Uncle Tom or New Negro?: African Americans Reflect on Booker T. Washington and Up from Slavery 100 Years Later

Rebecca Carroll, Editor . Broadway/Harlem Moon $15.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7679-1955-5

Today's struggle over the role of Booker T. Washington is "actually a struggle over the soul of the black community," argues Debra Dickerson, one of 20 contributors to this anthology, which highlights the complex position of one of America's most famous—and controversial—black leaders. Carroll (Saving the Race ; Sugar in the Raw ) brings together a diverse array of African-American voices, including economist Julianne Malveaux, linguist John McWhorter and broadcaster Karen Hunter. Washington's reputation has waxed and waned since his death, mostly due to his quasi-segregationist rhetoric, and the collection reflects these disparate views of him. Some contributors side with Hunter in her declaration that "he was a great man"; others align themselves more with Malveaux, who states, "[T]here are some things about Booker T. Washington that were purely evil." Nearly every contributor agrees, however, that whatever Washington may have said or thought, he is a preeminent example of self-realization through hard work and determination. Wisely refraining from a final verdict, this book exemplifies the diversity and value of African-American thinkers past and present. And Carroll's decision to include the complete text of Up from Slavery in the volume makes this an ideal choice for book clubs. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/21/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
Open Ebook - 223 pages - 978-0-307-41953-8
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