Tag Archives: race

Friday Fun: Apocalypse Now

Long before he ruined liberals for real presidential candidates, Martin Sheen (as Captain Benjamin L. Willard) made his way into the jungles of Vietnam on a mission to terminate (“with extreme prejudice”) Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in the 1979 adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Though the novel is a classic work that speaks […]


1907: Gentleman Prefer Blondes…?

By 1907, it had become clear just how the earlier Russo-Japanese War had changed the game. Russia’s defeat (just a few months after Anton Chekhov succumbed to tuberculosis) influenced, though it did not cause, the limited revolution of 1905, itself a forerunner to the sweeping revolution of 1917. The war also delayed the second Hague […]


Warts and All

The ugliest part of the novels and nonfiction masterworks of the early 20th century are not, in the end, what they describe – all kinds of human cruelty, crushing poverty, corruption and violence – but their authors’ limitations, the muck they failed to rake from their minds. In 1906, just five years after the publication […]

Book Cover

On Intangible Influences

In the final chapter of his 2011 book, The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency, Randall Kennedy comments on several of Obama’s critics on the black left, including author and Georgetown University Professor Michael Eric Dyson, who, he says, went from vigorous support for Barack Obama the candidate to vocal […]

The Souls of Black Folk

1903: The Souls of Black Folk

I’ve previously introduced W.E.B. Du Bois on this blog as an opponent of Booker T. Washington’s, but he deserves significant mention in his own right as an influential and much-admired author, scholar, political organizer and, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “gifted discoverer of social truths.” A classic of early sociology and African […]

Masks of the Great War

Post-War? Post-Racial?

The 2011 British remake of Wuthering Heights sets itself apart with casting that may be more faithful than creative, writes Steve Rose in the Guardian Meanwhile, across the channel, the Museum of the Great War opens in Meaux, France, and focuses “less on the battles than on evoking the atmosphere of the war and its […]


Model Black Conservative

In a piece published in early October, Atlanta Journal-Constitution political columnist Jim Galloway implicitly casts Booker T. Washington as a model black conservative and compares him with Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain: When the marches of the 1950s and ’60s came, it was Du Bois’ strategy of political confrontation that was extolled. Washington’s out-of-step economic […]


Up from History

It is hard to think of a historical figure more in need of biographical rescue. The idea of “biographical rescue” articulated by Shelby Steele in his New York Times review of Robert J. Norrell‘s 2009 biography, Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington, requires, as its complement, a “definitive” biography from which Washington, […]

Booker T. Washington

A Figure of Controversy

By the time he died at age 59, Booker T. Washington inspired devoted admirers and fierce detractors, whose words together depict yet another “two-sided man.” As quoted in Robert J. Norrell’s 2009 biography Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington, Madame C. J. Walker, the first female American self-made millionaire called Washington “the […]