Hubert Harrison, activist of excellence

Hubert Harrison
Fri, 1883-04-27

*The birth of Hubert Harrison in 1883 is marked on this date. He was an African American activist, educator, and writer.

Born in St. Croix of the Virgin Islands, at the age of seventeen he moved to New York where he worked as a bellhop and an elevator operator. He also attended night school and studied sociology, science, psychology, literature, and drama. Harrison's studies influenced his politics and he became a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. He later joined the Socialist Party where he met other African American radicals such as Philip Randolph, Chandler Owen, and Claude McKay. He impressed them with his intellect and was given the nickname, the 'Black Socrates'.

As a journalist Harrison wrote for the The Masses. Harrison also edited The Voice and contributed to the The Messenger, The Call, The New Republic, the New York Times and the New York World. He also published two important books, The Negro and the Nation (1917) and When Africa Awakes (1920). Harrison opposed United States involvement in the First World War. This caused him to break with W. E. B. Du Bois who had argued in The Crisis that: "Let, us, while this war lasts, forget our special grievances and close our ranks."

Harrison lectured on socialism and African American civil rights from street corners and in September, 1922, the New York Times reported that he was drawing crowds of over 10,000 people and the New York police had to stop the traffic. Harrison had a great influenced Marcus Garvey. Harrison, claiming that race was more important than class. After leaving the Socialist Party, he joined Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

Harrison also edited the organizations journal, The Negro World, for four years. He also worked as a staff lecturer for the New York City Board of Education. Hubert Harrison died in 1927.

Industrial Workers of the World
General Headquarters,
PO Box 13476,
Philadelphia, PA 19101

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Person / name: 

Harrison, Hubert