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This book uncovers some lost history of radical political activity in the South, dispelling

the image of the South as conservative, provincial and unconcerned

with the problems of poverty, inequality, unemployment which plagued the region

 

 

Books by James Smethurst

 

The New Red Negro: The Literary Left and African American Poetry / Radicalism in the South Since Reconstruction

 

The Black Arts Movement

 

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Radicalism in the South Since Reconstruction

Edited by Chris Green, Rachel Rubin, and James Smethurst

 

Reviews

 

 

This book broadly frames the scholarly conversation about southern radicalism, putting essays covering a range of historical periods and topics in dialogue with each other so as to get a sense of the range of southern politics and history. — Palgrave Macmillan

 

“A welcome contribution to the growing body of revisionist scholarship influenced by postmodernism. The multidisciplinary essays do not belong to the traditional schools of either consensus or conflict history, but rather adopt the perspective of diversity without boundaries. Focusing on diversity within the region, they challenge the conventional notion of a South unified by reactionary ideology…As these essays clearly show, American history was changed by homegrown southern radicals who dared to dream and become the missionaries for a new social order.”—Ronald L. Lewis, Stuart and Joyce Robbins Chair in History, West Virginia University
 
“A stunning, dazzling and, ultimately, insightful collection of essays which reaffirms the simple fact that those who wish to understand the U.S. must understand the U.S. South—and those who wish to understand the U.S. South must read this book.”—Gerald Horne, author of Black and Brown:  African-Americans and the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920 
 
"This book uncovers some lost history of radical political activity in the South, dispelling the image of the South as conservative, provincial and unconcerned with the problems of poverty, inequality, unemployment which plagued the region. Thanks to Smethurst, Green, and Rubin for disturbing our ideas of the South and adding to our knowledge of Southern politics and history."—Helen Matthews Lewis, author of Mountain Sisters: From Convent to Community in Appalachia
 
“Radicalism in the South is a scintillating blend of historical narrative, biography, reminiscence, primary materials, cultural studies, and literary criticism. By thoughtfully combining fresh source materials and perspectives, the volume presents the political and cultural terrain of the post-Reconstruction South as we have seldom seen it—from the angle of labor, the Left, cultural workers, anti-racist activists, and more. The result is an indispensable addition to the growing collection of works that encourage the reconsideration of a region too often shrouded in clichés and myths.”—Alan Wald, Professor, Program in American Culture, University of Michigan, and author of Trinity of Passion: The U.S. Literary Left and the Anti-fascist Crusade

 

James Smethurst is Associate Professor of History and Afro-American Studies in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Rachel Rubin is Associate Professor of American Studies, University of Massachusetts-Boston. Chris Green is Assistant Professor of English, Marshall University.   

 

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

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

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

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#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

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#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 Black Arts Movement (Smethurst)

The Black Arts Movement
Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s

By James Edward Smethurst 

Emerging from a matrix of Old Left, black nationalist, and bohemian ideologies and institutions, African American artists and intellectuals in the 1960s coalesced to form the Black Arts Movement, the cultural wing of the Black Power Movement. In this comprehensive analysis, James Smethurst examines the formation of the Black Arts Movement and demonstrates how it deeply influenced the production and reception of literature and art in the United States through its negotiations of the ideological climate of the Cold War, decolonization, and the civil rights movement.

Taking a regional approach, Smethurst examines local expressions of the nascent Black Arts Movement, a movement distinctive in its geographical reach and diversity, while always keeping the frame of the larger movement in view. The Black Arts Movement, he argues, fundamentally changed American attitudes about the relationship between popular culture and "high" art and dramatically transformed the landscape of public funding for the arts.Publisher, University of North Carolina Press

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Visions of a Liberated Future

Black Arts Movement Writings

By Larry Neal

"What we have been trying to arrive at is some kind of synthesis of the writer's function as an oppressed individual and a creative artist," states Neal (1937-1981), a writer, editor, educator and activist prominent in the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and '70s. Articulate, highly charged essays about the black experience examine the views of his predecessors--musicians and political theorists as well as writers--continually weighing artistic achievement against political efficacy. While the essays do not exclude any readers, Neal's drama, poetry and fiction are more limited in their form of address, more explicitly directed to the oppressed. The poems are particularly intense in their protest: "How many of them / . . . have been made to /prostitute their blood / to the merchants of war." Rhythmic and adopting the repetitive structure of music, they capture the "blues in our mothers' voices / which warned us / blues people bursting out." Commentaries by Neal's peers, Amiri Baraka, Stanley Crouch, Charles Fuller and Jayne Cortez, introduce the various sections.—Publishers Weekly

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

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, and scholar 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'."

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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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