In the following article Professor Malik Simba, an historian at California State University, Fresno describes his professional and personal odyssey that led to the writing of his book, Black Marxism and American Constitutionalism: From the Colonial Background through the Ascendancy of Barack Obama.
I am a Marxist historian. I use Marxist analysis, which argues that class struggle is the locomotion of history. That theory, I believe, facilitates a critical understanding of the American Constitution and the American legal system and is the analysis which informs the writing of my new book, Black Marxism and American Constitutionalism: From the Colonial Background through the Ascendancy of Barack Obama. I embrace Marxist analysis because I believe it best answers critical questions about the nature of American law and the American judicial system which affect the lives of thousands of African Americans on a daily basis. My embrace of Marxian analysis evolved from my own reading and study of Marxist and non-Marxist texts on history, American constitutionalism, and the American judicial system. It also grew from a series of experiences over my life that have led me to question the commitment of the American legal system to equal justice for all.
I have always been fascinated with the concept of justice and equality. I was born in Lexington, Kentucky in the era of overt racial segregation. I can still remember when my mother stood protectively close to my siblings and me whenever we went downtown because she knew we would be subject to verbal assault by white shoppers and store owners. When we moved to Denver, Colorado in 1954 my family entered a city which supposedly had avoided the racial discrimination and violence that marked Kentucky and the rest of the South. Nonetheless, I still vividly recall my first encounter with racist police when I was 12 years old. That encounter was intimidating and violent.
While playing in the alley behind our home, my friends and I exploded illegal firecrackers. All