Black and white image (full face) go Claude McKayBlack History Month Event: CMNH Book Launch.

Wednesday 12th October 2023

Time: 5.30-7pm

Room G4 Grand Parade, University of Brighton

The Centre for Memory, Narrative and Histories will be launching two books at this special Black History Month event. Places are limited so do please book a place

Claude McKay: The Making of a Black Bolshevik by Winston James

One of the foremost Black writers and intellectuals of his era, Claude McKay (1889–1948) was a central figure in Caribbean literature, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Black radical tradition. McKay’s life and writing were defined by his class consciousness and anticolonialism, shaped by his experiences growing up in colonial Jamaica as well as his early career as a writer in Harlem and then London. Dedicated to confronting both racism and capitalist exploitation, he was a critical observer of the Black condition throughout the African diaspora and became a committed Bolshevik.

Winston James offers a revelatory account of McKay’s political and intellectual trajectory from his upbringing in Jamaica through the early years of his literary career and radical activism. In 1912, McKay left Jamaica to study in the United States, never to return. James follows McKay’s time at the Tuskegee Institute and Kansas State University, as he discovered the harshness of American racism, and his move to Harlem, where he encountered the ferment of Black cultural and political movements and figures such as Hubert Harrison and Marcus Garvey. McKay left New York for London, where his commitment to revolutionary socialism deepened, culminating in his transformation from Fabian socialist to Bolshevik.

Drawing on a wide variety of sources, James offers a rich and detailed chronicle of McKay’s life, political evolution, and the historical, political, and intellectual contexts that shaped him.

The Red and the Black: The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic edited by David Featherstone and Christian Hogsbjerg

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was not just a world-historical event in its own right, but also struck powerful blows against racism and imperialism, and so inspired many black radicals internationally. This edited collection explores the implications of the creation of the Soviet Union and the Communist International for black and colonial liberation struggles across the African diaspora. It examines the critical intellectual influence of Marxism and Bolshevism on the current of revolutionary ‘black internationalism’ and analyses how ‘Red October’ was viewed within the contested articulations of different struggles against racism and colonialism.

Challenging European-centred understandings of the Russian Revolution and the global left, The Red and the Black offers new insights on the relations between Communism, various lefts and anti-colonialisms across the Black Atlantic – including Garveyism and various other strands of Pan-Africanism. The volume makes a major and original intellectual contribution by making the relations between the Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic central to debates on questions relating to racism, resistance and social change.

Speakers at the event:

Prof Winston James (University of California, Irvine)

Cathy Bergin (University of Brighton)

David Featherstone (University of Glasgow)

Christian Hogsbjerg (University of Brighton)