What is Black Radicalism?

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The Black radical tradition is urgent and fundamental to American democracy. Progressive liberals, conservatives, and Libertarians have been vying for ideological mind space for most of our nation’s history, yet their disagreements all benefit from the fundamental character of a racial democracy and capitalist economy, leaving questions of historical justice and racial oppression undisturbed.

The Black radical tradition has been our resource for re-imagining the contours of American life, but what is Black radicalism?

When most people think of Black radicalism, the Black Panthers most readily come to mind. It’s important to understand the positive reasons behind this association, as well as the reasons why we ought to have a wider lens of the tradition outside this and similar associations.

The Panthers were notable for their particular disposition toward American civic life. Rather than seeking conciliation with a nation steeped in a history of white…

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