For introductory and upper division courses in African American Literature, African American Politics, African American History, or Black Studies. This comprehensive anthology of primary texts surveys the experience of Africans in America from the eighteenth century to the present. Texts from a variety of disciplines encompass history, literature, and politics, and accurately represent the expression of African America. The book also highlights the usually neglected tradition of radicalism in African American Studies.
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With a wide selection of literary, political, historical, and critical texts from the eighteenth century to the present, WALKIN' THE TALK provides a deep and multifaceted view of African American life and culture. Both the familiar and the sometimes neglected authors collected in this anthology create the richest possible context for the study of the experience of Africans in America. An ideal book for courses in African American Literature, History, Ethics of Race, and Black Studies.
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The aim of this anthology is to provide a single affordable textbook that can be used for a variety of courses in African American Studies. It was invented out of necessity. In 1999, we found ourselves team teaching an introductory African American Studies course. In order to provide our students with all of the material that we wanted them to read, we had to order several expensive books and provide a packet of (mostly legal) copies. Despite the availability of an excellent array of single author introductory texts, mammoth literature anthologies, and all sorts of topical collections, we could find no single book that attempted to collect a sweep of primary texts and critical commentary that would allow us to survey the experience of Africans in~America from the eighteenth century to the present. Once the class had ended, and at the suggestion of Carrie Brandon at Prentice Hall, we set out to create the anthology that would allow us to teach our course without having to cobble together bits and pieces from a variety of disciplines and centuries. The result is Walkin' the Talk.
The book is grounded in the idea that African American history, politics, and culture are inseparable. As much as possible, we have tried to blur disciplinary boundaries, making no attempts to categorize our selections. We hope that this allows an instructor, rather than a book, to shape the direction and scope of a course. Our primary goal has been to create a book that can provide a rich context for each of its texts. We do not attempt to present Frederick Douglass as strictly a literary author, Angela Davis as strictly a political thinker, or Langston Hughes as only a poet. Rather, we try to show how all of the writers in this anthology are contributors to the large and ongoing discussion that is African American discourse. And we hope that the book always encourages both students and instructors to recognize that this discourse doesn't end at the parlor or the classroom door, that the talk is never far from the walk. At the same time, we have tried to include a variety of discourses (such as the series of white supremacist tracts by eighteenth century philosophers) that help to illuminate the world context from which African American experiences emerge.
In selecting the texts for this anthology, we have also set out to correct what we see as a glaring omission in African American Studies. We have tried to represent and highlight the vibrant and rich tradition of African American radicalism. The dominant discourses of liberal integrationism and conservative nationalism are accounted for in most African American Studies textbooks, but African American radical and socialist thought rarely receive more than a brief mention. This attempt to be inclusive and to represent what is in fact a major tradition has led us to collect both texts by authors not usually anthologized, and not usually anthologized texts by always anthologized authors. In Walkin' the Talk readers will encounter the usually neglected voices of Nat Turner, A. Philip Randolph, Angela Davis, and Manning Marable. They will also find texts by W. E. B. Du Bois beyond The Souls of Black Folk, Langston Hughes's radical poetry, portions of Richard Wright's White Man, Listen!, and Amiri Baraka's extremely important but usually neglected work since 1975.
Our claims and goals are large ones, but if we have come even close to meeting them, we think this book will be useful in a variety of contexts. Walkin' the Talk should be ideal for interdisciplinary and introductory African American studies courses. It should also be a useful text for African American literature, history, and politics courses, especially those courses that want to create a larger context for their disciplinary discussions.
A lot of people have contributed to the making of this and deserve more than just the thanks we can offer here. We should begin by thanking the students in American Cultural Studies 204, especially Kim Morrison and Emily Thuma. The Bureau for Faculty Research at Western Washington University delivered timely funds. Christian Lee provided invaluable assistance along the way. The original readers of the proposal, Terry Kershaw, Virginia Tech; Kasey Morrison; University of Missouri-Columbia; Earl Smith, Wake Forest University; and Peter Ukpokodu, University of Kansas, all came through with important advice. We are extremely grateful for the counsel and insight of our friends and colleagues: Doug Park, Carol Guess, Donna Qualley, Adolph Reed, Jr., Bill Smith, Rick Emmerson, Christine Park, Mona Lyne, Hans von Rautenfeld, Jim Giffen, David Giffen, and June Hopkins. John Purdy and Laura Laffrado deserve special mention for their wonderful support. Ed Bereal's artistic insight and general grace have sustained us at key moments. The extremely patient and intelligent editing of Carrie Brandon is evident throughout the book. Tom DeMarco, Patty Donovan, and Karen Berry were both kind and helpful.
All thanks must always go to our families: Allison Giffen, Nicholas Lyne, Rebecca Johnson, Cedric Johnson, and Elizabeth Johnson.
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