Professor Charles Ogletree on Profling to Beergate to Obamas

Professor Charles Ogletree on Profling to Beergate to Obamas


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



But as the book makes clear, you’re going to be judged by the color of your skin,

not by the year, make and model of your car or by the suits that you wear.

Consequently, it has not changed that people who are successful are still

presumed to be a part of the criminal element.



Books by Charles Ogletree

All Deliberate Speed / From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State / When Law Fails / Beyond the Rodney King Story

The Presumption of Guilt  /  Brown at 50

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Professor Charles Ogletree on Profiling to Beergate to the Obamas

The Presumption of Guilt Interview with Kam Williams


Charles Ogletree, Jr. was born in Merced, California on December 31, 1952, the eldest of five children to bless the union of migrant farm workers Willie Mae and Charles Ogletree, Sr. A bright child who exhibited an intellectual curiosity from an early age, Charles credits his parents and grandparents for whetting that insatiable thirst for knowledge.

He would matriculate at Stanford University where he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Political Science before heading to Harvard Law School. Since graduating, he’s enjoyed a storybook career as a public intellectual, between teaching at Harvard and moderating a host of television shows, perhaps most notably, “The State of the Black Union” and “The Fred Friendly Seminars

Furthermore, Professor Ogletree has been a frequent guest on everything from Nightline to Frontline to Tavis Smiley to Larry King Live to The Today Show to Good Morning America. As an attorney, he has represented a number of high-profile clients, most recently, fellow Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates of “Beergate” fame.             

Currently, Professor Ogletree is the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School where he serves as the founding and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. He is also the author of seven books on race and the law, including his latest, The Presumption of Guilt a sobering deconstruction of the Gates case, specifically, and of racial profiling, in general. 

He has received numerous awards and honors, including being named one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony Magazine. In the wake of the Sergeant Crowley-Professor Gates incident, Professor Ogletree continues to serve as special counsel to President Obama and as an advisor on police behavior to both Harvard University and the City of Cambridge.

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Kam Williams: Professor Ogletree, I’m honored to have this opportunity.

Charles Ogletree: Thanks. How are you?

KW: Just fine. I have friend who was at Harvard the same time as you who I’ve lost touch with, JJ. Jackson. Do you know him?

CO: Do I know him? He won’t let me call him JJ anymore. He’s Judge William McKinley Jackson now. I see him every time I go to DC.

KW: It’d be nice to be able to touch base with JJ, I mean Judge Jackson again, if you could help make that happen.

CO: No problem, I’ll send him an email right away.

KW: What interested you in writing The Presumption of Guilt, a book about Professor Gates’ arrest?

CO: The main thing was that it clearly raised the issues of race and class, and offered the perfect opportunity to talk about our lagging effort to solve the problem of racial profiling, and also to notice that the issue is not restricted to those who find themselves frequently in the criminal justice system. So, I thought that part of the intrigue would be to show how wide an array of black men find themselves presumed guilty when they haven’t committed anything close to a crime. 

KW: I loved the second half of the book the best, where you have 100 prominent brothers talk about being profiled. I have personally been subjected to profile stops at least 25 times in my life. How do you feel about the official report on the Gates case which was recently released?

CO: I thought it was incredibly helpful in coming up with suggestions about going forward in terms of reaching out to and engaging the community, and in terms of community policing and examining whether charges like disorderly conduct can be administered in a neutral, professional and dispassionate way. On the other hand, when they said that both Sergeant Crowley and Professor Gates had missed equal opportunities to deescalate the situation, I thought that it was inappropriate and unfair to suggest that the citizen has the same power as the police in a situation like that. The police have the authority, the power and the responsibility to control the situation, because they have the powers of arrest.

KW: What about how Professor Gates handled himself?

CO: Professor Gates was angry and did ask why he was being treated like this. But that was because he had produced two forms of I.D., and had done everything the officer had asked him to do in identifying himself, and yet there were still questions about whether he was who he claimed he was. So, that’s why I think the review has a serious flaw when it equates the actions of Professor Gates with those of Sergeant Crowley.

KW: In his book The Best Defense your colleague Alan Dershowitz says that one thing they never teach you in law school is that any cop’s testimony is sacrosanct and treated like Gospel in the courtroom. So, I assume that in the Gates case you were up against the legal system’s inclination to rubber stamp a police officer’s word.

CO: Absolutely! The interesting thing though is that Alan Dershowitz praised my book in a very strong blurb, and wants to do even more about the issue. 

KW: One of my editors, Howard Manly of the Bay State Banner, is among the 100 black men whose profiling incidents are quoted in your book. I told him I’d be interviewing you, and he said he’d like to know what you think about the evolution of Barack Obama and his handling of so many crises on a daily basis.  

CO: Howard’s a good buddy. What’s interesting about Obama is that he’s had the opportunity to make more judgments not just with his brilliant mind but with his big heart. That’s a good thing, because he has this cerebral quality. In addition, I have seen him grow enormously in both stating his case and learning more about politics, as well as in having this ability to multi-task. To think that with two wars and a financial crisis going on, he still was able to get a nearly $800 billion stimulus package, healthcare, regulatory reform and extensions of unemployment benefits passed, is a sign of what he has done and can do. Far too much of it is overshadowed by the vehement resistance to him, but the reality is that he’s doing a terrific job under trying circumstances.

KW: You taught both Barack and Michelle at Harvard. What were they like as students?

CO: They had very different personalities. Michelle came from a very strong family. Her parents made it possible for her and her brother to go to Princeton. When she came to Harvard, she was a remarkable student who was committed to public service. While here, she worked with Legal Aid, which meant she represented poor clients in civil matters. I was convinced, back in 1985, that she was going to be the first black female to become a U.S. Senator. It was clear that she had that capacity.

Barack came after she had already graduated. He was the brightest person in the room, but he always reached out to make sure the voices of other students were heard. He had the balance of not only being great in the classroom, but a pretty impressive game on the basketball court, even though he was skinny with an unorthodox jump shot. And as smart as he was, he was humble, which enabled him to get elected the first black President of the Harvard Law Review by his colleagues. Then, despite his academic success, he wanted to go back to Chicago to work as an organizer, which was extremely helpful to the community. So, he’s had one success after another that’s led him to the right place. It’s been remarkable!

KW: Yale grad Tommy Russell would like to know, how hard was it having such a high-profile case?

CO: It’s actually, more of a strain on the client than the lawyer. I’ve represented everybody from Anita Hill to Tupac Shakur, with so many others in between, that I don’t mind the publicity, provided it doesn’t violate my client’s fundamental rights. What was interesting in this case was that people focused on class more than race, and saw Professor Gates as arrogant and aloof, even though in my view everything that he had to say was protected. The other point is that I hope the case sheds light on how it is within our capacity to solve a problem without regard to race, religion, gender or any other factor. 

KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks, “What do you think will be the legacy of Skip Gates

CO: As much as he’s accomplished as a MacArthur Genius Fellow, having written over a half-dozen books, having received numerous honorary degrees and other awards, and having the highest title granted any Harvard University Professor, he still will be remembered, unfortunately, for better or worse, for the arrest and the Beer Summit. But if it creates a teachable moment, he has no hesitation to use it as a learning experience for himself and for others who might encounter a similar situation.

KW: Larry Greenberg, son of Third Circuit Federal Judge Morton Greenberg, asks, “Am I now legally required to speak respectfully to a police officer? In other words, can someone be arrested simply for having a bad attitude?”

CO: The reality is much more complicated than that. Speech is one of the most cherished fundamental rights in our society. We have to be careful where we draw the line, even if the words are controversial, obnoxious, offensive or troubling. That’s the reason I wrote the book, so that people understand that they have a First Amendment right to say reasonable things and to be heard, and to act in a defiant way, so long as they don’t put themselves or the police office at harm. 

KW: Both children’s book author Irene Smalls and editor/legist Patricia Turnier asked the same question. “Do you think we are in a post-racial era in the United States?”

CO: We’re not in a post-racial era, because whether you’re the President of the United States, walking along the street, entering a hotel or working in certain places, race still matters. We may have one black man in the White House, but we have one million black men in prison. So, we still have that and many other fundamental problems, like unemployment, mortgage foreclosures and a lack of healthcare. So, my sense is that we all have to fight as diligently as we can to create a post-racial environment. But it’s a little premature to say that we’re there yet, even though it’s a significant shift in the political climate to have the country elect an African-American President.   

KW: Rudy Lewis says, “Though class is a corrosive element in America’s racial conflict, isn’t the heart of the problem a lack of resolution of Blackness and Whiteness among both blacks and whites?”

CO: I think it’s class. And I think class is the understated factor, and that’s why I wrote about it as a key factor. One would hope that if you’ve worked really hard and achieved some semblance of success that you’ve earned the right to be treated with a certain level of dignity and success. But as the book makes clear, you’re going to be judged by the color of your skin, not by the year, make and model of your car or by the suits that you wear. Consequently, it has not changed that people who are successful are still presumed to be a part of the criminal element. It’s as big a problem in 2010, in some respects, as it was decades earlier.   

KW: Have you read The Rage of a Privileged Class by Ellis Cose?

CO: Absolutely! In fact, I’m one of the people he’s interviewing for Part 2. He’s writing a follow-up about the rage which flows in the wake of the disappointment at the denial of one’s true merit, skills and abilities. About the frustration at having to be twice as good in order to be considered equal to peers that happen to be white.

KW: What was your secret to breaking through barriers to reach the pinnacle of success?

CO: Three things: First, nurturing parents and grandparents who had nothing but an abiding faith that things would get better for their children and grandchildren, and who prayed for that day to happen. Second, a thirst for knowledge that came as a young kid, and being able to read books to think things through and to grow intellectually. And third, remarkable mentors, some known and unknown. And these three keys to my success are only important if I can pass them on not only to my children to everyone I encounter in life.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?

CO: Yes, why is this all important for the future? I have three young granddaughters who haven’t encountered the issue of race yet. I really hope that we, as those with the powers to set the tone, don’t poison them by producing racial and even gender stereotypes that make them judge people by the color of their skin rather than as Dr. King said by the content of their color. That has to be our mission, and I’m hoping that we’ll achieve it.

KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?

CO: I’m as happy as can be!

KW: The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?

CO: Today. Whenever I have a chance to sit back with folks I might not have seen for awhile, whether 10 days or 30 years, that’s grounds for laughter.

KW: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?

CO: I’m actually reading three books right now. The Bridge by David Remnick. The Audacity to Win by David Plouffe. And The Breakthrough by Gwen Ifill.

KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?

CO: Not really, I think that just comes a feeling that whatever’s destined to happen will happen. I’m prepared to fall from success. I’m prepared to die if I have to. The closest thing I have to fear is that those who follow me might not enjoy a full life.

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to? 

CO: John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things.” It’s a great song that has a message that’s timeless and timely. 

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

CO: Hopefulness that if we all work together with a sense of “we” rather than “I” or “me,” we can all move forward.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?

CO: Any type of fish, although my specialty is my mother’s sweet potato pie with her secret ingredients. It’s delicious and very popular.  

KW: Care to share those secret ingredients in her recipe?

CO: If I told you, I’d have to kill you. [Chuckles]

KW: The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?

CO: Libraries! Just going to libraries, and dreaming that I was somebody else, somewhere else. As the Southern Pacific Railroad rolled through the center of my hometown, I would imagine myself climbing aboard it to travel the world. Childhood dreams of the improbable are the very key to who I am today, so I will always cherish those fantasies.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?

CO: We have to support our troops, but I’d wish for the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

KW: The Tavis Smiley questions. First, how introspective are you?

CO: Very, because you always have to examine who you are and what you are, before you can have the ability and credibility to advise someone else about who they are, who they should be and how to get there. So, there is much more introspection than expression of views.  

KW: Second, what do you want your legacy to be?

CO: He was able to enter the door because of the help of others. And he not only left the door open but let a rope down to bring others in to follow his pursuits.

KW: Third, where are you in relation to that legacy at this point in your life?

CO: I’m there, but I’m never satisfied that my work is complete. I don’t think it will be complete until I’ve taken my last breath.

KW: Thanks for a great interview, brother.

CO:  Thank you. Take care.

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The Presumption of Guilt

The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America

By Charles Ogletree

Book Review by Kam Williams


This book is about more than the arrest of one man. It is about how we need to examine our criminal justice system to ensure that fairness, not power, is the currency of our system. When we move from a presumption of innocence to a presumption of guilt, we diminish our sense of community and undermine our democratic ideals. I examine the race and class dimensions of the Gates arrest by looking at how other successful, prosperous, and noteworthy African-American men have grappled with a wide range of encounters not only with the police but with countless everyday citizens and have found themselves being judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. . . . Ultimately, if we are to move forward as a nation, we must . . . develop a justice system that is truly committed to the presumption of innocence.”—Excerpted from the Introduction (pg. 13)     

When Dr. Henry Louis Gates was arrested for breaking into his own home last summer, black and white America’s diametrically-opposed response to the alleged misunderstanding was reminiscent of the two groups’ similarly contradictory reactions to the Rodney King beating, the Amadou Diallo shooting, and the OJ verdict. But what made the Gates case more intriguing was the fact that here was a revered Harvard Professor who relies on a cane being carted off in handcuffs like a common criminal, and even after the cops knew full well that they had made a mistake.

Everybody remembers how President Obama then invited both Gates and the arresting officer to the White House to bury the hatchet over drinks in a Rose Garden photo-op subsequently dubbed Beer-Gate, but the nagging question left unanswered was whether what had transpired back in Cambridge was really an isolated incident unlikely to reoccur or merely a reflection of a longstanding, racist police pattern of profiling African-American males all across the country. 

Shedding considerable light on the issue is Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree in The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Granted, as Dr. Gates’ attorney of record, Ogletree definitely had a horse in the race, so one might question his impartiality when he makes mincemeat here of Sgt. Crowley’s rationale for jailing his client.

However, what’s of far more interest and truly persuasive are the anecdotal accounts offered in the book by over a hundred well-educated, highly-accomplished brothers about their own run-ins with the law. It seems that everyone has a nightmare to share, from civil rights pioneer Julian Bond to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to actor Blair Underwood to Bay State Banner Editor Howard Manly to Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Morgan to former Clinton aide Keith Boykin.

Whether the described affront was the consequence of driving while black, walking along the beach in an exclusive enclave, integrating a lily-white neighborhood, or simply shopping in an upscale haberdashery, there is an undeniable pattern of societal and state-sanctioned mistreatment that can be explained only by darker melanin allowing for a rush to judgment. Reminds me of Malcolm X’s famous speech, “Message to the Grassroots” where he matter-of-factly explained t the faithful:

You don’t catch hell because you’re a Baptist, and  you don’t catch  hell because you’re a  Methodist. You don’t  catch hell ’cause you’re a Methodist or Baptist. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Democrat or a Republican. You don’t catch hell because you’re a Mason or an Elk, and you sure don’t catch hell because you’re an American; because if you were an American, you wouldn’t catch hell. You catch hell because you’re a Black man.

Yes, Obama may be in the White House, but a post-racial utopia is yet to be realized. The more things change, the more they remain insane.   

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Gates’ Lawyer Challenges ‘The Presumption Of Guilt’

Listen to the Story (audio)

In 2009, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested in front of his home in Cambridge, Mass. on charges of disorderly conduct. The charges were dismissed four days later but one of the first people Gates called after his arrest was his colleague at Harvard, Charles Ogletree.

The The Presumption of Guilt is Ogletree’s book about the arrest and its aftermath. In it he argues that the incident should serve as a lesson on the abuse of power by police, and law enforcement’s systemic suspicions about black men.

“We would think that, in the year 2010, we would be past these issues of confrontations, particularly between professional black men and police,” Ogletree tells NPR’s Neal Conan. “But the reality that this clash occurred … means that we still have a long way to go.”

In the book, Ogletree writes that the charge of disorderly conduct in this context usually means “contempt of cop.” Ogletree says Gates “did mouth off to the police officer, and there’s no denying that.”

According to Ogletree, Gates gave the officer his Harvard identification—which has his picture—and his license—which has his picture and address. He also asked the officer, “Why are you doing this? Give me your name. Give me your badge number. I’m going to file a complaint.” But as the officer refused to comply with his requests, Gates’ anger and frustration grew. Ogletree says Gates “never cursed, never seemed demeaning, but had this righteous indignation that he was not respected in his own house by a police officer who could have called the Harvard University police and verified that he was in his own house — that he was not a burglar.”

Ogletree sees two reasons the incident got out of hand: race and class.

“I think that some of this is a traditional town/gown problem,” he says. On one side you have the working-class police officer and on the other the well-known Harvard professor.

Ogletree says, “I think the clash of those personalities on July 16 is what led to the escalation and the ultimate claim that Gates was engaged in disorderly conduct.—NPR

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Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., Ph.D. (born September 16, 1950) is an American literary critic, educator, scholar, writer, editor and public intellectual. He was the first African American to receive the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship. He has received numerous honorary degrees and awards for his teaching, research, and development of academic institutions to study black culture. In 2002, Gates was selected to give the Jefferson Lecture, in recognition of his “distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.” The lecture resulted in his 2003 book, The Trials of Phillis Wheatley.

As the host of the 2006 and 2008 PBS television miniseries African American Lives, Gates explored the genealogy of prominent African Americans. Gates sits on the boards of many notable arts, cultural, and research institutions. He serves as the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, where he is Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Michael Kinsley referred to him as “the nation’s most famous black scholar.”[1] However he is criticized as non-representative of Black people by prominent African-American scholars such as Molefi Asante, John Henrik Clarke, and Maulana Karenga. . . .

On July 16, 2009, Gates returned home from a trip to China to find the door to his house jammed. His driver attempted to help him gain entrance. A passer-by called police reporting a possible break-in and a Cambridge police officer was dispatched. The resulting confrontation resulted in Gates being arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. Prosecutors later dropped the charges.The incident spurred a politically charged exchange of views about race relations and law enforcement throughout the United States. The arrest garnered national attention after the President declared that the police “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates. The President eventually extended an invitation to both Gates and the officer involved to share a beer with him at the White House.[24]

On March 9, 2010, Gates claimed on the Oprah Winfrey Show that he and Sgt. James Crowley, the arresting officer in the Cambridge incident, share a common ancestor.—Wikipedia

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Charles J. Ogletree (born December 31, 1952 in Merced, California) is Jesse Climenko Professor at Harvard Law School, the founder of the school’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, and the author of numerous books on legal topics. Ogletree was born to farm workers in central California. He earned both his B.A. (1974, with distinction) and M.A. (1975) in political science from Stanford University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1978. . . .

Ogletree taught both Barack and Michelle Obama at Harvard; he has remained close to Mr. Obama throughout his political career.He appeared briefly on the joint Daily ShowColbert Report election night coverage of the 2008 presidential election, making a few remarks about his personal knowledge of the Obamas.

 Professor Ogletree has written opinion pieces on the state of race in the United States for major publications. Ogletree also served as the moderator for a panel discussion on civil rights in baseball on March 28, 2008 that accompanied the second annual MLB civil rights exhibition game the following day between the New York Mets and the Chicago White Sox.

On July 21, 2009 Professor Ogletree issued a statement in response to the arrest of his Harvard colleague, Professor Henry Gates, whose arrest at his own home became a major news story about the nexus of politics, police power, and race that summer. After the September, 2009 death of Senator Ted Kennedy, Ogletree’s name was suggested as one of the possible appointees to Kennedy’s seat as a “placeholder” until a special election could be held. Other names rumored to be in contention were Michael Dukakis and several people who had held important Massachusetts or national Democratic positions: Paul G. Kirk (a former chair of the Democratic National Committee), Nick Littlefield (a former Kennedy chief of staff), Robert Travaglini, and Shannon O’BrienWikipedia


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Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on DVD

DVD Description of  America beyond the Color Line

Henry Louis Gates Jr. travels the length and breadth of the United States to take the temperature of black America at the start of the new century. Gates visits the East Coast, the deep South, inner-city Chicago and Hollywood to explore the rich and diverse landscape, social as well as geographic.

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DVD Description of African American Lives

Renowned scholar Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., W.E.B. DuBois professor of the Humanities and chair of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University, takes Alex Haley’s Roots saga to a whole new level. Using genealogy and DNA science, Dr. Gates tells the personal stories of eight accomplished African Americans, tracing their roots through American history and back to Africa. Participants include Dr. Ben Carson, Whoopi Goldberg, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Dr. Mae Jemison, Quincy Jones, Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Chris Tucker and Oprah Winfrey.

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DVD Description of  Wonders of the African World

Africa is a continent of magnificent treasures and cultures–from the breathtaking stone architecture of 1,000-year-old ruins in South Africa to an advanced 16th century international university in Timbuktu. However, for centuries, many of these African wonders have been hidden from the world, lost to the ravages of time, nature and repressive governments. Uncover the richness of these African Wonders with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as he explores the many cultures, traditions and history of the African continent.

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The Failure of Negro Leadership  /

The Post Black Negro  /

Charles Ogletree on Profiling to Beergate to the Obama

Henry Louis Gates’ Dangerously Wrong Slave History

By Barbara Ransby

Repudiating an Apologist

Skip Gates’ “End the Slavery Blame-Game” Nonsense

By Dr. Ron Daniels


*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



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Better Day Coming: Blacks and Equality, 1890-2000

By Adam Fairclough

Better Day Coming is intended, in author Adam Fairclough’s words, as “neither a textbook nor a survey, but an interpretation” (p. xiv) of the circuitous struggle for racial equality pursued by African Americans and their occasional allies between 1890 and 2000. Chronologically organized, the narrative moves from an evaluation of the hard-pressed, contending forces vying for ascendancy in the black South at the nadir to the interwar period and well beyond, into the urban cauldron of the northern ghettoes at the high point of the Black Power movement. Fairclough brings to his project a fluent understanding of the shifting institutional configurations of opposition to Jim Crow and a keen sensitivity to the ways in which the efforts of those who fought it were hampered, circumscribed, and occasionally crushed by the pressures of operating in a society formally committed—for most of the period under discussion—to aggressive defense of the racial status quo.

Fairclough’s “basic argument” seems at first glance uncontroversial: that “although blacks differed . . . about the most appropriate tactics in the struggle for equality, they were united in rejecting allegations of racial inferiority and in aspiring to a society where men and women would be judged on merit rather than by race or color” (p. xii).

But his ultimate aim is more ambitious: he sets out to rehabilitate the accommodationist tradition represented by Booker T. Washington which, though “apparently unheroic,” in the author’s view “laid the groundwork for the militant confrontation of the Civil Rights Movement” (p. xiii).—h-net

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Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

By Derrick Bell

In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school’s hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell’s fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard’s president and all of the school’s black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination.

Civil rights lawyer Geneva Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell’s And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. Bell now teaches at New York University Law School.—Publishers Weekly

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.

This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar’s changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America’s economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan’s bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar’s dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today.  The Economy

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 27 July 2010 




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