Transformation of the African American Intelligentsia, 1880–2012

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Harvard University Press, Jun 17, 2014 - History - 248 pages
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After Reconstruction, African Americans found themselves free, yet largely excluded from politics, higher education, and the professions. Drawing on his professional research into political leadership and intellectual development in African American society, as well as his personal roots in the social-gospel teachings of black churches and at Lincoln University (PA), the political scientist Martin Kilson explores how a modern African American intelligentsia developed in the face of institutionalized racism. In this survey of the origins, evolution, and future prospects of the African American elite, Kilson makes a passionate argument for the ongoing necessity of black leaders in the tradition of W. E. B. Du Bois, who summoned the "Talented Tenth" to champion black progress.

Among the many dynamics that have shaped African American advancement, Kilson focuses on the damage--and eventual decline--of color elitism among the black professional class, the contrasting approaches of Du Bois and Booker T. Washington, and the consolidation of an ethos of self-conscious racial leadership. Black leaders who assumed this obligation helped usher in the civil rights movement. But mingled among the fruits of victory are the persistent challenges of poverty and inequality. As the black intellectual and professional class has grown larger and more influential than ever, counting the President of the United States in its ranks, new divides of class and ideology have opened in African American communities. Kilson asserts that a revival of commitment to communitarian leadership is essential for the continued pursuit of justice at home and around the world.

 

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Contents

The Origins of the Black Intelligentsia
1
1 The Rise and Fall of Color Elitism among African Americans
9
2 Black Intelligentsia Leadership Patterns
44
3 Ideological Dynamics and the Making of the Intelligentsia
86
4 Black Elite Patterns in the TwentyFirst Century
115
Class Attributes of Elite Strata
157
Notes
165
Analytical Bibliography
191
Acknowledgments
211
Index
215
Copyright

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About the author (2014)

Martin Kilson is Professor of Government, Emeritus, at Harvard University.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was born on September 16, 1950, in Keyser, West Virginia. He received a degree in history from Yale University in 1973 and a Ph.D. from Clare College, which is part of the University of Cambridge in 1979. He is a leading scholar of African-American literature, history, and culture. He began working on the Black Periodical Literature Project, which uncovered lost literary works published in 1800s. He rediscovered what is believed to be the first novel published by an African-American in the United States. He republished the 1859 work by Harriet E. Wilson, entitled Our Nig, in 1983. He has written numerous books including Colored People: A Memoir, A Chronology of African-American History, The Future of the Race, Black Literature and Literary Theory, and The Signifying Monkey: Towards a Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism. In 1991, he became the head of the African-American studies department at Harvard University. He is now the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at the university. He wrote and produced several documentaries including Wonders of the African World, America Beyond the Color Line, and African American Lives. He has also hosted PBS programs such as Wonders of the African World, Black in Latin America, and Finding Your Roots.

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