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The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook


James Boggs, born in Marion Junction, Alabama, never dreamed of becoming President or a locomotive engineer. He grew up in a world where the white folks are gentlemen by day and Ku Klux Klanners by night. Marion Junction is in Dallas County where as late as 1963, although African-Americans made up over 57 percent of the total county population of 57,000, only 130 were registered voters. After graduating from Dunbar High School in Bessemer, Alabama, in 1937, Boggs took the first freight train north, bumming his way through the western part of the country, working in the hop fields of the state of Washington, cutting ice in Minnesota, and finally ending up in Detroit where he worked for the WPA until the Second World War gave him a chance to enter the Chrysler auto plant. In 1963, drawing on his own experience as a factory worker and radical militant, he wrote these pages.

Boggs offers both a keen analysis of U.S. society and a passionate call for revolutionary struggle. He sees the growing trend toward automation, the decline of organized labor, the expansion of imperialism, and the deepening of racial strife as fundamentally rooted in the contradictions of U.S. capitalism. And he concludes that the only way forward is a new American revolution—one that, from his perspective writing in the 1960s, appeared to have already begun.

This new and expanded edition, now more relevant than ever, includes an introduction by Grace Lee Boggs as well as additional historical and personal commentary.

…brilliant and startling insights into the American past and the probable American future. Boggs…is a radical’s radical.

The Nation

We think Mr. Boggs has things to say that all Americans, and especially Americans of the Left, ought to listen to.

—Leo Huberman & Paul Sweezy, founders of Monthly Review

James Boggs (1919–1993) was an African American auto worker and radical activist raised in rural Alabama. His books include Racism and the Class Struggle and Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century (with Grace Lee Boggs), both published by Monthly Review Press. Grace Lee Boggs (1915–2015) is a philosopher and activist based in Detroit. The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she has chronicled her life in struggle in the autobiographical Living For Change. The James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership was founded in 1995 in Detroit to carry on their work and honor their legacy.

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Publication Date: November 2009 [originally January 1963]

Number of Pages: 148

Paperback ISBN: 9780853450153