[OPE] Anticommunism and the African American Freedom Movement, an Interview

From: <dogangoecmen@aol.com>
Date: Mon Jun 08 2009 - 11:44:00 EDT

Editor's note: Interviewed here are Robbie Lieberman and Clarence
Lang who are co-editors of a new book titled Anticommunism and the
African American Freedom Movement (Palgrave Macmillan).
The co-editors are working with the publisher to get this book out in
paperback soon in order to make it more affordable. Look for an audio
version of this interview on an upcoming Political Affairs podcast.

PA: What inspired this project?

CLARENCE LANG: I met Robbie Lieberman – actually we talk about this a
little bit in the preface to the book – at a history conference in St.
Louis. I heard her on a panel that was discussing the NAACP and the
early Cold War, and she was actually saying a lot of the things that I
was thinking from the audience. So I raised my hand and tried to get
into the conversation. She was really articulating a number of points.
What I was hearing on that panel, if memory serves me correctly, was
quite a bit of apologizing and explaining away of some of the
activities of the NAACP in the late 1940s, early 1950s in regard to
African American activists who were accused of being Communist or being

I had read some of the work by Gerald Horne and other scholars, such as
Penny Von Eschen’s book (Race Against Empire: Black Americans and
Anticolonialism,1937-1957), so I really had a very different view of
the subject matter from what I mostly heard on that panel, aside from
Robbie’s interventions. Afterwards I went up to her20and we had a
conversation. In fact, I think she spied me in the audience looking
fitful and frustrated, and nodding when she was speaking, and so she
wasn’t surprised when I approached her. That was how our relationship
and dialogue around this subject matter began. She mentioned to me that
we should do some joint work around this topic. I was a graduate
student at the time, so I wasn’t really thinking that anything would
really come of that, because a lot of that kind of talk goes on at
conferences. But as I got to know Robbie, I learned that Robbie doesn’t
say things casually. If she says that she would like to do X, Y or Z,
you can bet that she is going to do her best to make it happen. So the
project just sort of gathered steam and momentum from there, and now we
have the final product, our new book.

This project began around 2000, so there has been almost 10 years of
work on it in terms of conceptualization, writing, editing, etc. By
that time I had finished grad school, moved around a little bit, and
began a tenure-track position here at the University of Illinois, but
the project has been ongoing for that whole time.

ROBBIE LIEBERMAN: The main reason had to do with a sort of shift in
historiography, and especially the argument that a lot of people were
making that civil rights were a product of the Cold War. Sometimes that
was just implied, but often it was stated explicitly, and the idea that
the Cold War was good for=2
0African American rights was profoundly
disturbing to me and to Clarence Lang as well. So that was the starting
point. We wanted to talk about the negative impact of the Cold War on
the Freedom Movement.

more: http://www.politicalaffairs.net/article/articleview/8560/

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Received on Mon Jun 8 11:46:02 2009

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