AFRICANGLOBE – Hubert H. Harrison (1883-1927) is one of the truly important figures of 20th-century history. A brilliant writer, orator, educator, critic and political activist, he was described by the historian Joel A. Rogers, in World’s Great Men of Color as “the foremost Afro-American intellect of his time.” This extraordinary praise came amid chapters on Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, William Monroe Trotter and Marcus Garvey.
Rogers adds that, “No one worked more seriously and indefatigably to enlighten” others and “none of the Afro-American leaders of his time had a saner and more effective program.” Labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph described Harrison as “the father of Harlem Radicalism.” Harrison’s friend and pallbearer, Arthur Schomburg, fully aware of his popularity, eulogized to the thousands attending Harrison’s Harlem funeral that he was also “ahead of his time.”
Born in St. Croix, Danish West Indies, on April 27, 1883, to a Bajan mother and a Crucian father, Harrison arrived in New York as a 17-year-old orphan in 1900. He made his mark in the United States by struggling against class and racial oppression, by helping to create a remarkably rich and vibrant intellectual life among African Americans and by working for the enlightened development of those he affectionately referred to as “the common people.”