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Freedom's odyssey : African American history essays from Phylon /

Other Authors: Henderson, Alexa Benson, 1944-, Sumler-Edmond, Janice.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Atlanta, Ga. : Clark Atlanta University Press, 1999
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Review by Booklist Review

This book contains 29 essays from Phylon, a quarterly journal founded by W. E. B. Du Bois at Atlanta University in 1940 to provide scholarly research on racial issues. The essays are organized under five areas: black enslavement, the abolition movement, the reconstruction era, the Jim Crow era, and the movement for equal rights dating from Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King Jr. The writers utilize interviews from the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration, speeches, news accounts, diaries, and statistical data to describe a wide range of African American experiences. They relate the risks of learning to read and write during slavery, the colonization movement initiated by whites wanting to rid the U.S. of blacks, and the back-to-Africa movement initiated by blacks frustrated by the lack of social progress in the U.S. This well-researched book is aimed at historians and scholars but provides fascinating reading for anyone interested in the scope of the African American experience in the U.S. --Vanessa Bush

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The inaugural title from Clark Atlanta University Press offers scholarly essays on topics in African-American history that were originally published in Phylon: A Review of Race and Culture, founded in 1940 by W.E.B. Dubois. Organized chronologically and thematically, the selections focus on resistance to slavery, economic and political advancement after the Civil War, migration, the establishment of black townships in the West, the black press, racial integration of the military and major league baseball, and "origins of Diaspora consciousness" among African-Americans. At their best, the essays complement each other in fascinating ways. In "Abolition and Colonization," Bruce Rosen contrasts Southern slave-owners' support for the American Colonization Society (which espoused the removal of free blacks from the U.S., but did not seek to dismantle slavery) with the "intense opposition" of free blacks to its aims. Meanwhile, in "The Negro Emigration Movement," Howard Bell points up the contemporaneous efforts of blacks to establish a political entity with a black majority outside of the U.S. Although the editors say the text is suitable for graduate and undergraduate courses, most essays employ an academic vocabulary that is likely to challenge general readers. Since four of the 29 essays were written before the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, which radically altered many historians' view of the role of African-Americans in the U.S., and only nine were written during the 1980s (and none since), overall the collection feels dated. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A valuable, at times brilliant collection of 29 scholarly essays on African-American histrory. Henderson and Sumler-Edmond, both historians at Clark Atlanta University, have compiled essays originally published in Phylon, a journal founded by W.E.B. DuBois. These essays cover a wide range of topics, from slave revolts, to abolitionism, to desegregation and the civil rights movement. What they offer collectively is a surprisingly comprehensive portrait of the African-American experience. Lorenzo Greene, in his vivid essay on slave ship mutinies, exposes the hypocrisy of 18th-century New England slave merchants, devout Puritans who defended their trade as serving to Christianize the African heathens. John L. Rury's essay describes the patronizing attitudes most 19th-century white reformers held toward African-Americans, who were viewed as ``an alien and undesirable social group'' needing the moralizing influence of white elites. Tyrone Tillery examines the famous rift between Frederick Douglass and his abolitionist mentor, William Lloyd Garrison. The split was inevitable, Tillery contends, because Douglass and other African-Americans were excluded from policy-making roles in Garrison's abolitionist organization: the ambitious Douglass wanted his own voice. Billy D. Higgins's essay details how former slaves reacted to the betrayals of Reconstruction, when ``Southern whites stifled the aspirations of blacks for political and social equality'' by enacting Jim Crow laws. Essays on desegregation of the military, baseball, and public education show the ceaseless struggles African-Americans faced against creative, seemingly endless white opposition. The final essay, James A. Colaiaco's analysis of Martin Luther King's tactic of nonviolence, is simply stunning in its insight and clarity. King's ``nonviolent method was most successful,'' Colaiaco points out,''when it provoked violence from the defenders of the racist order.'' Thus, at the heart of King's nonviolence was the paradoxical expectation of violence, a latent racist violence that King wanted to expose to the world. An often provocative and undeniably welcome addition to African- American studies.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.