Uplifting the Race: Black Leadership, Politics, and Culture in the Twentieth Century

Kevin K. Gaines, Author University of North Carolina Press $24.95 (342p) ISBN 978-0-8078-4543-1
Around the turn of the century, between the dying hopes of Reconstruction and the ardent desires of the civil rights movement was uplift, an ideology whereby African American elites believed they could earn respect--and rights--by adopting bourgeois mores. In his first three chapters, Gaines, a scholar of history and African American studies at Princeton, outlines some of the problems and concerns of uplift ideology, and while much of it is intriguing, his biggest beef often seems to be that uplift was not ahead of its time, being neither feminist enough nor sufficiently concerned with the needs of the lower classes. In the six remaining chapters, Gaines offers illustrations through profiles of African Americans. There's Paul Laurence Dunbar, whose dialect poems appealed to whites by continuing stereotypes; W.E.B. Du Bois, whose The Philadelphia Negro tried to reconcile the ideology of self-help with the realities of racism. There are ``race men and women'' who demean the lower classes, and African American men who ignore the plight of women while suffragists ignore the plight of African Americans. In the early chapters, Gaines sexualizes too much without enough substantiation (``the mammy stereotype... provided whites with a forgiving image of maternal black womanhood that released them from a guilty awareness of black women as victims of rape by white men''). But by the end, readers will be left with a much more subtle understanding of the sad paradox of uplift, of African Americans trying to belong to a society that was defined in part by their exclusion. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/19/1996
Release date: 02/01/1996
Show other formats
FORMATS
Hardcover - 627 pages - 978-1-4696-0647-7
Hardcover - 342 pages - 978-0-8078-2239-5
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.