Celebrated intellectual and activist Cornel West offers an unflinching look at nineteenth- and twentieth-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.
In an accessible, conversational format, Cornel West, with distinguished scholar Christa Buschendorf, provides a fresh perspective on six revolutionary African American leaders: Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Ida Wells-Barnett. West examines the impact of these men and women on their own eras and across the decades. He not only rediscovers the integrity and commitment within these passionate advocates but also their fault lines. West finds that Douglass and, to some extent, Du Bois fall short of the high standards he holds them to, while King has been sanitized and even “Santaclausified,” rendering him less radical. By providing new insights that humanize all of these well-known figures, West takes an important step in rekindling the Black prophetic fire so essential in the age of Obama.
“Lively, heated, fighting words...”
“A fascinating exploration of the black prophetic genius and fire of Douglass, Du Bois, King, Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Ida B. Wells, this book reminds us what true leadership, sacrifice, and courageous, inspirational truth-telling looks like and why it is so urgently needed in the quest for justice today.”
—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow