Black Political Thought: From David Walker to the Present
(Cambridge University Press, 2020) is a nuanced and long-needed anthology interrogates the “never ending issue” of the unequal positioning of black Americans by combining primary documents that highlight black political ideas and ideals with incisive scholarly commentary. In words of the editor, this collection “focuses how and why blacks in the United States, as individuals and as a group, have historically conceptualized, analyzed, and responded to the ill will of ordinary whites those in power who through laws, policies and customs, and cultural practice have made blacks into inferior beings as a justification to deny them their rights of equality, in such a way that the interest of the dominant class are upheld and preserved and which today have not disappeared.” Highlighting the importance of resistance, the book begins with David Walker and – using thematic chapters – ends in the 21st century. The book aims to make sense of past, present, and future concerns that have and continue to inform and shape the political in black thinking. There is no better time to read this anthology.
Each section opens with a scholarly essay that provides context as well as insightful interpretation that connects the primary documents. The book masterfully brings together accomplished scholars from multiple disciplines: Political Science; Multicultural and Gender Studies; History; English; and African, Africana, and African American Studies. Thoughtfully designed as a book for students as well as general readers, Black Political Thought
, combines accessibility and clarity with challenging interpretation and further readings for each section.
The podcast features Sherrow O. Pinder (editor and author of “Key Concepts, Ideas, and Issues that have Formed Black Political Thought” and “Feminism and Difference”), Charisse Burden-Stelly (author of “Race and Racism”), Babacar M’Baye (author of “Black Nationalism”), and Brenda E. Stevenson (author of “Slavery and Its Discontents”). The book includes essays by Nikki L. M. Brown (“Reconstruction”) and Erica Cooper (“Past, Present, and Future Issues”).
We recorded our conversation the day of Mr. George Floyd’s funeral and the invited scholars connect these centuries of thought to the ideals and practices that remain contradictory in the USA – as well as a tradition of black intellectual resistance.
Susan Liebell is associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Democracy, Intelligent Design, and Evolution: Science for Citizenship (Routledge, 2013) and, most recently, “Retreat from the Rule of Law: Locke and the Perils of Stand Your Ground” in the Journal of Politics (August 2020).