The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual (New York Review Books Classics Series)

Overview

Published in 1967, as the early triumphs of the Civil Rights movement yielded to increasing frustration and violence, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual electrified a generation of activists and intellectuals. The product of a lifetime of struggle and reflection, Cruse's book is a singular amalgam of cultural history, passionate disputation, and deeply considered analysis of the relationship between American blacks and American society. Reviewing black intellectual life from the Harlem Renaissance through the ...

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Overview

Published in 1967, as the early triumphs of the Civil Rights movement yielded to increasing frustration and violence, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual electrified a generation of activists and intellectuals. The product of a lifetime of struggle and reflection, Cruse's book is a singular amalgam of cultural history, passionate disputation, and deeply considered analysis of the relationship between American blacks and American society. Reviewing black intellectual life from the Harlem Renaissance through the 1960s, Cruse discusses the legacy (and offers memorably acid-edged portraits) of figures such as Paul Robeson, Lorraine Hansberry, and James Baldwin, arguing that their work was marked by a failure to understand the specifically American character of racism in the United States. This supplies the background to Cruse's controversial critique of both integrationism and black nationalism and to his claim that black Americans will only assume a just place within American life when they develop their own distinctive centers of cultural and economic influence. For Cruse's most important accomplishment may well be his rejection of the clichés of the melting pot in favor of a vision of Americanness as an arena of necessary and vital contention, an open and ongoing struggle.

"The most polically sophisticated working prospectus on the built-in contradicitons and disjunctions of the Negro Revolution."--Books Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Harold Cruse wrote The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual for the moment and for the future. He succeeded in both….Cruse’s book not only reflected the frustration, anger and confusion of its time, it also promised an explanation and a solution…an enduring document."
TLS

"Eloquent, passionate, forceful—Harold Cruse has had an electrifying impact on an entire generation of African American intellectuals."
— Gerald Horne

"Crisis dwarfed almost all other books of the period when it came to bringing together politics, art, and social movements related to or inspired by the Afro-American condition."
— Stanley Crouch

"Cruse repositioned the interpretive axes of the study and conduct of black political debate. Where Malcolm X was the intellectual inspiration of Black Power and Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Turé) was its principal ideological architect, Cruse was without question its definitive critical interlocutor."
— Adolph Reed, Jr., New School University

"When all the manifestoes and polemics of the Sixties are forgotten, this book will survive as a monument of historical analysis—a notable contribution to the understanding of the American past, but more than that, a vindication of historical analsis as the best way, maybe the only way, of gaining a clear understanding of social issues."
— Christopher Lasch, New York Review of Books

Library Journal
Released in 1967, Cruse's work rejects many of the standard notions of race relations and takes a more radical view of how blacks can secure their place in society. The book has proven intellectually stimulating for more than three decades. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590171356
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/2005
  • Series: New York Review Books Classics Series
  • Pages: 616
  • Sales rank: 473,825
  • Product dimensions: 5.29 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Cruse (1916-2005) was born in Petersburg, Virginia, the son of a railway porter. He was raised from a young age in New York City, where he attended high school, after which he served with the Army in Europe during World War II. Cruse attended the City College of New York, although he did not graduate, and was a member of the Communist Party for several years. He also wrote a number of plays and, in the 1960s, was co-founder with LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) of the Black Arts Theater and School in Harlem. After publishing The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual in 1967, Cruse was invited to lecture at the University of Michigan, where he taught in the African-American studies program until his retirement as professor emeritus in the mid-1980s. Harold Cruse was also the author of Rebellion or Revolution?, Plural But Equal: A Critical Study of Blacks and Minorities and America’s Plural Society, and The Essential Harold Cruse: A Reader.

Stanley Crouch is a columnist, novelist, and essayist. Since 1987 he has served as an artistic consultant at Lincoln Center and is a co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center. He is the author of Notes of a Hanging Judge, Don’t the Moon Look Lonesome, The All-American Skin Game, Always in Pursuit, and The Artificial White Man.

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Table of Contents

Individualism and the "open society" 3
Harlem background - the rise of economic nationalism and origins of cultural revolution 11
Mass media and cultural democracy 64
Cultural leadership and cultural democracy 96
1920's-1930's - West Indian influence 115
Jews and Negroes in the Communist Party 147
The National Negro Congress 171
Richard Wright 181
Artists for Freedom Inc. - dialogue off-key 193
Origins of the dialogue 206
Freedom newspaper 225
From Freedom to Freedomways 240
Richard B. Moore 253
Lorraine Hansberry 267
Paul Robeson 285
Freedomways, summer 1963 : black economy - self-made myth 305
Freedomways, summer 1963 : capitalism revisited 319
Freedomways, summer 1963 : nationalism made respectable 337
The intellectuals and force and violence 347
From Monroe to Watts 382
From southern activism to northern impasse 402
Ideology in black : African, Afro-American, Afro-West Indian and the nationalist mood 420
Role of the Negro intellectual - survey of the dialogue deferred 451
Negroes and Jews - the two nationalisms and the bloc(ked) plurality 476
Negro writers' conferences - the dialogue distorted 498
Intellectuals and the theater of the 1960's - as medium and dialogue 520
The Harlem Black Arts Theater - new dialogue with the lost black generation 533
Postscript on black power - the dialogue between shadow and substance 544
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