Melvin L. Rogers

Nov 1, 2023

The Darkened Light of Faith

Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought

Princeton University Press 2023

Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” is notoriously fiery. No doubt part of what’s gripping about it is its internal tension. Douglass begins by sincerely praising the founders and their philosophical principles, and then turns to a devastating critique of the hypocrisy of the United States. Underlying Douglass’s argument is a commitment to the democratic project in the United States that one imagines could be sustained only with extraordinary effort. What prevented Douglass from embracing the understandable, warranted pessimism that the democratic experiment in the United States had failed – or perhaps had never really been taken up?

In The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought (Princeton University Press, 2023), Melvin Rogers takes his reader on a journey through the efforts of African American philosophers, social critics, and artists to make sense of the United States.

Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.

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