introduction: the isles and empire
in october 1921, an article appeared in the black American magazine The
Crusader stating the following: ‘‘A Race without a program is like a ship at sea
without a rudder. It is absolutely at the mercy of the elements. It is bu√eted
hither and thither and in a storm is bound to flounder. It is in such a plight as
this that the Negro race has drifted for the past fifty years and more.’’∞
This statement, sponsored by Caribbean radical Cyril V. Briggs, the editor
of the Crusader, on behalf of his militant revolutionary organization the Afri-
can Blood Brotherhood (abb), proceeded to lay out a program to ‘‘supply a
rudder for the Negro Ship of State.’’ As Robert Hill has further described,
this ‘‘Program of the abb’’ called upon fellow organizational leaders, such as
Marcus Garvey of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (unia), to
create ‘‘a federation of all existent Negro organizations, molding all Negro
factions into one mighty and irresistible factor.’’≤
This call for a world ‘‘Negro federation’’ emblematizes one of the central
concerns of this book—namely, how certain black leaders and intellectuals of
Caribbean descent chose to imagine African Americans as part of a global
political community during the early years of the twentieth century. The
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