Black Like Mao

Mao’s China, along with the Cuban Revolution and African Nationalism, internationalized the black revolution in profound ways. Mao gave black radicals a non-Western model of Marxism that placed greater emphasis on local conditions and historical circumstances than canonical texts.

A friend sent me this article by Robin D. G. Kelley and Betsy Esche, “Black Like Mao: Red China and Black Revolution” (PDF) from Souls Vol. 1 #4. It is about the influence that the Chinese Revolution and the thought of Mao Zedong had on radical African American activists, including figures like W. E. B. Du Bois, Harry Haywood, Robert Williams, the Black Panther Party, Elaine Brown, Huey P. Newton, General Baker, Nelson Perry, Amiri Baraka and others. 

Prof. Kelley was an African American member of the Communist Workers’ Party (see this interview), one of the Marxist-Leninist organazaions of the New Communist Movement of the 1970s. These days he is one of the most significant Leftist historians in the country. I read his book, Hammer and Hoe, about the Communist Party’s work with Alabama sharecroppers during the Great Depression and really liked it. So when my friend sent me this article I was excited.

It is very interesting, at least to me personally, particularly in its comparative analysis of the different positions some of the New Communist Movement organizations, such as the Communist Labor Party, the Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist), and the Revolutionary Union, took on the African American national question. I would strongly suggest people read it.

Click here for the PDF.

“Black Like Mao” is also in the book, Afro Asia by Fred Ho.

3 responses to “Black Like Mao

  1. I wish there was a text or html version of this article available instead of just this pdf of a photocopy of the pages from the journal. Has anyone found an online version of this besides the PDF linked here?

  2. I spent some time searching but was unable to find anything but the PDF. If anyone finds a text version or has a way to convert it I would love to see it!

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