Living Black History: How Reimagining the African-American Past Can Remake America's Racial Future

Living Black History: How Reimagining the African-American Past Can Remake America's Racial Future

Manning Marable

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 046504395X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Are the stars of the Civil Rights firmament yesterday’s news? In Living Black History scholar and activist Manning Marable offers a resounding “No!” with a fresh and personal look at the enduring legacy of such well-known figures as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers and W.E.B. Du Bois. Marable creates a “living history” that brings the past alive for a generation he sees as having historical amnesia. His activist passion and scholarly memory bring immediacy to the tribulations and triumphs of yesterday and reveal that history is something that happens everyday. Living Black History dismisses the detachment of the codified version of American history that we all grew up with. Marable’s holistic understanding of history counts the story of the slave as much as that of the master; he highlights the flesh-and-blood courage of those figures who have been robbed of their visceral humanity as members of the historical cannon. As people comprehend this dynamic portrayal of history they will begin to understand that each day we-the average citizen-are “makers” of our own American history. Living Black History will empower readers with knowledge of their collective past and a greater understanding of their part in forming our future.











contributions to the social, cultural, economic, and political life of both black America and the country as a whole. Richardson describes her project and other efforts as “preserving living history.” While these and other documentary efforts are indeed admirable and worthy of generous support, they separate history from theory and politics in certain respects. Richardson seeks to place the historical narrative of blacks in America into America’s mainstream narrative about itself. What must be

strata, his “Talented Tenth,” the language for the struggles of racial reform. Over time, Du Bois realized that racial justice in America would require profound structural change within the U.S. political economy; his “Talented Tenth” had not yet reached those conclusions about their own politics. From the original publication of Souls in 1903 until his resignation from the editorship of the NAACP’s magazine, the Crisis, in 1934, no one in America personified the struggle for racial justice more

expenses, tuition support, and debt forgiveness. The Ford Foundation, after years of neglect, “rediscovered” its long dormant interest in black studies and began investing millions of dollars into key programs at the University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, Harvard, and even City College of the City University of New York—once its controversial Afrocentric chair Leonard Jeffries was removed from his administrative post. The number of African Americans receiving professional degrees rose by

A. Jones to Mr. DeLoach, FBI Memorandum, October 9, 1962, in Anne Romaine Collection, Box 1, University of Tennessee Library Special Collection, Knoxville, Tennessee. Balk agreed “to treat the threat posed by the NOI in a realistic and accurate manner.” The FBI agent stipulated that any data provided to Haley and Balk would not be attributed” to the bureau. 151 “will the field be left to extremists?”: Alfred Balk and Alex Haley, “Black Merchants of Hate,” Saturday Evening Post, vol. 236, no. 3,

“authenticity” among their most celebrated and popular public figures. Several years ago in my Malcolm X seminar at Columbia, I asked the students about the critical differences between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. One black student quickly responded that “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. belongs to the world, but Malcolm X belongs to us.” Black consciousness was also formed in response to the omnipresent reality of racist violence that generations of African Americans experienced in

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