Nat Turner and the Haitian Revolution

In consequence of the alarming increase of the Black population at the South, fears have been long entertained, that it might one day be the unhappy lot of the whites, in that section, to witness scenes similar to those which but a few years since, nearly depopulated the once flourishing island of St. Domingo of its white inhabitants — but, these fears have never been realized even in a small degree, until the fatal morning of the 22d of August last, when it fell to the lot of the inhabitants of a thinly settled township of Southampton county (Virginia) to witness a scene horrid in the extreme! — when FIFTY FIVE innocent persons (mostly women and children) fell victims to the most inhuman barbarity. The melancholy and bloody event was as sudden and unexpected, as unprecedented for cruelty — for many months previous an artful black, down by the name of NAT TURNER, (a slave of Mr. Edward Travis) who had been taught to read and write, and who hypocritically and the better to enable him to effect his nefarious designs, assumed the character of a Preacher, and as such was sometimes permitted to visit and associate himself with many of the Plantation Negroes, for the purpose … of christianizing and to teach them the propriety of their remaining faithful and obedient to their masters; but, in reality, to persuade and to prepare them in the most sly and artful manner to become they instruments of their slaughter! — in this too he well succeeded, by representing to the poor deluded wretches the Blessings of Liberty, and the inhumanity and justice of their being forced like brutes fro the land of their nativity, and doomed without fault or crime to perpetual bondage, and by those who were not more entitled to their liberty than themselves! — he too represented to them the happy effects which had attended the united efforts of their brethren in St. Domingo, and elsewhere, and encouraged them with the assurance that a similar effort on their part, could not fail to produce a similar effect, and not only restore them to liberty but would produce them wealth and ease!

Samuel Warner. Authentic narrative of the tragical scene which was witnessed in Southampton Country, Virginia, on Monday the 22d of August las, when fifty-five of its inhabitants were massacred by the Blacks, etc. (1831).

Another startling document that linked the events in the French West Indies with the violent overthrow of slavery in the United States was the letter received in Southampton County, Virginia, shortly after the Nat Turner revolt. It was forwarded to the governor of Virginia, James Floyd, who used it in his annual message to the state legislature to prove that outsiders were bent upon destroying Slavery in the South. “Nero” begins the letter pointedly: “Oppression and revenge are two prominent traits in human character; and as long as the former exists, the latter is justifiable.” The author, referring to both St. Domingue and Haiti, state the “our object is to seek revenge for indignities and abuses received– and to sell our live[s] at as a high a price as possible.” Nero assured blacks that they were strong enough and well armed enough to begin their retribution, and that “Hayti offers an asylum for those who survive the approaching carnage.

Alfred N. Hunt, Haiti’s Influence on Antebellum America (1988)

…the recollections of St. Domingo were still vivid in 1831.

William Sidney Drewry, The Southampton Insurrection (1900).

Also see:

Southampton County, Virginia: Court of Oyer and Terminer Trials, August 31 – November 21, 1831, The Nat Turner Project.

Thomas R. Gray, The Confessions of Nat Turner (1831).

Henry Bibb, Slave Insurrection in Southampton County, VA., headed by Nat Turner (1850)

The Nat Turner Insurrection, Anglo-African Magazine (1859)

Thomas Wentworth Higginson, “Nat Turner’s Insurrection,” The Atlantic (1861) and Black Rebellion: Five Slave Revolts (1998)

“After Nat Turner: A Letter from the North,” The Journal of Negro History (1970). [$$]

Image: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. “Nat Turner & his confederates in conference.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1863.

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W.E.B. Du Bois, “Toussaint L’Ouverture and the Anti-Slavery Effort, 1787-1806”

“The role which the great Negro Toussaint, called L’Ouverture, played in the history of the United States has seldom been fully appreciated. Representing the age of revolution in America, he rose to leadership through a bloody terror, which contrived a Negro ‘problem’ for the Western Hemisphere, intensified and defined the anti-slavery movement, became one of the causes, and probably the prime one, which led Napoleon to sell Louisiana for a song, and finally, through the interworking of all these effects, rendered more certain the final prohibition of the slave-trade by the United States in 1807.”

from W.E.B. Du Bois, The suppression of the African slave-trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870 (1904).

Image: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Toussaint L’Ouverture receiving a Proclamation.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1821.

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Gwendolyn Midlo Hall: Essays in Black World/Negro Digest, 1967-1972

Essays by African Diaspora historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall published in Black World/Negro Digest between 1967 and 1972:

St. Malcolm and the Black Revolutionist,” Negro Digest, November 1967.

“Black Resistance in Colonial Haiti“, Negro Digest, February 1968.

Black Resistance in Colonial Haiti,” Black World/Negro Digest (February 1968

The Myth of Benevolent Spanish Slave Laws,” Negro Digest, March 1969.

Africans in the Americas,” Negro Digest, March 1969.

Rural, Black College,” Negro Digest, March 1969,

“Mechanisms for Exploiting the Black Community,” Parts ONE and TWONegro Digest, October and November 1969.

What Toussaint Louverture Can Teach Us,” Black World, February 1972.

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Cedric J. Robinson, 1940-2016: Memorials, Tributes, and a Bibliography

Tributes and Memorials

Tributes to Cedric Robinson, Race & Class, June 9, 2016.

Black Study Group (London), “Cedric Robinson 1940 – 2016,” dark matter: in the ruins of imperial culture (June 12, 2016)

Tributes to Cedric Robinson on the African American Intellectual History Society blog.

Josh Myers, Cedric Robinson and the Black Radical Tradition., U.S. Intellectual History Society Blog, June 15 2016

Robin D.G. Kelley, Cedric J. Robinson: the Making of a Black Radical intellectual, Counterpunch, June 17, 2016

Books by Cedric J. Robinson

Leadership: A Mythic Paradigm (Ph.D. Dept. of Political Science, Stanford University 1975)

The Terms of Order: Political Science and the Myth of Leadership (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1980) [republished by UNC Press, 2016, with a foreword by Erica R. Edwards].

Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition. (London: Zed Books, 1983) [Republished by UNC Press, 2000, with a new preface and a foreword by Robin D.G. Kelley]

Black Movements in America (New York: Routledge, 1997).

An Anthropology of Marxism. (Aldershot, Hampshire, England: Burlington, VT, 2001).

Forgeries of Memory and Meaning: Blacks and the Regimes of Race in American Theater and Film Before World War II (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2012).

Articles, Essays, and Reviews

“Malcolm Little As a Charismatic Leader.” Afro-american Studies. (1972).

“A critique of W.E.B. DuBois’ Black Reconstruction,” The Black Scholar, Vol. 8, No. 7, THE BLACK SOUTH (May 1977), pp. 44-50

“The emergent Marxism of Richard Wright’s ideology,” Race & Class, vol. 19, 3 (January 1978); pp. 221-237.

“The emergence and limitations of European radicalism,” Race & Class, vol. 21, 2, (October 1979): pp. 145-170.

“Richard Wright: marxism and the petite-bourgeoisie,” Race & Class, vol. 21, 4 (April 1980): pp. 353-368.

Review: Race and Politics in South Africa, Contemporary Sociology. 9.3 (1980)

Notes toward a “Native” Theory of History,” Review (Fernand Braudel Center), Vol. 4, No. 1 (Summer, 1980), pp. 45-78

“Domination and imitation: Xala and the emergence of the black bourgeoisie,” Race & Class, vol. 22, 2 (October 1980), pp. 147-158.

“Black Intellectuals at the British Core, 1920s and 1930s,” (London, Institute of Education, 1981 [?])

“Coming to terms: the Third World and the dialectic of imperialism,” Race & Class, vol. 22, 4 (April 1981): pp. 363-386.

“Amilcar Cabral and the Dialectics of Portuguese Colonialism,” Radical America, 15.3 (May-June, 1981), 39-57

Review: The People’s Cause: a history of guerrillas in Africa By Basil Davidson (Harlow, Longmans, 1981), Race & Class, vol. 23, 4 (April 1982): pp. 333-337.

“Class antagonisms and black migrations: a review article,” Race & Class, vol. 24, 1 (July 1982), pp. 47-60

Review: Blackwater: historical studies in race, class consciousness and revolution, by Manning Marable (Dayton, Ohio, Black Praxis Press, 1981), Race & Class, vol. 24, 2(October 1982): pp. 193-195.

C. L. R. James and the Black Radical Tradition,” Review (Fernand Braudel Center), Vol. 6, No. 3 (Winter, 1983), pp. 321-391

Review: Indiana Jones, the Third World and American foreign policy: a review article, Race & Class, vol. 26, 2 (October 1984) pp. 83-92.

“The African diaspora and the Italo-Ethiopian crisis,” Race & Class, vol. 27, 2 (October 1985): pp. 51-65.

“The American press and the repairing of the Philippines,” Race & Class, vol. 28, 2 (October 1986) pp. 31-44.

Capitalism, Slavery and Bourgeois Historiography,” History Workshop, No. 23 (Spring, 1987), pp. 122-140

Review: Long Gone: the Mecklenburg Six and the theme of escape in black folklore, by Daryl Cumber Dance, (Tennessee, University of Tennessee Press, 1987), Race & Class, vol. 29, 2 (October 1987): pp. 96-98.

“DuBois and Black sovereignty: the case of Liberia,” Race & Class, vol. 32, 2 (October 1990): pp. 39-50.

Oliver Cromwell Cox and the Historiography of the West,” Cultural Critique, No. 17 (Winter, 1990-1991), pp. 5-19

“C. L. R. James and the World System.” The Clr James Journal. 3.1 (1992)

“The appropriation of Frantz Fanon,” Race & Class, vol. 35, 1 (July 1993): pp. 79-91.

“Race, Capitalism, and the Anti-Democracy” in Reading Rodney King/Reading Urban Uprising, ed. by Robert Gooding-Williams. New York: Routledge, 1993.

“US The real world of political correctness,” Race & Class, vol. 35, 3 (January 1994): pp. 73-79.

“Mass Media and the US Presidency” in Questioning the Media: A Critical Introduction, ed. by John Downing et al. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1995.

In Search of a Pan-African Commonwealth,” Social Identities, Volume 2, Issue 1, February 1996, pages 161-168

In the Year 1915: D.W. Griffith and the Whitening of America,” Social Identities, Volume 3, Issue 2, (June 1997), pages 161-192

Blaxploitation and the misrepresentation of liberation,” Race & Class, vol. 40, 1 (July 1998): pp. 1-12.

The Inventions of the Negro,” Social Identities, Volume 7, Issue 3, September 2001, pages 329-361

“The Mulatta on Fillm: From Hollywood to the Mexican Revolution (With Luz Maria Cabral), Race & Class, vol. 45, 2 (October 2003) pp. 1-20.

The Comedy of Terror,” Radical History Review, Issue 85, Winter 2003, pp. 164-170

“The Black middle class and the mulatto motion picture,” Race & Class, vol. 47, 1 (July 2005): pp. 14-34.

Review: Black Power in the Belly of the Beast by Judson Jeffries, The Journal of African American History, Vol. 92, No. 4, New Black Power Studies: National, International, and Transnational Perspectives (Autumn, 2007), pp. 561-566


Capitalism, Marxism, and the Black Radical Tradition: An Interview with Cedric Robinson, January 1999.

Image: Cover of Race & Class special issue: Cedric Robinson and the Philosophy of Black Resistance, October 2005.

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Guantanamology or, Five Essays on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

File:First Marine Battalion (United States) landed on eastern side of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on 10 June 1898.jpg

Adam Hudson, “Reporting from Guantanamo (June 10 — June 22),” Free your mind, July 1, 2013

Paul Kramer, “A Useful Corner of the World: Guantánamo,” The New Yorker, July 30, 2013

Molly Crabapple, “It Don’t Gitmo Better Than This,” Vice, July 31, 2013 [Also: “Guantánamo Bay is Kafka in the Caribbean“]

Julia Thomas, “Guantanamology: Excavating Stories from GTMO’s Haitian Refugee Camps,” Guantánamo Public Memory Project, July 16, 2013

John Grisham, “After Guantánamo, Another Injustice,New York Times, August 10, 2013

Image: First Marine Battalion (United States) landed on eastern side of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on 10 June 1898. Source: Wikipedia.

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Les chefs d’état d’Haïti, 1804-2011

Les chefs d’état d’Haïti, 1804-2011 (Éditions Combit/Edisyon Konbit, 2006). Source: Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ)

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Port-au-Prince, January 12, 2010

[Port-au-Prince, January 12, 2010, 16:53.]

Image: Cathédrale de Port-au-Prince à Haïti (1922). Source: Gallica.

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10 Books for 2015

Mayme A. Clayton, portrait, 1973

1. Amy Jacques Garvey, Garvey and Garveyism (Black Classic Press). Thanks and praise are due to Black Classic Press for reissuing Garvey and Garveyism, Amy Jacques Garvey’s remarkable biography of her husband, the Jamaican pan-Africanist Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Originally self-published in Kingston, Jamaica in 1963, Garvey and Garveyism is among the most lucid and inspired accounts of the rise and fall of the man and movement. But it is much more than a straightforward history of a “great man” of Black nationalism. Garvey and Garveyism is also the testimony of a woman who, in failing health and with diminishing resources, shouldered the everyday logistical burdens of the single greatest Black political organization in history while upholding its long-term legacy. As such Garvey and Garveyism is a heart-wrenching and bittersweet story of pan-African love and struggle.

2. Lester K. Spence, Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics (Punctum Books). Lester K. Spence’s Knocking the Hustle is the book many of us have long been waiting for. Spence analyzes contemporary racism through the lens of hardnosed political-economic critique while offering a radical interpretation of neoliberalism that accounts for the structuring forces of whitesupremacy. Brilliantly caustic and eminently readable, Knocking the Hustle unravels the culture of insecurity, precarity, and dismal entrepreneurialism that has marked out the terrain of Black political life in a world completely turned over to the market. Necessary reading.

3. Project Nia, Chiraq and its and  Meaning(s) (Half Letter Press) and Baltimore Teens, The 2015 Baltimore Uprising: A Teen Epistolary (Research and Destroy). Two monographs from independent publishers offer a welcome alternative to the banality and market-driven backwardness of mainstream, corporate media while speaking to the critical importance of Black community control over representation. Edited by educator and activist Miriame Kaba and the youth justice organization Project Nia, Chiraq and its Meaning(s) is a moving and sharply poignant compilation of statements documenting how young Chicagoans view and interpret their city and its largely negative representations. Meanwhile, The 2015 Baltimore Uprising: A Teen Epistolary – a compilation of tweets from Baltimore youth beginning the day of Freddie Gray’s death – is a smart, raw, and eloquent statement from a group too often derided, as “thugs.”

4. Mia E Bay, Farah J. Griffin, Martha S. Jones, and Barbara Savage, Eds., Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women (UNC). Comprised of fifteen essays by Black woman historians and literary scholars, Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women recovers the neglected, marginalized, and often-times dismissed intellectual production of Black women thinkers from across the African Diaspora. Included are essays on Black women writers and educators, religious leaders and social reformers — a group who, taken together, shatters the traditional parameters of intellectual history while forging a radical intellectual tradition. Pathbreaking.

5.Frantz Fanon, Écrits sur l’aliénation et la liberté, Jean Khalfa et Robert J.C. Young, eds. (Éditions La Découverte). While the past year has witnessed the publication of a stunning number of new studies on the life and thought of Frantz Fanon, arguably the most important is the volume Écrits sur l’aliénation et la liberté, edited by Jean Khalfa and Robert J.C. Young. Compiling Fanon’s psychiatric writings in a single volume, Écrits reinforces Fanon’s reputation as a critic of colonialism while demonstrating his literary agility across genres. Included in the volume are Fanon’s doctoral thesis, essays and commentary from the newspaper of the Blida-Joinville Hospital (where he served from 1952-1956), occasional pieces from the FLN newspaper El Moudjahid, and a number of plays. An extraordinary study of the connections between clinical praxis and revolutionary praxis, Écrits adds weight to the case for Fanon’s continuing importance.

6. Robert Vitalis, White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations (Cornell). Political scientist Robert Vitalis has turned from his studies of the Middle East to write a trenchant history of the birth of US international relations and the counterculture of Black thought that accompanied it. In White World Order, Black Power Politics, Vitalis demonstrates the role of racist thinking – from evolutionary theory to social Darwinism to racial anthropology — in the emergence of twentieth century US foreign policy doctrine. A the same time, he shows how a constellation of scholars at Howard University, including Alain Locke, Ralph Bunche, Rayford Logan, Eric Williams, and Merze Tate (the first Black woman professor of political science in the United States), contributed to not only the early history of Black Studies and African Studies – but attempted to establish an institutional and intellectual edifice for a radical Black Internationalism. Written with energy and verve, White World Order, Black Power Politics recovers a critical chapter in the counterhegemonic history of Black Atlantic thought.

7. Dagmawi Woubshet, The Calendar of Loss: Race, Sexuality, and Mourning in the Early Era of Aids (Johns Hopkins). Dagmawi Woubshet’s The Calendar of Loss is a stunning and much-needed tribute to those who died in the dark, early days of the AIDS epidemic. Woubshet reads the archives of the writers, poets, and performance artists of the eighties and nineties, giving pride of place to the brilliant, elegiac political and aesthetic interventions of figures including Melvin Dixon, Thomas Glave, and the neglected Haitian-American poet Assotto Saint. Sorrow songs, elegies and obituaries are Woubshet’s texts in this book of mortuary hermeneutics, but so too are the art of AIDS orphans from his native Ethiopia. Together, they combine for an astonishing meditation on mourning – and a fitting tribute to the dead.

8. Edward Paulino, Dividing Hispaniola: The Dominican Republic’s Border Campaign Againt Haiti, 1930-1961 (Pittsburgh). Edward Paulino’s Dividing Hispaniola is an inquiry into the modern history of antihaitianismo in the Dominican Republic that demonstrates the importance of Dominican class relations in shaping the national cultures of race during the regime of dictator Rafael Trujillo. Paulino shows how an urban elite, supported by US imperialism, mobilized an anti-Haitian sentiment for their own economic interests in conjunction with the demonization of what Trujillo cast as a creeping, belligerent, and degenerate Haitian state – a state that threatened Dominican whiteness. Dividing Hispaniola offers a serious, deeply researched account of the origins of modern-day Haitian-Dominican relations and the contemporary crisis of citizenship faced by Dominicans of Haitian descent – and of Black Dominicans – that upends the poorly formulated liberal stories of an inter-island squabble among estranged siblings.

9. Sarah Haley, No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity (UNC). The recent history of capitalism vogue amongst historians of the United States has belatedly discovered a link between capitalism and slavery. It has not, however, realized the place of Black women in the history of slavery and capitalist accumulation – or the writing by Black women on the history of capitalism. To that end, Sarah Haley’s No Mercy Here is a timely, astute, and provocative intervention. Drawing on the historiography of Black feminism, Haley examines the lives and labor of Black women in Jim Crow Georgia, focusing on the regimes of terror, violence, and incarceration that shaped their worlds and defined their incorporation into the market economy. In gut-wrenchingly vivid prose, Haley also unearths the histories of Black women’s resistance to racial capitalism and patriarchal subordination – sweeping aside, in the process, much of the work on the history of capitalism that has come before her. Crucial.

10.  Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith, Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, Eds. (SUNY). What can be said about Barbara Smith? Over more than forty years she has cemented her reputation as an activist, organizer, editor, scholar, and writer. She was a founding member of the National Black Feminist Organization, the Combahee River Collective, and Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. She edited the anthology Home Girls and contributing in no small measure to the theoretical development of Black Studies, Black Feminist Studies, and Black Queer Studies. In Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn me Around editors Alethia Jones and Virgnia Eubanks have compiled a collection of interviews, oral histories, editorials, essays, and statements that document every moment of Smith’s political and intellectual history. It’s an incredible archive of Smith’s work, one whose lessons and insights are as important to understanding the Black struggles of the past as they are to those of the present.

Mentions: Max U. Duvivier, Trois etudes sur l’occupation Americaine d’Haiti (1915-1934) (Memoir D’encrier). Paolo Friere, Pedagogy in Process: The Letters to Guinea-Bissau (Bloombsury). Aisha Finch, Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba: La Escalera and the Insurgencies of 1841-44 (UNC). Brian Meeks, Critical Interventions in Caribbean Theory and Politics (Mississippi). Natasha Lightfoot, Troubling Freedom: Antigua and the Aftermath of British Emancipation (Duke). Robert A. Hill, Ed. The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, Volume XIII: The Caribbean Diaspora, 1921-1922 (Duke). Jean-Pierre Le Glaunec: L’armée indigene: La défaite de Napoléon en Haïti (Lux éditeur) Nelson A. Denis, War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s colony (Nation Books). Dawn Lundy Martin, Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (Nightboat). The Mandeeq.

The Public Archive’s prior readings lists: Radical Black Reading: 2011. 2012. 2013. 2014. Reading Haiti: 2011. 2012. 2013. Radical Black Cities: 2012. 2015.

Image: Mayme A. Clayton, Portrait, 1973, Los Angeles Times Photographic Archives, Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Library, UCLA.

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