Books on Toussaint
Hubert Cole. Christophe: King of Haiti. New
York: The Viking Press, 1967.
The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution
Caribbean Doscourse (2004)
/ Barbara Harlow.
Resistance Literature (1987)
Josaphat B. Kubayanda.
The Poet's Africa: Africanness in the Poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Aime
Paul Laraque and Jack Hirschman.
Gate An Anthology of Haitian Creole Poetry
David P. Geggus, ed.
The Impact of the
Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World.
University of South Carolina Press, 2001.
* * *
Trapped by Leclerc
Treachery of Napoleon & the French
Peace with Leclerc
It was bright May
morning when Toussaint took leave of his comrades in arms in the
little town of La Marmelade.
Summoning his troops to the Place d’Armes, he announced
that he had just made his peace with Leclerc.
With controlled emotion, he extolled his men’s valour
and their loyalty to himself: “Never forget that you are the
guardians of the honour of your race.”
stiffly in his black and gold uniform, concealed his tears from
his soldiers’ eyes. The
only outward signs of his emotion were the thickness of his
voice, the slightly rounded shoulders, the sadness of his eyes.
As though tearing himself away from his army by force, he
leaped on his horse, and, followed by a small escort,
disappeared in the direction of Ennery. And his men had the feeling that all their glory and freedom
was vanishing with him over the horizon.
Five thousand soldiers wept unrestrainedly.
afternoon, under the command of Morisset and Magny, they went to
place themselves at the service of Captain-General Leclerc.
did not stay long at Ennery, but almost immediately pushed on to
Gonaives, where Generals Dessalines and Charles Belair had
established their headquarters.
the outset they flatly refused to lay down their arms, and this
is Toussaint’s own account of the interview he had with them:
"I invited Dessalines, who was staying at the Georges
plantation, to come and meet me.
I urged him to surrender, as I had done, telling him that
great sacrifices were necessary in the public interest.
I pointed out that I had gone the length of sacrificing
my power, but that he would be able to retain his.
I said the same things to my nephew, Charles Belair.
I even brought myself to plead with them, despite my
natural repugnance. . . . They
seemed heartbroken at having to leave me, and even shed tears.
After this interview each returned to his own residence."
the very outset of his career Dessalines had envisage the total
independence of the Colony as his ultimate goal.
Toussaint’s various political moves and the carefully
calculated steps in his negotiations with the home government
were not all to Dessalines’s taste.
He would undertake to serve France only with the mental
reservation that in due course he would blow up the entire
colonial machinery. He
set out to surrender to Leclerc at Cap Francais, riding proudly
into the city at the head of five hundred dragoons.
the region of Ennery, Toussaint Louverture possessed four
beautiful estates: Sensay, Beaumont, Rouffeliers, and Descahaux.
The last-named, with its flourishing coffee plantation,
was the Negro leader’s favourite, and to it he retired.
During his sojourn there Toussaint, surrounded by his
family, reverted to the customs which had been interrupted by
the imperious demands of war.
Every morning, wearing the costume of a landowner—long
white tunic and white trousers and a broad-brimmed straw
hat—he would ride through his fields and personally direct the
labourers in their work. His
life was peaceful, and filled with tranquility of soil and
manifold disappointments seemed to have lent a spiritual quality
to the lean features, and he had become extraordinarily kind
with the mildness that so often springs from despair.
His labourers no longer recognized in their master the
imperious, dogmatic autocrat they had known.
He even relaxed his excessive religious practices.
Had he ceased to believe in God?
It almost seemed so, for on the day on which he had taken
leave of his men, he had gone to the church at Ennery.
Unknown to Toussaint, his nephew Bernard Chancy had
followed him inside.
saw his uncle walk slowly up the altar where there stood a
beautiful marble crucifix, which he himself had presented to the
church. With an
angry countenance Toussaint started at the image, and then, in
the bitterness of his defeat, he proceeded to apostrophize it:
‘You! You are the
God of the white men, not the God of the Negroes!
You have betrayed men, and deserted me!
You have no pity for my race!’
And with a violent movement of his hand this man, who
feared only God, hurled the crucifix to the ground, where it lay
shattered in a thousand pieces.
mood of despair was not final, however.
Toussaint was a tenacious man; and he had not abdicated.
He thought that he could still, when he wished, pick up
the broken pieces of his sword and set out once more in quest of
the ever-tantalizing goal of freedom.
Captain-General had been victorious, but he entertained serious
misgivings, about the extent of his triumph.
He was not long in revealing his bias against the Negro
leader. He had
already requested Toussaint to dismiss his private guard, which
according to their agreement he was entitled to retain; and
Toussaint had done so. Soldiers
from the Ennery garrison raided Toussaint’s plantation day and
night, pillaging the crops, ill-treating his employees and
slaughtering his livestock.
Armed men, spies, continually hung about in the vicinity
of his residence.
had already sent a vigorous letter to Leclerc protesting against
the raids and the espionage; but the Captain-General had not
deigned to reply. Since
the depredations went from bad to worse, and threats were
directed against Toussaint himself, he then sent Placide to
Leclerc with yet another letter in which he wrote: "having
found that my residence in the mountains is not such as to
inspire confidence, I am proposing to move to Beaumont, just
did so forthwith. This
removal did nothing to appease the French officers’
suspicions, and the pastime of subjecting Toussaint to
irritations and pinpricks merely increased in intensity.
He again informed the Captain-General of his desire for
peace, told him that there were no armed men on his estates, and
said that if the molestations did not cease he would remove far
away to one of his remote eastern estates.
to Seize Toussaint's Person
that he might lose his prey, Leclerc determined to seize
Toussaint’s person while he could.
If this project was to accomplished honourably it might,
of course, lead to another general conflagration; it was
therefore desirable to lure Toussaint into some sort of trap.
the French army was having to confront an enemy much more
relentless than Toussaint had ever been: yellow fever.
Within the space of a fortnight six thousand white men,
soldiers and civilians, succumbed to the disease.
Particularly were the soldiers stricken, and the
hospitals of Cap Francais and Port au Prince were filled
overflowing with sick men, whose moaning could be heard far
away. Leclerc did
not know how to meet this new scourge.
His splendid army was disappearing before his eyes,
transformed into carrion in a tropical climate already poisoned
by bitter warfare. Futhermore,
since war had again broken out with England, the British Fleet
was blockading the harbours of Saint Domingue once more, and
very few French supply ships were able to win through to the
task of finally pacifying Saint Domingue also meant daily and
bloody combats. Negroes,
absolutely invincible, formed fanatical bands, and from the
hills, the forests, and the bush they planned and carried out
pitless raids on French camps, on the towns, and even into the
suburbs of Cap Francais itself. Everywhere the French army was continually being harried by
these "irascible brigands," to use Leclerc’s own
followed the course of events with delight.
Strictly speaking he was not the brain behind the
rebellion, but it admirably expressed his secret longing.
Silent, he gave no inkling of his pleasure; but Leclerc,
through his spies, knew that an air of optimism was reigning
among the veterans of Toussaint’s guard, who lived near him.
These veterans frankly declared that they were only
waiting for the right moment to take up their arms again.
on the other hand, his nerves stretched to breaking-point by
anxiety and fear, was gradually being worn down.
His nervousness and alarm could be seen in the wholesale
slaughtering of Negroes that he now ordered.
He even went so far as to hold Toussaint responsible for
the defeats of the French soldiers by the rebel bands.
He was now convinced that Toussaint was directing the
whole rebellion from behind the scenes.
the other side of the picture, was Toussaint really conspiring
against the French army? There
can be little doubt that he was, for such hidden activity would
appeal to him as the only means of furthering his aim; and he
must have been urged to it by the tremendous effect on the
French army of the deadly onslaughts of yellow fever.
Toussaint thus lived dangerously, virtually unprotected,
on his estate, knowing well that he was constantly menaced, and
yet taking a voluptuous pleasure in throwing the dice just once
more, even when he knew that the odds were against him.
order to justify his decision to arrest Toussaint, Leclerc
produced two letters which, it was alleged, Toussaint had sent
to his former chief of staff, Fontaine, who resides at Cap
flatly denied having written them, and stated that they must be
of the two men are we to believe?
It is certain that the letters are written in
Toussaint’s inimitable style, and the very phrases seem to
reveal Toussaint’s way of thinking.
they are false, then the author certainly knew how to get inside
Toussaint’s mind, for the whole correspondence is imbued with
the spirit of Toussaint, with his sense of irony and his
is an extract:
|At last Providence [the name of the
hospital in Cap Francais, overflowing with sick
Frenchmen] has come to our aid.
How many journeys do they make to Fossette [the
cemetery] every night?
It is known that General Leclerc is far from well
at Tortue. I
must be kept informed of this.
If you see the Captain-General, do not fail to
tell him that the plantation workers do not obey to him.
You must see we can win over anyone who has
access to him.
You must see X about the A . . s from New Orleans.
As for how much flour [gunpowder] can be sent, it
cannot be sent at all unless it is sent to the east.
Write to me at Majaca, and I shall tell you where
it must be landed.
Tell Gingembre Trop Fort that he must not leave
the region of Borgne, for it is essential that the
plantation workers should not resume their labours.
As soon as General Leclerc has fallen seriously
ill . . . please be good enough to inform me."
is no doubt that this document is Toussaint’s work, even
though he did not append his signature.
Everything is typical of the man: the subtlety, the
cynicism, the touch of fanaticism, the delight in somber humour.
And there are two other indications that he must be have
been the author. In
the second letter there is a passage of invective directed
against Henry Christophe, and regrets are expressed at
Dessaline’s seeming indifference to the writer. Dessalines was in fact cooling towards Toussaint.
He considered the former chief as finished, and his sole
object was to succeed him.
was quite within his rights in wanting to eliminate Toussaint
from the scene, in just as Toussaint was equally entitled to try
to restore the situation to his own advantages, for, despite the
harshness of his methods, his sole aim was to abolish the odious
system of repression and achieve the final victory and freedom
of his race. So he
feigned inaction, while secretly organizing the revolt which
would enable him to leap on to the stage once more with all the
ferocity and bitterness that had accumulated within him as the
result of his recent defeats and experiences.
Leclerc was turning over in his mind how he could rid himself of
Toussaint without having recourse to violence, which would only
mean setting the whole Colony in a turmoil once more.
But it was no easy task to capture this astute man, as
wily as a fox. Besides,
the most unforeseen consequence might ensue, for if his attempt
were to fail Leclerc would find himself confronted with a wild
beast who this time would wage a war against him far more savage
and desperate than the previous one; and Leclerc’s army was
raids on Toussaint’s estates were renewed, and Toussaint
protested violently to Leclerc, who, having perhaps been waiting
just for this reaction, replied telling him that General Brunet
had been instructed to put an end to the incursions, and that it
would therefore be desirable for him to talk the matter over
with Brunet himself.
then wrote to Toussaint saying that he would be delighted to
meet him to profit by his wisdom and experience, since, having
just arrived in the Colony, he was not sufficiently conversant
with the local topography to know where to station his outposts.
He then went on to say that his military duties prevented
him from visiting Toussaint, and he therefore begged the latter
to make the short journey himself; and he ended his letter with
a duplicity unworthy of any soldier: "In my country estate
you will not find all the comforts and amenities with which I
would like to welcome you; but you will find the frankness of a
brave man whose desires are for your personal welfare . . . I
repeat, my dear General, that you will not find a more sincere
friend than myself."
Kidnapped by Brunet
persuaded by the French general’s tone, flattered by his
deference and respectful modesty, replied that though unwell he
would visit the Frenchman at his residence.
On June 5, 1802, he set out from the Beaumont plantation,
followed by a handful of horsemen.
Riding through the little town of Ennery he was slightly
surprised to note that the French garrison did not pay him the
usual honours due to his rank.
The soldiers, as he passed, were silent, and the officers
glanced at him with furtive embarrassment.
his pace, Toussaint rode swiftly on to the Pont Gaudin
plantation, where Brunet was awaiting him.
As soon as Brunet saw him in the distance he ran towards
dismounted at once, and the two men embraced each other warmly.
Entering the house together they withdrew to the room set
aside for the discussions.
The courtyard of Brunet’s residence was filled with
French guards, all armed. Toussaint’s
small escort mingled with the groups of soldiers.
Drinks and cordial greetings followed, while the former
enemies talked together of their past battles.
inside the house, Toussaint and Brunet were conversing together
the French general rose to his feet, and with a muttered apology
left the room. Almost immediately a detachment of ten men with fixed
bayonets swept in. Drawing
his sword, Toussaint leaped to his feet, his eyes flashing
General," said Ferrari, the officer in charge, and one of
Leclerc’s personal aides.
"Your men are already in chains, our troops command
the entire countryside, and you are surrounded.
The Captain-General has ordered me to arrest you.
You no longer count for anything in Saint Domingue:
surrender your sword."
in complete silence, Toussaint handed his sword to Ferrari.
On his face there was not a trace of fear, indignation,
or anger, only an expression of infinite shame: the shame of
having fallen into the obvious trap—he of all men, who was
normally so prudent. He
did not seem to be worried by speculation on his fate; he was
only humiliated that the proverbial eagle had once more fallen
victim to the cock.
was conducted, on foot, to Gonaives, and throughout the journey
the roads and streets were lined with groups of white soldiers. It was a bright, sunlit morning when he passed through the
streets of Gonaives, and the frightened townspeople beheld their
legendary hero, bound like a common thief, surrounded by nervous
guards—a slight, tragic figure with staring eyes, the blue
silk kerchief knotted about his head, and wearing the celebrated
three-cornered hat with its tricolour cockade and its red and
white plumes. In
his proud bearing there was a dignified air of resignation which
was then taken on board the Creole,
which had been lying off Gonaives for more than a week, and was
greeted with a crude remark from the master of the ship: "Ha!
So we’ve got you at last, eh, Toussaint?" The Negro leader, who had not uttered a word since his
arrest, retorted with cold fury: "Yes, you have my head,
but not my tail."
de Pesquidoux, the commander of the military escort, was
profoundly distressed at the event.
When the Creole
reached Cap Francais bay, she moved up to the Heros,
to which Toussaint was transferred.
There he was received by General Savary, who told him, to
add to his humiliation: "You won’t be able to play the
Negro Napoleon any more now, will you?"
Toussaint gave the French officer a scornful glance, and
then said, speaking slowly, as though he were reading the
future: "By overthrowing me you have merely succeeded in
cutting the trunk of Saint Domingue’s Tree of Liberty: but it
will grow again, for the roots are deep, and many."
Aftermath of Toussaint's Capture
filled his eyes when his fourteen-year-old son, Saint Jean, ran
to him weeping, and clasped his legs.
Gently he stroked the boy’s head, and then pushed him
away, saying, as he looked steadily into his eyes: "My son
must not cry. He
must learn to be brave in misfortune, and dream of the future."
member of Toussaint’s family had been seized and conveyed from
the Guerriere to the Heros:
Madame Louverture, Isaac, Placide, Bernard Chancy, Louise
Chancy, and a mulatto girl called Victorine Thuzac.
Among the other captives were Monpoint, the commander of
the elite Guard, Morrisset of the Red Cloaks, Toussaint’s
personal valet, Mars Plaisir, and a servant-girl, Justine.
reunion with his family was a short duration.
General Savary, his jailer, tore him away and led him
down to the cabin where he was to be left in solitary
soon as it became known that Toussaint has been carried off, it
was as though a train of gunpowder had been ignite.
The Negro masses, frenzied with grief, screamed out their
rage and despair. The
lambis sounded again,
summoning the warriors to war.
Charles Belair in the Saint Marc mountains, Sans Souci at
Vallieres, Petit Noel Prieur at Dondon, and Scylla at Plaisance,
all revolted, and swept down from their hiding-places at the
head of infuriated forces.
Petit Noel hurled all his forces at Ennery, destroying
everything that lay in his path.
ordered Christophe, Dessalines, and Clerveaux to put down the
Belair, falling into the hands of Dessalines, who was jealous of
him as Toussaint’s political heir, was shot by the side of
Sanite, his wife, Jacques Maurepas, the glorious conqueror of
Debelle at Kellola Pass, was drowned, together with his wife and
five young children. The
Captain-General had feared Maurepas more than any other Negro
drowning him, Debelle had Maurepas’s epaulettes nailed to his
the indomitable hero of Crete a Pierrot, was killed, by
Leclerc’s orders, in an ambush.
Paul Louverture and Simon Baptiste were drowned Fontaine
and Domange were put to the sword.
Leclerc, depressed by illness and maddened by the
conflagration he had provoked, thought he could put an end to
all the disorders by a blood-bath.
The public execution of women, rotting corpses hanging
from gibbets, drownings, murders—these were the methods used
by the Captain-General to preserve the Colony for France.
and Rochambeau had wooden cages built, which they called etouffoirs. Their
victims were shut up in these, which were then filled with
burning sulphur, and then thrown into the sea, so that they die
of asphyxiation—or drowning.
Dogs were then imported to devour the Negroes.
Negroes, during the course of these events in Saint Domingue,
were also guilty of grave excesses in their reprisals but they
never reached the pitch of sadism and crime achieved by their
of Continuing Rebellion
capture of Toussaint Louverture was not the only cause of the
rebellion: the general disarmament of the plantation workers,
decreed by Leclerc, was another very important cause.
The Negroes had never forgotten how Leger Felicite
Sonthonax had told them if the white men sought to take away the
guns he had given them, then the white men meant to enslave
were the more infuriated because France had re-established
slavery in the neighbouring colonies.
A decree authorizing this had appeared in the Officiel
on May 20, and in Guadeloupe, General Richepanse had carried it
out ‘with the sword’.
virtually at bay, sent frantic messages to Napoleon by every
boat, pleading for reinforcements to rectify the situation.
Napoleon, however, who was himself squandering the youth
of France on the battlefields of Europe, had no reserve
available for Saint Domingue.
Very occasionally, however, small quantities of
reinforcements came trickling in, and Leclerc promptly hurled
them into the holocaust, where they rapidly disappeared.
On September 13 he wrote again to his brother-in-law:
‘I have so far received 6,723 out of the 12,000 men promised
me, and sent them at once into battle.
They have all been wiped out.
My position is deteriorating rapidly every day.
My losses are incalculable.’
maddened by fear and illness, Leclerc redoubled his ferocity in
an attempt to terrorize his adversary, who, far from being
frightened, merely seemed to develop an added heroism with which
to face the oppressor. The
rebels pillaged and destroyed everything they could lay hands
on, and the landowners lived under the threat of imminent death
by fire, poison, or ambush.
The yellow fever increased in virulence, and twenty-two
French generals had already succumbed.
Saint Domingue had become a bottomless abyss of terror
the Captain-General’s letter to Napoleon there runs and
undercurrent, seeming to predict that death is not far distant.
Leclerc, in these letters, spoke of his anxieties, his
disappointments, his weariness; and he asked over and over again
for soldiers, arms, and money to be poured into the unquenchable
volcano of Saint Domingue.
Deep melancholy underlay his martial words, for Leclerc
well knew now that to preserve the Colony for France every
single Negro would have to be destroyed.
Yet, despite everything, he still thought that if his
brother-in-law were to send him a sufficiently large army of
men, he would be able to regain control of the situation.
therefore wrote in the following terms:
have received your latest dispatches. . . .
Do not think of re-establishing slavery before
the moment is ripe. . . .
There will be time enough for my successor to act
on the Government’s decree. . . .
After all my proclamations assuring the Negroes
of their freedom I cannot possibly go back on my word. .
today Dessalines had not even considered raising the
standard of revolt, but he is thinking of it now. . . .
I cannot have him arrested, because it would
merely upset all the other Negroes who theoretically
remain loyal to me.
I have slightly more confidence in Christophe.
But when these two are arrested it will have to
be simultaneously. . . .
troops which arrived a month ago have already been wiped
out. . . . Let
the Government send me 10,000 men, apart from the
reinforcements already on the way; let them also send me
two million in cash, not in orders on Vera Cruz.
When I ask you for money you do not reply.
Put yourself in my place . . . such desertion is
enough to cast down a less hardy spirit than mine. . . .
am seriously thinking of leaving this country. . . .
You will only be able to preserve Saint Domingue
by maintaining an army of 70,000 hardened and
the landing of the splendid troops of the French expeditionary
force Toussaint had cried out: "What criminal folly to
expose this army on the brink of a volcano!"
And Leclerc was now learning the bitter truth of this.
Disappointed in his high hopes, worn out with cares and
fatigues, the yellow fever found the ground well prepared for
its onslaught on the Captain-General.
October 21, while directing operations against Colonel Francois
Capois, who had recently annihilated an army commanded by
General Brunet at Port de Paix, Leclerc was seized by the
uncontrollable vomitings which invariably precede the dreaded vomito negro. He was at
once conveyed to bed. Pauline,
as beautiful as ever, now showed herself to be a courageous and
devoted wife. Quite
unafraid of contamination she tended her husband day and night;
but her care was all in vain.
ten o’clock in the evening on November 2, while a thin drizzle
of rain was falling outside, Leclerc, feeling the approach of
death, sent for his chief of staff, General Boyer, and dictated
his last wishes. General
Donatien Rochambeau was given the task of continuing the
operations against the rebels.
Leclerc died a quarter of an hour after midnight,
‘groaning about the folly of man’.
He was thirty years old.
Dessalines, Christophe, Clerveaux, Petion, and Geffrard,
all the rebel leaders, Negroes and mulattoes, were already up in
arms, forced into unity of action.
Three months after Toussaint’s departure his prophecy
had been fulfilled. Napoleon
and Leclerc had attempted something beyond their power: nothing
could enslave again the men who had once known freedom.
* * * * *
The Impact of the
Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World
Reviewed by Mimi Sheller
Fifteen international scholars, including
eminent historians David Brion Davis, Seymour Drescher, and Robin Blackburn,
explicate such diverse ramifications as the spawning of slave resistance and the
stimulation of slavery's expansion, the opening of economic frontiers, and the
formation of black and white diasporas. Seeking to disentangle the effects of
the Haitian Revolutionfrom those of the French Revolution, they demonstrate that
its impact was ambiguous, complex, and contradictory.—Publisher,
University of South Carolina Press
Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804
A Brief History with Documents
Dubois and John D. Garrigus
This volume details the
first slave rebellion to have a successful outcome, leading to
the establishment of Haiti as a free black republic and paving
the way for the emancipation of slaves in the rest of the French
Empire and the world. Incited by the French Revolution, the
enslaved inhabitants of the French Caribbean began a series of
revolts, and in 1791 plantation workers in Haiti, then known as
Saint-Domingue, overwhelmed their planter owners and began to
take control of the island. They achieved emancipation in 1794,
and after successfully opposing Napoleonic forces eight years
later, emerged as part of an independent nation in 1804. A broad
selection of documents, all newly translated by the authors, is
contextualized by a thorough introduction considering the very
latest scholarship. Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus clarify
for students the complex political, economic, and racial issues
surrounding the revolution and its reverberations worldwide.
Useful pedagogical tools include maps, illustrations, a
chronology, and a selected bibliography.—Publisher,
* * *
* * * * *
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus
By Charles C. Mann
a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous
New Revelations of the Americas Before
Columbus, in which he
provides a sweeping and provocative
examination of North and South America
prior to the arrival of Christopher
Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched
but so wonderfully written that it’s
anything but exhausting to read. With
1493, Mann has taken it to a
new, truly global level. Building on the
groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby
The Columbian Exchange and, I’m
proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer),
Mann has written nothing less than the
story of our world: how a planet of what
were once several autonomous continents
is quickly becoming a single,
Mann not only talked to countless
scientists and researchers; he visited
the places he writes about, and as a
consequence, the book has a marvelously
wide-ranging yet personal feel as we
follow Mann from one far-flung corner of
the world to the next. And always, the
prose is masterful. In telling the
improbable story of how Spanish and
Chinese cultures collided in the
Philippines in the sixteenth century, he
takes us to the island of Mindoro whose
“southern coast consists of a number of
small bays, one next to another like
tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how
the spread of malaria, the potato,
tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar
cane have disrupted and convulsed the
planet and will continue to do so until
we are finally living on one integrated
or at least close-to-integrated Earth.
Whether or not the human instigators of
all this remarkable change will survive
the process they helped to initiate more
than five hundred years ago remains,
Mann suggests in this monumental and
revelatory book, an open question.
* * *
The Persistence of the Color Line
Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency
By Randall Kennedy
Among the best things about
The Persistence of the Color Line
is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the
positions about Mr. Obama staked out by
black commentators on the left and
right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel
West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley.
He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr.
Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism
regarding whether blacks should back
Obama” . . .
finest chapter in
The Persistence of the Color Line
is so resonant, and so personal, it
could nearly be the basis for a book of
its own. That chapter is titled
“Reverend Wright and My Father:
Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”
Recalling some of the criticisms of
America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s
former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with
feeling about his own father, who put
each of his three of his children
through Princeton but who “never forgave
American society for its racist
mistreatment of him and those whom he
most loved.” His father distrusted
the police, who had frequently called
him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr.
Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad
Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never
called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places
his father, and Mr. Wright, in
sympathetic historical light.
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
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
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)