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IAS Thursdays: Michael Lackey on the Haverford Group

Black Separatists, Black Integrationists, and the 1960s Battle for Racial Justice

IAS Thursdays at Four presents Michael Lackey, Professor of English, U of M Morris.


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Q&A

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haverford michael lackeyGiven that Brown versus Board of Education’s racial promise of equality did not materialize, many prominent blacks in the 1960s supported separatism.  We know this story, because Amiri Baraka, Stokely Carmichael, Eldridge Cleaver, Harold Cruse, Addison Gayle, and many others have intelligently articulated it in memorable works of the late sixties and early seventies.  But there were rumors about a group of black integrationists who wanted to publish a multi-authored counter-testament that would offer a substantive critique of black separatism and make the case for integration.  These writers were referred to as the Haverford Group.   But who were they?  Why was their work not published?  And what were their arguments?  In an archive at Brown University, Michael Lackey found the manuscript that the Haverford Group intended to publish, and he has now edited and annotated it and written a history of the Group and their black integrationist manifesto.  In this lecture, Lackey will share some of his thoughts about Haverford Group members such as Ralph Ellison, John Hope Franklin, St. Clair Drake, and Kenneth Clark and their approach to racial justice in the United States.

In the late sixties and early seventies, black separatist movements were sweeping across the United States. This was the era of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael’s and Charles Hamilton’s Black Power, and Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice. In 1969 a group of distinguished African American intellectuals met at Haverford College in order to devise strategies to dissuade young blacks from adopting a separatist political agenda. The participants included some of the most prominent figures of the civil rights era–Ralph Ellison, John Hope Franklin, and J. Saunders Redding, to name only a notable few. Although these discussions were recorded, transcribed, and edited, they were never published because the funding for them was withdrawn. This volume at last makes the historic Haverford discussions available, rescuing for the modern reader some of the most eloquent voices in the intellectual history of black America.

michael lackeyMichael Lackey has edited and annotated the transcript of this lively exchange, and Alfred E. Prettyman has supplied an afterword. While acknowledging the importance of the black power and separatist movements, Lackey’s introduction also sheds light on the insights offered by critics of those movements. Despite the frequent characterization of the dissenting integrationists as Uncle Toms or establishment intellectuals, a misrepresentation that has marginalized them in the intervening decades, Lackey argues that they had their own compelling vision for black empowerment and sociopolitical integration.

This event occurred Thursday, February 13, 2014, at 4:00 pm, in 125 Nolte.

 

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