Sojourning for Freedom: pioneering black women activists

Date: 
Thursday, February 14, 2013 - 7:30pm
Location: 
The Brecht Forum, 451 West Street (between Bank & Bethune Sts): A, C, E to 14 St. (south exits to 14th & 8th Av.; L to 8th Av. (at 14th); #1, 2, 3 to 14 St.(south exits to 12th St. & 7th Av.); PATH to Christopher St. (nr. Hudson St.); F, M to 14 St (at 6th Av.); B, D to W. 4 St. (north exits to Waverly & 6th Av.); maps below)
Contact: 

February 14th, 2013 7:30 PM
Sojourning for Freedom:
pioneering black women activists

Sojourning for Freedom portrays pioneering black women activists from the early twentieth century through the 1970s, focusing on their participation in the U.S. Communist Party (CPUSA) between 1919 and 1956. Erik S. McDuffie considers how women from diverse locales and backgrounds became radicalized, joined the CPUSA, and advocated a pathbreaking politics committed to black liberation, women’s rights, decolonization, economic justice, peace, and international solidarity. McDuffie explores the lives of black left feminists, including the bohemian world traveler Louise Thompson Patterson, who wrote about the “triple exploitation” of race, gender, and class; Esther Cooper Jackson, an Alabama-based civil rights activist who chronicled the experiences of black female domestic workers; and Claudia Jones, the Trinidad-born activist who emerged as one of the Communist Party’s leading theorists of black women’s exploitation. Drawing on more than forty oral histories collected from veteran black women radicals and their family members, McDuffie examines how these women negotiated race, gender, class, sexuality, and politics within the CPUSA. In Sojourning for Freedom, he depicts a community of radical black women activist intellectuals who helped to lay the foundation for a transnational modern black feminism.

Erik S. McDuffie is an Associate Professor in the Department of Black American Studies and the Department of History at the University of Delaware. His research and teaching interests include: African diaspora history, black feminism, black queer theory, black radicalism, black urban history, and black masculinity. He is the author of the book, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), and several scholarly articles in the Journal of African American History, African Identities, African and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, Radical History Review, and American Communist History, among others journals and edited volumes. He is working on a new book-length manuscript, tentatively titled “Garveyism in the American Heartland: The Practice of Diaspora in the Urban Midwest.”