The Professor and the Pupil: The Politics of W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson
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The Professor and the Pupil: The Politics of W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson

by Murali Balaji
     
 

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W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson were both leading figures of the African American movement; their writing and teachings continue to inspire people around the world today. The Professor and the Pupil chronicles the 40-year friendship between Du Bois and Paul Robeson. Journalist Murali Balaji explores how both men evolved into leaders of the American Left,

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Overview

W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson were both leading figures of the African American movement; their writing and teachings continue to inspire people around the world today. The Professor and the Pupil chronicles the 40-year friendship between Du Bois and Paul Robeson. Journalist Murali Balaji explores how both men evolved into leaders of the American Left, examining their philosophical transformation and their alienation from mainstream political thought following World War II. Balaji also explains why Du Bois and Robeson became ostracized for their political views and why so few African American leaders stood up to defend them during the height of the Cold War. In examining the lives of both men, The Professor and the Pupil also details the changing social and political conditions around the world that led Du Bois and Robeson to their political epiphanies and eventually their downfall in the United States.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The radical politics and intersecting careers of two African-American icons. At the outset of World War II, only a handful of black Americans were as internationally prominent as Paul Robeson, an actor/singer of extraordinary power, and W.E.B. Du Bois, an uncommonly influential intellectual. Famed for their professional achievements and their civil-rights activism, both men held radical political beliefs that eventually diminished them as spokesmen for their race, alienated other African-American leaders and aroused the fears of the white establishment. During the Cold War, the federal government subjected both to FBI surveillance, revoked their passports, prosecuted Du Bois under the Smith Act and dragged Robeson before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Rightly decrying the overheated political atmosphere that labeled both men national-security threats, a charge that seems laughable today, Balaji (House of Tinder, 2003) less persuasively condemns William H. Hastie, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins and other mainstream civil-rights activists who failed to vigorously defend Robeson and Du Bois. Both men, after all, strenuously believed the Soviet Union had successfully eradicated racism and class division, thought Marxism the best hope for newly liberated African nations, turned a blind eye to the show trials and mass murders of Stalin and Mao and found more hope for their people in the pages of Das Kapital than in America's founding documents. It never occurs to Balaji that, in their final incarnations at least, Du Bois and Robeson could well be judged historically and morally wrong in crucial ways, and that civil-rights leaders had some justification for believing they woulddrag the movement over a precipice. Readers may grant both men the courage of their convictions and admire their many genuine achievements without buying wholesale the political perspective so uncritically recounted and adopted here. More agitprop than careful analysis: precariously conceived, awkwardly argued and sloppily written.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781568583556
Publisher:
Nation Books
Publication date:
08/28/2007
Pages:
512
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Murali Balaji is a fellow at Pennsylvania State University. He has over a decade of professional journalism experience, having written for the Washington Post, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Wilmington News Journal and other publications. He has is also a regular guest on Philadelphia area television and radio programs. He is the author of House of Tinder. He lives in Philadelphia, PA.

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