724 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of African America about their New Books

New Books in African American Studies New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.5 • 86 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of African America about their New Books

    Jill Watts, "The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt" (Grove Press, 2020)

    Jill Watts, "The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt" (Grove Press, 2020)

    When did Black Americans move from stalwart party of Lincoln Republicans to dedicated New Deal Democrats? How did a group of self-organized Black economists, lawyers, sociologists, and journalists call out inequality in the New Deal and push President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to consider the relief of Black Americans? Dr. Jill Watt’s The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt (Grove Press, 2020) traces the origins of a group of self-organized Black men led by a remarkable Black woman to answer these questions and help readers reflect on parties, policy, data, and diversity in American politics.
    The book is divided into three periods – tracing two versions of the Black Cabinet.
    Early in the century, a group of African-American office holders who had come to Washington, DC as appointees of President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt) began meeting regularly for “talkfests” at an upscale black-owned DC restaurant. When they started meeting in 1908, most Black Americans lived in the South: disenfranchised and denied equal access to the criminal justice system. Despite the power and violence of White supremacy, a group of highly educated men had secured positions in the federal government. They included Ralph W. Tyler (auditor of the Department of the Navy), James A. Cobb (special assistant to Washington, DC’s district attorney); Robert H. Terrell, Washington’s first Black judge), John C. Dancy (DC’s recorder of deeds), Calvin Chase (newspaper editor), and Kelly Miller (Howard University professor. As men who had come of age during Reconstruction, they were Republicans who associated Democrats with blocking access to the polls and vigilante groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Although Republicans abandoned Black voters and Reconstruction, President Rutherford B. Hayes nevertheless appointed Frederick Douglas and other Black men federal positions and President Teddy Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to the White House (the first Black American ever to be a dinner guest). Washington subsequently provided Roosevelt with recommendations for appointments to federal posts.
    But these appointments were often without sufficient power and national conflicts demonstrated that Republican presidents would not protect Black citizens (e.g., in Atlanta, Teddy Roosevelt refused to send in troops to protect the black population from white mobs and Brownsville, Texas Roosevelt dishonorably discharged Black veterans after false, racially-motivated charges). Although widely covered by the Black press throughout the country, the Black Cabinet was unable to thwart the segregation of federal employees (particularly once Woodrow Wilson became president) and, by 1915, the Black Cabinet folded – even as individuals fought the virulent racism in the GOP and Democratic parties.
    By 1932, many of the original members of the Black Cabinet were dead but a new group of leaders – Mary McLeod Bethune, Robert Vann, Robert Weaver, Alfred Edgar Smith, Bill Hastie – ambitiously moved to ask Black voters to turn the picture of Lincoln to the wall. In the election of 1932, a small minority of voters moved from the GOP to the Democratic party to vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt. By Roosevelt’s reelection in 1936, a significant number of Black voters (many who consider themselves Republicans) vote for Roosevelt.
    Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
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    • 1 hr 6 min
    Clayborne Carson, "Malcolm X: The FBI File" (Skyhorse, 2012)

    Clayborne Carson, "Malcolm X: The FBI File" (Skyhorse, 2012)

    This is a Special Series on Malcolm X and Black Nationalism. We delve into the background of Malcolm X's action and thought in the context of Black Nationalism, correcting the fundamentally mistaken notion that Malcolm X was a civil rights leader. He certainly did not see himself in that way, and explicitly argued otherwise. This helps us place the Afro-American struggle in its dimensions beyond the current American nation-state, including the Black Atlantic, and beyond.
    Today, our guest is Clayborne Carson, author of Malcolm X: The FBI File, originally published in 1991, with the 2nd edition republished in 2012 by Skyhorse Publishing.
    The FBI has made possible a reassembling of the history of Malcolm X that goes beyond any previous research. From the opening of his file in March of 1953 to his assassination in 1965, the story of Malcolm X’s political life is a gripping one.
    Shortly after he was released from a Boston prison in 1953, the FBI watched every move Malcolm X made. Their files on him totaled more than 3,600 pages, covering every facet of his life. Viewing the file as a source of information about the ideological development and political significance of Malcolm X, historian Clayborne Carson examines Malcolm’s relationship to other African-American leaders and institutions in order to define more clearly Malcolm’s place in modern history.
    With its sobering scrutiny of the FBI and the national policing strategies of the 1950s and 1960s, Malcolm X: The FBI File is one of a kind: never before has there been so much material on the assassination of Malcolm X in one conclusive volume.
    Kirk Meighoo is a TV and podcast host, former university lecturer, author and former Senator in Trinidad and Tobago. He hosts his own podcast, Independent Thought & Freedom, where he interviews some of the most interesting people from around the world who are shaking up politics, economics, society and ideas. You can find it in the iTunes Store or any of your favorite podcast providers. You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel. If you are an academic who wants to get heard nationally, please check out his free training at becomeapublicintellectual.com.
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    • 1 hr 28 min
    Nicholas Guyatt, "Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation" (Basic Books, 2016)

    Nicholas Guyatt, "Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation" (Basic Books, 2016)

    Why did the Founding Fathers fail to include blacks and Indians in their cherished proposition that “all men are created equal”? Racism is the usual answer. Yet Nicholas Guyatt argues in Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation (Basic Books, 2016) that white liberals from the founding to the Civil War were not confident racists, but tortured reformers conscious of the damage that racism would do to the nation. Many tried to build a multiracial America in the early nineteenth century, but ultimately adopted the belief that non-whites should create their own republics elsewhere: in an Indian state in the West, or a colony for free blacks in Liberia. Herein lie the origins of “separate but equal.” Essential reading for anyone hoping to understand today's racial tensions, Bind Us Apart reveals why racial justice in the United States continues to be an elusive goal: despite our best efforts, we have never been able to imagine a fully inclusive, multiracial society.
    1619, Revisited by Nicholas Guyatt.
    How Proslavery Was the Constitution? by Nicholas Guyatt.
    1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones
    Adam McNeil is a third-year PhD Student in early African American Women's History at Rutgers University.
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    • 1 hr 8 min
    Andre E. Johnson, "No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner' (UP Mississippi, 2020)

    Andre E. Johnson, "No Future in This Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner' (UP Mississippi, 2020)

    No Future in this Country: The Prophetic Pessimism of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner by Andre E. Johnson, an Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies at the University of Memphis, and Director of the Henry McNeal Turner digital humanities project, is a rhetorical history that details the public career of Bishop Henry McNeal Turner with an emphasis on the trajectory of Turner’s thinking as a pessimistic prophetic persona “within the lament tradition of prophecy” (14). Turner’s role as a Bishop in the African American Episcopal Church and his political leadership in the African American community from 1896 to 1915 is the focus of Johnson’s narrative. This text is a follow up to the author’s previous work The Forgotten Prophet: Bishop Henry McNeal Turner and the African American Prophetic Tradition (Lexington Books, 2014). Johnson’s book begins with an “Introduction” section and includes six chapters with a “Conclusion.”
    In this rhetorical history, Johnson contextualizes and analyzes some of Turner’s key speeches and writings delivered between 1896 and 1915 amid the rise of Jim Crow segregation and the first Great Migration. Turner through his speeches, writings, and activism laid much of the intellectual groundwork for Black protest ideologies of the twentieth century from Black nationalism to Afro pessimism. Turner was a prominent figure throughout much of the nineteenth century. Born free in 1834 Newberry Courthouse, South Carolina, Turner, an autodidact, was self-taught who eventually joined the A.M.E. Church after becoming a licensed minister in 1853. He became pastor at Union Baptist Church in Washington D.C. in 1860 and served as a Chaplain with the Union Army during the American Civil War. Turner relocated to Georgia after the war and became involved in Reconstruction politics but he soon grew pessimistic about Black equality in America with the retreat from Reconstruction. In the 1880s, he became a supporter of Black emigration to Africa while expounding on the idea of a Black Christ. The Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 only compounded Turner’s pessimism.
    Turner’s skepticism about “the goodness of America” and its status as a “civilized nation” juxtaposed with his use of the invective, to criticize White institutions, and complacent Black leaders, is at the core of Johnson’s argument. For Johnson, Turner’s use of language “that was meant to shock and provoke” help to demonstrate his status as a prophetic persona who utilized prophetic rhetoric to guide, instruct, and lead on important questions about Black equality. Johnson situates Turner within the framework of a distinctive African American prophetic tradition “with origins not in freedom, but in slavery” that was both hopeful and pessimistic (11). Turner as a public intellectual contributed greatly to the development of Black Nationalism as a champion of Black emigration to Africa, Black theology with his ideas about a Black Christ, and Afro pessimism by “demining” America as a place that increasingly was a land that had no future for African Americans. No Future in this Country is a pivotal text in African American intellectual history.
    Hettie V. Williams Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of African American history in the Department of History and Anthropology at Monmouth University where she teaches courses in African American history and U.S. history. She has published book chapters, essays, and edited/authored five books. Her latest publications include Bury My Heart in a Free Land: Black Women Intellectuals in Modern U.S. History (Praeger, 2017) and, with Dr. G. Reginald Daniel, professor of historical sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Race and the Obama Phenomenon: The Vision of a More Perfect Multiracial Union (University Press of Mississippi 2014). F

    • 1 hr 15 min
    Saladin Ambar, "Malcolm X at Oxford Union: Racial Politics in a Global Era" (Oxford UP, 2014)

    Saladin Ambar, "Malcolm X at Oxford Union: Racial Politics in a Global Era" (Oxford UP, 2014)

    In 1964, Malcolm X was invited to debate at the Oxford Union Society at Oxford University. The topic of debate that evening was the infamous phrase from Barry Goldwater's 1964 Republican Convention speech: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
    His response to this topic stands out as one of the great addresses of the civil rights era. In Malcolm X at Oxford Union: Racial Politics in a Global Era (Oxford University Press), Saladin Ambar offers the first in-depth analysis of this important speech, illuminating its context and consequences.
    Delivered just months before Malcolm's assassination, the speech followed a period in which Malcolm had traveled throughout Africa and much of the Muslim world, advocating on behalf of blacks in America and other nations. The journey broadened his political thought to encompass decolonization and the revolutions underway in the developing world. His travels culminated in a revolutionary speech that tackled a staggering array of issues: the nature of national identity; US foreign policy in the developing world; racial politics at home; the experiences of black immigrants in England; and the nature of power in the contemporary world.
    The speech represented the most advanced stage of his thought, proffering a global and humanist approach to ushering in social change. Malcolm X at Oxford Union reshapes our understanding not only of the man himself, but world politics both then and now.
    Kirk Meighoo is a TV and podcast host, former university lecturer, author and former Senator in Trinidad and Tobago. He hosts his own podcast, Independent Thought & Freedom, where he interviews some of the most interesting people from around the world who are shaking up politics, economics, society and ideas. You can find it in the iTunes Store or any of your favorite podcast providers. You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel. If you are an academic who wants to get heard nationally, please check out his free training at becomeapublicintellectual.com.
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    • 1 hr 31 min
    Eithne Quinn, "A Piece of the Action: Race and Labor in Post–Civil Rights Hollywood" (Columbia UP, 2019)

    Eithne Quinn, "A Piece of the Action: Race and Labor in Post–Civil Rights Hollywood" (Columbia UP, 2019)

    What is the history of equal rights in Hollywood? In A Piece of the Action: Race and Labor in Post–Civil Rights Hollywood (Columbia UP, 2019), Eithne Quinn, a senior lecturer in American Studies at the University of Manchester, explores the transitional years following the civil rights movement of the 1960s, in order to chart the struggle by Black film makers for rights, recognition and representation. The book combines analysis of on-screen representations, with research on both the production and political economy of Hollywood films. Attentive to questions of gender and race, alongside a critical perspective on Hollywood’s myths of equality and diversity, the book will be essential reading across arts, humanities, and social sciences, as well as for anyone interested in understanding why inequality persists in Hollywood today.
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    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
86 Ratings

86 Ratings

dakaraifl ,

I think this podcast is very necessary.

My only objection is that some of the interviewers/ reviewers seem not fully prepared when engaging the authors.
I suggest that interviewers think through and write down questions/ question topics, and be concise in asking the questions (this may cut down on the number of “ums”)
Also, quite frankly, some of the interviewers talk too much; engage the authors and let them speak.

Otherwise, great and necessary podcast!

Camelot9 ,

Important show, but........

I think this is an important podcast and an excellent way to get the latest on new, interesting books. But the structure of the show, at least the questions, don't make me want to buy the books. The interviews seemed geared for other scholars as a lot of the conversation steers toward the process of writing the book. Not what was found in the book. Case in point, "Rethinking Rufus," I would have loved to hear a discussion about some of the things and stories that Foster found and what did that mean and how does it relate now. Also, the questions are usually long and rambling and the answers are ongoing. I would love to hear more of an actual discussion. Not to compare, but I would suggest listening to an author interview by NPR's Dave Davies. They are excellent and he is in and out with a clear focus. As are the authors. Again, this is an important project, but it can be so much better.

Tlex ,

Yes yes & YESSSSS!!!

There is such a need for this that’s it frightens me how much we are behind in African-American Studies. We are America TOO & while that is not said to diminish anyone else’s contributions, we have not been acknowledged for quite some time. With that being said, I enjoy the podcast as well as many others under the “New Books” series!!! THANK YOU!

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