Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Black Pearls of Wisdom: Voicing the African-American Journey for Freedom, Empowerment, and the Future

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Black Pearls of Wisdom: Voicing the African-American Journey for Freedom, Empowerment, and the Future

Article excerpt

Black Pearls of Wisdom: Voicing the African-American Journey for Freedom, Empowerment, and the Future. Edited by Donald Spivey. (Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2014. Pp. xii, 277. Paper, $40.00, ISBN 978-1-61163-483-9.) Donald Spivey has juxtaposed the words of thirty-five important historical figures, ranging from Abraham Lincoln to Huey P. Newton, all of whom Spivey believes offer "insights" both "timeless and invaluable" (p. vii). He hints, in his brief preface, that Americans of all colors should learn, through these primary sources, to see "the unbridled yoke of a vicious capitalism gone wild" as the principal culprit of inequality in America (p. vii). Defensible as his position may be, Spivey's implicit argument is rather blase, if not outdated, but this may be the book's least worrisome fumble.

Twenty-seven of the thirty-five authors included in this collection are men. Ironically, Spivey notes, "Today's America is plagued with the burden of racism, sexism, classism, and other isms too numerous to mention" (p. vii). The book's male-dominated authorship may be another manifestation of the kinds of silencing of the marginalized practiced in Spivey's discursive choice here. Importantly, Angela Davis, whose work is included in the book, has a black pearl of wisdom for social justice work: "lift as we climb" (p. 252). For her, this means making the effort to name and build solidarity against those unmentioned oppressions: unemployment and underemployment, segregation, homelessness, homophobia, ageism, xenophobia, ableism, imperialism, and militarism and the nuclear threat. …

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