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The Covenant with Black America Paperback – Bargain Price, January 1, 2006

4.0 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Covenant Series

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From Booklist

This collection of essays is both a plea and a response to the self-assessed critical circumstances of black America today. Tavis Smiley provides the introduction, touching on the issues he explores as host and interviewer on public television and radio; Cornel West and Haki Madhubuti also provide commentary, tying together the common theme of planning how to address the circumstances faced by black Americans. Marian Wright Edelman offers the statement of purpose introducing the 10 covenants, pledging individual effort in the areas of health care, public education, criminal justice, community-centered policing, affordable neighborhoods, democracy, agriculture, economics, environmental justice, and technology. Among the contributors are Marc H. Morial, Angela Glover Blackwell, and Wade Henderson. Each section offers facts on racial disparities in the U.S.; practical suggestions on what individuals, communities, and the government can do to rectify problems; and other helpful resources. Although specifically aimed at problems and issues facing black America, this work has appeal for all readers interested in social issues that plague the nation as a whole. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Tavis Smiley is the author of eight books, including Doing What's Right, Hard Left, How to Make Black America Better, and Keeping the Faith. He hosts an eponymous talk and interview show on PBS stations and his radio program, The Tavis Smiley Show, is syndicated by Public Radio International. As the host of BET Tonight with Tavis Smiley, he was a three-time winner of the NAACP Image Award. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Third World Press; 1st edition (January 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0883782774
  • ASIN: B004LQ0G1M
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,464,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Bracey on March 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a former corporate and gov't employee, and now chronically (and happily) self employed social entreprenuer who is one of those too rare black women - a wife and mother (of four, by the same father, smile), I may be the oddball out but The Covenant did not meet my expectations - although I congratulate the marketing and motivation that went into it.

First, The Covenant seems like a less well written version of the State of Black America the National Urban League published, and which most people shelved until it was time to research black (American) pathologies. Maybe the intent is to motivate those who aren't aware of the dismal lack of access and fight for opportunity black folks deal with day to day, but those "unaware" can't number more than two, and they can't be black.

Very, very distinguished black achievers participated, and do an excellent job of reiterating American history that continues to undermine black progress. There are also nice examples of efforts people and groups are doing to stem the onslaught of black decline. But the "covenant" gives no sense of whether the examples are endorsed as part of a national action plan that every community should try to implement.

Finally, for me, there are three disturbing elements of The Covenant that can perhaps be addressed to help inspire a movement in the 21st century:

1) It frames black people in America as if we had no successful history before enslavement, before Jim Crow, before the death of affirmative action. To successfully train black children is to put violence against their race as a relatively new construct, not the sum total of existence. Please, have the intellectuals delve a little deeper into the culture that we come from that still makes us strong enough to go on.
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Format: Paperback
This is not--specifically--categorized as self-help. But as one who has extensively researched the phenomenon, I can tell you that it has more to do with genuine self-help--the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind--than anything you're apt to read by Dr. Phil or John Gray. That's because these essays are by people who (a) have the credentials to be expounding on what they're expounding on, and (b) include a fair amount of tactical, actionable information along with the usual motivational component.

Though this is bracketed (explicitly) as a book for minorities, "Americans in general" could do a lot worse than to read Smiley's anthology. And it's a good read, too.
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"The Covenant with Black America" should be required reading for all Americans. Whether one agrees with the diagnosis and prescriptions is not the point. The point is to increase dialogue, understanding, and mutual progress.

"The Covenant" includes chapters on healthcare, public education, justice system, policing, housing, politics, rural roots, jobs, environment, and the digital divide. Each chapter outlines the issues from the author's perspective, provides a bio of the author (if this bio were at the front of each chapter, it would be helpful), collates statistics on the topic (a more diverse collation of statistics could increase the impact of the book), shares what the community can do, explains what individuals can do, tells what works now, and describes what leaders and politicians can do (again, further balance here would be beneficial).

"The Covenant" is the brainchild of Tavis Smiley who offers it as a roadmap toward future hope. He brings together a laudable team of experts in their field, though one might wish for greater diversity in political, social, and economic perspectives.

Particularly helpful are the sections on what works now. It's always easy to identify a problem, it's somewhat easy to propose a solution, but it's always helpful to provide examples of currently workable and working models. Smiley follows the "best practices" model of illustrating how to move into the future effectively by describing those who are already successfully doing so.

A chapter on spiritual and religious values, given their historical and current emphasis in the African American community, also would add to the books value.
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Format: Paperback
Right from the days of respectable pacesetters like: Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, a lot has been written concerning how best Black Americans could advance their own socio-economic welfare. And, I must add that Tavis Smiley did a good job in both his research and preparations before editing this book. It is a well-credited attempt on the part of all the contributors, who participated in the essays that constitute this book. However, there are still a few issues that most modern authors on this topic consistently shy away from. For example, whereas this book did a fantastic job in enumerating and analyzing several problems facing many Black Americans, it fell short in terms of suggesting how best the American government can assist and encourage the self-help efforts of Black Americans. The truth is that the devastating impact of centuries of slavery, plus another hundred years of hardcore racism, lynching, and terrible injustice takes more than a self-help effort to overcome. Any sincere mind would acknowledge that all the manual labors, which translated to contemporary American wealth, power, and success-story, emanated from the ancestors of today's Black Americans. Their sweats, tears, and blood were sacrificed from dawn to dusk, for centuries, with little or no acknowledgement from the very soceity that they lived and died for. Not to mention reward!
But that apart, the efforts of all those who contributed to this fine book remain commendable. Readers of this book will appreciate well-reasoned pieces of advice that abound in it. Every aspect of socio-anthropological progression: including health, education, religion, and psychology were discussed. This book may just be two hundred pages, but its content is a fountain of knowledge and wisdom. It is a very good effort indeed: regardless of its few shortcomings.
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