due credit to the churches which played such a pivotal role in finally winning Blacks their civil rights, the early history involving the Left, workers of both races, and the labor unions must be assimilated into America's memory, for there were important continuities between what they did and the later church-based struggle.

This book was published as a special issue of American Communist History.

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