• Sojourning for Freedom was recently awarded the 2011 Letitia Woods Brown Book Award from the Association of Black Women Historians.

  • Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism

    Author(s):
    Pages: 328
    Illustrations: 25 photographs
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
  • Cloth: $99.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5033-0
  • Paperback: $26.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-5050-7
  • Quantity
  • Add To Bag
  • Acknowledgments ix

    Abbreviations xiii

    Introduction 1

    1. Black Communist Women Pioneers, 1919–1930 25

    2. Searching for the Soviet Promise, Fighting for Scottsboro and Harlem's Survival, 1930–1935 58

    3. Toward a Brighter Dawn: Black Women Forge the Popular Front, 1935–1940 91

    4. Racing against Jim Crow, Fascism, Colonialism, and the Communist Party, 1940–1946 126

    5. "We Are Sojourners for Our Rights": The Cold War, 1946–1956 160

    6. Ruptures and Continuities, 1956 Onward 193

    Notes 221

    Bibliography 261

    Index 297
  • Co-Winner, 2011 Letitia Woods Brown Book Award, presented by the Association of Black Women Historians

    Winner, 2012 Wesley-Logan Award, presented by the American Historical Association and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History

  • “Erik S. McDuffie argues persuasively that while other scholars have rightly traced the roots of contemporary black feminism to women's clubs and church activism, a coterie of black communist women are also key to this history. . . . Sojourning for Freedom is a valuable and impressive work that contributes to multiple literatures and sheds light on one of the less understood arenas of American history.”

    “In his meticulously researched and engaging book, Sojourning for Freedom, Erik S. McDuffie makes a vitally important contribution to our understanding of twentieth-century American feminism.”

    “It is surprising how little we know about the history of African American women and communism, on the one hand, and, on the other, their contribution to Black feminism. Erik S. McDuffie provides a pioneering excavation of some important burial grounds, where obscure histories have rested undisturbed for decades. The result is an engrossing book, and one that makes a wide interdisciplinary contribution to the study of women, African Americans, and the revolutionary left.”

    Sojourning for Freedom is a fine scholarly work... McDuffie’s eloquent, but succinct, prose allows for easy reading… the book should spur penetrating discussions in undergraduate and graduate courses devoted to history, politics, women/gender studies, and sociology. Indeed, Sojourning for Freedom affords endless opportunities for students and professors alike to articulate interesting view-points about the black feminist ideology and American communism from the early through the middle twentieth century.”

    Sojourning for Freedom is a groundbreaking monograph, especially for a historian’s first book. Based on impressive archival research as well as forty oral histories conducted by the author, this book will change the way historians conceptualize black women’s activism in the Old Left and the New Left.”

    Sojourning for Freedom is an excellent primer on the communist party and the Cold War in the United States as it relates to the eye-opening participation and motivations of black left feminists. It should be required reading in undergraduate and graduate courses covering this content area, as well as appealing to a general reading audience.”

    “[I]lluminate[s] the ways that gender, race, and class intersected to shape the American Left.”

    “By the end of Sojourning for Freedom, black left feminism appears not as a reaction to Moynihan and masculinism in the 1960s, but as an intergenerational radical tradition that forged critiques of gendered racial capitalism in the previous century, before providing an influential framework for thinking about the interlocking of oppressions for our own era. But enough of this review. Go and read this very valuable book for yourself!”

    “Radical black women had to challenge both the CP's sexism and its racism, and McDuffie provides a judicious and finely tuned analysis of black women's complicated relationship with the Party. . . . One of the great breakthroughs of McDuffie's book is his careful examination of personal testimonies, which like any narratives, demand analysis.”

    "The most thorough study to date of black women of the Old Left, McDuffie compellingly challenges familiar historical narratives that overlook the Communist Party in tracing the origins of black feminism to the civil rights, Black Power, and second-wave feminist movements."

    Awards

  • Co-Winner, 2011 Letitia Woods Brown Book Award, presented by the Association of Black Women Historians

    Winner, 2012 Wesley-Logan Award, presented by the American Historical Association and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History

  • Reviews

  • “Erik S. McDuffie argues persuasively that while other scholars have rightly traced the roots of contemporary black feminism to women's clubs and church activism, a coterie of black communist women are also key to this history. . . . Sojourning for Freedom is a valuable and impressive work that contributes to multiple literatures and sheds light on one of the less understood arenas of American history.”

    “In his meticulously researched and engaging book, Sojourning for Freedom, Erik S. McDuffie makes a vitally important contribution to our understanding of twentieth-century American feminism.”

    “It is surprising how little we know about the history of African American women and communism, on the one hand, and, on the other, their contribution to Black feminism. Erik S. McDuffie provides a pioneering excavation of some important burial grounds, where obscure histories have rested undisturbed for decades. The result is an engrossing book, and one that makes a wide interdisciplinary contribution to the study of women, African Americans, and the revolutionary left.”

    Sojourning for Freedom is a fine scholarly work... McDuffie’s eloquent, but succinct, prose allows for easy reading… the book should spur penetrating discussions in undergraduate and graduate courses devoted to history, politics, women/gender studies, and sociology. Indeed, Sojourning for Freedom affords endless opportunities for students and professors alike to articulate interesting view-points about the black feminist ideology and American communism from the early through the middle twentieth century.”

    Sojourning for Freedom is a groundbreaking monograph, especially for a historian’s first book. Based on impressive archival research as well as forty oral histories conducted by the author, this book will change the way historians conceptualize black women’s activism in the Old Left and the New Left.”

    Sojourning for Freedom is an excellent primer on the communist party and the Cold War in the United States as it relates to the eye-opening participation and motivations of black left feminists. It should be required reading in undergraduate and graduate courses covering this content area, as well as appealing to a general reading audience.”

    “[I]lluminate[s] the ways that gender, race, and class intersected to shape the American Left.”

    “By the end of Sojourning for Freedom, black left feminism appears not as a reaction to Moynihan and masculinism in the 1960s, but as an intergenerational radical tradition that forged critiques of gendered racial capitalism in the previous century, before providing an influential framework for thinking about the interlocking of oppressions for our own era. But enough of this review. Go and read this very valuable book for yourself!”

    “Radical black women had to challenge both the CP's sexism and its racism, and McDuffie provides a judicious and finely tuned analysis of black women's complicated relationship with the Party. . . . One of the great breakthroughs of McDuffie's book is his careful examination of personal testimonies, which like any narratives, demand analysis.”

    "The most thorough study to date of black women of the Old Left, McDuffie compellingly challenges familiar historical narratives that overlook the Communist Party in tracing the origins of black feminism to the civil rights, Black Power, and second-wave feminist movements."

  • Sojourning for Freedom inserts Communism into the historiography of black women’s activism. Providing a bridge between the black women’s club movement and Pan-Africanism, and later civil rights and black feminist activism, Erik S. McDuffie speaks to the historical continuity of protest strategies and concerns, such as internationalism. Drawing on his thorough research and original interviews, he makes a significant contribution toward a more complex history of black struggle.” — Kimberly Springer, author of, Living for the Revolution: Black Feminist Organizations, 1968–1980

    “Erik S. McDuffie does more than introduce us to a fascinating group of black left feminists in the U.S. Communist Party. He also provides a genealogy of intersectional thinking on the workings of race, class, and gender by uncovering the predecessors of black women’s movements of the 1960s and 1970s.” — Eileen Boris, co-editor of, The Practice of U.S. Women’s History: Narratives, Intersections, and Dialogues

    “The portraits in Sojourning for Freedom do no less than reconceptualize the roots of Black radicalism in the period 1917-1956. Erik S. McDuffie’s book will be required reading in undergraduate and graduate courses in Black Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and History, as well as courses on the African Diaspora, social movements, and area studies.” — Ruth Wilson Gilmore, author of, Golden Gulag

    “With penetrating insight, meticulous research, and beautiful writing, Erik S. McDuffie has produced an exceedingly important book that simultaneously makes wholly original contributions to women’s studies, black studies, and the history of the U.S. Left.” — Gerald Horne, author of, Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois

  • Permission to Photocopy (coursepacks)

    If you are requesting permission to photocopy material for classroom use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center at copyright.com;

    If the Copyright Clearance Center cannot grant permission, you may request permission from our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Permission to Reprint

    If you are requesting permission to reprint DUP material (journal or book selection) in another book or in any other format, contact our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Images/Art

    Many images/art used in material copyrighted by Duke University Press are controlled, not by the Press, but by the owner of the image. Please check the credit line adjacent to the illustration, as well as the front and back matter of the book for a list of credits. You must obtain permission directly from the owner of the image. Occasionally, Duke University Press controls the rights to maps or other drawings. Please direct permission requests for these images to permissions@dukeupress.edu.
    For book covers to accompany reviews, please contact the publicity department.

    Subsidiary Rights/Foreign Translations

    If you're interested in a Duke University Press book for subsidiary rights/translations, please contact permissions@dukeupress.edu. Include the book title/author, rights sought, and estimated print run.

    Disability Requests

    Instructions for requesting an electronic text on behalf of a student with disabilities are available here.

    Rights & Permissions Contact Information

    Email: permissions@dukeupress.edu
    Email contact for coursepacks: asstpermissions@dukeupress.edu
    Fax: 919-688-4574
    Mail:
    Duke University Press
    Rights and Permissions
    905 W. Main Street
    Suite 18B
    Durham, NC 27701

    For all requests please include:
    1. Author's name. If book has an editor that is different from the article author, include editor's name also.
    2. Title of the journal article or book chapter and title of journal or title of book
    3. Page numbers (if excerpting, provide specifics)
    For coursepacks, please also note: The number of copies requested, the school and professor requesting
    For reprints and subsidiary rights, please also note: Your volume title, publication date, publisher, print run, page count, rights sought
  • Description

    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.

    About The Author(s)

    Erik S. McDuffie is Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Explore More

Sign up for Subject Matters email updates to receive discounts, new book announcements, and more.

Share

Create a reading list or add to an existing list. Sign-in or register now to continue.


Contact Us

  • Duke University Press
  • 905 W. Main St. Ste 18-B
  • Durham, NC 27701
  • U.S. phone (toll-free): 888-651-0122
  • International: 1-919-688-5134
  • orders@dukeupress.edu