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From an American Book Award-winning author comes a pungent and poignant masterpiece of recollection that ushers readers into a now-vanished "colored" world and extends and deepens our sense of African-American history, even as it entrances us with its bravura storytelling.
Finding Oprah's Roots will not only endow readers with a new appreciation for the key contributions made by history's unsung but also equip them with the tools to connect to pivotal figures in their own past. A roadmap through the intricacies of public documents and online databases, the book also highlights genetic testing resources that can make it possible to know one's distant tribal roots in Africa.For Oprah, the path back to the past was emotion-filled and profoundly illuminating, connecting the narrative of her family to the larger American narrative and "anchoring" her in a way not previously possible. For the reader, Finding Oprah's Roots offers the possibility of an equally rewarding experience.From the Hardcover edition.
Almost one-hundred years ago, W.E.B. Du Bois proposed the notion of the "talented tenth," an African American elite that would serve as leaders and models for the larger black community. In this unprecedented collaboration, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Cornel West--two of Du Bois's most prominent intellectual descendants--reassess that relationship and its implications for the future of black Americans. If the 1990s are the best of times for the heirs of the Talented Tenth, they are unquestionably worse for the growing black underclass. As they examine the origins of this widening gulf and propose solutions for it, Gates and West combine memoir and biography, social analysis and cultural survey into a book that is incisive and compassionate, cautionary and deeply stirring. "Today's most public African American intellectual voices...West and Gates have made a valuable contribution."--Julian Bond, Philadelphia Inquirer"Brilliant...a social, cultural and political blueprint...that attempts to illumine the future path for blacks and American democracy."--New York Daily News"Henry Louis Gates., Jr., and Cornel West are among the most renowned American intellectuals of our time."--New York Times Book ReviewFrom the Trade Paperback edition.
Unlike most white Americans who, if they are so inclined, can search their ancestral records, identifying who among their forebears was the first to set foot on this country's shores, most African Americans, in tracing their family's past, encounter a series of daunting obstacles. Slavery was a brutally efficient nullifier of identity, willfully denying black men and women even their names. Yet, from that legacy of slavery, there have sprung generations who've struggled, thrived, and lived extraordinary lives. For too long, African Americans' family trees have been barren of branches, but, very recently, advanced genetic testing techniques, combined with archival research, have begun to fill in the gaps. Here, scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., backed by an elite team of geneticists and researchers, takes nineteen extraordinary African Americans on a once unimaginable journey, tracing family sagas through U.S. history and back to Africa. Those whose recovered pasts collectively form an African American "people's history" of the United States include celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Don Cheadle, Chris Tucker, Morgan Freeman, Tina Turner, and Quincy Jones; writers such as Maya Angelou and Bliss Broyard; leading thinkers such as Harvard divinity professor Peter Gomes, the Reverend T. D. Jakes, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and sociologist Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot; and famous achievers such as astronaut Mae Jemison, media personality Tom Joyner, decathlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Ebony and Jet publisher Linda Johnson Rice. More than a work of history, In Search of Our Roots is a book of revelatory importance that, for the first time, brings to light the lives of ordinary men and women who, by courageous example, blazed a path for their famous descendants. For a reader, there is the stirring pleasure of witnessing long-forgotten struggles and triumphs-but there's an enduring reward as well. In accompanying the nineteen contemporary achievers on their journey into the past and meeting their remarkable forebears, we come to know ourselves.From the Hardcover edition.
This anthology presents selections from African American literature beginning with the spirituals and folktales of the oral tradition and continuing through the writings of contemporary authors such as Jamaica Kincaid and Colson Whitehead. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
With a New Preface, Introduction, and Notes by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.New Afterword by Barbara WhiteA fascinating fusion of two literary models of the nineteenth century, the sentimental novel and the slave narrative, Our Nig, apart from its historical significance, is a deeply ironic and highly readable work, tracing the trials and tribulations of Frado, a mulatto girl abandoned by her white mother after the death of the child's black father, who grows up as an indentured servant to a white family in nineteenth-century Massachusetts.From the Trade Paperback edition.
"This is a book of stories," writes Henry Louis Gates, "and all might be described as 'narratives of ascent.'" As some remarkable men talk about their lives, many perspectives on race and gender emerge. For the notion of the unitary black man, Gates argues, is as imaginary as the creature that the poet Wallace Stevens conjured in his poem "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird." James Baldwin, Colin Powell, Harry Belafonte, Bill T. Jones, Louis Farrakhan, Anatole Broyard, Albert Murray -- all these men came from modest circumstances and all achieved preeminence. They are people, Gates writes, "who have shaped the world as much as they were shaped by it, who gave as good as they got." Three are writers -- James Baldwin, who was once regarded as the intellectual spokesman for the black community; Anatole Broyard, who chose to hide his black heritage so as to be seen as a writer on his own terms; and Albert Murray, who rose to the pinnacle of literary criticism. There is the general-turned-political-figure Colin Powell, who discusses his interactions with three United States presidents; there is Harry Belafonte, the entertainer whose career has been distinct from his fervent activism; there is Bill T. Jones, dancer and choreographer, whose fierce courage and creativity have continued in the shadow of AIDS; and there is Louis Farrakhan, the controversial religious leader. These men and others speak of their lives with candor and intimacy, and what emerges from this portfolio of influential men is a strikingly varied and profound set of ideas about what it means to be a black man in America today.
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