Black Intellectuals, Black Cognition, and a Black Aesthetic

Black Intellectuals, Black Cognition, and a Black Aesthetic

Black Intellectuals, Black Cognition, and a Black Aesthetic

Black Intellectuals, Black Cognition, and a Black Aesthetic

Synopsis

Neither American history nor American society anticipated, sanctioned, or encouraged the development of either Black intellectuals or a Black middle class. Both emerged and developed against horrendous obstacles and both are great achievements. Both were sanctioned and given moral direction by the American Negro Academy, an organization founded in 1897 by Alexander Crummell, W.E.B. Du Bois, Francis Grimke, and others for the purpose of organizing Black intellectuals to defend and redeem Blacks, through intellectual, artistic, and scientific achievements in the face of racist detractors, and to help the Black middle class develop as the leadership class of Black America. Black intellectuals have had a difficult time fulfilling a leadership role, partly because they have failed to remember the three cultural heritages of Black people: Black, African, and Euro-American. The times demand that Black intellectuals approach themselves and their world from all three cultural perspectives, for the sake ofBlack people and for the sake of America, both of which desperately need their leadership.

Excerpt

The Black Liberation Movement of the 1950s and 1960s had many successes. One of these was the ending of the public, blatant, and violent racism of Whites in the United States as a normal and acceptable way for them to relate to Black people in the country. A second success was the restoration of the national citizenship and national political and civil rights of Black people that had been gained in the 1860s and 1870s, but which had been taken away between the 1880s and early 1900s by Supreme Court decisions, national government enforcement of the decisions, state statutes, and by national and local racist practices. A third success was the firm establishment of the Black middle class as the leadership class of Black people, and as the class that would, and that had to, carry out the vigilance to see that Whites did not restore the openly blatant and violent racism that had been strongly eclipsed, as well as to remain vigilant about and to attack the subtle White racism that had, in the late 1960s, emerged as the new dominant form of White racism in America, and that has continued ever since. A fourth success of the liberation movement was to publicly catapult Black intellectuals as a sizable, knowledgeable, capable, and permanent critical group in Black America and in the larger American society.

The last success may not seem all that outstanding and, indeed, might be regarded as some kind of normal attainment or normal . . .

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