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Charles Rosenberg

a pioneer member of the Socialist Party of America and the American Communist Party and a founding member of the African Blood Brotherhood, was born in Georgia to William Campbell, from the British West Indies, and Emma Dyson Campbell, from Washington, D.C. Her family moved to Texas by 1892, then to Washington, and she moved to New York City about 1905. Many sources continue to state in passing that she was born in the Caribbean and studied at Tuskegee, though this is more likely a different woman named Grace Campbell. The important role of Caribbean immigrants in New York's progressive movements may have contributed to this confusion. The historian Winston James offers a more detailed and compelling case that she was born in Georgia, which is consistent with the information Campbell apparently provided to the 1920 and 1930 census.

Campbell became active in Socialist Party ...

Article

J. A. Zumoff

socialist, journalist, and Jamaican nationalist, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He was orphaned at an early age and raised by his uncle, Adolphus Grant, and was trained as a tailor. In Jamaica, he joined Sandy Cox's National Club, a pioneering nationalist organization, and became a leader along with Marcus Garvey. In 1910 Domingo moved to Boston, where he attended night school in preparation for medical school. In 1912 he instead moved to New York, where he became a successful importer of Caribbean food. When Garvey settled in New York in 1916, Domingo introduced him to local black political leaders. He became the first editor of the Negro World in 1917, the paper associated with Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, a Pan-African nationalist organization. At the same time, Domingo—along with other “New Negro” radicals, including Chandler Owen, A. Philip Randolph, and Richard Benjamin ...

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Jeffrey B. Perry

radical political activist and journalist, was born in Concordia, St. Croix, Danish West Indies (now U.S. Virgin Islands), the son of William Adolphus Harrison and Cecilia Elizabeth Haines. Little is known of his father. His mother had at least three other children and, in 1889, married a laborer. Harrison received a primary education in St. Croix. In September 1900, after his mother died, he immigrated to New York City, where he worked low-paying jobs, attended evening high school, did some writing, editing, and lecturing, and read voraciously. In 1907 he obtained postal employment and moved to Harlem. The following year he taught at the White Rose Home, where he was deeply influenced by the social worker Frances Reynolds Keyser, a future founder of the NAACP. In 1909 he married Irene Louise Horton, with whom he had five children.Between 1901 and 1908 Harrison ...

Article

Christopher Phelps

revolutionary socialist writer, was born Cyril Lionel Robert James in the village of Caroni on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, a British colony, to Robert Alexander James, a schoolteacher and principal of modest means, and Ida Elizabeth (“Bessie”) James, a devout Anglican and avid reader of English literature. His parents nicknamed him “Nello,” a name later used among friends. His earliest education took place under his strict father in a tiny schoolhouse in North Trace. At age nine James won a scholarship to Queen's Royal College (QRC), the island's best school, in the capital, Port of Spain. At QRC between 1911 and 1918 James indulged his love for the game of cricket and English novels (Thackeray'sVanity Fair was a particular favorite to the detriment of his grades His teachers as had his family impressed upon him the importance of proper manners and fair play ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

forged a militant commitment to black liberation within a lifelong allegiance to the international socialist movement. In a 1980 interview, the only source of information on his childhood, Kilpatrick said he had been born in Colorado in 1898 to a Native American father (possibly of partly African descent) and a mother who had been enslaved in Kentucky. Information from his Ohio death certificate shows his birth around 1905. Kilpatrick consistently used the birth date of 28 February 1904 for travel by ship to and from Europe in the 1930s. The family moved to Cleveland when he was about six years old, where his father got work for McKerrigan McKinley Steel, which became part of Republic Steel. His father was a socialist and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which young Admiral joined in his teenage years.

He absorbed from his father and other black IWW ...

Article

Nick Nesbitt

Hégésippe Légitimus was the son of a fisherman who lost his life at sea. He grew up in Pointe-à-Pitre and attended the lycée Carnot, where he came in contact with the ideas of the French socialist theoretician Jules Guesde. This political awakening led him to form a “Committee for Republican Socialist Youth.” After witnessing a mulatto overseer mistreat a black youth, he publicly took the defense of the latter in his first political gesture.

Légitimus entered public politics when Guadeloupe was in the throes of an extended economic crisis after the relative prosperity of the Second Empire (1852–1870). Following the abolition of slavery in 1848, this earlier period saw both the consolidation of sugar plantation capital in the hands of metropolitan owners and a rapid increase in economic activity following the lifting of foreign trade restrictions in 1861 The need for inexpensive labor however outlived ...

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Christopher Phelps

labor organizer and socialist, was born in Malden, West Virginia, in the home of his maternal grandfather, a coal miner and Baptist preacher. He and three younger sisters were born to Janie Rice McKinney, a graduate of the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, and William Tecumseh McKinney, a teacher who later became principal of the Negro school in Huntington, West Virginia, and then, as a loyal Republican, was awarded a post in the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C.

To provide the children a superior education, the family relocated to Oberlin, Ohio, where between 1910 and 1913 McKinney attended the Academy, a preparatory school run by Oberlin College. In 1911 he helped found the Oberlin chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) after a visit from W. E. B. Du Bois After encountering a member of the Socialist Party in a Cleveland bookstore ...

Article

J. A. Zumoff

activist, communist, and Pan-Africanist, was born in Hastings, Christ Church, Barbados, the son of Josephine Thorn Moore and Richard Henry Moore, a building contractor. Moore's mother died when he was three, and his father married Elizabeth McLean. In 1902 Moore's father died and Moore lived with his stepmother while attending middle school. After graduating in 1905 he became an office clerk, a job he would hold at different firms until he emigrated. During this period he also converted to an evangelical Christian group led by a white American preacher.

In 1908 two of his elder sisters immigrated to New York City, and on 4 July 1909 Moore and his stepmother followed Moore briefly secured an office assistant job at a Manhattan advertising firm until an infatuation with a white coworker caused a scandal and forced him to leave his job He then found employment ...

Article

minister, author, pamphleteer, and Socialist Party activist, was born a slave in Johnson County, Tennessee, the son of Charles Woodbey and Rachel Wagner Woodbey. While little is known about Woodbey's parents and early life, it is clear that he worked as a manual laborer in his youth. Woodbey was largely self-educated, attending only two terms of common school, yet he learned to read after gaining freedom during the Civil War. His experience of servitude spurred his gradual allegiance to socialism. As Woodbey wrote, he was “one who was once a chattel slave freed by the proclamation of Lincoln and now wishes to be free from the slavery of capitalism” (Foner, 10).

By 1874 Woodbey had been ordained a Baptist minister in Emporia Kansas Like many blacks confronted with the failure of Reconstruction Woodbey migrated westward It is estimated that some seven thousand black families ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

George Washington Woodbey was born a slave in Johnson County, Tennessee. He was ordained a Baptist minister in Emporia, Kansas, in 1874 and soon became the pastor of the African Church in Omaha, Nebraska. During his tenure as pastor, Woodbey became active in politics and joined both the Republican Party and the Prohibition Party. In 1896 he ran for lieutenant governor on the Nebraska Prohibition ticket but was unsuccessful. Later that year, after reading Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward 2000–1887 and upon hearing a speech by the socialist labor leader Eugene V. Debs, Woodbey embraced the tenets of Socialism. He resigned his pastorship and dedicated the rest of his life to the socialist movement.

Woodbey joined the Socialist Party of America in 1902 and moved to San Diego California In San Diego he lectured widely and often appeared as a soapbox orator around town on behalf of the ...