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Black Prophetic Fire
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Beacon Press 2014
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Description
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 B. Wells. In dialogue with Buschendorf, 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, in these illuminating conversations with the German scholar and thinker Christa Buschendorf, describes Douglass as a complex man who is both "the towering Black freedom fighter of the nineteenth century" and a product of his time who lost sight of the fight for civil rights after the emancipation. He calls Du Bois "undeniably the most important Black intellectual of the twentieth century" and explores the more radical aspects of his thinking in order to understand his uncompromising critique of the United States, which has been omitted from the American collective memory. West argues that our selective memory has sanitized and even "Santaclausified" Martin Luther King Jr., rendering him less radical, and has marginalized Ella Baker, who embodies the grassroots organizing of the civil rights movement. The controversial Malcolm X, who is often seen as a proponent of reverse racism, hatred, and violence, has been demonized in a false opposition with King, while the appeal of his rhetoric and sincerity to students has been sidelined. Ida B. Wells, West argues, shares Malcolm X's radical spirit and fearless speech, but has "often become the victim of public amnesia." By providing new insights that humanize all of these well-known figures, in the engrossing dialogue with Buschendorf, and in his insightful introduction and powerful closing essay, Cornel West takes an important step in rekindling the Black prophetic fire so essential in the age of Obama.From the Hardcover edition.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
10/07/2014
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780807003534
ASIN:
B00JNPF4J0
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Cornel West. (2014). Black Prophetic Fire. Beacon Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Cornel West. 2014. Black Prophetic Fire. Beacon Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Cornel West, Black Prophetic Fire. Beacon Press, 2014.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Cornel West. Black Prophetic Fire. Beacon Press, 2014. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. A current professor at Union Theological Seminary, he has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. The recipient of more than twenty honorary degrees, he has written many important books, including Race Matters and Democracy Matters. He appears frequently on Real Time with Bill Maher, The Colbert Report, Democracy Now, CNN, C-SPAN, and other national and international media. He lives in New York City.

        Christa Buschendorf is a professor and the chair of American Studies at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main. She has published on the transatlantic history of ideas and on African American literature.

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shortDescription
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 B. Wells. In dialogue with Buschendorf, 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, in these illuminating conversations with the German scholar and thinker Christa Buschendorf, describes Douglass as a complex man who is both "the towering Black freedom fighter of the nineteenth century" and a product of his time who lost sight of the fight for civil rights after the emancipation. He calls Du Bois "undeniably...
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title
Black Prophetic Fire
fullDescription
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 B. Wells. In dialogue with Buschendorf, 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, in these illuminating conversations with the German scholar and thinker Christa Buschendorf, describes Douglass as a complex man who is both "the towering Black freedom fighter of the nineteenth century" and a product of his time who lost sight of the fight for civil rights after the emancipation. He calls Du Bois "undeniably the most important Black intellectual of the twentieth century" and explores the more radical aspects of his thinking in order to understand his uncompromising critique of the United States, which has been omitted from the American collective memory. West argues that our selective memory has sanitized and even "Santaclausified" Martin Luther King Jr., rendering him less radical, and has marginalized Ella Baker, who embodies the grassroots organizing of the civil rights movement. The controversial Malcolm X, who is often seen as a proponent of reverse racism, hatred, and violence, has been demonized in a false opposition with King, while the appeal of his rhetoric and sincerity to students has been sidelined. Ida B. Wells, West argues, shares Malcolm X's radical spirit and fearless speech, but has "often become the victim of public amnesia."

By providing new insights that humanize all of these well-known figures, in the engrossing dialogue with Buschendorf, and in his insightful introduction and powerful closing essay, Cornel West takes an important step in rekindling the Black prophetic fire so essential in the age of Obama.

From the Hardcover edition.
sortTitle
Black Prophetic Fire
crossRefId
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: "Lively, heated, fighting words..."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "[West's] mini-lectures, which frequently run uninterrupted for pages at a time, and Buschendorf's instructive set-ups for them...convey a wealth of information."
      • premium: False
      • source: Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
      • content: "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."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        August 11, 2014
        Fearful that we may be “witnessing the death of black prophetic fire in our time,” historians West and Buschendorf engage in a book-length conversation about six historic figures–Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Ida B. Wells. The subtext is a critique of President Obama, whom West calls both “my dear brother” and the “friendly face of the American empire.” Along the way, West plays rhetorical catch-as-catch-can: Douglass was “probably the most eloquent ex-slave in the history of the modern world” but “so tied in to the machinations of the Republican Party and willing to make vulgar compromises”; DuBois was “the greatest... black intellectual ever to emerge out of the U.S. empire,” but uninterested in “serious wrestling with modernist texts”; “it is not in any way to put down the great Ida to acknowledge her middle-class context.” Putting aside West’s willfully provocative opinions, his mini-lectures, which frequently run uninterrupted for pages at a time, and Buschendorf’s instructive set-ups for them do convey a wealth of information. Readers with a serious interest in history will treasure the full-bodied appendices, including the content-rich notes and extensive bibliography.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        August 1, 2014
        Keeping the social conscience burning through six different models of African-American leadership. Spurred by the election of the first black president and the subsequent eruption of the Occupy Wall Street movement, accomplished, outspoken African-American scholar West (Pro+Agonist: The Art of Opposition, 2012, etc.) and fellow academic Buschendorf held several conversations between the summer of 2009 and January 2013 about the ongoing relevance of historic black figures. Moving from Frederick Douglass back to Ida B. Wells, the authors treat the towering and often uneven legacy of leaders who spoke out against injustice and even, like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, died for their beliefs. West has long advocated for the importance of the "organic intellectual," one not afraid to come down from the ivory tower and mess with "grass-roots folk," and he admires in these six figures their relentless truth-speaking and ability to inspire others to action. Indeed, Malcolm X's parrhesia, or "fearless speech," in expressing black rage is West's ideal. Similarly, he admires a critic such as Wells, born a slave, who exposed in her investigative newspaper reporting the lynching going on in the South in the 1880s when others wouldn't touch the subject; or the galvanizing grass-roots leadership of Ella Baker, who resisted the charismatic style of King in favor of hands-on mobilizing and teaching and thus was a catalytic model for the Occupy movement. West bemoans the "deodoriz[ing]" of these radical figures-e.g., shying away from W.E.B. Du Bois' communist sympathies and the turn toward complicity with the white mainstream. The concluding section, "Last Words on the Black Prophetic Tradition in the Age of Obama," however, is lacking, as West aims his vitriol against the "cowardly capitulation of Black leadership to Obama's neoliberal policies," without a chance for vigorous rebuttal. Lively, heated, fighting words-self-serious but never dull.

        COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        November 1, 2014

        In dialog with Christa Buschendorf, West takes a new look at six revolutionary black leaders: Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Ida B. Wells.

        Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        September 15, 2014
        Race and religion scholar West, in dialogue with history scholar Buschendorf, examines black leadership in the black prophetic tradition, as reflected in Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and others. All raised their voices on behalf of a suffering people, speaking to power with systematic analysis and critique. Much of this work places the attributes, character traits, and practices of these prophetic personalities in contrast to contemporary leadership in the age of Obama. The we-centered focus with a broader social movement was at the core of these black prophetic personalities even when their individualism and charismatic attributes were prominent. Currently, the political realm appears dominated by black leadership focused on individual success at a time when issues of race and poverty are mostly ignored. Given that he does not view President Obama as part of the black prophetic tradition, West raises but never answers the question of Obama's contemporary interaction with such a tradition.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

popularity
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Beacon Press
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