The African American Jeremiad

Appeals for Justice in America

David Howard-Pitney
Book Cover

PB: $32.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-415-1
Publication: Aug 05

HC: $81.50
EAN: 978-1-59213-328-4
Publication: Aug 05

Ebook: $32.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0368-1

288 pages
5.5 x 8.25

An enduring verbal tradition links African American leaders from Frederick Douglass to Malcolm X to Alan Keyes

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Begun by Puritans, the American jeremiad, a rhetoric that expresses indignation and urges social change, has produced passionate and persuasive essays and speeches throughout the nation's history. Showing that black leaders have employed this verbal tradition of protest and social prophecy in a way that is specifically African American, David Howard-Pitney examines the jeremiads of Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, as well as more contemporary figures such as Jesse Jackson and Alan Keyes. This revised and expanded edition demonstrates that the African American jeremiad is still vibrant, serving as a barometer of faith in America's perfectibility and hope for social justice. This new edition features: • A new chapter on Malcolm X • An updated discussion of Jesse Jackson • A new discussion of Alan Keyes

Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgements Introduction: Civil Religion and the Anglo- and African-American Jeremiads Chapter 1: Frederick Douglass's Antebellum Jeremiad against Slavery and Racism Chapter 2: The Brief Life of Douglass's "New Nation": From Emancipation-Reconstruction to Returning Declension, 1861-1895 Chapter 3: The Jeremiad in the Age of Booker T. Washington: Washington versus Ida B. Wells, 1895-1915 Chapter 4: Great Expectations: W. E. B. Du Bois's American Jeremiad in the Progressive Era Chapter 5: Mary McLeod Bethune and W. E. B. Du Bois: Rising and Waning Hopes for America at Midcentury Chapter 6: Martin Luther King, Jr., and America's Promise in the Second Reconstruction, 1955-1965 Chapter 7: Malcolm X: Jeremiah to Blacks, Damner of Whites-To The End? Chapter 8: King's Radical Jeremiad, 1965-1968: America as the "Sick Society" Conclusion: The Enduring Black Jeremiad Endnotes Index

About the Author(s)

David Howard-Pitney is Professor of History at De Anza College. He has worked at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project at Stanford University, and during 2000-2002 was a Commissioned Scholar for the Public Influences of African-American Churches Project of Morehouse College. His publications include Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights Struggle of the 1950s and '60s.