Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia
Caribbean Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century America
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442 pages / May 1999 / 9781859841402
442 pages / May 1998 / 9781859849996

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464 pages / October 1, 2019 / 9781788736459


Marcus Garvey, Claude McKay, Claudia Jones, C.L.R. James, Stokely Carmichael, Louis Farakhan—the roster of immigrants from the Caribbean who have made a profound impact on the development of radical politics in the United States is extensive. In this magisterial and lavishly illustrated work, Winston James focuses on the twentieth century’s first waves of immigrants from the Caribbean and their contribution to political dissidence in America.

Examining the way in which the characteristics of the societies they left shaped their perceptions of the land to which they traveled, Winston James draws sharp differences between Hispanic, Anglophone, and other non-Hispanic arrivals. He explores the interconnections between the Cuban independence struggle, Puerto Rican nationalism, Afro-American feminism, and black communism in the first turbulent decades of the twentieth century. He also provides fascinating insights into the peculiarities of Puerto Rican radicalism’s impact in New York City and recounts the remarkable story of Afro-Cuban radicalism in Florida. Virgin Islander Hubert Harrison, whom A. Philip Randolph dubbed ‘the father of Harlem radicalism’, is rescued from the historical shadows by James’s analysis of his pioneering contribution to Afro-America’s radical tradition. In addition to a subtle re-examination of Garvey’s Universal Negro Movement Association—including the exertions and contributions of its female members—James provides the most detailed exploration so far undertaken of Cyril Briggs and his little-known but important African Blood Brotherhood.

This diligently researched, wide ranging and sophisticated book will be welcomed by all those interested in the Caribbean and its émigrés, the Afro-American current within America’s radical tradition, and the history, politics, and culture of the African diaspora.


“Superbly written, full of well-digested and considered detail, it is a historic chronicle.”

“A brilliant, nuanced and sensitive re-examination of the history of Caribbean radicals and radicalism in the United States. James’s book will survive for many years as the standard work on the subject and establishes the author as one of the premier scholars of the African Diaspora.”

“A major historical contribution to the ‘hidden history’ of the African diaspora … richly detailed, powerful and compelling.”

“Imaginatively written in addition to its solid scholarly base, this book breaks significant new ground in our understanding of modern black American radicalism.”

“In this thoroughly researched and tightly argued book Winston James has revealed and explained the prominent role of Afro-Caribbean immigrants in socialist, communist and nationalist struggles in the United States, whilst rescuing the topic from the stereotypes that have long surrounded it.”

“James elucidates, as no one has done before him, just how profound were the Caribbean contributions that enriched the soil of American radicalism … A truly prodigious and imaginative reconstruction [which] heralds a genuine renascence of radical scholarship in the best Caribbean tradition.”

“Powerfully argued and provocative, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia literally reframes our understanding of the African-American experience.”

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