Whoever has tried to understand the "Black Experience" in the United States is well aware of its controversial nature. Highly regarded scholars often differ markedly in their interpretations of empirical findings. For many years, for example, the views of Melville J. Herskovits and E. Franklin Frazier about the extent of African influence on American Negro life have been hotly debated. Of late, other controversies have been dealt with in symposia, journal articles and rejoinders, and the inevitable campus hortatory. Included here, among others, are the polemics over Stanley Elkins' interpretation of slavery, over the Moynihan Report, and over William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner.
Slavery and its Aftermath offers the reader the opportunity to see--and indeed, to participate in--such continuing debates, so that by intellectual involvement in what are probably the most crucial areas of discussion he will come to understand the complex character of life for black Americans. This volume deals with four controversies: the retention of "Africanisms," the impact of slavery on personality and social structure, life in the South and in the North, and the current status of black Americans. The work contains essays on the roots of black protest, comments on the background and character of the Black Revolt and the Civil Rights Movement, interpretations of the impact and significance of Black Power, and varied views on changing self-images of being African-American.
Though conceived as a continuum, each of the two volumes is a distinct, self-contained entity. The first is particularly concerned with general background and life styles, the second with protest and attempts to develop new communal activities and avenues of expression. Both should be most useful to all concerned with teaching and learning about the Black Experience, be it in traditional social science or history programs, in special seminars, or in Afro-American studies.