Gerald Early

  • No Doubting Thomas

    Randall Kennedy’s Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betryal seems clearly a companion to his controversial Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word, published in 2002. Not only are the format and length the same for both books, but they complement each other in theme. In the earlier work, Kennedy, a Harvard Law School professor and a leading African-American public intellectual, examines the rhetorical and cultural power of a word (nigger) and the concept it emblemizes of racial degradation, a word created by whites to stigmatize and marginalize blacks. In the new book, Kennedy examines


    I guess we really live for good writeups, but

    not at the sacrifice of our principles.

    —Jackie Robinson to Caroline

    Wallerstein, January 3, 1956

    It is clear that by the time Jackie Robinson’s final autobiography, I Never Had It Made, appeared, in 1972, the year he died, he saw himself as more than a star athlete. Over half the book is devoted to his career after baseball, when he became something of a black man of affairs or, in the tradition of black propagandists like Hubert H. Harrison and W. E. B. DuBois, a

  • Empty Handed

    Perhaps it would have been more of a surprise, in retrospect, had Tommie Smith not done what he did at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games, considering the times. In April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, an event that triggered rioting and rebellion in major cities across the United States and for many, black and white, signaled the end of the best hope of the civil rights movement. In June, Senator Robert Kennedy, campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, was murdered in Los Angeles after winning the California primary. He was running because President Lyndon Johnson had