A winner of the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Award and the Lillian Smith Prize, Colored People is a pungent and poignant masterpiece of recollection, a work that extends and deepens our sense of African American history even as it entrances us with its bravura storytelling
"West . . . may well be the pre-eminent African American intellectual of our generation."—The Nation
"The American Evasion of Philosophy is a highly intelligent and provocative book. Cornel West gives us illuminating readings of the political thought of Emerson and James; provides a penetrating critical assessment of Dewey, his central figure; and offers a brilliant interpretation—appreciative yet far from uncritical—of the contemporary philosopher and neo-pragmatist Richard Rorty. . . . What shines through, throughout the work, is West's firm commitment to a radical vision of a philosophic discourse as inextricably linked to cultural criticism and political engagement."—Paul S. Boyer, professor emeritus of history, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Wisconsin Project on American Writers
Frank Lentricchia, General Editor
In Democracy Matters, West returns to the analysis of the arrested development of democracy-both in America and in the crisis-ridden Middle East. In a strikingly original diagnosis, he argues that if America is to become a better steward of democratization around the world, we must first wake up to the long history of imperialist corruption that has plagued our own democracy. Both our failure to foster peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the crisis of Islamist anti-Americanism stem largely from hypocrisies in our dealings with the world. Racism and imperial expansionism have gone hand in hand in our country's inexorable drive toward hegemony, and our current militarism is only the latest expression of that drive. Even as we are shocked by Islamic fundamentalism, our own brand of fundamentalism, which West dubs Constantinian Christianity, has joined forces with imperialist corporate and political elites in an unholy alliance, and four decades after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., insidious racism still inflicts debilitating psychic pain on so many of our citizens.
But there is a deep democratic tradition in America of impassioned commitment to the fight against imperialist corruptions-the last great expression of which was the civil rights movement led by Dr. King-and West brings forth the powerful voices of that great democratizing tradition in a brilliant and deeply moving call for the revival of our better democratic nature. His impassioned and provocative argument for the revitalization of America's democracy will reshape the terms of the raging national debate about America's role in today's troubled world.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
For too long, African Americans’ family trees have been barren of branches, but, very recently, advanced genetic testing techniques, combined with archival research, have begun to fill in the gaps. Here, scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., backed by an elite team of geneticists and researchers, takes nineteen extraordinary African Americans on a once unimaginable journey, tracing family sagas through U.S. history and back to Africa.
Those whose recovered pasts collectively form an African American “people’s history” of the United States include celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Don Cheadle, Chris Tucker, Morgan Freeman, Tina Turner, and Quincy Jones; writers such as Maya Angelou and Bliss Broyard; leading thinkers such as Harvard divinity professor Peter Gomes, the Reverend T. D. Jakes, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and sociologist Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot; and famous achievers such as astronaut Mae Jemison, media personality Tom Joyner, decathlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Ebony and Jet publisher Linda Johnson Rice.
More than a work of history, In Search of Our Roots is a book of revelatory importance that, for the first time, brings to light the lives of ordinary men and women who, by courageous example, blazed a path for their famous descendants. For a reader, there is the stirring pleasure of witnessing long-forgotten struggles and triumphs–but there’s an enduring reward as well. In accompanying the nineteen contemporary achievers on their journey into the past and meeting their remarkable forebears, we come to know ourselves.
From the Hardcover edition.
James Baldwin, Colin Powell, Harry Belafonte, Bill T. Jones, Louis Farrakhan, Anatole Broyard, Albert Murray -- all these men came from modest circumstances and all achieved preeminence. They are people, Gates writes, "who have shaped the world as much as they were shaped by it, who gave as good as they got." Three are writers -- James Baldwin, who was once regarded as the intellectual spokesman for the black community; Anatole Broyard, who chose to hide his black heritage so as to be seen as a writer on his own terms; and Albert Murray, who rose to the pinnacle of literary criticism. There is the general-turned-political-figure Colin Powell, who discusses his interactions with three United States presidents; there is Harry Belafonte, the entertainer whose career has been distinct from his fervent activism; there is Bill T. Jones, dancer and choreographer, whose fierce courage and creativity have continued in the shadow of AIDS; and there is Louis Farrakhan, the controversial religious leader.
These men and others speak of their lives with candor and intimacy, and what emerges from this portfolio of influential men is a strikingly varied and profound set of ideas about what it means to be a black man in America today.
From the Hardcover edition.
Keeping Faith is a rich, moving and deeply personal collection of essays from one of the leading African American intellectuals of our age. Drawing upon the traditions of Western philosophy and modernity, Cornel West critiques structures of power and oppression as they operate within American society and provides a way of thinking about human dignity and difference afresh. Impressive in its scope, West confidently and deftly explores the politics and philosophy of America, the role of the black intellectual, legal theory and the future of liberal thought, and the fate of African Americans. A celebration of the extraordinary lives of ordinary Americans, Keeping Faith is a petition to hope and a call to faith in the redemptive power of the human spirit.
For Oprah, the path back to the past was emotion-filled and profoundly illuminating, connecting the narrative of her family to the larger American narrative and “anchoring” her in a way not previously possible. For the reader, Finding Oprah’s Roots offers the possibility of an equally rewarding experience.
From the Hardcover edition.
With élan and erudition—and with winning enthusiasm—Henry Louis Gates, Jr. gives us a corrective yet loving homage to Roger’s work. Relying on the latest scholarship, Gates leads us on a romp through African, diasporic, and African-American history in question-and-answer format. Among the one hundred questions: Who were Africa’s first ambassadors to Europe? Who was the first black president in North America? Did Lincoln really free the slaves? Who was history’s wealthiest person? What percentage of white Americans have recent African ancestry? Why did free black people living in the South before the end of the Civil War stay there? Who was the first black head of state in modern Western history? Where was the first Underground Railroad? Who was the first black American woman to be a self-made millionaire? Which black man made many of our favorite household products better?
Here is a surprising, inspiring, sometimes boldly mischievous—all the while highly instructive and entertaining—compendium of historical curiosities intended to illuminate the sheer complexity and diversity of being “Negro” in the world.
(With full-color illustrations throughout.)
This 25th anniversary edition continues the dialogue with "In Solidarity," their 2016 conversation at the bell hooks Institute on racism, politics, popular culture and the contemporary Black experience.
In The Trials of Phillis Wheatley, Henry Louis Gates Jr. explores the pivotal roles that Wheatley and Jefferson played in shaping the black literary tradition. Writing with all the lyricism and critical skill that place him at the forefront of American letters, Gates brings to life the characters, debates, and controversy that surrounded Wheatley in her day and ours.
"... informative and inspiring reading." -- The Journal of American History
Jarena Lee, Zilpha Elaw, and Julia Foote underwent a revolution in their own sense of self that helped to launch a feminist revolution in American religious life and in American society as a whole.
Taking his title from Richard Wright’s poem "The FB Eye Blues," Maxwell details how the FBI threatened the international travels of African American writers and prepared to jail dozens of them in times of national emergency. All the same, he shows that the Bureau’s paranoid style could prompt insightful criticism from Hoover’s ghostreaders and creative replies from their literary targets. For authors such as Claude McKay, James Baldwin, and Sonia Sanchez, the suspicion that government spy-critics tracked their every word inspired rewarding stylistic experiments as well as disabling self-censorship.
Illuminating both the serious harms of state surveillance and the ways in which imaginative writing can withstand and exploit it, F.B. Eyes is a groundbreaking account of a long-hidden dimension of African American literature.
Publication of The Souls of Black Folk was a dramatic event that helped to polarize black leaders into two groups: the more conservative followers of Washington and the more radical supporters of aggressive protest. Its influence cannot be overstated. It is essential reading for everyone interested in African-American history and the struggle for civil rights in America.
Starting with such well-known caricatures as the Uncle Tom and the black rapist, Richardson investigates a range of pathologies of black masculinity that derive ideological force from their associations with the South. Military policy, black-liberation discourse, and contemporary rap, she argues, are just some of the instruments by which egregious pathologies of black masculinity in southern history have been sustained. Richardson's sources are eclectic and provocative, including Ralph Ellison's fiction, Charles Fuller's plays, Spike Lee's films, Huey Newton's and Malcolm X's political rhetoric, the O. J. Simpson discourse, and the music production of Master P, the Cash Money Millionaires, and other Dirty South rappers.
Filled with new insights into the region's role in producing hierarchies of race and gender in and beyond their African American contexts, this new study points the way toward more epistemological frameworks for southern literature, southern studies, and gender studies.
The volume begins with an overview of Wilson's aesthetic and dramatic agenda, along with a discussion of the forces that propelled him beyond his potentially troubled life in Pittsburgh to his current status as one of America's most gifted playwrights. A detailed plot summary of Fences is provided, followed by an overview of the play's distinguished production history. The play's historical and cultural background and themes are explored, as is Wilson's dramatic art. The reference closes with a look at the critical and scholarly reception of Fences and a bibliographical essay. Included are rare photos from the play's Broadway premiere and its 1999 premiere in Beijing.
Through the compelling stories of Nina Gordon, the mistress of a slave plantation, and Dred, a black revolutionary, Stowe brings to life conflicting beliefs about race, the institution of slavery, and the possibilities of violent resistance. Probing the political and spiritual goals that fuel Dred's rebellion, Stowe creates a figure far different from the acquiescent Christian martyr Uncle Tom.
In his introduction to the classic novel, Robert S. Levine outlines the antislavery debates in which Stowe had become deeply involved before and during her writing of Dred. Levine shows that in addition to its significance in literary history, the novel remains relevant to present-day discussions of cross-racial perspectives.
As an essential element defining black experience in America, pain plays many roles. It is used to promote racial stereotypes, increase the sale of movies and other pop culture products, and encourage advocacy for various social causes. Pain is employed as a tool of resistance against racism, but it also functions as a sign of racism's insidious ability to exert power over and maintain control of those it claims--regardless of race. With these dichotomous uses of pain in mind, King considers and questions the effects of the manipulation of an unspoken but long-standing belief that pain, suffering, and the hope for freedom and communal subsistence will merge to uplift those who are oppressed, especially during periods of social and political upheaval. This belief has become a ritualized philosophy fueling the multiple constructions of black bodies in pain, a belief that has even come to function as an identity and community stabilizer.
In her attempt to interpret the constant manipulation and abuse of this philosophy, King explores the redemptive and visionary power of pain as perceived historically in black culture, the aesthetic value of black pain as presented in a variety of cultural artifacts, and the socioeconomic politics of suffering surrounding the experiences and representations of blacks in the United States. The book introduces the term Blackpain, defining it as a tool of national mythmaking and as a source of cultural and symbolic capital that normalizes individual suffering until the individual--the real person--disappears. Ultimately, the book investigates America's love-hate relationship with black bodies in pain.
"Mr. Harris, I'm sorry, but you have cancer." Although devastated to learn he has just one year to live, fifty-five-year-old Julius Harris has always known that the day would come when he would pay for walking out on his wife and three children twenty years earlier. Now, with a sudden and passionate determination to make his family whole again, Julius begins trying to find a way back to his sons.
Caleb, the youngest, struggling to support a son and make his way in a
relentless world, couldn't care less about his own absentee father. Middle
son Marcus can't abide even his father's memory, which gets in the way
of his committing to the one woman who has turned his life around. And Austin, Julius' eldest child, so adores what he remembers of his father that he's following in his footsteps, abandoning his wife and children just
as Julius had done.
Inspired by RM Johnson's own fragile family history, The Harris Men is his poignant exploration of the increasing problem of absentee fathers -- and of the compromises made by the families they leave behind. As the Harris men grapple with their fears and their choices, Johnson gets to the very heart of what it means to be a man.
In CliffsNotes on The Color Purple, you follow the beautiful and difficult story of a shy and abused Southern black woman's struggle to create an identity, a feeling of self-worth, and love.
Covering a series of personal letters that span a 40-year period, this study guide shares a story about growth, endurance, loyalty, solidarity, and joy -- all nurtured by the strength of love. You'll gain comfort with the black folk language main character Celie's uses to express herself as you move through critical commentaries on each of the novel's 89 letters. Other features that help you figure out this important work includeLife and background of the author, Alice WalkerAnalyses of a large cast of charactersIntroduction to the novelA review section that tests your knowledge and suggests essay topicsA selected bibliography that leads you to more great resources
Classic literature or modern-day treasure — you'll understand it all with expert information and insight from CliffsNotes study guides.
The Souls of Mixed Folk seeks a middle way between competing hagiographic and apocalyptic impulses in mixed race scholarship, between those who proselytize mixed race as the great hallelujah to the "race problem" and those who can only hear the alarmist bells of civil rights destruction. Both approaches can obscure some of the more critically astute engagements with new millennial iterations of mixed race by the multi-generic cohort of contemporary writers, artists, and performers discussed in this book. The Souls of Mixed Folk offers case studies of their creative work in an effort to expand the contemporary idiom about mixed race in the so-called post-race moment, asking how might new millennial expressive forms suggest an aesthetics of mixed race? And how might such an aesthetics productively reimagine the relations between race, art, and social equity in the twenty-first century?
BookCap Study Guides do not contain text from the actual book, and are not meant to be purchased as alternatives to reading the book.
We all need refreshers every now and then. Whether you are a student trying to cram for that big final, or someone just trying to understand a book more, BookCaps can help. We are a small, but growing company, and are adding titles every month.
The trial and acquittal of Till's murderers became, in the words of one historian, "the first great media event of the civil rights movement," and since then, the lynching has assumed a central place in literary memory. The international group of contributors to this volume explores how the Emmett Till story has been fashioned and refashioned in fiction, poetry, drama, and autobiography by writers as diverse as William Bradford Huie, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, Audre Lorde, Anne Moody, Nicolás Guillén, Aimé Césaire, Bebe Moore Campbell, and Lewis Nordan. They suggest the presence of an "Emmett Till narrative" deeply embedded in post-1955 literature, an overarching recurrent plot that builds on recognizable elements and is as legible as the "lynching narrative" or the "passing narrative." Writers have fashioned Till's story in many ways: an the annotated bibliography that ends the volume discusses more than 130 works that memorialize the lynching, calling attention to the full extent of Till's presence in literary memory.
Breaking new ground in civil rights studies and the discussion of race in America, Emmett Till in Literary Memory and Imagination eloquently attests to the special power and artistic resonance of one young man's murder.
This pioneering documentary collection offers readers a chance to discover, or rediscover, Delany in all his complexity. Through nearly 100 documents--approximately two-thirds of which have not been reprinted since their initial nineteenth-century publications--it traces the full sweep of his fascinating career. Included are selections from Delany's early journalism, his emigrationist writings of the 1850s, his 1859-62 novel, Blake (one of the first African American novels published in the United States), and his later writings on Reconstruction. Incisive and shrewd, angry and witty, Delany's words influenced key nineteenth-century debates on race and nation, addressing issues that remain pressing in our own time.
Brown wrote extensively as a journalist but was also a pioneer in other literary genres. His many groundbreaking works include Clotel, the first African American novel; The Escape: or, A Leap for Freedom, the first published African American play; Three Years in Europe, the first African American European travelogue; and The Negro in the American Rebellion, the first history of African American military service in the Civil War. Brown also wrote one of the most important fugitive slave narratives and a striking array of subsequent self-narratives so inventively shifting in content, form, and textual presentation as to place him second only to Frederick Douglass among nineteenth-century African American autobiographers.
Ezra Greenspan has selected the best of Brown's work in a range of fields including fiction, drama, history, politics, autobiography, and travel. The volume opens with an introductory essay that places Brown and his work in a cultural and political context. Each chapter begins with a detailed introductory headnote, and the contents are closely annotated; there is also a selected bibliography. This reader offers an introduction to the work of a major African American writer who was engaged in many of the important debates of his time.
In Habitations of the Veil, Rebecka Rutledge
Fisher uses theory implicit in W. E. B. Du Bois’s use of metaphor to draw out
and analyze what she sees as a long tradition of philosophical metaphor in
African American literature. She demonstrates how Olaudah Equiano, Frances Ellen
Watkins Harper, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison each use
metaphors to develop a critical discourse capable of overcoming the limits of
narrative language to convey their lived experiences. Fisher’s philosophical
investigations open these texts to consideration on ontological and
epistemological levels, in addition to those concerned with literary craft and
the politics of black identity.
Manifestations of Masculine Magnificence takes the reader to the source of power with an analysis of African Divinities and divine technologies. Washington explores the permanence and proliferation of African Gods from oppressive plantations to the empowering proclamations of such leaders as W. D. Fard, Marcus Garvey, Father Divine, and Allah, the Father. Washington analyzes the summonses to and from the Gods that resonate in the music of such artists as Erykah Badu, The RZA, Sun Ra, X Clan, and Rakim. Using literary analysis as a prism to display the diversity of Africana divinity, Washington reveals the literature of such writers as August Wilson, Walter Mosley, Toni Morrison, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Ishmael Reed to be three-way mirrors that eternally reflect and project the Gods, their myriad powers, and their weighty responsibilities.
Manifestations of Masculine Magnificence will prove indispensable to independent scholars as well as scholars of Comparative Literature, Hip Hop Studies, Gender Studies, Africana Studies, Literary Criticism, and Religious Studies.
Northup accepted an offer from two strangers in Saratoga, New York, to catch up with their traveling circus and play in its band. But when the chase ended, Northup had been drugged, beaten, and sold to a slave trader in Washington, D.C. Subsequently, he was shipped to New Orleans, where he was purchased by a planter in the Red River region of Louisiana. For the next twelve years Northup lived as a chattel slave under several masters. He might well have died a slave, except for another set of bizarre circumstances which enabled him to get word to his family and finally regain his freedom.
These elements alone -- the kidnapping, enslavement, and rescue -- are sufficient for a sensational story. But Northup provides more. He was a shrewd observer of people and events. His memory was remarkable. He described cultivation of cotton and sugar in the Deep South. He detailed the daily routine and general life of the Negro slave. Indeed, he vividly portrayed the world of slavery -- from the underside.
Originally published in 1853, Northup's autobiography is regarded as one of the best accounts of American Negro slavery ever written by a slave. It is reprinted in full here for the first time, as the initial volume in The Library of Southern Civilization.
Northup's account has been carefully checked by the editors and has been found to be remarkably accurate. To his own narrative of a long and tragic adventure, Professors Eakin and Logsdon have added significant new details about Northup and the plantation country where he spent most of his time as a slave. Heretofore unknown information about the capture and trial of Northup's kidnappers has been included, adding still another fascinating episode to an already astounding story.
diasporic religious practices serves as a transgressive tool in narrative
discourses in the Americas.
Oshun’s Daughters examines
representations of African diasporic religions from novels and poems written by
women in the United States, the Spanish Caribbean, and Brazil. In spite of
differences in age, language, and nationality, these women writers all turn to
variations of traditional Yoruba religion (Santería/Regla de Ocha and
Candomblé) as a source of inspiration for creating portraits of
womanhood. Within these religious systems, binaries that dominate European
thought—man/woman, mind/body, light/dark, good/evil—do not function in the same
way, as the emphasis is not on extremes but on balancing or reconciling these
radical differences. Involvement with these African diasporic religions thus
provides alternative models of womanhood that differ substantially from those
found in dominant Western patriarchal culture, namely, that of virgin, asexual
wife/mother, and whore. Instead we find images of the sexual woman, who enjoys
her body without any sense of shame; the mother, who nurtures her children
without sacrificing herself; and the warrior woman, who actively resists demands
that she conform to one-dimensional stereotypes of womanhood.
Bringing together contributors from a wide-range of critical perspectives, Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation is an analytic history of the diverse contributions of Black artists to the medium of comics. Covering comic books, superhero comics, graphic novels and cartoon strips from the early 20th century to the present, the book explores the ways in which Black comic artists have grappled with such themes as the Black experience, gender identity, politics and social media.
Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation introduces students to such key texts as:
The work of Jackie Ormes
Black women superheroes from Vixen to Black Panther
Aaron McGruder's strip The Boondocks
Toni Morrison's brilliant discussions of the "Africanist" presence in the fiction of Poe, Melville, Cather, and Hemingway leads to a dramatic reappraisal of the essential characteristics of our literary tradition. She shows how much the themes of freedom and individualism, manhood and innocence, depended on the existence of a black population that was manifestly unfree--and that came to serve white authors as embodiments of their own fears and desires.
Written with the artistic vision that has earned Toni Morrison a pre-eminent place in modern letters, Playing in the Dark will be avidly read by Morrison admirers as well as by students, critics, and scholars of American literature.
"By going for the American literary jugular...she places her arguments...at the very heart of contemporary public conversation about what it is to be authentically and originally American. [She] boldly...reimagines and remaps the possibility of America."
"Toni Morrison is the closest thing the country has to a national writer."
The New York Times Book Review
The bittersweet and often hilarious tales -- which range from longer narratives about God, the Devil, white folk, and mistaken identity to witty one-liners -- reveal attitudes about faith, love, family, slavery, race, and community. Together, this collection of nearly 500 folktales weaves a vibrant tapestry that celebrates African American life in the rural South and represents a major part of Zora Neale Hurston's literary legacy.
Pimp sent shockwaves throughout the literary world when it published in 1969. Iceberg Slim’s autobiographical novel offered readers a never-before-seen account of the sex trade, and an unforgettable look at the mores of Chicago’s street life during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. In the preface, Slim says it best, “In this book, I will take you, the reader, with me into the secret inner world of the pimp.” An immersive experience unlike anything before it, Pimp would go on to sell millions of copies, with translations throughout the world. And it would have a profound impact upon generations of writers, entertainers, and filmmakers, making it the classic hustler’s tale that never seems to go out of style.