• Hammer and Hoe

  • Alabama Communists During the Great Depression
  • By: Robin D. G. Kelley
  • Narrated by: David Sadzin
  • Length: 13 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (52 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking contribution to the history of the "long Civil Rights movement", Hammer and Hoe tells the story of how, during the 1930s and '40s, Communists took on Alabama's repressive, racist police state to fight for economic justice, civil and political rights, and racial equality.

The Alabama Communist Party was made up of working people without a Euro-American radical political tradition: devoutly religious and semiliterate Black laborers and sharecroppers, and a handful of Whites, including unemployed industrial workers, housewives, youth, and renegade liberals. In this book, Robin D. G. Kelley reveals how the experiences and identities of these people from Alabama's farms, factories, mines, kitchens, and city streets shaped the party's tactics and unique political culture. The result was a remarkably resilient movement forged in a racist world that had little tolerance for radicals.

After discussing the book's origins and impact in a new preface written for this 25th-anniversary edition, Kelley reflects on what a militantly antiracist, radical movement in the heart of Dixie might teach contemporary social movements confronting rampant inequality, police violence, mass incarceration, and neoliberalism.

©1990 The University of North Carolina Press (P)2020 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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inspiring

An inspiring story that is just as relevant today as when the events first happened and when the book was first released..

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I should like this book more

I am a PhD candidate in sociology with an interest in political theory, history, inequalities and social inequities. This book should be on my bookshelf, and yet, I found it dry, concise in places that needed more context, and verbose in places where it needn’t be.

One example goes something like this: “Jim Smith assumed leadership of Organization ABC in April 1921. By the following June, Smith had been replaced by Thomas Miller after an overwhelming majority vote had ousted him. Miller went on to lead Organization ABC for the next 8 years.”

Who is Jim Smith? Should the reader know him? What’s his story, and why do we care that he was in charge? Same questions for Thomas Miller.

More to the point, much of the book reads like a bulletpoint list in paragraph form. It’s a log of information, not a organized description of the political efforts and initiatives of communist groups in Alabama. Some of the names, organizations, dates, and details are minutiae that do not contribute to a broader pattern or more expansive narrative throughout the chapters.

I cannot think of a single instance in this text where the author contrasted the ideologies, strategies, or even group structures of contemporaneous groups. The closest the author came to this subject was one point in which he describes the rapid growth of communist group membership while a Black woman took charge temporarily, and despite her unparalleled success, the founding members installed a man to replace her. The author briefly hints at the entrenched misogyny and sexism even among progressive groups during this period. This is the only mention of sexism in the book.

You know, I just expected more from such a seminal historical text.