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

Manning Marable, Author
Manning Marable, Author . Basic Civitas $26 (266p) ISBN 978-0-465-04389-7
Reviewed on: 11/14/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
Open Ebook - 289 pages - 978-0-7867-2244-0
Paperback - 266 pages - 978-0-465-04395-8
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-283-13647-1
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In this sharp, savvy collection, several pieces of which began as W.E.B. Du Bois lectures at Harvard in 2004, Columbia University scholar Marable (The Autobiography of Medgar Evers ) declares that "being true to black history... means accepting and interpreting its totality." Living black history, Marable posits, requires "reconstruct[ing] America's memory about itself" through projects that give voice to the voiceless. Marable takes a historian's pleasure in reproaching those (like Kweisi Mfume and Henry Louis Gates Jr.) who discount Du Bois's commitment to radicalism. He similarly admonishes those, from the black middle class or hip-hop "Malcolmologists," who seize on Malcolm X's resistance without recognizing—as Marable does in dissecting Alex Haley's unreliable Autobiography and criticizing the Shabazz family—Malcolm X's unquenched, pan-Africanist voice. An essay on lawyer Robert Carter, who helped win Brown v. Board of Education , prompts the author's reflection on gains blacks have made in access to educational institutions, and also his lament that Brown has not helped the working class or the poor. But Marable offers no targeted solution for African-American uplift. Rather, given his socialist leanings—less articulated here than in other works—he supports cross-racial and class-based efforts to fight structural racism. (Jan.)

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