Radicalism at the Crossroads

African American Women Activists in the Cold War

242 pages

7 illustrations

February, 2011

ISBN: 9780814732366



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Dayo F. Gore is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and Critical Gender Studies at the University of California, San Diego and has previously taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is the co-editor (with Jeanne Theoharis and Komozi Woodard) of Want to Start a Revolution? Radical Women in  the Black Freedom Struggle (NYU Press, 2009).

All books by Dayo F. Gore

With the exception of a few iconic moments such as Rosa Parks’s 1955 refusal to move to the back of a Montgomery bus, we hear little about what black women activists did prior to 1960. Perhaps this gap is due to the severe repression that radicals of any color in America faced as early as the 1930s, and into the Red Scare of the 1950s. To be radical, and black and a woman was to be forced to the margins and consequently, these women’s stories have been deeply buried and all but forgotten by the general public and historians alike.  
In this exciting work of historical recovery, Dayo F. Gore unearths and examines a dynamic, extended network of black radical women during the early Cold War, including established Communist Party activists such as Claudia Jones, artists and writers such as Beulah Richardson, and lesser known organizers such as Vicki Garvin and Thelma Dale. These women were part of a black left that laid much of the groundwork for both the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and later strains of black radicalism. Radicalism at the Crossroads offers a sustained and in-depth analysis of the political thought and activism of black women radicals during the Cold War period and adds a new dimension to our understanding of this tumultuous time in United States history.


  • “With this rich book, Dayo Gore rewrites the history of black radicalism, feminism, and the American left. She shows us how a network of African American women organized for black women’s rights in the 1940s and 1950s and brought their perduring political vision of race, gender, and class to social justice movements of the Cold War era.”

    —Joanne Meyerowitz, Yale University

  • “With meticulous research, shimmering prose, and laser-like analysis, Dayo F. Gore has added a wholly new and original chapter to the corpus of Black Studies, Women’s Studies and the history of the U.S. Left.”

    —Gerald Horne, author of Race Women: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois

  • “Dayo Gore is a relatively young historian but her brilliant scholarship has already changed how we define the American Left and how we view the face of American radical politics. Her newest book is a powerful addition to her paradigm‒shifting body of work. It is a must‒read for students and scholars of Black and progressive politics, and will provide a vital history lesson for contemporary activists.”

    —Barbara Ransby, author of Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision

  • "What really shines through—and what constitutes the major scholarly contribution—is Gore's excavation of crucial foundations of the more familiar civil rights stories."

    —Theresa Kaminski, H-Net Reviews

  • "Radicalism at the Crossroads is necessary reading for all interested in black history and women's history, and is an invaluable contribution to the growing library of black leftist scholarship."

    —Carole Boyce Davies, Journal of American History

  • "[A] unique contribution to American history."

    Rhetoric & Public Affairs

  • "Radicalism at the Crossroads is an important study that will be extremely useful and challenging to historians of race, gender, social movements, and leftist activism in the United States during the Cold War."

    Journal of African American History