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The primal event in American History, other than the founding itself, is the Civil War, saving the Union,

 defending the Constitution, and redefining the Declaration of Independence to include all men, which

Lincoln did. Lincoln was very consistent about that. So, whereas you can’t have subsequent events

 without the founding, it really was the Civil War which was the truly great American Revolution.

 

 

Books by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

 

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

 

Cosmopolitanism / Identity and Violence / The Norton Anthology of African American Literature

 

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Lincoln on Race and Slavery

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Interviewed by Kam Williams

 

Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr. was born in Piedmont, West Virginia on September 16, 1950 to Henry, Sr. and Pauline Coleman. Today, he is a world-renowned scholar and educator and the Alphonse Fletcher Professor at Harvard University.

In his capacity as a public intellectual, he has served as host of “African-American Lives,” a PBS series which employs a combination of genealogy and science to reconstruct the family trees of the descendants of slaves. And just last year, he co-founded “The Root,” a sophisticated website dedicated to the concerns of the black intelligentsia.

Here, in conjunction with the celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, Professor Gates discusses two new projects revolving around the 16th President, his book, Lincoln on Race and Slavery, and his PBS special, “Looking for Lincoln.”

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KW: Hi Dr. Gates, I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.

SG: No, it’s my pleasure.

KW: Where should I start? What approach did you take in terms of producing your new PBS series on Lincoln? 

SG: Lincoln’s myth is so capacious that each generation of Americans has been able to find its own image reflected in the mirror of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is our “Man for All Seasons.” There’s a Communist Lincoln, a Republican Lincoln, Lincoln the writer, Lincoln the orator, Lincoln the atheist, Lincoln the Christian, Lincoln the war criminal, Lincoln the Savior of the Union, the Confederate Lincoln, the African-American Lincoln, etcetera. So, I wanted to look at all these myths about Lincoln, deconstruct them, and see what the actual man was like. And, frankly, I also wanted to confront the complexity of his attitudes towards slavery and racial equality, which weren’t exactly the same thing. For, while he was fundamentally opposed to slavery, it took him a while to embrace racial equality.   

KW: As a person who majored in black studies, I appreciated the fact that you included Lerone Bennett and a discussion of his 650-page biography of Lincoln, Forced into Glory. Bennett’s ordinarily overlooked when it comes to Lincoln scholars, since he indicts the 16th President as a racist who very reluctantly freed the slaves.  

SG: Thank you. First of all, I admire Lerone Bennett. When I was 18, I read his essay in Ebony Magazine, “Was Abe Lincoln a White Supremacist?” At the time, I didn’t have the intellectual sophistication to judge his evidence. But of course it was a shock when I read it. 

KW: Did you enjoy doing research for the series?

SG: It was a delight! [Chuckles] Doing this film was a learning experience for me, because I hadn’t explored much of the Lincoln scholarship other than George Fredrickson’s last book. [Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race] I went back to read Lincoln’s own words and what historians had to say about him.

KW: What did you learn?

SG: That he was an enormously complex man . . . that he had his flaws, but he changed. He progressed. He changed during the Civil War. Through the efforts of Frederick Douglass and the achievements of the 200,000 black men who fought in the Union Army, he came to have new respect for black people. And, in fact, in his last speech he advocated the right to vote for the black veterans and for the “very intelligent Negroes.” That’s what made John Wilkes Booth kill him. Booth was in the audience, and said, “That’s it. That means [N-word] citizenship. And I’m going to run him through.” So, Lincoln literally gave his life for espousing black rights.    

KW: On the show, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin says, “It’s not Lincoln’s fault that he was mythologized. Lincoln had to live in his times.” You responded to her by saying, “Doris was right,” and “I’ve come to admire him.” How did you get to that point?

SG: I really got to that point in the middle of that interview. I had been walking around upset with Lincoln’s reluctance to support equal rights and his determination to free the slaves but to encourage them to migrate to Panama, Haiti or Liberia. Doris said, “You’re upset because you feel like you’ve been lied to. But Lincoln didn’t lie to you. The historians did.” There’s a cult of Lincoln among some historians who feel almost like they’re the disciples of Christ. Lincoln is like a secular Christ in America. So, once I could get straight about who to be upset with, I was fine.

KW: Another thing you said which upset me was when you spoke about Lincoln’s being the seminal story in American History. Do you really think that Lincoln has replaced the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and the rest of the Colonial Period?  

SG: Oh, sure, absolutely. The primal event in American History, other than the founding itself, is the Civil War, saving the Union, defending the Constitution, and redefining the Declaration of Independence to include all men, which Lincoln did. Lincoln was very consistent about that. So, whereas you can’t have subsequent events without the founding, it really was the Civil War which was the truly great American Revolution.

KW: Tell me a little about Lincoln on Race and Slavery.

SG: In this book, I examine three strands of thought. Imagine a braid of hair. Most of just us say, “Lincoln freed the slaves, therefore he liked black people.” That’s the braid, but it turns out the braid has three strands. One strand is how he felt about slavery; another is how he felt about racial equality, and the third is colonization. We find contradictory impulses in Lincoln at least through 1863 when he finally begins to do the right thing, and all three strands are re-connected into a new braid.  

KW: What do you think about our new president?

SG: I think Barack Obama is going to be one of the best presidents in the history of this republic.

KW: Is there a question you’ve never been asked, that you wish someone would?

SG: [Chuckles] I’ve pretty much been asked everything. . . . Here’s one: Why do I do what I do? 

KW: Why do you do what you do? 

SG: Because I love black people, and my goal is to restore black history from on the grand scale, the broad sweep of history, down to the level of each black person’s family tree.

KW: Speaking of family trees, will there be a third season of African-American Lives?

SG: My next series is called “Faces of America,” where I’ll be tracing the roots of two Jewish-Americans, two Arab-Americans, two Latino-Americans, two Asian-Americans, two West Indian-Americans, two Irish Americans and an Italian-American. So, we’ll be employing the same genetics and genealogy format, but for the broader American public. I’m very excited about it.  

KW: When I interviewed Lisa Kudrow, she told me a similar British TV-series is helping her trace her roots which had sort of hit a dead end with the Holocaust as far as she knew. 

SG: Yeah, these genealogy shows are popping up everywhere now. And most of them are the sons and daughters of African-American Lives, so I’m very proud of that.

KW: I remember you traced most of your roots back to Ireland.

SG: Only on my father’s side. I definitely have something called the U Neill Haplotype on my father’s sign, which means I’m related to 8% of all the men in Ireland. [Chuckles]

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

SG: Sure, I was afraid the American people weren’t going to do the right thing and overcome centuries of discrimination by voting for the better candidate. A month ago, my 95 year-old father had pneumonia and I was afraid.

KW: 95! God bless him!

SG: Thanks. A little fear is a good thing. Being paralyzed by fear, however, is not a good thing. 

KW: Why did you stay at Harvard during the great exodus of so many other African-American professors after they were mistreated by then Harvard President Larry Summers (who is now in the Obama administration)?

SG: I stayed to defend what I, Cornell West, Anthony Appiah, former Harvard President Neil Rudenstine and our other colleagues had all built. I felt that it would be vulnerable, if I left. That’s why I stayed, and it was the right decision.

KW: How are Harvard students different from Princeton students?

SG: I’ve never taught Princeton students.

KW: Wait, I live in Princeton, and I used to see you around town and even met you here at an NAACP function.  

SG: I was at the Institute for Advance Study while on leave from Harvard. But I didn’t teach. I was on sabbatical. However, I would imagine that the students are just as smart and as energetic and wonderful as the students at Harvard. They’re from the same gene pool. [Chuckles]

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

SG: I’m a very happy person. My life has been such a fantasy, I’m sometimes afraid that I’m going to wake up and it’ll turn out that I’ve been in a coma.

KW: That’s the vibe you give off, like Alicia Keys, who has a very grounded vibe. 

SG: Yeah, she’s very centered.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

SG: A biography of Alain Locke by Leonard Harris and Chalres Molesworth.

KW: The Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?

SG: My mother, Pauline Coleman Gates, who is deceased, and my father, Henry Louis Gates, Sr.

KW: What was the biggest obstacle you’ve ever had to overcome?

SG: I had an infected hip replacement, a 300,000 white blood cell count, which is huge. So, I had to have emergency surgery, because I could have died. I wasn’t frightened, but that was the biggest obstacle. That’s when you’ve descended into the valley of the shadows, and you have to fight to come back. And fortunately, I made it.   

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What music are you listening to? 

SG: I almost exclusively listen to Soul Street on XM Radio, Channel 60. It’s R&B from the Fifties and Sixties. I’m just an old-school black man.

KW: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?

SG: I want them to watch my programs and then give me their feedback and tell me what they think. That’s the best way they can help.

KW: What advice do you have for a young black kid who wants to follow in your footsteps?

SG: Overall, by staying in school, deferring gratification and believing in the power of education is the way that we can help ourselves as a people.  

KW: How do you want to be remembered?

SG: As a man who loved black people, and who fought to preserve their great cultural traditions!

KW: Thanks again for the time, Dr. Gates.

SG: Thank you, buddy.

To see a trailer for

Looking for Lincoln hosted by Skp Gates

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Looking for Lincoln

PBS-TV Film Review by Kam Williams

What’s the truth about Abraham Lincoln? Was he really the man mythologized as “The Great Emancipator” and a champion of equality for African-Americans? Or was he, as some detractors say, a racist only freed the slaves as a last resort to save the Union because the North was losing the Civil War. Or still again, was he, as unrepentant rebels still describe, a traitor of Southern whites who single-handedly ruined the nation forever with the Emancipation Proclamation.

These are the divergent points-of-view of the 16th President of the United States presented in Looking for Lincoln, a 2-part PBS Series hosted by Harvard University Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates. Among the historians weighing-in is Ebony Magazine editor Emeritus Lerone Bennett, Jr. author of Forced into Glory, a damning biography which depicts Honest Abe as a hypocrite who enslaved far more blacks than he ever freed. And at the other extreme, Gates interviews some rednecks he tracked down at a sons of the Confederacy convention who looked like they were ready to string him up if he pushed the issue.

Not surprisingly, most of the luminaries participating in the program tend to speak of Lincoln in more glowing terms. Included in this group are Pulitzer Prize-winners Doris Kearns Goodwin and Tony Kushner, former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and Professors David Blight, Allen Guelzo, James Horton and David Herbert.

As usual with his PBS programs, Skip Gates is given to making some of his typically-grating, nails-on-the-blackboard pronouncements, such as “If I had been President, I would have followed the same blueprint.” Equally-infuriating is his saying “Doris was right,” in going out of his way to rubber-stamp Kearns Goodwin’s lame explanation for Abe’s decades-long delay in joining the abolitionist movement. “Lincoln had to live in his times,” she explains.  

Perhaps even more ponderous is her assertion that “It’s not Lincoln’s fault that he was mythologized” despite her adding to the mystique with her best seller “Team of Rivals.” Then, she makes the equally-bizarre claim that he was assassinated “on the happiest day of his life” without providing any conclusive proof to draw such a dramatic conclusion.

Nonetheless, Looking for Lincoln is a worthwhile bio-pic which knocks off his pedestal an American icon undeserving of secular sainthood.

Excellent (4 stars) ? Rated: TV-PG  / Running time: 120 minutes / Studio: PBS

To see a trailer for Looking for Lincoln hosted by Skip Gates, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p91V-BHfe6k

 

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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 Alphonse Fletcher 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 scholar." However he is criticized as non-representative of Black people by prominent African-American scholars such as Molefi Asante, 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 House.On March 9, 2010, Gates claimed on the Oprah Winfrey Show that he and Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer in the Cambridge incident, share a common ancestor.Wikipedia

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Abraham Lincoln  (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in 1865. He led the country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis — the American Civil War — preserving the Union while ending slavery and promoting economic and financial modernization. Reared in a poor family on the western frontier, Lincoln was mostly self-educated. He became a country lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, and a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives, but failed in two attempts at a seat in the United States Senate. He was an affectionate, though often absent, husband and father of four children.

After deftly opposing the expansion of slavery in the United States in his campaign debates and speeches, Lincoln secured the Republican nomination and was elected president in 1860. Following declarations of secession by southern slave states, war began in April 1861, and he concentrated on both the military and political dimensions of the war effort, seeking to reunify the nation. He vigorously exercised unprecedented war powers, including the arrest and detention without trial of thousands of suspected secessionists. He prevented British recognition of the Confederacy by skillfully handling the Trent affair late in 1861. He issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and promoted the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery.

Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including the commanding general Ulysses S. Grant. He brought leaders of various factions of his party into his cabinet and pressured them to cooperate. Under his leadership, the Union took control of the border slave states at the start of the war and tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. Each time a general failed, Lincoln substituted another until finally Grant succeeded in 1865. An exceptionally astute politician deeply involved with power issues in each state, he reached out to War Democrats and managed his own re-election in the 1864 presidential election.

As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican party, Lincoln came under attack from all sides. Radical Republicans wanted harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats desired more compromise, and Copperheads despised him—not to mention irreconcilable secessionists in reconquered areas. Politically, Lincoln fought back with patronage, by pitting his opponents against each other, and by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory. His Gettysburg Address of 1863 became the most quoted speech in American history. It was an iconic statement of America's dedication to the principles of nationalism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to speedily reunite the nation through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. However, just six days after the surrender of Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was shot and killed by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. His death marked the first assassination of a U.S. president. Lincoln has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. presidents.Wikipedia

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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)

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The Fiery Trial

Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

By Eric Foner

A mixture of visionary progressivism and repugnant racism, Abraham Lincoln's attitude toward slavery is the most troubling aspect of his public life, one that gets a probing assessment in this study. Columbia historian and Bancroft Prize winner Foner (Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men) traces the complexities of Lincoln's evolving ideas about slavery and African-Americans: while he detested slavery, he also publicly rejected political and social equality for blacks, dragged his feet (critics charged) on emancipating slaves and accepting black recruits into the Union army, and floated schemes for colonizing freedmen overseas almost to war's end. Foner situates this record within a lucid, nuanced discussion of the era's turbulent racial politics; in his account Lincoln is a canny operator, cautiously navigating the racist attitudes of Northern whites, prodded--and sometimes willing to be prodded--by abolitionists and racial egalitarians pressing faster reforms.

But as Foner tells it, Lincoln also embodies a society-wide transformation in consciousness, as the war's upheavals and the dynamic new roles played by African-Americans made previously unthinkable claims of freedom and equality seem inevitable. Lincoln is no paragon in Foner's searching portrait, but something more essential--a politician with an open mind and a restless conscience. 16 pages of illus., 3 maps.—Publishers Weekly

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.WashingtonPost

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What This Cruel War Was Over

Soldiers Slavery and the Civil War

By Chandra Manning

For this impressively researched Civil War social history, Georgetown assistant history professor Manning visited more than two dozen states to comb though archives and libraries for primary source material, mostly diaries and letters of men who fought on both sides in the Civil War, along with more than 100 regimental newspapers. The result is an engagingly written, convincingly argued social history with a point—that those who did the fighting in the Union and Confederate armies "plainly identified slavery as the root of the Civil War." Manning backs up her contention with hundreds of first-person testimonies written at the time, rather than often-unreliable after-the-fact memoirs. While most Civil War narratives lean heavily on officers, Easterners and men who fought in Virginia, Manning casts a much broader net. She includes immigrants, African-Americans and western fighters, in order, she says, "to approximate cross sections of the actual Union and Confederate ranks."

Based on the author's dissertation, the book is free of academese and appeals to a general audience, though Manning's harsh condemnation of white Southerners' feelings about slavery and her unstinting praise of Union soldiers' "commitment to emancipation" take a step beyond scholarly objectivity.—Publishers Weekly

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years 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 world.

Manning Marable's 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 and sixties.

Reaching into 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.

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Ratification

The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

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 American history.Booklist

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Lincoln on Race and Slavery

Edited By Henry Louis Gates and Donald Yacovone

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 slaveryreaders 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 the 1860s.

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.

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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

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 17 February 2009 

 

 

 

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