Think With Me Now, and African American Voices on War and Peace

Paul Harvey

Following on MLK day and the inauguration, a couple of books and a review of interest.

First, Amos Jones's " 'Think With Me Today': The Roots of Martin Luther King, Jr's, Greatest Speech," provides an engaging review of a new book by a well-known scholar of African American literary history: Eric Sundquist, King's Dream (Yale University Press, 2009). One great passage from the review:
The head of the FBI's Domestic Intelligence Unit concluded that King's "demagogic" speech, because of its power to influence the masses, made him the nation's "most dangerous Negro," even though his more radical voice would not emerge until years after he delivered the speech.

Second, here's a book that may escape your attention but should find its way into your university library, as an important compilation of primary sources, some well-known, others obscure, nearly all fascinating to read, and many dealing with issues of war and peace from an African American religious perspective: Karin Stanford, If We Must Die: African American Voices on War and Peace. Here's my brief review from Choice:

If we must die: African American voices on war and peace, ed. by Karin L. Stanford. Rowman & Littlefield, 2008. 373p bibl index afp ISBN 0-7425-4113-4, $59.95; ISBN 0742541142 pbk, $29.95; ISBN 9780742541139, $59.95; ISBN 9780742541146 pbk, $29.95. Reviewed in 2009feb CHOICE.

From Phillis Wheatley to Condoleezza Rice, from Martin Delaney to W. E. B. Du Bois, Ralph Bunche, and Huey Newton, this volume collects an impressively diverse array of African American thought and rhetoric on the major wars of the US. Separate chapters include documentary evidence from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American and Philippines-American wars, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and the most recent conflict with Iraq. In 1899, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner wrote, "The Negro has no flag to defend." Much of this volume explores African American struggles with whether they did have a flag to defend at all, and if so, what that flag meant to them beyond the US history of slavery, segregation, and degradation. The Civil War chapter is not as robust it could have been, but overall, editor Stanford (California State Univ., Northridge) has performed an outstanding service with this volume, which should be owned by all research libraries. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. -- P. Harvey, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs


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