It was in January 1937 when enough Americans had landed in Spain to form their own fighting unit in the army defending the elected Spanish government. Politically, these men and women came from all manner of progressive tendencies. Communists, socialists, liberals – in other contexts bitterly divided, on the sun-baked fields of 1930s Spain they stood united against fascism.
And no, the Abe Lincoln Battalion wasn’t organised by race – typical of the US socialist and communist movements of the 1930s and their total commitment to anti-racism. African-Americans were especially drawn to Spain because they saw in Franco the white supremacism they were fighting in Mississippi and Georgia. Langston Hughes put it well: “Give Franco a hood and he would be a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”
They also rightly saw behind Franco the blood-soaked figure of Benito Mussolini (tens of thousands of Fascist Italian and Nazi German soldiers were deployed to Spain), who just a couple years earlier had invaded Ethiopia – a free nation which held sacred status in Pan-African and Black Radical thought in the US.
While relatively few in number – around 85 African-Americans served in Spain – they existed as full equals in the Abraham Lincoln Battalion.
The Radical Tea Towel Story
The Radical Tea Towel Company was founded by the Pearce family in South Wales, who’ve demonstrated that it’s perfectly possible to work with members of your family and still get on!
The idea came about when Beatrice was looking for a suitable politically-themed birthday present for her late mother’s partner, David. She decided that some kind of left-wing tea towel would be ideal (given David’s radical inclinations), but somehow the internet had not yet produced such an obviously useful product.
After a discussion over dinner with husband Tim and son Luke, the family decided they’d strike out and create a bunch of radical tea towels, with the aim of encouraging left and liberal-minded people to proudly display their political and social beliefs…