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Featuring a new foreword by Robin D. G. Kelley, this updated edition of the classic exploration of the economic inequality that fuels systematic racism, from one of the leading Black public intellectuals of the 19th century, is as timely and radical today as it was when it was first published.
“The preeminent Black journalist of his age” (Henry Louis Gates, Jr., author of The Black Church) and an early agitator for civil rights, T. Thomas Fortune astutely and compellingly analyzes the relationship between capitalism and racism in the United States. He reveals that the country’s racial hierarchy has been part of our national fabric since the first European set foot here and is rooted in a much larger system of economic exploitation. He argues that in order for the United States to realize its founding ideals and end racial discrimination, this system must be dismantled, reparations made, and labor fairly remunerated.
Fortune’s passionate analysis and radical vision of the United States will force you to rethink what America could have been if his arguments had been heeded in the 1880s and what must be done for us to move forward as a unified nation.
About the Author
Timothy Thomas Fortune was one of the most influential Black thinkers of late 19th-century America. Born into slavery in 1856, Fortune came of age during Reconstruction and by the 1880s he had emerged as an uncompromising advocate of full racial and economic equality in the United States. He was the founder, editor, and owner of the influential newspaper The New York Age. Fortune helped found the National Afro-American League, one of the earliest equal rights organizations in the United States, which played a vital role in setting the stage for the Niagra Movement and the NAACP. His work has influenced generations of Civil Rights advocates. He lived in New York City and Red Bank, New Jersey, and died in 1928 at the age of seventy-one in Philadelphia. His house in Red Bank, New Jersey, is a designated National Historic Landmark and now houses the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation and Cultural Center.
Robin D. G. Kelley teaches History at UCLA and is the author of several books, including Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination and Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression.
Seth Moglen is a professor of Africana Studies, American Studies, and English at Lehigh University. He is the author of Mourning Modernity: Literary Modernism and the Injuries of American Capitalism.