BLACK FIRE by Nelson Peery

BLACK FIRE

The Making of an American Revolutionary
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A well-written and engaging autobiography from a hitherto little-known figure in American radicalism. Peery begins his reminiscences in rural Wabasha, Minnesota, where his was the only black family, and continues with an exploration of how his mixed African-American and Native American genealogy affected his being. After his father, a blue-collar railway employee, moves the family to Minneapolis, the author encounters genuine racism for the first time when he begins to date a white girl (a German-American whose father believes in the righteousness of Hitler's cause). Gradually, the Depression, the Spanish Civil War, the trial of the Scottsboro Boys, and exposure to the Communist Party radicalize Peery. He participates in activities to bring about desegregation and social and economic justice. Serving in WW II, in the all-black 93rd Infantry, he is stationed in the South and sees the injustices of Jim Crow up close (including in the US Army). Returning from the Pacific theater, he becomes determined to eradicate all forms of inequality. In the end, like Frantz Fanon, he envisions a worldwide, socialist revolution of all people of color. Peery writes with intelligence, grace, and humor. His autobiography provides not only a portrait of a fascinating life but a history of 20th-century black radicalism.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-56584-158-1
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: The New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1994