May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 294

Estimate: $ 1,200 - $ 1,800
(LITERATURE.) Harrison, Hubert H. The Black Man's Burden. [4] pages, 13 x 3 3/4 inches, on one folding sheet; one large dampstain, tasteful professional repairs at folds. Np, circa January 1917

Additional Details

Hubert Henry Harrison (1883-1927) emigrated from St. Croix to Harlem as a teen, and became a leading African-American intellectual, often known as "the Black Socrates." He wrote this sharply satirical poem in response to Rudyard Kipling's colonialist classic from 1899, "The White Man's Burden." In this printing, Kipling's verses are printed on the left side of the center spread, with Harrison's response on the right. It concludes with a promise to the oppressor: "Remember that Justice, though delayed / Will hold you as her debtor, till / The Black Man's debt is paid."
Harrison had published an essay by the same name, also a response to Kipling, in the April 1912 issue of the International Socialist Review. This poem, however, made its first appearance in the December 1915 issue of the Colored American Review, under the pseudonym "Gunga Din." The present printing was apparently the first separate publication, issued circa 21 January 1917 (see Perry, "A Hubert Harrison Reader," page 389). It was issued as "No. 1 of the Liberty League Leaflets" (we trace none others in the series). None traced at auction or in OCLC, although one can be found among Harrison's papers at Columbia University.