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The Marvelous is a way of seeing Kelley learned early. "My mother taught us that the Marvelous was free," he writes of his childhood spent on the border of Washington Heights and Harlem, "in the patterns of a stray bird feather, in a Hudson River sunset, in the view from our fire escape, in the stories she told us, in the way she sang Gershwin's 'Summertime,' in a curbside rainbow created by the alchemy of motor oil and water from an open hydrant."
This parental gift, this poetic ethics, has since provided Kelley with a key to understanding the wild current of freedom running through the myriad efforts of black cultural prophets and community visionaries, poetic renegades and musical rebels. Whether it was W.E.B. DuBois or Thelonious Monk, Audre Lorde or Wifredo Lam, the African Blood Brotherhood or the Maoist-influenced Revolutionary Action Movement-blacks, Kelley argues, have kept their eyes on the prize of the possible: an African homeland; a black nation staked out in the belly of this beast; or an anti-capitalist, anti-sexist, anti-racist elsewhere.
According to Kelley, currently a professor of history and Africana Studies at New York University, Freedom Dreams represents an opportunity to "recover ideas - visions fashioned mainly by those marginalized black activists who proposed a different way out of our constrictions." Black folk, he adds, "must tap the well of our own collective imaginations, that we do what earlier generations have done: dream." Indeed, Kelley locates dreams and dreamers in "Back to Africa" movements, black feminist thought, third world insurgents, the desire for reparations, Marxism and Afro-diasporic Surrealism.
Throughout the book, Kelley's focus reflects his own left-radical politics and as such the chapters on Marxism (subtitled "Red Dreams of Black Liberation") and third world politics draw on Kelley's previous scholarship. As in his earlier works, Kelley exhibits a nuanced wit.
|"When History Sleeps": A Beginning||1|
|1||Dreams of the New Land||13|
|2||"The Negro Question": Red Dreams of Black Liberation||36|
|3||"Roaring from the East": Third World Dreaming||60|
|4||"A Day of Reckoning": Dreams of Reparations||110|
|5||"This Battlefield Called Life": Black Feminist Dreams||135|
|6||Keeping It (Sur)real: Dreams of the Marvelous||157|
|"When History Wakes": A New Beginning||195|