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Isserman Discusses the Legacy of the American Communist Party


Erik McDuffie '92 and Professor Maurice Isserman
Erik McDuffie '92 and Professor Maurice Isserman

Maurice Isserman, the Publius Virgilius Rogers Professor of American History, recently presented at a conference titled “One Hundred Years of Communism in the USA.” The event at Williams College explored the rise and fall of the American Communist Party since its founding in 1919 and highlighted political, social, cultural, and economic trends in American society.

In his paper, titled “Reflections on the ‘New Historians’ of American Communism,” Isserman discussed revisionism and the Moscow archives in a roundtable session on how the Communist Party has affected the lives of Americans.

Joining Isserman as a presenter was his former advisee Erik McDuffie ’92, associate professor in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. His talk was titled “‘For a new anti-fascist and anti-imperialist people’s coalition’: Rethinking the History of African Americans and U.S. Communism in the Era of Trump.”

McDuffie’s Hamilton honors thesis was titled “Malcolm X: The Evolution of an Internationalist Thinker.” He argued that Malcolm X’s emergent radical global vision played a key role in precipitating his break from the Nation of Islam and his move toward revolutionary black nationalism. 

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