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African-American Humanism Paperback – August 1, 1991
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From School Library Journal
YA-- A timely, scholarly collection that focuses on the important and often overlooked role humanism has played in shaping the lives of African Americans. In his introduction, Allen challenges readers to acknowledge the humanistic, nontheistic beliefs of blacks who have made history in addition to their more well-known religious beliefs. The book features 21 individuals, offering biographical essays, writings by black American and African humanists, and transcripted interviews conducted by the editor. Richard Wright, Zora Neale Hurston, W. E. B. DuBois, and Norman Hill are among those included. Because the selections vary in degree of difficulty, with many requiring a strong background in philosophy, religion, and political and literary theory, the anthology is for sophisticated readers. The views presented often challenge or question established religious positions or practices. An important addition to collections on African-American culture and thought. --Virgil R. Davala, Thomas Jefferson Sci-Tech, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
He writes in the Introduction, "This collection has been compiled to highlight a grossly neglected side of black thought and history. Before the history of black people can be understood, the ENTIRE history must first be made known---including the history of black freethinkers."
Here are some quotations from the book:
"(W.E.B.) DuBois dissented from orthodox Marxism and the Communist party. He argued that Marxists fundamentally erred by assuming the interracial solidarity of the working class. The irrational prejudice of white workers prevented them from uniting with blacks to fulfill the universal promise of economic democracy." (Pg. 31)
"For instance, there were the Moors, who invaded Europe in 711 A.D. and were the dominant power there for the next 500 years. Writings and paintings of those times show them as jet black and wooly-haired. The Moors gave Europe one of its finest civilizations and rescued it from the Dark Ages." (Pg. 59)
(Frederick Douglass): "Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity... I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which everywhere surround me... The man who wields the blood-clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus." (Pg. 110)
(Zora Neale Hurston) "So I do not pray. I accept the means at my disposal for working out my destiny.Read more ›
This text takes an awful great deal of consideration. I had a moment of pause as I was choosing which star rating to afford it. I am generous in my system. I have rarely ever chosen and read a "bad" book though there is one current read which will be be given no leniency for overwhelming grammatical error and dialogue suited only for caricature, but this book needs pause and reflection.
Even as I read back over some of my favorite passages, new insights arrive to me while studying the words of such brilliant humanist social critiques as Zora Neale Hurston's "On Religion" from her biography Dust Tracks on a Road or Langston Hughes' "Salvation" from The Big Sea. They display remarkable journeys not simply from the religious to irreligious, but a journey from seeking to enfold oneself in the shroud of faith to a full and emboldened to desire to know and engage with a wider sphere of humanity. Their own writing speaks to this artistic instinct.Read more ›