Black Leadership: Four Great American Leaders and the Struggle for Civil Rights

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9780140281132: Black Leadership: Four Great American Leaders and the Struggle for Civil Rights

In a powerful book that belongs next to Cornel West's bestselling Race Matters, African American intellectual Manning Marable examines the role of black leadership.

The history of the black struggle for civil rights and political and economic equality in America is deeply tied to the strategies, agendas, and styles of black leaders. In this compelling work, Manning Marable presents thought-provoking portraits of some of this century's most vital black leaders, delving into significant but little-studied aspects of their careers.

At the heart of the book are probing examinations of four leaders whose legacies speak to the challenges of race, class, and power: Booker T. Washington's conservative strategy of accommodation to segregation, Harold Washington's failure to uproot Chicago's political machine, the nationalist separatism of Louis Farrakhan, and the democratic transformation championed by W.E.B. Du Bois. Cogently argued and lucidly written, Black Leadership goes beyond the rhetoric of racial politics and renews the possibility of lasting cultural change throughout American society.

"One of the most exciting and important books on race and black leadership to appear in quite a while. . . . This book is woven together with a golden thread of scholarly vision and intellectual unity." --Michael Eric Dyson, author of Race Rules: Navigating the Color Line

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Review:

This important work from noted Afro-American intellectual and Columbia University professor Manning Marable examines the "ideology, culture and politics" of black leaders. Marable's "analysis of black leadership in the twentieth century" concentrates on three traditions of black power: the accommodationist perspective characterized by Booker T. Washington, the nationalist-separatist slant advocated by Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, and the ideology of democratic transformation championed by W.E.B. Du Bois. Black Leadership defines each of these positions, then dissects their flaws. Marable argues, for example, that Washington's political strategy led to the segregationist "Jim Crow" laws. Citing the aura of black separatist nationalism that underlined the Million Man March led by Farrakhan in 1996, Marable notes that "the social philosophy behind its agenda was deeply conservative and pessimistic about the likelihood that whites would ever recognize or respond to blacks' grievances." Other notable figures like Paul Robeson and Chicago's first black mayor, Harold Washington, are discussed, and Marable ultimately posits that black leaders should align themselves with multicultural coalitions: "There is no monochromatic model for democratic social change in a pluralistic society." --Eugene Holley Jr.

About the Author:

Manning Marable is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Afro-American Studies, Columbia University. He is author of a number of books, the most recent of which is Beyond Black and White.

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