Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era

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Houston A. Baker Jr. condemns black intellectuals who, he believes, have turned their backs on the tradition of racial activism in America. In their literature, speeches, and academic and public behavior, Baker identifies a “hungry generation” eager for power, respect, and money.

Baker seeks to understand the shaping of these new public figures. He also revisits classical sites of African American literary and historical criticism and devotes chapters to the writing and thought of such black academic superstars as Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, and Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Hoover Institution senior fellow Shelby Steele; Yale law professor Stephen Carter; and Manhattan Institute fellow John McWhorter. Baker's provocative investigation exposes what he deems to be a tragic betrayal of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. He urges black intellectuals to reestablish sacred and secular connections with local communities and rediscover the value of social responsibility.

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times - Erin Aubry Kaplan

Baker succeeds in making his case... How fitting that Baker offers not just words here but action too.

The Times-Picayune - Lolis Eric Elie

A courageous book, raising much needed questions in this our brave new world.

Political Science Quarterly - Hanes Walton Jr.

I highly recommend this exceptional work of scholarship, for it is worth the price of the ticket.

Los Angeles Times
Baker succeeds in making his case... How fitting that Baker offers not just words here but action too.

— Erin Aubry Kaplan

The Times-Picayune
A courageous book, raising much needed questions in this our brave new world.

— Lolis Eric Elie

Political Science Quarterly
I highly recommend this exceptional work of scholarship, for it is worth the price of the ticket.

— Hanes Walton Jr.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231139656
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 3/26/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 390,066
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Houston A. Baker Jr. is Distinguished University Professor at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of I Don't Hate the South: Reflections on Faulkner, Family, and the South; Turning South Again: Re-thinking Modernism/Re-reading Booker T.; Black Studies, Rap, and the Academy; Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory, and a number of other studies of African American literature and culture. He is a published poet whose most recent volume is Passing Over.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction: Little AfricaJail: Southern Detention to Global LiberationFriends Like These: Race and NeoconservatismAfter Civil Rights: The Rise of Black Public IntellectualsHave Mask, Will Travel: Centrists from the Ivy LeagueA Capital Fellow from Hoover: Shelby SteeleReflections of a First Amendment Trickster: Stephen CarterMan Without Connection: John McWhorterAmerican Myth: Illusions of Liberty and Justice for AllPrison: Colored Bodies, Private ProfitConclusion: What Then Must We Do?NotesBibliographyIndex

Columbia University Press

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