Against the Odds: Scholars Who Challenged Racism in the Twentieth Century

By Benjamin P. Bowser; Louis Kushnick et al. | Go to book overview

10
Vindication in Speaking Truth
to Power
Herbert Aptheker

I was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1915 and was the youngest of five children. At the time of my birth, my family was quite wealthy. I had health problems, so very early in my infancy my mother hired a woman to take care of me and to work in the house. She was a black woman from Trinidad named Angelina Corbin. She lived with us, and her bedroom was adjacent to mine. She took care of me—bathed me, dressed me, and fed me—until I started school. She was employed with us for many years. When my father lost most of his money and we could no longer afford to employ her, she remained a friend of the family. We all loved her. My mother, in particular, loved her as a friend. She was of great significance in my life. Where we lived, there were no black people, only some Italians who did truck farming.

My experience growing up with Angelina, with her permission we called her “Annie,” made a lasting impression on me. I took a business trip with my father to Alexander City, Alabama, in about 1930 when I was around fourteen years old. We went by car, and in those days there were no thruways; so if you made two hundred miles a day, you did well. When we got to Washington, D.C., I saw Jim Crow racial segregation for the first time and was astonished. As we continued deeper into the South, the racism became more blatant. This was during the depression, which was terrible for white people but devastating to black people. There was one incident that has remained fastened in my mind. In Georgia, we stopped and I got out of the car. A short distance away, there was a doorless shack. Standing there was a big black woman, who reminded me of Annie. There was a boy in the field about my age. We saw one another. He was in tatters and very thin. I moved toward him. He stayed still and she watched. I had a bag in which there were cookies that mother had baked and given to us.

-193-

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Against the Odds: Scholars Who Challenged Racism in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Against the Odds *
  • Introduction - Moving the Race Mountain 1
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 1 - A World Libertarian 20
  • 2 - Portrait of a Liberation Scholar 27
  • 3 - A Lifetime of Inquiry 41
  • 4 - The Career of John Hope Franklin 63
  • 5 - The Work and Reflections of St. Clair Drake 86
  • 6 - Blending Scholarship with Public Service 111
  • Notes 122
  • References and Further Reading *
  • 7 - Some Personal Reflections of Hylan Lewis 123
  • 8 - An Architect of Social Change 147
  • Notes 156
  • References *
  • 9 - The Person, Scholar, and Activist 158
  • Notes *
  • References *
  • 10 - Vindication in Speaking Truth to Power 193
  • Notes *
  • 11 - A. Sivanandan as Activist, Teacher, and Rebel 227
  • References 242
  • Conclusion - Of Jim Crow Old and New 243
  • Notes *
  • References *
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