America behind the color line Dialogues with African Americans

Henry Louis Gates

Book - 2004

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2nd Floor 305.896/Gates Checked In
New York : Warner Books c2004.
Physical Description
448 p.
Includes index.
Main Author
Henry Louis Gates (-)
  • Colin Powell
  • Vernon Jordan
  • Franklin D. Raines
  • Russell Simmons
  • Maurice Ashley
  • Dan Rose
  • The Irvins
  • The Pearsons
  • Lenora Fulani
  • Morgan Freeman
  • Maya Angelou
  • James H. Bolden
  • Sergeant Major Kenneth Wilcox
  • Willie W. Herenton
  • The Reverend Dr. R. Lawton Higgs, Sr
  • Carmen Johnson
  • Deirdre and Jerald Wolff
  • Lura and Chris
  • Chris Tucker
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Arnon Milchan
  • Reginald Hudlin
  • Alicia Keys
  • Nia Long
  • Don Cheadle
  • John Singleton
  • Reggie Bythewood
  • Darnell Hunt
  • Bernie Mac
  • Larry Wilmore
  • Jesse L. Jackson
  • Timuel D. Black
  • Elaine Rhodes
  • Tammie Cathery
  • The Massenbergs
  • Clark Clemons
  • Kalais Chiron Hunt
  • Dr. Emiel Hamberlin
  • Jason Smith.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Companion to a PBS special. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

A companion piece to a PBS documentary airing early next year, this book collects interviews conducted by Gates, chair of Harvard's African American Studies department. Hailing from Harvard and Harlem, Wall Street and Watts, the famous (Colin Powell, Maya Angelou) and not so famous (Maurice Ashley, chessmaster; Reginald Hudlin, director) came aboard to assess the state of black America as the 21st century dawns. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In this companion to a four-part PBS documentary that aired this fall, best-selling author Gates (chair, Afro-American studies, Harvard) presents essays drawn from interviews with African Americans from all social and economic levels. Some (Colin Powell, Bernie Mac) are famous, some not, but their contributions to this collage of cultural experience hold equal weight. Divided into four sections, the essays illuminate the burgeoning black middle and upper classes, the black subculture in Hollywood, the trend among African Americans to "return" to the South, and the self-perpetuation of urban poverty. In one of the book's strongest essays, first black International Chess Grand Master Maurice Ashley views the game of chess as a metaphor for transcending racism, or rising through one's own center, as pawns do, to achieve the larger goal. Interestingly, the collection reveals that the institutions of racism and cultural elitism seem destined to exist beyond the color line. The better of the book's 44 essays describe holistic journeys that have led to the achievement of success in America, demonstrating that believing in the American dream is no longer a revolutionary concept for African Americans. Proof lies in the collection itself, which is equally inspiring for all races. Recommended for academic and public libraries alike.-Janet Sassi, New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

As the chair of Harvard University's African and African American studies department, Gates has long been a leading figure in that discipline. But years of public intellectualism seem to have taken their toll on his work. From seminal books such as The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism and Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars, his scholarship has devolved into generic anthologies such as this one, which presents 40 interviews that Gates conducted with noted, and average, African Americans. The book's subjects range from statesmen and artists to police chiefs and WWII veterans. Yet Gates's "dialogues" explore little beyond the obvious: that African Americans have had a unique, difficult experience in America; that they have succeeded against the odds; that racism persists (albeit in a more subtle fashion) and that today's younger generation of African Americans face a plethora of challenges. The ghost of the Civil Rights Movement, and particularly that of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., looms over much of the text. But when a black Wall Street executive claims that membership in a $70,000 country club is "an extension of the movement," it's clear that the legacy and memory of the Civil Rights era can be invoked to legitimize practically any action. Many of the people interviewed for this collection-such as Franklin D. Raines, Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Powell and Elaine Rhodes-are fascinating figures whose brief narratives are compelling and interesting. But too many of these dialogues lack any focus, stray uselessly or allow for generalizations such as Vernon Jordan's assertion that "the one thing we know is that white people like their money." W.E.B. Dubois once noted that African Americans live behind a cultural veil. In attempting "to provide a window" through that veil, however, Gates sacrifices depth for breadth and reveals little beyond clichTs and sentimental reflections. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Examines four different elements of the African American experience as well as the legacy of the Civil Rights movement, in a collection of essays based on interviews with Colin Powell, Morgan Freeman, Vernon Jordan, and other notables.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The companion volume to the new PBS documentary looks at four different elements of the African-American experience--Black Hollywood, The Black Elite, The Ghetto, and The New South--as well as the legacy of the Civil Rights movement, in a collection of provocative essays based on interviews with Colin Powell, Morgan Freeman, Vernon Jordan, and other notables. 50,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Gates, the eminent Harvard scholar and author, traveled around the US to find out why and how black America has split into what he sees as two distinct communities: one privileged and one disenfranchised. The book, the companion to a PBS television series of the same name, comprises about 40 essays focusing on individuals (both prominent and obscure) who inhabit four spheres: the "ebony towers" of academia, government, and business; the American South, whose black population increased by almost 3.6 million in the 1990s; black Hollywood; and Chicago's South Side, where a parallel world of extreme black poverty persists. Gates' interviewees talk about race, class, and what it means to be African-American in the 21st century. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (