The study of the impact of Black Power Movement (BPM) activists and organizations in the 1960s through ‘70s has largely been confined to their role as proponents of social change; but they were also theorists of the change they sought. In The Revolution Will Not Be Theorized Errol A. Henderson explains this theoretical contribution and places it within a broader social theory of black revolution in the United States dating back to nineteenth-century black intellectuals. These include black nationalists, feminists, and anti-imperialists; activists and artists of the Harlem Renaissance; and early Cold War-era black revolutionists. The book first elaborates W. E. B. Du Bois’s thesis of the “General Strike” during the Civil War, Alain Locke’s thesis relating black culture to political and economic change, Harold Cruse’s work on black cultural revolution, and Malcolm X’s advocacy of black cultural and political revolution in the United States. Henderson then critically examines BPM revolutionists’ theorizing regarding cultural and political revolution and the relationship between them in order to realize their revolutionary objectives. Focused more on importing theory from third world contexts that were dramatically different from the United States, BPM revolutionists largely ignored the theoretical template for black revolution most salient to their case, which undermined their ability to theorize a successful black revolution in the United States.
“This book is not only one of the most intellectually ambitious works but also the most comprehensive examination of revolutionary theory in the Black Power Era. A monumental accomplishment. Bravo!” — Komozi Woodard, author of A Nation within a Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics
Errol A. Henderson is Associate Professor of Political Science at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of several books, including African Realism? International Relations Theory and Africa’s Wars in the Postcolonial Era.