Soul on Ice /
Post-Prison Writings and
Speeches / Target
Zero; A Life in Writing /
Conversation with Eldridge Cleaver
Being Black /
Education and Revolution /
Eldridge Cleaver /
Eldridge Cleaver Is Free
* * *
Books by Henry Louis
Colored People /
Our Nig /
The African American Century /
The Bondwoman's Narrative /
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man
The Trials of Phillis Wheatley /
"Race," Writing, and Difference /
Wonders of the African World
In Search of Identity /
Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex /
The Signifying Monkey
Identity and Violence /
The Norton Anthology of African American Literature
* * *
Eldridge Cleaver Speaks to Skip Gates
In this interview, conducted in the spring of 1997, Eldridge talked with Henry
Louis Gates, Jr. About the shoot out with Oakland police which led to his exile,
and looks back at the legacy of the Panthers and the civil rights movement.
On the Oakland Shoot Out
When these riots started all over the country in the
aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King -- I think he got killed on
the fourth of April. This shootout that we had took place on the sixth and the
seventh of April. So we saw it coming while the police were acting so we decided
to get down first. So we started the fight. There were fourteen of us.
We went down
into the area of Oakland where the violence was the worst a few blocks away from
where Huey Newton had killed that cop so we dealt with them when they came upon
us. We were well armed, and we had a shootout that lasted an hour and a half. I
will tell anybody that that was the first experience of freedom that I had. I
was free for an hour and a half because during that time the repressive forces
couldn't put their hand on me because we were shooting it out with them for an
hour and a half. Three police officers got wounded. None of them got killed; I
got wounded. Another Panther got wounded.
On The Death of Bobby Hutton
Bobby Hutton didn't get wounded during the shootout, but they
murdered him after we were in custody.
That is why I am sitting here today
because the police offers to whom we surrendered -- when I came back from my
exile and was going to court on those charges. I was facing charges that would
give me 82 years in prison. This police officer came to court one day, and the
district attorney said, "Eldridge, there is somebody that wants to meet
you. Would you mind talking to him?" I said, "well, I will meet
anybody, Ben. Bring them on. Who is it?" He said, "it's Lieutenant
I knew his name from the grand jury transcript. This was the
guy that we surrendered to. He told me -- he said, "Eldridge, remember that
night? Remember when you came out of the building and you looked up and there
was a police officer in the window and you had a pistol in your face about three
feet from your face?" I said, "I sure do remember that." He said,
"you know I was already squeezing the trigger. I was going to blow your
head off because three officers had gotten wounded. All that shooting had
everybody on edge.
So I was pulling the trigger to blow your head off, and
something told me not to do it." I said, "praise the Lord." He
said, "praise the Lord." He told me, "I am no longer a police
officer." He said, "I have my own private security firm now." He
said, "the reason that they have not been rushing you to court is because
of my testimony and the testimony of thirteen other police officers who were that
night who do not agree with what the police did in the way they killed Bobby
He said, "they murdered Bobby. They murdered my
prisoner." That's what he said. Then he went on to describe -- he said,
"the police have the responsibility of enforcing the law, the guardians of
the law. But what they did that night was worse than what you did." He
said, "if you are going to court, I am going to testify against you because
what you did was wrong.
But I'm also going to testify against them because what
they did was worse. There is no statute of limitation on murder. What they did
was first degree murder." This is w hat he said.
They just took Bobby and pushed him. They pushed him, and he
only went about five feet. He was stumbling and almost falling. They shot him 12
times, man. Murdered him right there on the spot. He fell down.
On How He Escaped Being Murdered
I'm down there, they got shotguns and
pistols in my face, man. I figured they going to shoot us. I could not imagine
living through that. But this other cop, he started complaining about what they
had just done, and that was the last of that and then they took me and put me in
that van and I knew from Huey Newton's trial that all of the police calls are
tape recorded automatically so whoever was talking to these cops asked them who
you got, who's in there?
So they were saying we don't know who he is. So I said
it's Eldridge Cleaver. I wanted to get that on that tape, see, and so then they
took me down a little side street. Two of them suckers got in there, they
started beating me and I have no doubt that they meant to kill me, but then it
came over the radio that this cop who was driving was telling "a couple
officers in the back slapping this guy up" and so the squawk box told them
to stop it.
And so they kept on and he told them your order is to stop that, and
so they wouldn't stop. And so he told them they won't stop. So that guy said
something, like in some kind of code -- that was the second time I heard that
code -- and whatever that code meant, boy, it froze them right in their -- they
stopped right then, man, and they took me on in.
On the Failures & Successes of the Civil Rights Movement
I think it was a success in terms of the goals that
it espoused. That was to break down the color barrier if public accommodations
access to the institutions and things like that. But the big failure of the
civil rights movement was that it did not have an economic plank because while
we got access to schools and to Hot Dog Stands and all that, the burning issue
right now is economic freedom and economic justice and economic democracy.
NAACP didn't touch that. They had no plan for that. When Martin Luther King was
turning towards the economic arena in Nashville supporting the strike of the
garbage man, he was murdered. I applaud my country for the changes that we have
undertaken in these areas of civil rights. But where the big problem still
remains is with the economic system. If you would call a meeting today to talk
about segregation, wouldn't nobody come but Louis Farrakhan and David Dukes.
if you call a meeting to talk about the money, it would be standing room only.
It wouldn't all be black because the money is funny for everybody, right. That's
where the rubber hits the road; that's what we've got to deal with.
The Panther Economic Program
We had a strong economic place in our program. We had
a direct challenge- the whole exploitation of the capitalist economy in our ten
points. We had a point dealing with the economy. But we were also Marxist in our
orientation, which is like totally economics. Do you see what I'm saying?
understood the relationship to our freedom and our access to our economic
remuneration and not just a little job because that is whimsical. The man on top
can change that any time he wants to. That's why I was always so down on being
totally dependent on the welfare system because when the winds blow differently
in Washington, they can cut you off. But the black democrats they thought that
they were eternal. They thought that Tip O'Neil was going to be there forever to
throw them crumbs.
But it was obvious to me that this was a very dangerous
dependency; therefore, I talked about stuff that went beyond welfare. I rejected
welfare because we need to be involved not just with the federal budget but with
the private sector because the federal government gets its money from the
private sector so we have to be involved in owning and have an influence over
the productive capacity of this country or else we are going to be perpetually
dependent upon the largesse of those who rule.
On Marxism & American Democracy
I had a chance to witness Marxism up
close in action. So in my travels around the world, I saw that it wasn't
working. I saw that the dictatorship of the proletariat was the last thing I
wanted to have. That's when I began to see that with all of our problems in the
United States, we had the best formal government in the world. We had the freest
and most democratic procedure.
I'm telling you after I ran into the Egyptian police and the
Algerian police and the North Korean police and the Nigerian police and Idi
Amin's police in Uganda, I began to miss the Oakland police.
The last time I saw
them suckers, I was shooting at them; and they were shooting at me. But
regardless of what our standards are in this country, we do have some laws; we
do have some principles that to a certain degree restrain our police.
On Change & the Panther's Strategic Backbone
I think the only way we could have won is that the
American people would have revolted against the status quo. We had the anti-war
movement and the black movement coming together for a better America.
victory in those terms would have meant that we would have been able to have a
group of people who could get control of the government and administer it. But I
do not think that we had a winning scenario. We never dreamed that we would be
able to overthrow the American government. We didn't see that as our task.
saw that as the task of the survivors. Our job was to tear down the status quo
and leave it to other people on how to rebuild because it was not possible to
seize control of the government and install our people. That's reserved for
We had no illusions on that point and so victory, in our
sense, was to get the laws passed that were passed. They started passing voter
rights acts and all this kind of stuff, new civil rights bill, so we saw
ourselves as providing backbone that was missing from Dr. Martin Luther King's
nonviolent movement and we did not think that movement would be rewarded.
It's like the NAACP. NAACP used to be considered a wild eyed
radical organization until Martin Luther King came along and then they became
acceptable and Martin Luther King was the devil. So when we came along Martin
Luther King started looking better. To some people. Obviously not to all.
On the Dynastic Plan Hatched in Boston
When the killing started it was to liquidate the plan hatched here in
Boston, or I should say in Massachusetts, between the Kennedy dynasty and Martin
Their plan was for Martin Luther King and Malcolm X to work
together because together they could turn out the total black vote and then with
the votes that the Kennedys could deliver they would have been able to establish
a dynasty that would have ruled this country into the next century.
their plan and that is why they were liquidated. The two Kennedy brothers
killed, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X killed so that plan could not come into
fruition. That was the scenario, that is why they were killed we do not
understand that. The only one that really broke it down was this guy [Theodore] Sorensen
who was the Kennedy choice for the CIA, but the establishment would not allow
him to take control. Maybe it was the FBI, he was supposed to become head of the
He was a speech writer. And so Kennedy tried to
get him appointed head of the FBI and they wouldn't do it and so they were
murdered and so the powers that be murdered them and they made -- if you look at
all four of those assassinations they were textbook. They were murdered and the
finger was pointed at some obvious enemy in all four cases. In all four cases,
They were killed by the powers that rule this country who did not want
to see the political dynasty of the Kennedys take control and last into the next
century. They were still paranoid from how long Roosevelt was in power. Remember
they changed the laws so that he couldn't run again and he obliged them by dying
and so they were very fearful that this could be repeated, and it was on the way
to being repeated but they knocked them out because by now Martin Luther King
would have been president. That was their scenario.
On the Ambivalence of Black Progress
Our black middle class has followed an
assimilationist ethic. They have become white and they've adopted all the worst
features of America in terms of not caring about the other people. Like the
white ruling class never cared about poor white people, let alone about black
people and other minorities and these blacks who are following W.E.B. Du Bois'
formula of educating that 10% who will then come back and lift up the rest of
the people -- the argument that was had between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T.
Washington was over how we're going to manage this thing.
Booker T. said we've got to teach these people how to work,
then they'll get jobs, then they'll be able to afford education and then they
can do that. And Du Bois said no, we've got to concentrate on the intellectual
development of the people and get 10% of our people educated and then they can
help the other people, but if you just learn a trade and you don't know what's
going on, that ain't going nowhere.
I say both of them were right. We need both of what they
promised and we've got both of what they promised. But they didn't have a
unifying vision and consequently we've got an enlarged black bourgeoisie but
they have departed from the basis of the black bourgeoisie according to E.
This was the professional classes and that was their economic
base but the progress that has taken place has given a new economic base to the
black bourgeoisie, to the expanded black -- now their economic base is political
as well as up front economic and they still have a professional class but it has
been expanded because you have a lot of black people with a whole lot of money
coming from these other pursuits.
Add to that, the million-dollar salaries to football players,
basketball players and baseball players, not that they're doing anything
constructive with all of that money, but they have it. But they didn't bring it
back to pull the other people up and so it's like the devil take the hindmost.
That is what we're dealing with so that the black bourgeoisie is as corrupt and
immoral as the white bourgeoisie and that is the problem.
On the Ethical 1960s & the Politics of Now
A lot of people think that
we were better off [in the 1960s] because we had more integrity to our black colleges and there
were a lot of black businesses and all that, but that is like a tempest in a
teapot. We are better off [now] because we have more access, we have more mobility,
but we have a problem which is a political problem.
[When] the laws were
passed to open up the political arena for black people the most visible leaders
and the ones who were able to get those jobs were our protest leaders. So what
they did, they took our protest machinery and transformed it into their personal
political machinery to get them reelected which stripped the black community of
any kind of organizational machinery. And consequently it left us floundering and
treading water in a miserable state.
That is why the number one task that we have in the black
community is a coup d'état against our present leadership to strip them from
that machinery that controls the community so that new ideas and new people can
percolate up and then we can have a new agenda. But because of the way that it's
controlled right now, the number one task of the black politician who's got
these positions should be to politically educate the black community. But they
didn't do that because they knew that if the black community was politically
educated the first thing they would do would be to get rid of them.
So consequently the black community is devoid of any kind of
democratic process. We're under the dictatorship of the black bourgeoisie as it
has never been before. And so they have federal money now to fund their
political machines and keep any new people from moving, any new ideas from
moving. They're not any more concerned with the poorer black people than the
rich white politicians are concerned with poor white people.
On the Million Man March & Farrakhan's Lack Of Creativity
I think the Million Man March will go down in history
as the defining episode for a generation of people and I know Minister Farrakhan
personally and have known him for years. And my overall decision on Farrakhan is
that the Afro-American people are not going to follow him anywhere. And as
General Colin Powell said in his famous commencement address at Howard
University, he said that after what we've been through and after coming this far
we cannot afford to take a detour through the swamps of hatred.
And that is the
Achilles heel of Farrakhan--that the doctrine of the Nation of Islam is a
racist doctrine and the Afro-American people are not racist people. We are
We among all the people of the world have put up a valiant
struggle against racism and for emancipation from a system based on racism. And
so that is the problem with Farrakhan. He needs to be born again. He needs a new
vision. Somebody needs to talk to that guy. I tried to talk to him but he's too
slick. He won't listen, you see.
I remember him when he first came along, when he was nothing
but a pimp and a calypso singer and Malcolm X pulled him and let him sing his
song which was A White Man's Heaven Is A Black Man's Hell. And by singing that
song at Malcolm X's rallies every week he got to hear Malcolm X's speech 1000
times. So when Malcolm X was murdered, the show must go on. So they were looking
around for who could keep the show going.
Farrakhan was there. He knew Malcolm's
speech word for word. He has a good mind and a good memory. And he was able to do
it because he was a showman from the beginning. And so he was able to step into
that vacuum. But the boy is not creative. And he's blind sided. So consequently he
was not able to shuffle off that mortal coil which he should have done.
He should have not felt obligated to carry on the doctrine
according to Elijah Mohammed. But he did that to stay the hands of his rivals who
were willing to do that in order to get the power. So they were calling him a
revisionist for a long time. That is why he had to stick to what Elijah Mohammed
was teaching. And for that reason we cannot follow him because we don't want to
go where he's going. And where he's going is where all haters go. And that's into
the garbage can of history. And we're not going with him.
On Colin Powell's Americanism
I think Colin Powell is a magnificent American and he
is different from these other so-called leaders because he is not a protest
leader. The man is an American leader. He's an all-American leader. But because
he has this Afro-American ancestry he appeals to black people.
But he also
appeals to white people and that is the way it should be because we don't need
no narrow mentality person in the White House. We need a person who is an
all-American and this brings me closer to my agenda. I have to apologize to Vice
President Gore because he will not become president in the year 2000.
He is too little too late. In the year 2000
the American people, are going to elect the first woman president of the United
States of America. And it's not just going to be a woman. It's going to be a
mother because what is missing from our decision making process in this Old Boy
network is the heart and the concerns of a mother.
And so I, along with a lot of
other people, are going to make it happen. We don't want to specify who is our
choice right now because we have to get women to raise their self esteem and to
realize and understand that there are a lot of women in America who are
qualified to be president of the United States of America.
You would have to look up under a whole lot of rocks in
America to find a woman as unqualified as these suckers we've been sending to
Washington. And women need to understand that and deal with that because we
cannot go into a new millennium and a new century with the Old Boy network which
is racist and misogynistic. We have got to go in there with a new deal. And I
hope that we will have time to tick off a few points that I feel are extremely
important. But I want to make sure you finish your questions first on this.
On Capitalism, Scarcity & Black Poverty
I think that it is possible for the
capitalist system to have a program of full employment. But we have a spiritual
and moral problem in America. Our problem is not economic or political. It is
that we do not care about each other because we say hey look, my people, my
group, we're first class and you guys, you're second class and you guys over
there, you third class and you guys in the back right there, no ain't got no
That's our attitude. But our creator never wasted his or her time creating
a second class person. He made us all first class and he provided this earth as
our home for all of us, not for the black man, the white man, the red man, the
yellow man, the brown man, but for the whole human family.
We are the ones who have created a system of scarcity. There's
enough building materials in this country, enough skilled workers, that there
should not be any homeless people. There should not be any hungry people. And so
a man wrote a poem in Berkeley, old man, in which he had an immortal line. It
was a poem on greed in which he said how much more than enough do you want?
There is enough for all of us but we don't have values that include us all. And
the black bourgeoisie suffers from that same lack of values as the white
bourgeoisie And so we need a spiritual transformation in our attitude towards
each other so that we can look upon each other as a family.
And therefore our
national economy should be based upon a family budget, not going around
preaching scarcity. There's not enough money for this. There's enough money for
everything if you stop spending it the way you're spending it. And so we need to
undertake some political reform.
Number one, I told you about the toilets, but
number two, we have got to require our politicians to write their own speeches
and when they campaign to campaign under the penalties of perjury because we
have developed a political culture of mendacity.
We all know the politicians lie. We don't expect them to tell
the truth .So we have a low expectation because they've been lying all down
through history. We've got to raise the standard. And to start with, we require
them to write their own speeches or let's vote for the speech writer.
Bush went in talking about let there be 1000 points of light then when he got in
the White House all the lights in the country went out. And we found out that a
woman wrote that speech. He didn't even write the speech. So when you come
before us reading your speech we want to know what you are talking about, what
you are thinking about, where you are coming from.
But you can't tell us that if
you going to read a speech some word monger wrote for you. We got to change
that, man, because we need truth in our political arena, and then we've got to
restore vision because our young people are lost, they don't see a future and to
restore -- yes, sir?
On Contracts & Newt Gingrich
It is no longer a situation where you can just deal with the
problems of black people because we now have the same problem. We've gotten rid
of the special problems. I know that there's still discrimination going on and
racism in the decision and what Newt Gingrich talked about a new contract with
the American people.
I used to carry his book around with me. And I'd jump up and
down on it and kick it off the stage. Why do we think that Newt Gingrich
going to live up to a new contract when he hasn't lived up to the old contract?
We don't need a contract. The contract that we should be going by is called the
Constitution of the United States of America and all this other stuff is just a
[The Constitution] says that we are entitled to life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness. And those causes are elastic. If we have people who will
interpret that Constitution right what do we need to be happy? We need some
food, we need a house, we need some money in our pocket.
On Economic Needs & Feminine Wealth
We don't need to be
begging, asking for spare change. We don't need to be on welfare asking for a
handout from the federal government. We need money and income that we can
control. We need part of the private sector. We need property and we need
ownership so that we can not be just floundering this way and that way,
depending on who's in Washington and which way the political winds are blowing.
That is what we've got to be emancipated from and that calls
for not a communist formula and the redistribution of the wealth. We need at
least 51% of the wealth in this country shifted into the hands of women. They
are over 50% of the population. Now they are divorced into poverty. They work
with these chumps and help them get rich then they run away with the secretary
and divorce the wife into poverty. We have got to stop that. We need to shift
51% at the very least of the wealth of this country into the hands of women.
On the Need for Jobs & Full Employment
We have poor
white people, we have poor Indians . . . we have got to eliminate the
economic basis of the underclass by providing them with jobs not handouts from
the federal government. That is the failure of our economic system, that you
have economists who say that you've got to keep the people on the brink of
starvation in order to motivate them to work and hustle around.
The failure of
the capitalistic economic system is that they did not provide for full
employment. They were satisfied with a certain percentile and then they were
willing to keep a lot of people perpetually in reserve and that was to keep
wages down and all that kind of pressure.
We have got to have a policy of full employment . . . for the whole hemisphere.
There's a lot of work to be done
but we have to reorient ourselves from a system of scarcity and a belief system
in scarcity and there is no problem that we have on our agenda that we cannot
On Tupac & Unringing the Bell
Tupac is a child of Huey Newton and Malcolm X. . . . Tupac
would not have been who he was had he not been born of parents who followed Huey
Newton. Afeni Shakur and Amumu Shakur were members of the Black Panther Party.
And it was because of that experience that they were able to raise Tupac with
the mentality and the spirit that he had. So talking about going back . . . saying that Tupac would have been Huey, you cannot unring the bell.
. . . Huey was a gangster. . . I'm talking about a real gangster.
they were talking about gangster rap. Huey P. Newton was a gun toting gangster,
but that's not all he was. I'm saying he went through that experience as a
criminal, but the thing about Tupac was his spirit and his rebellion against
oppression. This comes from the way that he was raised and the values that were
transmitted to him.
His father died in a gun fight with the New York police
department and so Afena was a very strong stalwart of the Black Panther Party
and Tupac was raised like that. He is what we call a panther cub. And that was
what he was about.
And that is why it was such a blow, [Tupac's] liquidation, and
many people think that it was the COINTELPRO that took him out because the story
doesn't hold up because anybody who knows Las Vegas knows that after the Mike
Tyson fight there, there is no way that anybody going to drive along upside of
another car, shoot them and drive away because it's gridlock for blocks around
there, man. So that is not what happened. There is more to it than that.
On Assessing the Panther Movement
[The Black Panther Party] was a good thing and like all things, there was
good and bad, but nothing like what this nitwit, Horowitz, is talking about
because that is not where we were coming from. And I regret the way that the
Party was repressed because it left a lot of unfinished business because we had
planned to make a transition to the political arena and we would have been able
to transmute that violence and that legacy into legitimate and peaceful
As it was they chopped off the head and left the body there armed.
That's why all these young bloods out there now, they've got the rhetoric but
without the political direction and they've got the guns. A man told me in
Berkeley, said-- "Eldridge, the two most dangerous demographics in the Bay Area
right now are young black men with guns and middle-aged white women with
Volvos." They're taking out more people than anything else.
On Historians Final Assessment of the Movement
I think they will give us Fs where
we deserve them and they'll give us As where we deserve them and they're going
to give Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and Eldridge Cleaver an A plus.
* * *
Afterword by Marvin X
I have the dubious honor of being the person who introduced
Eldridge Cleaver to the Black Panther Party. I took him to Bobby
Seale's house and the rest is history. Bobby Seale and Huey were
comrades of mine at Oakland's Merritt College on Grove Street.
Bobby became an actor in my second play Come Next Summer.
I'd met Eldridge on a visit to Soledad Prison as part of the
editorial staff of Black Dialogue magazine. I also met
his lieutenant Alprentice Bunchy Carter at this time, around
Eldridge was controversial to say
the least, some people suspect he was the police, especially
after he caused so much division in the BPP. Under the best
circumstances, his personality and criminal history would have
gotten him into struggle with his comrades in the BPP. He came
out of prison a seasoned communist and organizer. I witnessed
his organizational capabilities on that visit to Soledad. He was
chairman of the black culture club and had the brothers in a
In short, he was far more advanced
ideologically and organizationally than Bobby Seale and Huey
Newton, so it would have been almost impossible for him to
submit to the latter who were less experienced although just as
crazy--and insanity was a necessary ingredient for revolution at
the time--the sane Negroes had exhausted themselves with civil
"rites." No matter how controversial these brothers
were, they gave their all and helped change the course of
African American history. If only for a moment, they helped the
black people of Oakland breathe a little easier because they
absorbed the wrath of the devil, America.
--Marvin X 2/16/03
* * * *
Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr.,
Ph.D. (born September 16, 1950) is an American literary critic,
educator, scholar, writer, editor and public intellectual. He was the
first African American to receive the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Fellowship. He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards for his
teaching, research, and development of academic institutions to study
black culture. In 2002, Gates was selected to give the
Jefferson Lecture, in recognition of his "distinguished intellectual
achievement in the humanities." The lecture resulted in his 2003 book,
The Trials of Phillis Wheatley.
As the host of the 2006 and 2008
PBS television miniseries
African American Lives, Gates explored the genealogy of prominent
African Americans. Gates sits on the boards of many notable arts,
cultural, and research institutions. He serves as the
University Professor at
Harvard University, where he is Director of the
W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research.
Michael Kinsley referred to him as "the nation's most famous black
However he is criticized as non-representative of Black people by
prominent African-American scholars such as
John Henrik Clarke, and
Maulana Karenga. . . .
On July 16, 2009, Gates returned
home from a trip to China to find the door to his house jammed. His
driver attempted to help him gain entrance. A passer-by called police
reporting a possible break-in and a
Cambridge police officer was dispatched. The resulting confrontation
resulted in Gates being arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.
Prosecutors later dropped the charges.The incident spurred a politically
charged exchange of views about race relations and law enforcement
throughout the United States. The arrest garnered national attention
after the President declared that the police "acted stupidly" in
arresting Gates. The President eventually extended an invitation to both
Gates and the officer involved to share a beer with him at the White
On March 9, 2010, Gates claimed on
Oprah Winfrey Show that he and Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting
officer in the Cambridge incident, share a common ancestor.—Wikipedia
* * * *
Wake Up Everybody—Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (1975)
* * *
* * *
Remarks by the
President and the First Lady at Presentation of the National
Medal of the Arts and the National Humanities medal.—November
5, 1998—THE PRESIDENT: Near the beginning of this century,
W. E. B. Du Bois predicted a "black tomorrow" of African
American achievement. Thanks in large measure to Henry Louis
Gates, that tomorrow has turned into today. For 20 years he
has revitalized African American studies. In his writing and
teaching, through his leadership of the Dream Team of
African American scholars he brought together at Harvard,
Gates has shed brilliant light on authors and traditions
kept in the shadows for too long. From "signifying monkeys"
to small-town West Virginia, from ancient Africa to the new
New York, Skip Gates has described the American experience
with force, with dignity and, most of all, with color.
Ladies and gentlemen, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Applause.) The
Medal is presented.)—clinton6
The Signifying Monkey: Towards a Theory of Afro-American
Literary Criticism (1989)
Colored People: A Memoir (1994, memoir)
* * *
* * * *
Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory
—The Black Panther
Party for Self Defense, formed in the aftermath
of the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965,
remains one of the most controversial movements
of the 20th-century. Founded by the charismatic
Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the party
sounded a defiant cry for an end to the
institutionalized subjugation of African
Americans. The Black Panther newspaper was
founded to articulate the party's message and
artist Emory Douglas became the paper's art
director and later the party's Minister of
Culture. Douglas's artistic talents and
experience proved a powerful combination: his
striking collages of photographs and his own
drawings combined to create some of the era's
most iconic images, like that of Newton with his
signature beret and large gun set against a
background of a blood-red star, which could be
found blanketing neighborhoods during the 12
years the paper existed. This landmark book
brings together a remarkable lineup of party
insiders who detail the crafting of the party's
Douglas was the Norman Rockwell of the ghetto,
concentrating on the poor and oppressed.
Departing from the WPA/social realist style of
portraying poor people, which can be perceived
as voyeuristic and patronizing, Douglas’s
energetic drawings showed respect and action. He
maintained poor people’s dignity while
graphically illustrating harsh situations.—Wikipedia
* * * *
A Life of Reinvention
in the making-the definitive biography of
the legendary black activist.
Of the great figure in twentieth-century
American history perhaps none is more
complex and controversial than Malcolm X.
Constantly rewriting his own story, he
became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and
an icon, all before being felled by
assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine.
Through his tireless work and countless
speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands
of black Americans to create better lives
and stronger communities while establishing
the template for the self-actualized,
independent African American man. In death
he became a broad symbol of both resistance
and reconciliation for millions around the
new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement.
Filled with new information and shocking revelations
that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a
sweeping story of race and class in America, from the
rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the
struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties
Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his
parents' activism through his own engagement with the
Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the
world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the
never-before-told true story of his assassination.
Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of
the most singular forces for social change, capturing
with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in
the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.
* * *
The People Debate the Constitution,
By Pauline Maier
A notable historian
of the early republic, Maier devoted a
decade to studying the immense
documentation of the ratification of the
Constitution. Scholars might approach
her book’s footnotes first, but history
fans who delve into her narrative will
meet delegates to the state conventions
whom most history books, absorbed with
the Founders, have relegated to
obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local
counties and towns, they influenced a
convention’s decision to accept or
reject the Constitution. Their
biographies and democratic credentials
emerge in Maier’s accounts of their
elections to a convention, the political
attitudes they carried to the conclave,
and their declamations from the floor.
The latter expressed opponents’
objections to provisions of the
Constitution, some of which seem
anachronistic (election regulation
raised hackles) and some of which are
thoroughly contemporary (the power to
tax individuals directly).
Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists,
animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one
state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging
grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier
eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in
* * *
Lincoln on Race and Slavery
Edited By Henry Louis Gates and Donald
Generations of Americans have debated
the meaning of Abraham Lincoln's views
on race and slavery. He issued the
Emancipation Proclamation and supported
a constitutional amendment to outlaw
slavery, yet he also harbored grave
doubts about the intellectual capacity
of African Americans, publicly used the
n-word until at least 1862, and favored
permanent racial segregation. In this
book—the first complete collection of
Lincoln's important writings on both
race and slavery—readers
can explore these contradictions through
Lincoln's own words. Acclaimed Harvard
scholar and documentary filmmaker Henry
Louis Gates, Jr., presents the full
range of Lincoln's views, gathered from
his private letters, speeches, official
documents, and even race jokes, arranged
chronologically from the late 1830s to
Complete with definitive texts, rich historical
notes, and an original introduction by Henry Louis
Gates, Jr., this book charts the progress of a war
within Lincoln himself. We witness his struggles
with conflicting aims and ideas—a hatred of slavery
and a belief in the political equality of all men,
but also anti-black prejudices and a determination
to preserve the Union even at the cost of preserving
slavery. We also watch the evolution of his
racial views, especially in reaction to the heroic
fighting of black Union troops.
* * * * *
Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality, 1890-2000
By Adam Fairclough
Better Day Coming is intended, in author Adam
Fairclough's words, as "neither a textbook nor a survey, but
an interpretation" (p. xiv) of the circuitous struggle for
racial equality pursued by African Americans and their
occasional allies between 1890 and 2000. Chronologically
organized, the narrative moves from an evaluation of the
hard-pressed, contending forces vying for ascendancy in the
black South at the nadir to the interwar period and well
beyond, into the urban cauldron of the northern ghettoes at
the high point of the Black Power movement. Fairclough
brings to his project a fluent understanding of the shifting
institutional configurations of opposition to Jim Crow and a
keen sensitivity to the ways in which the efforts of those
who fought it were hampered, circumscribed, and occasionally
crushed by the pressures of operating in a society formally
committed—for most of the period under discussion—to
aggressive defense of the racial status quo.
Fairclough's "basic argument" seems at first glance
uncontroversial: that "although blacks differed . . . about the most
appropriate tactics in the struggle for equality, they were united in
rejecting allegations of racial inferiority and in aspiring to a society
where men and women would be judged on merit rather than by race or
color" (p. xii).
But his ultimate aim is more ambitious: he sets out
to rehabilitate the accommodationist tradition represented by Booker T.
Washington which, though "apparently unheroic," in the author's view
"laid the groundwork for the militant confrontation of the Civil Rights
Movement" (p. xiii).—h-net
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America.
This collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * * *
Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered
the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It
By H. W. Brands
In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent
U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance
helped transform economies in countries ranging from
Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China
He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008
world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and
the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign. The Economy
* * * *
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(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 15 June 2012