Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African-American Intellectual

Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African-American Intellectual

Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African-American Intellectual

Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African-American Intellectual

Synopsis

'A thoughtful, sensitive study of one of the most important historians of African American culture in this century...Rayford Logan deserves to be remembered, and Janken's study ensures that his fighting spirit and devotion to learning will remain a lesson to future scholars.'--Arnold Rampersad, Princeton University

Excerpt

This book grew out of a 1989 suggestion by my dissertation adviser, David Levering Lewis, that I might find an interesting story in Rayford Logan's diaries, which are deposited in the Library of Congress. At the time, I knew what most historians of the black American experience did about the now dimly remembered Logan: that he had written a useful book called The Betrayal of the Negro and that he minted the phrase "the nadir" to describe the position of African Americans between Reconstruction and World War I. the diaries convinced me that there was more to Logan than a few books or acute turns of phrase. As Logan was a distinguished African-American intellectual and scholar; a Pan-Africanist and civil rights activist; an associate of better-known black leaders like W. E. B. Du Bois, A. Philip Randolph, Walter White, Carter G. Woodson, and Mary McLeod Bethune; and an inveterate politicker and socializer among the black bourgeoisie, his life is an excellent perch from which to observe and analyze the intellectual and social history of the African- American elite--what Du Bois called the Talented Tenth--during more than half of the twentieth century. This swath of black history and Logan's role in it as both participant and griot is one major theme of this work.

Logan kept a diary for more than four decades, from 1940 until just before his death in 1982. the eleven years, to 1951, that are, in 1992, open to scholars are remarkable both for their regularity--he wrote something several times a week--and candor. Reading through it, one is transported to an era that is both long past and close by. the struggle, often futile, of one talented black scholar for recognition from the white world is narrated in excruciating detail; it is a story that has been played . . .

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