Gerald Horne endows International Publishers research prize on Indigenous dispossession and Black oppression

At International Publishers’ 100th anniversary symposium in New York in October, Dr. Gerald Horne announced a research prize for the best new manuscript submitted to International that reflects the links between Indigenous dispossession and slavery/Jim Crow.

The Jerry and Flora Horne Scholarship will award $1,000 to the winning applicant. Horne—known for such books as Revolting Capital, Black Liberation/Red Scare, The Counter-Revolution of 1836, and so many more—has provided the endowment for the prize. International Publishers, one of the leading Marxist presses in the U.S., will oversee the review process.

To discuss the scholarship and its significance, People’s World met with Dr. Horne and International’s Vice President Tony Pecinovsky to get all the details.

People’s World: The links between Indigenous dispossession and slavery / Jim Crow…given the wide range of scholarly interests that you’ve pursued in your own work, it comes as no surprise that you’re directing researchers toward examining such a topic. What are some of the threads of study that convinced you to incentivize writers to take a closer look at this particular area?

Gerald Horne: In researching my International Publishers book The Counter-Revolution of 1836, I became intensely aware of the connection between the liquidation of the Indigenous and “clearing” the land for expansion of cotton production fueled by the enslaved labor of Africans.

Similarly, in my previous book, Negro Comrades of the Crown, I discussed at length the early 19th-century alliance between Africans in Florida and the Indigenous there, especially those we refer to as the “Seminole.” This was one of the major conflicts that embroiled the U.S. military before the war in the Philippines at the end of the 19th century. This Florida alliance continued when the “Seminole” were compelled to move to “Indian Territory,” what is now Oklahoma.

Dr. Gerald Horne announced the research prize at the IP@NYU Symposium at New York University’s Tamiment Library in October. At right is International Publishers Vice President Tony Pecinovsky. | C.J. Atkins / People’s World

In western Louisiana and Southeast Texas, a similar alliance between the Indigenous, i.e., the Caddo, and Africans ensued, as they shared an interlocking directorate. Similarly, growing up in St. Louis I was weaned on stories of racist atrocities from my parents, both of whom were born in Mississippi and fled northward. I came to suspect that the violence of anti-Blackness in Dixie was connected intimately to the endemic violence that led to the liquidation of the Indigenous: to wit, on page 26 of my Texas book is a nauseating, dispiriting, and lengthy list of Indigenous ethnic groups, or “tribes” as they are called in the U.S., who were liquidated in Texas alone.

Likewise, in writing my next IP book—Armed Struggle? Panthers and Communists, Black Nationalists and Liberals in Southern California through the Sixties and Seventies—I became aware that those I was writing about were often of Black and Indigenous ancestry.

For example, Leo Branton, the attorney for the Communist Party during the Smith Act trial of 1951-52 was of African and Choctaw ancestry (a descendant of their leader, Greenwood Le Flore) and the Panther leader once known as Geronimo Pratt took that forename as a reflection of his African and Indigenous ancestry. Of course, Branton was also the attorney for the Panthers and for Angela Davis during her 1970-72 travails as well.

The white supremacists defined those of such “mixed” ancestry as Black in order to forestall any claim they might have to the land, the rightful inheritance of the Indigenous. And, as well, it was a reflection of their targeted bigotry in that there was a perceived “contamination” of Blackness that overrode all other ancestries.

There seems to be a clear intersection of several themes happening here—varieties of colonial practice, the overlapping or contrasting systems of white supremacist rule, the comparative politics of exploitation, and maybe encompassing it all, the political economy of early U.S. capitalism. Is tying together the oppression of Native Americans and Black Americans intended to jumpstart a new genre of academic study?

To a degree, yes. But in a fashion, there has developed a literature on Black-Indigenous relations, the latest contribution by Kyle T. Mays of UCLA.

A $1,000 manuscript prize is a solid example of investing real research money behind a topic that has received far too little attention. It’s a signal of confidence. What’s the thinking behind the name given to this prize: the Jerry and Flora Horne Scholarship?

As noted above, growing up in St. Louis I detected early on that the life chances of my parents were limited by being born and raised in Jim Crow Mississippi. And the “Magnolia State” long has endured a well-merited reputation of being the “heart of darkness” when it comes to racist terror. Recall the slaying of Chicago youth Emmett Till there in 1955; the slaying of NAACP leader Medgar Evers; and the murder of human rights workers there shortly thereafter. Again, I suspect that the rampant violence in that state is tied to the violence deployed to rout the Choctaw, the Chickasaw, the Tunica, the Natchez, the Houma, the Grigra, etc.

This prize is more than just incentivizing scholarship, although it is certainly that, it is an attempt to have an impact on our ongoing struggles by gaining a fuller understanding of the history that brought us to this perilous point.

Placing my parents’ name on this prize is obviously an homage to them and their struggles: my father, who was a Teamster, and my mother who in addition to being a laborer was a keen student of politics, a trait she bequeathed to her brood.

Who are the applicants that you hope to reach with this scholarship solicitation?

We hope to reach all manner of scholars from the four corners of the planet (for example, we need to know more about efforts by Africans and Indigenous to solicit support abroad, a precursor of what came to be called “proletarian internationalism”). We are particularly interested in reaching youthful scholars, be they high school or college, or graduate students, not to mention enticing seasoned scholars to venture into this fertile area of study.

This marks a big moment in the life of Gerald Horne as a historian, showing his commitment to fostering another generation of radical scholars. But scoring a manuscript endowment like this is also quite a moment for International Publishers, especially coming as it does in the company’s 100th year. Tony, can you tell us about the partnership between IP and Dr. Horne and how it has developed?

Tony Pecinovsky: Well, this partnership between Dr. Horne and IP has existed for several years, with the publication of Reversing Discrimination in 1992 and Blows Against the Empire in 2008. Of course, his relationship with the Communist left goes back several decades—from his leadership in the anti-apartheid divestment movement (through NAIMSAL) in the 1970s, to his regular contributions to the CPUSA journal Political Affairs. But over the past five or six years, this relationship has really blossomed into a partnership with IP.

Episode from shared Indigenous/Black history: Osceola and John Horse, two mixed heritage Seminoles, led fights against slaveholders and the U.S. Army. In the 1830s, they were planning mass revolts to free fellow slaves and carried out large attacks that destroyed nearly 17 plantations and freed as many as 500 slaves.

Since 2019, Dr. Horne has published (or reprinted) seven books with IP, including his latest books, Revolting Capital and Acknowledging Radical Histories (with Chris Steele), which is a collection of interviews. Additionally, Gerald has two manuscripts on the way, the book he mentioned above Armed Struggle?, as well as a collection of essays spanning his career titled, African Americans and a New History of the USA.

Add into the mix the Jerry and Flora Horne Scholarship and you can see that IP’s relationship with Dr. Horne has really blossomed into a partnership that reflects both his commitment to fostering a new generation of scholars as well as IP’s commitment to identifying and lifting up historically marginalized voices while expanding our catalog.

The scholarship, as well as our IP@100 Symposium at NYU’s Tamiment Library, which Gerald keynoted, signal a new, revived, outwardly projecting International Publishers that is eager to take on new manuscripts, a task made especially important in this political moment where book bans are becoming commonplace.  

International Publishers was for many decades known as the premier (and one of the few) Marxist publishing houses in the United States. When it came to the U.S. labor movement or the Black freedom struggle, for instance, few imprints could match it in the middle years of the 20th century. IP never disappeared, but I’m sure most would agree that it enjoyed a less prominent profile in the recent past. Does the Horne manuscript prize signal something new in the life of IP?

2024 marks the 100th anniversary of International Publishers.

Absolutely! The Jerry and Flora Horne Scholarship, the IP@100 Symposium, the active, deliberate outreach to scholars and authors soliciting new, original manuscripts—all of this is part of a process of rejuvenating IP, giving it a makeover of sorts.

For many years, IP rested on its legacy. Don’t misunderstand me. IP has a proud and vibrant legacy, a legacy largely unparalleled in the U.S. Marxist publishing world, especially considering the degree of repression it faced during the Red Scare. However, that being said, we can’t keep standing on our laurels.

IP must grow and expand and attract authors and readers to meet the challenges of today, to address the ideological questions facing the left right now.

Marxism doesn’t stand still. It’s changing, evolving, ever-expanding. While our classic titles continue to sell very well, we can’t be satisfied with that. As Marxists, we have an obligation to look at things anew, with fresh eyes, and this scholarship is very much a part of the process of fostering the best in the Marxist tradition.

What are the details for how scholars can apply?

The Scholarship details will be posted to the International Publishers website shortly, but we’ll be looking for the typical information: a cover letter introducing the manuscript, including a 500-word abstract; a list of comparable titles describing how the MS fits into and/or expands upon current research; a draft annotated table of contents and chapter outline; proposed timeline, wordcount, and photos; as well as the possible audience and promotional ideas.

Gerald, myself, and a few other scholars will review the proposals and select finalists. The deadline to submit a manuscript proposal is October 14th, Indigenous People’s Day. Applicants should send proposals to tony [@]

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C.J. Atkins
C.J. Atkins

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People's World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People's World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.