Nation within a nation : Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black power politics /

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Main Author: Woodard, Komozi.
Format: Book
Published:Chapel Hill, N.C. : University of North Carolina Press, c1999.
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Review by Choice Review

Woodard writes about the relationship of black power, black cultural arts, and the black nationalist movement with LeRoi Jones, later Amiri Baraka, one of its main supporters. Woodard claims that to understand both they need to be seen as parts of one coherent idea: the empowerment of black Americans. For Baraka one driving force of nationality formation was the increasing degree of conflict between black communities and the welfare and police bureaucracies. The cultural nationalist strategy offered black nationalism and cooperative economics as alternatives to what African Americans have always suffered from: a lethal combination of racism and capitalism. Black America requires an ideological and political arsenal of both nationalism and Marxism. But at no time can the emphasis be purely Marxist or nationalist without doing damage to the black nationalist community. In other words, sectarianism is the enemy of black liberation and the fight for equality. This is a must read for all interested in politics and race in the US. Recommended for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. P. Barton-Kriese Indiana University East

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Woodard examines the role of poet Amiri Baraka's "cultural politics" on Black Power and black nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s. After a brief overview of the evolution of black nationalism since slavery, he focuses on activities in Northeastern urban centers (Baraka's milieus were Newark, N.J., and, to a lesser extent, New York City). Taking issue with scholars who see cultural nationalism as self-destructive, Woodard finds it "fundamental to the endurance of the Black Revolt from the 1960s into the 1970s." The 1965 assassination of Malcolm X catalyzed LeRoi Jones's metamorphosis into Amiri Baraka and his later "ideological enchantment" with Castro's revolution. After attracting national attention following the 1966 Detroit Black Arts Convention, Baraka shifted his emphasis to electoral politics. He galvanized black support for Kenneth Gibson, who was elected mayor of Newark in 1970. Woodard pays scant attention, however, to the fact that "Baraka's models for political organization had nothing revolutionary to contribute in terms of women's leadership" or the roots of "Baraka's insistence on psychological separation" from whites. Woodard's conclusion descends into rhetoric as he urges support for a school system to "develop oppressed groups into self-conscious agents of their own liberation," while offering no specific, practical suggestions. Woodard's need to be both scholar and prophet are in conflict, and the prophet's voice undermines the scholar's. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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