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Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression
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Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (Fred W. Morrison Series in Southern Studies)

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  346 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Between 1929 and 1941, the Communist Party organized and led a radical, militantly antiracist movement in Alabama -- the center of Party activity in the Depression South. "Hammer and Hoe" documents the efforts of the Alabama Communist Party and its allies to secure racial, economic, and political reforms. Sensitive to the complexities of gender, race, culture and class wit ...more
Paperback,, 392 pages
Published November 1st 1990 by University of North Carolina Press (first published January 1st 1990)
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Dec 08, 2015 Micah rated it it was amazing
So good on so many levels. Incredibly informative on the central role the Communist Party played in racial and economic justice fights in the South, nuanced portrait of the party's various strategic shifts, incredibly interesting and useful description of how the party was Marxist at its core and drew off of what was going on in the Soviet Union and the directives that came from Moscow and New York's central committee while also being reshaped by local, indigenous forms of African-American resis ...more
The inability to permanently organize the working class in the US South marks the historical failure of labor activists to improve the overall conditions of the working class. But the elephant in the room is actually the failure to maintain a labor movement dedicated to smashing racism within the white working class (see The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class) and in solidarity with the entire needs of laboring people. Hammer and Hoe presents an important (and ...more
Jul 08, 2013 Tom rated it really liked it
Well written history of the Communist Party in Alabama in the '30s. The work of the Communists in the early '30s in Alabama was impressive. The party was forced to be largely an underground organization, despite their attempts to be able to organize openly. They were subject to constant violent suppression by police & vigilantes. During the early '30s their message of social & political equality between blacks & whites meant that their support was mainly among blacks, especially farm ...more
Jul 25, 2016 Harvey rated it it was amazing
For people who don't know about the great history of communists in the south, this book is a must read. We read about the movement but all to often the communist role is barely mentioned or left out of history entirely
Apr 28, 2010 Martine rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This book helped me understand how a southern poor white can continue to vote in contradiction to their needs.
David Bates
Mar 02, 2013 David Bates rated it really liked it
Robin Kelley’s 1990 work Hammer and Hoe tells the story of the Communist Party in Alabama during the Great Depression. The fruit of a dissertation comparing the Communist Party’s opposition to apartheid regimes in Alabama and South Africa, Kelley’s work attempts to provide an account of party organizing from the ground up, constructing “a narrative that examines Communist political opposition through the lenses of social and cultural history, paying particular attention to the worlds from which ...more
Aug 04, 2015 Billy rated it liked it
very interesting. Kelley told some tragic and amazing stories of the black communities in Alabama. I mean killing black americans for the sake of killing black americans: raping and killing women; lynching children and the elderly; killing men in the back seat of police cruisers as though their lives were as expendable as toilet paper.
for me, the most dramatic and moving element of Kelley's book was paralleling it to today. Black lives are still consistently ruined/ended by the police force; wh
Diana Eidson
Jun 04, 2016 Diana Eidson rated it it was amazing
This book is phenomenal. A must-read for any scholar, activist, or student of labor history. Growing up in the South, I was not aware that there was such a rich, radical history in Alabama. This story is not told in schools. The hegemony does not want students to rise up and revolt. Labor unions in Alabama during the Great Depression represents one of the many stories left out of school curricula.

I admire all of the figures recounted in the book, and I have used this book in two classes--one un
Jul 11, 2009 Valerie rated it it was amazing
if you think you know what socialism and/or communism is, you most likely don't. at least i didn't until i read this book for a graduate course on social movements. american communism helped thousands in the early 20th century and yes, it was ruined by stalinism. this treatise, an expanded version of kelley's doctoral dissertation, shows how CPA helped oppressed workers, particularly african americans and women. bottom line-- really shows how the u.s. has made communism a bigger bogeyman than it ...more
Tony Flemmer
Feb 04, 2014 Tony Flemmer rated it really liked it
An important, forgotten history of the role that American communists played in building an inter-racial movement against exploitation, poverty, and racist violence. This book also demonstrates the disastrous effects that Stalinist control of the communist international had on American politics, specifically the Comintern's policy of building a "popular front" and united the working class to the politics of ruling class liberals.
Apr 03, 2016 Erictheteamster rated it it was amazing
Being from Alabama, this book blew me away.
Jun 30, 2007 Abby rated it really liked it
I was really surprised at the depth of this book. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the book took me through a pretty detailed history of race and uprisings in the south, particularly in Alabama, from a communist perspective. Black workers unionizing and organizing against their white bosses, and the ways the white bosses devised in order to keep the black folks down, and the mounting tensions between the two, just two decades before the beginnings of the civil rights movement as we know it ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Michele rated it really liked it
One of a handful of books from grad school I intend to revisit out of pure interest rather than academic content. Eye opening about the involvement of the Communist party in the deep south during the Great Depression and the impact that had on race relations. Again - eye opening. Coming from a "historian," that's a good recommendation.

Suggested for those who are interested in historical non-fiction.
Aug 15, 2010 Zach rated it it was amazing
Well, everyone knows the CPUSA was composed of white urban laborers. What this book presupposes is... maybe it wasn't.
Jun 14, 2009 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Sharecroppers and communists, what a great combination.
Oct 11, 2007 Lacey rated it it was amazing
brilliant, just brilliant. go get this and read it twice!
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Robin D.G. Kelley (b. 1962) is a professor of history and American studies and ethnicity at the University of Southern California. From 2003-2006, he was the William B. Ransford Professor of Cultural and Historical Studies at Columbia University. From 1994-2003, he was a professor of history and Africana Studies at New York University as well the chairman of NYU's history department from 2002-2003 ...more
More about Robin D.G. Kelley...

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Fred W. Morrison Series in Southern Studies (1 - 10 of 60 books)
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