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The Last of the Black Emperors: The Hollow Comeback of Marion Barry in a New Age of Black Leaders Hardcover – June 1, 1998
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Barras chronicles Barry's beginnings, from his '60s student work in Nashville, Tennessee (which is also discussed in broader scope in David Halberstam's The Children), to his ascendance from the D.C. school board to the mayor's office. But Barras also calls into account the effectiveness of Barry's '60s-style political activism and the near-despotic characteristics of his generation's hold on power. "Twenty years from now," she writes, "if today's new black leaders provide for their own timely exits from the political stage--something their predecessors failed to do--they will help realize the dream of civil rights era activists." Barras's book is a sometimes scathing account of Barry's peril and promise that also serves as a cautionary tale for future black leaders. --Eugene Holley Jr.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
I too had quickly forgotten that Marion Barry was once a shinning light in the Civil Rights firmament. He was one of the original foot soldiers of my generation's Civil Rights revolution. At that time, we also forgot much too soon that DC itself was a sort of "Uncle Tom and Aunt Jemima" backwater, an enclave of ex-maids and chauffeurs, who were slowly learning how to avoid the civil rights struggle in favor of how to pretend to be middle classed. As a result, DC was completely oblivious to the emerging civil rights struggle. Most of DC's blacks had learned all too well that their status and jobs depended on how not to "rock the boat," and required them to be "card carrying accommodationists," if they intended to continue their mostly middle class existences. And even though it is clear that the author does not care much for him, she nevertheless makes it clear that it was Marion Barry who finally put DC on the Civil Rights map.
After breaking away from Stokely Carmichael's SNCC, Barry single-handedly led DC into the civil rights struggle and into a reputation on the issue that it could be proud of.Read more ›
The Last of the Black Emperors is wonderful...fascinating, colorful, exciting, honest, and stylishly written...An eye-opener for America that everybody will be talking about this summer... -Ralph Collier, host of the nationally syndicated radio program, "I Hear America Talking"
A deeply rewarding book. Ms. Barras is lucid both in her writing and her reportage. She deftly places Mayor Barry as the last beneficiary of a bygone era in black politics. All said and done, Marion Barry has been read his political obituary. -Max Rodriguez, publisher, The Quarterly Review of Books
This honest and in-depth look at the life and times of our national capital's most tenacious mayor not only helps us to better understand Marion Barry the man, but it also vividly expresses the unique political and social character of one of the last surviving city-states. Jonetta Rose Barras brings us an insightful and provocative perspective to the successes, tribulations, and resurrection of this "Old Guard" political activist-turned "Mayor for Life." Her book will forever stand as a historical analysis of the politics of the post-civil rights era and a prophecy for the future of American blacks in our nation's political framework. -Armstrong Williams, nationally syndicated columnist, author of Beyond Blame
An eloquent and disturbing book. Barras relocates the transfixing story of Mayor Marion Barry's rise and fall and rise and fall from the arena of electoral politics to the realm of cultural myth and religious belief.Read more ›
A case study on the decline of not only a mayor, but also of institution of civil rights inspired politicians.