Paradoxes of Black American Leadership

Paradoxes of Black American Leadership

I begin with a straightforward proposition that there have been three types of black political leadership in twentieth century America: (1) pragmaticactivist,(2) systemic-radical, and (3) ethno-radical. The first of these refers to what we commonly think of as the mainstream pattern, pioneered by W.E.B. Du Bois from the Niagara Movement and the founding the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP), in the years 1905 to 1910 and onward. Pragmatic activism has produced, in our era, a full-fledged, electoral- based black political class. Members of this class accept the basic parameters of the democratic capitalist system, accept also the broader cultural matrix within which this system is embedded. But there is one crucial refusal. They insist that America must purge itself of white supremacy and of the social institutions and cultural identities in which it is reflected.

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Duggan | University of California Press Gardels