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The Black Antifascist Tradition
Fighting Back From Anti-Lynching to Abolition

The story of the fight against fascism across the African diaspora, revealing that Black antifascism has always been vital to global freedom struggles.

At once a history for understanding fascism and a handbook for organizing against, The Black Antifascist Tradition is an essential book for understanding our present moment and the challenges ahead.

From London to the Caribbean, from Ethiopia to Harlem, from Black Lives Matter to abolition, Black radicals and writers have long understood fascism as a threat to the survival of Black people around the world—and to everyone.

In The Black Antifascist Tradition, scholar-activists Jeanelle K. Hope and Bill Mullen show how generations of Black activists and intellectuals—from Ida B. Wells in the fight against lynching, to Angela Y. Davis in the fight against the prison-industrial complex—have stood within a tradition of Black Antifascism. 

As Davis once observed, pointing to the importance of anti-Black racism in the development of facism as an ideology, Black people have been “the first and most deeply injured victims of fascism.” Indeed, the experience of living under and resisting racial capitalism has often made Black radicals aware of the potential for fascism to take hold long before others understood this danger.

The book explores the powerful ideas and activism of Paul Robeson, Mary McLeod Bethune, Claudia Jones, W. E. B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, Aime Cesaire, and Walter Rodney, as well as that of the Civil Rights Congress, the Black Liberation Army, and the We Charge Genocide movement, among others.

In shining a light on fascism and anti-Blackness, Hope and Mullen argue, the writers and organizers featured in this book have also developed urgent tools and strategies for overcoming it.

Reviews
  • "This introduction to the Black anti-fascist tradition is a necessary intervention for our increasingly dangerous and authoritarian times. Drawing on Ida B. Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, Angela Davis, and more, Hope and Mullen offer an accessible history and strategies for forward movement." Ms. Magazine

    "The Black Antifascist Tradition gives us the materials we need to face an uncertain future. The book gives us the possibility of hope based on histories and trajectories it maps and recovers. This remarkable book documents how those who began the struggle against anti-Black racism were always already 'pre-mature antifascists.'"
    —David Palumbo-Liu, author of Speaking Out of Place

    "As we confront, arguably, the greatest assault on our already severely limited form of liberal democracy, The Black Antifascist Tradition is essential reading for not only diagnosing the problems that we face, but rather for providing us with historical tools to fight ascendant fascism and right wing authoritarianism in the United States. Drawing inspiration from Octavia Butler to anti-lynching campaigns and the 'We Charge Genocide' movement, Hope and Mullen offer a powerful lens onto the Black Radical Tradition that moves the discussion of fascism from a narrow focus on interwar Europe to the transnational questions of racial apartheid, settler colonialism and anti-Black racism. Beautifully written and cogently argued, this book is a must read for this moment. I can’t wait to assign it in my undergraduate and graduate classes." —Donna Murch, author, Assata Taught Me: State Violence, Racial Capitalism, and the Movement for Black Lives

    "The Black Antifascist Tradition is a primer on the history and legacy of over a century of Black antifascist activism. This timely collection introduces readers to the political organizing, theoretical interventions and world-making of some of the leading change makers and theorists of our times. This book is the missing link between present and past that is so urgently needed as a new generation confronts a new manifestation of old problem. A must read and infusion of hope." —Robyn C. Spencer-Antoine, Associate professsor of African American Studies and History at Wayne State University and author of The Revolution has Come: Black power, Gender and the Black Panther Party in Oakland

    "The Roman slave empire ruled by punishment and death, flogging, and beheading. The bundle of rods with a protruding axe blade—the fasces—were both means of execution and emblem of sovereign power. Ever since, incarceration and systematic premature death have remained the foundation of fascism. The Black Antifascist Tradition is an absolutely needed chronicle showing how Black people lead antifascism. It begins with Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s Red Record against lynching in the early twentieth century and concludes with the new abolitionism against the carceral and death-dealing state in the twenty-first century. In between are the essential campaigns by the thinkers an actors of Pan-Africanism (1930s), Double Victory (1940s), We Charge Genocide (1950s), Black Power (1960s), and the anarchist antagonistic autonomy of our times, which have fought for life and for our commons." —Peter Linebaugh, author, The Magna Carta Manifesto


    "The Black Antifascist Tradition offers an indispensable framing that places Black experience at the center to show how anti-Blackness is inseparable from the development of US fascism, past and present. Through a crisp synthesis of essential writings by Ida B. Wells, W. E. B. Du Bois, Aimé Césaire, William Patterson, Huey P. Newton, Angela Y. Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Mariame Kaba, Jeanelle K. Hope and Bill V. Mullen make a compelling argument for reconceptualizing a race-based history of Black life through the lens of racialized fascism. An important read for anyone interested in understanding how we arrived at today’s US style of authoritarianism and state repression." —Diane Fujino, author, Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama


    "From the sophisticated understanding of law as an agent of fascism articulated in the anti-lynching activism of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, to the abolitionist theorization of fascism as both a theory of anti-Blackness and a structure of oppression by scholar-activists such as Ruth Wilson Gilmore and Angela Davis; and with explorations of anti-colonialism, antiwar movements, and Black Power along the way, The Black Antifascist Tradition offers a careful history of Black thought and art by way of a celebration of the exquisite threads of antifascism woven inextricably into the Black Radical Tradition. Hope and Mullen detail the ways the Black Radical Tradition has not simply always been antifascist but that it has been powerfully, effectively, originally responsible for formulating antifascist analysis and strategy." —Micol Seigel, author, Violence Work: State Power and the Limits of Police

    "The Black Antifascist Tradition is a handbook a century in the making. It is a historical synthesis of how the forerunners of anti-colonial struggle, Pan-Africanism, and Black revolutionary theory and practice identified and confronted fascist emergence and organization from a local to an international scale and across the formative epochs. Richly detailed and thoroughly researched, this highly accessible and readable text is also wide-angled and multi-layered in scope--adeptly interconnecting people, places, events, and actions with their resultant insights, observations, and practical formulations. This book is the complete exposition of Black antifascist thought, and a necessary guide for the antifascist struggles of today."  —Justin Akers Chacón, author, Radicals in the Barrio


    "Jeanelle K. Hope and Bill V. Mullen have written the definitive history for one of the most important, and least discussed, pieces of the antifascist movement. Weaving together historical analysis, trenchant critique, and future visioning, this is one of the most important books on antifascism ever written." —Shane Burley, author, Why We Fight: Essays on Fascism, Resistance, and Surviving the Apocalypse

    "The Black Anti-Fascist Tradition is a dazzling work of reclamation and admonition that simultaneously reaches into the folds of past and future to make an urgent, formidable case that fascism, capitalism, and anti-Black violence are profoundly interconnected. Hope and Mullen give voice to activists and intellectuals of two centuries with compelling clarity. They have produced a volume providing an astute and knowledgeable guide to a complex legacy with which every partisan of 'freedom dreams' needs to critically engage." —Alan Wald, author,Trinity of Passion: The Literary Left and the Anti-Fascist Crusade

    "Through the dialectic of 'Anti-black Fascism' and the 'Black Antifascist Tradition,' Jeanelle Hope and Bill V. Mullen expertly convey how African descendant antifascists in the United States and beyond developed a unique interpretation of the fascist threat through their experience of, and fightback against, Jim Crow, Euro-American (settler) colonialism and imperialism, and policies and practices of white supremacy. A stunning work of historical recovery, political analysis, and critical interpretation, The Black Antifascist Tradition reads guerrilla intellectuals like Ida B. Wells and Ruth Wilson Gilmore into the tradition of Black Antifascism, highlights prominent Black Antifascists like Aimé Césaire and George Jackson, and recovers lesser-known critics of Anti-Black Fascism like Thyra Edwards and Lorenzo Kom’boa Irvin. In doing so, it not only makes an invaluable contribution to scholarship on the Black radical tradition (or the Tradition of Radical Blackness), but also paves the way for deeper and more serious study of antifascisms emanating from Black realities. In our current moment of naked acts of genocide, intensified racialized police and military violence, and the bold resurgence of rightwing authoritarianism, Hope and Mullen, and the freedom fighters they examine, remind us of the long and rich praxis of resistance on which we can—and must—build. Everything is at stake."

    —Charisse Burden-Stelly, author of Black Scare/Red Scare: Theorizing Capitalist Racism in the United States and co-editor of Organize, Fight, Win: Black Communist Women's Political Writing

    "In The Black Antifascist Tradition, Hope and Mullen unearth a distinct and underacknowledged lineage of Black antifascist organizing, from Ida B. Wells-Barnett and the anti-lynching movement to Black Lives Matter and the struggle for police abolition. Drawing on the contributions of past and present thinkers and activists, this book offers an essential overview of the ways that Black radicals have understood the relationship between fascism and white supremacy and organized to confront both. The book introduces readers to a history of Black internationalist and antifascist organizing, including lesser-known campaigns by Black soldiers during the Spanish Civil War and the Black Panther Party’s United Front Against Fascism. In so doing, the authors raise provocative arguments about the existential violence Black people experience even under 'normal' conditions of capitalist exploitation, underscoring the role of anti-Black racism in anticipating the rise of fascism long before its formal ascent to power. Importantly, Hope and Mullen show how resisting the conditions that threaten Black life in particular has produced strategies that are equally relevant to struggles against violent, anti-democratic movements everywhere. By broadening our horizons around what counts as antifascist organizing, The Black Antifascist Tradition insists on the inseparability of antifascism from the struggle for Black liberation." —Haley Pessin, coeditor, Voices of a People's History of the United States in the Twenty-First Century

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