From Scottsboro to Munich: Race and Political Culture in 1930s Britain

Synopsis

Presenting a portrait of engaged, activist lives in the 1930s, From Scottsboro to Munich follows a global network of individuals and organizations that posed challenges to the racism and colonialism of the era. Susan Pennybacker positions race at the center of the British, imperial, and transatlantic political culture of the 1930s--from Jim Crow, to imperial London, to the events leading to the Munich Crisis--offering a provocative new understanding of the conflicts, politics, and solidarities of the years leading to World War II.


Pennybacker examines the British Scottsboro defense campaign, inaugurated after nine young African Americans were unjustly charged with raping two white women in Alabama in 1931. She explores the visit to Britain of Ada Wright, the mother of two of the defendants. Pennybacker also considers British responses to the Meerut Conspiracy Trial in India, the role that antislavery and refugee politics played in attempts to appease Hitler at Munich, and the work of key figures like Trinidadian George Padmore in opposing Jim Crow and anti-Semitism. Pennybacker uses a wide variety of archival materials drawn from Russian Comintern, Dutch, French, British, and American collections. Literary and biographical sources are complemented by rich photographic images.



From Scottsboro to Munich sheds new light on the racial debates of the 1930s, the lives and achievements of committed activists and their supporters, and the political challenges that arose in the postwar years.