Books Read in 2016: June

June was a productive month. Thinking about Jesse Jackson and Black politics, Cedric Robinson, and Ngugi.

Adolph Reed, The Jesse Jackson Phenomenon: The Crisis of Purpose in Afro-American Politics (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1986)

The seminal text challenges certain readings of the significance of Jesse Jackson’s campaign for president in 1984.

Charles P. Henry, Jesse Jackson: The Search for Common Ground (Oakland, CA: Black Scholar Press, 1990)

An analysis of both the 1984 and 1988 Jackson campaigns, that lightly challenges Reed’s objections and articulates the key differences between the two as an attempted “institutionalization” of the Black protest tradition (1984)  versus the “search for common ground” (1988).

Lucius Barker, Our Time has Come: A Delegate’s Diary of Jesse Jackson’s 1984 Presidential Campaign (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1989)

Charts Barker’s evolution from an objective political science interested in the idea of Black presidential politics to his role as a delegate pledged to Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic National Convention.*

Cedric Robinson, The Terms of Order: Political Science and the Myth of Leadership (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1980)

A reread occasioned by the transition of Cedric Robinson, the republication of this text by UNC Press will no doubt unsettle our accepted verities about the political worlds that “order” our lives.

Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Penpoints, Gunpoints and Dreams: Toward a Critical Theory of the Arts and State of Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998)

I come back to Ngugi’s work often as it elicits a clarity that is a refuge in this age of public intellectual-induced confusion; these lectures, particularly the first make us clearer.

Tariq Touré, Black Seeds: The Poetry and Reflections of Tariq Touré (CreateSpace, 2016)

The debut effort of a young poet from Baltimore, puts into words what the visuals associated with Baltimore(i.e. The Wire) tend to obscure.


*There are many more treatments of Jackson’s presidential runs. Barker and Ronald Walters’ edited volume for the University of Illinois Press (1989) and Lorenzo Morris’ volume for Praeger (1990) are both invaluable academic treatments.


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