Long Memory: The Black Experience in America

Long Memory: The Black Experience in America

Long Memory: The Black Experience in America

Long Memory: The Black Experience in America

Synopsis

This powerful, provocative survey is organized around the key issues of Afro-American history: Africa and slavery, family, religion, sex and racism, politics, economics, education, criminal justice, discrimination and protest movements, and black nationalism.

Excerpt

This book tells the story of a people wrenched from their African homeland and scattered along the inhospitable shores of the Americas. the black American was hewn from the massive rock of African civilization and sculpted into new shapes by the forces unleashed in the attempt to forge the first new nation on the continent of North America. From the black perspective, America has, throughout its history, been a country living in permanent contradiction between its ideals and its practices. Still, the oppression and exploitation the blacks endured made them the quintessential Americans. the reason for this development, Jean-Paul Sartre wrote, was that "the exploited man doesn't separate his destiny from that of others. His individual misfortune is, in fact, a collective misfortune; it is due to the economic, political, and social structures of the society in which he lives." the history of the Afro-American, as the great novelist Richard Wright observed in 1941, is the history of other citizens of the United States: "We black folk, our history and our present being, are a mirror of all the manifold experiences in America. What we want, what we represent, what we endure, is what America is."

Power emanating from weakness, patience and hope in the face of overwhelming odds, and the unity of masses and elites, have at various times been characteristic of Afro-Americans. These and other traits are, however, often obscured by the mass of detail in narrative . . .

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