Books for changing the world
The Black Antifascist Tradition
Fighting Back From Anti-Lynching to Abolition

The story of the fight against fascism across the African diaspora, revealing that Black antifascism has always been vital to global freedom struggles.

At once a history for understanding fascism and a handbook for organizing against, The Black Antifascist Tradition is an essential book for understanding our present moment and the challenges ahead.

From London to the Caribbean, from Ethiopia to Harlem, from Black Lives Matter to abolition, Black radicals and writers have long understood fascism as a threat to the survival of Black people around the world—and to everyone.

In The Black Antifascist Tradition, scholar-activists Jeanelle K. Hope and Bill Mullen show how generations of Black activists and intellectuals—from Ida B. Wells in the fight against lynching, to Angela Y. Davis in the fight against the prison-industrial complex—have stood within a tradition of Black Antifascism. 

As Davis once observed, pointing to the importance of anti-Black racism in the development of facism as an ideology, Black people have been “the first and most deeply injured victims of fascism.” Indeed, the experience of living under and resisting racial capitalism has often made Black radicals aware of the potential for fascism to take hold long before others understood this danger.

The book explores the powerful ideas and activism of Paul Robeson, Mary McLeod Bethune, Claudia Jones, W. E. B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, Aime Cesaire, and Walter Rodney, as well as that of the Civil Rights Congress, the Black Liberation Army, and the We Charge Genocide movement, among others.

In shining a light on fascism and anti-Blackness, Hope and Mullen argue, the writers and organizers featured in this book have also developed urgent tools and strategies for overcoming it.

  • "The Black Antifascist Tradition gives us the materials we need to face an uncertain future. The book gives us the possibility of hope based on histories and trajectories it maps and recovers. This remarkable book documents how those who began the struggle against anti-Black racism were always already 'pre-mature antifascists.'"
    —David Palumbo-Liu, author of Speaking Out of Place

    "The Roman slave empire ruled by punishment and death, flogging, and beheading. The bundle of rods with a protruding axe blade—the fasces—were both means of execution and emblem of sovereign power. Ever since, incarceration and systematic premature death have remained the foundation of fascism. The Black Antifascist Tradition is an absolutely needed chronicle showing how Black people lead antifascism. It begins with Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s Red Record against lynching in the early twentieth century and concludes with the new abolitionism against the carceral and death-dealing state in the twenty-first century. In between are the essential campaigns by the thinkers an actors of Pan-Africanism (1930s), Double Victory (1940s), We Charge Genocide (1950s), Black Power (1960s), and the anarchist antagonistic autonomy of our times, which have fought for life and for our commons." —Peter Linebaugh, author, The Magna Carta Manifesto

    "The Black Antifascist Tradition offers an indispensable framing that places Black experience at the center to show how anti-Blackness is inseparable from the development of US fascism, past and present. Through a crisp synthesis of essential writings by Ida B. Wells, W. E. B. Du Bois, Aimé Césaire, William Patterson, Huey P. Newton, Angela Y. Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Mariame Kaba, Jeanelle K. Hope and Bill V. Mullen make a compelling argument for reconceptualizing a race-based history of Black life through the lens of racialized fascism. An important read for anyone interested in understanding how we arrived at today’s US style of authoritarianism and state repression." —Diane Fujino, author, Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama

    "From the sophisticated understanding of law as an agent of fascism articulated in the anti-lynching activism of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, to the abolitionist theorization of fascism as both a theory of anti-Blackness and a structure of oppression by scholar-activists such as Ruth Wilson Gilmore and Angela Davis; and with explorations of anti-colonialism, antiwar movements, and Black Power along the way, The Black Antifascist Tradition offers a careful history of Black thought and art by way of a celebration of the exquisite threads of antifascism woven inextricably into the Black Radical Tradition. Hope and Mullen detail the ways the Black Radical Tradition has not simply always been antifascist but that it has been powerfully, effectively, originally responsible for formulating antifascist analysis and strategy." —Micol Seigel, author, Violence Work: State Power and the Limits of Police

    "The Black Antifascist Tradition is a handbook a century in the making. It is a historical synthesis of how the forerunners of anti-colonial struggle, Pan-Africanism, and Black revolutionary theory and practice identified and confronted fascist emergence and organization from a local to an international scale and across the formative epochs. Richly detailed and thoroughly researched, this highly accessible and readable text is also wide-angled and multi-layered in scope--adeptly interconnecting people, places, events, and actions with their resultant insights, observations, and practical formulations. This book is the complete exposition of Black antifascist thought, and a necessary guide for the antifascist struggles of today."  —Justin Akers Chacón, author, Radicals in the Barrio

    "Jeanelle K. Hope and Bill V. Mullen have written the definitive history for one of the most important, and least discussed, pieces of the antifascist movement. Weaving together historical analysis, trenchant critique, and future visioning, this is one of the most important books on antifascism ever written." —Shane Burley, author, Why We Fight: Essays on Fascism, Resistance, and Surviving the Apocalypse

Other books by Jeanelle K. Hope and Bill V. Mullen