From Publishers Weekly
Apparently aimed at the classroom, this book is a useful, if dutiful, set of sketches of six civil rights-era leaders layered with reflections on their leadership qualities. Williams, a special assistant to the president at Bennett College (Greensboro, N.C.), bases her book on biographies and autobiographies of A. Philip Randolph, Frederick D. Patterson, Thurgood Marshall, Whitney M. Young, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Fannie Lou Hamer. The author deems labor leader Randolph and Patterson, the president of Tuskegee Institute and founder of the United Negro College Fund in 1944, as "forerunners." Marshall, who argued against school segregation before the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, and Young, executive director of the National Urban League, were "negotiators," though Williams acknowledges that Young strayed from the grassroots. Finally, he dubs the charismatic, though morally suspect, Powell, a congressman from Harlem, and Mississippi protest leader Hamer "provocateurs"; Williams notes that Hamer's crusading "servant leadership" is rare. The author's conclusions, and reflections on current black leadership, are mostly unexceptional. Most interesting are her acknowledgment of the tension between the leaders' democratic ideals and less democratic means they sometimes employed, and her critique of the "patrimonial paradigm" that excluded women. The book includes a supplement for teachers.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
What characteristics and commitments did civil-rights movement leaders share--and what do those traits and beliefs reveal about the roots of their effectiveness? Educator and writer Williams sketches African American history from Reconstruction to the 1960s and describes major leadership theories; she then profiles "forerunners" (A. Philip Randolph and Frederick D. Patterson), "negotiators" (Thurgood Marshall and Whitney M. Young Jr.), and "provocateurs" (Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Fannie Lou Hamer), and studies the implications of this past for those who would "claim the legacy" in the twenty-first century. Drawing on biographies and memoirs as well as civil-rights movement histories, Williams seeks to isolate the critical similarities and differences displayed by these leaders to stimulate thought and discussion in communities and in classrooms. (Part 4 of the book--"Supplement for Teachers and Future Leaders" --offers "Lessons for Leaders" and a chronology as well as detailed notes and a bibliography.) Not an essential acquisition for every library, but a helpful supplement where leadership issues are being debated. Mary Carroll