Sunday, February 24, 2013

Reading, Listening, and Watching Suggestions

Here are a few suggestions for further reading:

The "Left of Black" Series is a video cast hosted by the scholar Mark Anthony Neal who is a professor at Duke University. I found Neal's interview with historian Martha Biondi to be particularly useful and relevant historical background to contextualize Dayna's two posts and the role of students in bringing about Black Studies departments and radical changes at universities in the U.S.

Also, if you don't already know his excellent blog, New Black Man (in Exile), you should definitely check it out. Neal specializes in the history of black American music and cultural studies, but the blog hosts guests posts on a variety of Black Studies subjects. One post I want to draw your attention to is the column, "Ella Baker and the Limits of Charismatic Masculinity" by Pascal Robert. Robert's column is as much praise for Barbara Ransby's remarkable biography, _Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision_ as it is of Baker. (Ransby's biography was published in 2003 by The UNC Chapel Hill Press. I heartily recommend it.) Robert asserts,

"Baker believed that people did not need fancy leaders with degrees and pedigree to tell them what was best for them. She believed in giving people the power to choose their direction and make demands, and put pressure on institutions without depending on big shots with fancy suits."

I do not offer you Robert's article as uncritically as I do as Ransby's book, but I think it is an interesting contribution to our discussions of what we need/expect from public intellectuals and political leaders.

Another interesting blog post that I discovered this week is by the poet Tara Betts. She contributed to a very prominent (and exciting!) sound studies blog, Sounding Out! (Our very own Professor Gayle Wald is on the advisory board).  Betts's essay, "They Do Not All Sound Alike: Sampling Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis, and Assata Shakur," critiques the tendency in popular culture to homogenize, conflate, and confuse the voices, really, and radicalism of three major leaders of the Black Freedom Struggle. I found her work particularly insightful in light of our continued discussions about how black radicalism and African American history are remembered or forgotten.

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