The future of the race

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In a ground-breaking collaboration, and taking the great W. E. B. Du Bois as their model, two of our foremost African-American intellectuals address the dreams, fears, aspirations, and responsibilities of the black community - especially the black elite - on the eve of the twenty-first century. In 1903, the influential historian, editor, and co-founder of the NAACP, W. E. B. Du Bois, published his now famous essay "The Talented Tenth". "The Negro race", it began, "like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men". For the young post-Civil Rights era group of leaders, of which Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Cornel West have become such a significant part, "The Talented Tenth" was held up as a model for the social, political, and ethical roles of the new "crossover" generation. Du Bois's belief in an educated class dedicated to reform became their inspiration and their credo. Now, nearly a century after Du Bois set forth the role of the educated black American, Gates and West explore this pivotal aspect of his intellectual legacy - and, in so doing, they not only re-examine Du Bois's ideas on leadership but also respond to the challenges of the present. The problems are clear and urgent. Since the day Martin Luther King, Jr., died, the black middle class has quadrupled. Yet, simultaneously, the size of the black underclass has disproportionately and tragically skyrocketed.

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Two of our most prominent and eloquent black intellectuals confront the challenge of W.E.B. DuBois and the notion of the ``Talented Tenth'' as it applies to themselves and other African-American ... Read full review

The future of the race

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In this thought-provoking collaboration, Gates and West explore the challenge of W.E.B. Dubois's famous essay "The Talented Tenth" and consider the future of African American society in light of it ... Read full review


Parable of the Talents Henry Louis Gates Jr i
Black Strivings in a Twilight Civilization
W E B DuBois and The Talented Tenth

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About the author (1996)

Educator and philosopher Dr. Cornel West is the Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. Known as one of America's most gifted, provocative, and important public intellectuals, Dr. West has won numerous awards, including the American Book Award, and has received more than 20 honorary degrees. His best-selling book "Race Matters" (1993), which has sold over 400,000 copies, changed the course of America's dialogue on race, justice, and democracy; and his book "Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism" (2004) was a # 11 "New York Times" bestseller. His writings, along with his frequent lectures, have brought him widespread attention and honors.