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Crisis did much to stimulate African American intellectual history and remains a fascinating source for intellectuals historians today. In large part, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual is an attack on the interracial left of the s and s and the interracial civil rights movement of the s and s. To Cruse, integrationism forms a coherent if flawed ideology, one that fails to recognize the basic pluralist nature of American political and cultural life.
He sees integration as an illusory goal because white America itself is not homogenous. To Cruse, integrationism at best serves only the interests of the African American middle class. One wonders who on Earth Cruse is talking about. But it could mean very different things. But the interracial socialism of an A. Civil rights leaders and intellectuals wanted to change American society in fundamental ways.
I find it very odd that Cruse was able to pass off his pluralism, literally ripped from liberal-cum-neoconservative sociologist Nathan Glazer, as somehow more radical than the visions of James Baldwin and King. I recall essays by C students who, when asked to analyze texts from the Capper and Hollinger reader, chose King and Malcolm X because they felt they understand the differences between them based on what they learned in high school. Crisis is not an intellectual history.
As is typical of this genre of polemic, he vastly overstates the importance of intellectuals, absurdly proclaiming that.
With a few perceptive and original thinkers, the Negro movement could long ago have aided in reversing the backsliding of the United States toward the moral negation of its great promise as a new nation among nations. In short, Crisis does not deserve the status as a classic text of African American intellectual history. However, it nevertheless remains valuable text for intellectual historians.
For intellectual historians, Crisis is a poor guide but a key signpost. Intellectual History blog. History at Trinity College Dublin. His research explores connections between thought, culture, and politics in the twentieth-century United States.
Harold Cruse never did, as far as I know and I knew him present his book as a work of historical scholarship, or see himself as an historian. What made the Crisis of the Negro Intellectual was its impact upon publication, with its searing argument that Blacks in America faced a situation far more dire that what the Civil Rights movement recognized in On this pessimistic assessment, I think Cruse has largely been vindicated by the subsequent half century.
He rejected civil rights triumphalism before it was widely practiced. Still, the book has many limitations, as noted here by others. Harold Cruse never earned any college degree; he was a true organic intellectual, born in Virginia and raised in Harlem, inspired as a youth by the Theater. Late in life, he was appointed to what I believe was his first academic job to be the founding director of the U. He was always an outsider to academia even as he stayed at Michigan.
By Daniel Geary October 18, 1. Martin Luther King, Jr. Source: NY Daily News. As is typical of this genre of polemic, he vastly overstates the importance of intellectuals, absurdly proclaiming that With a few perceptive and original thinkers, the Negro movement could long ago have aided in reversing the backsliding of the United States toward the moral negation of its great promise as a new nation among nations.
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Not a Classic: The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual
Published in , as the early triumphs of the Civil Rights movement yielded to increasing frustration and violence, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual electrified a generation of activists and intellectuals. The product of a lifetime of struggle and reflection, Cruse's book is a singular amalgam of cultural history, passionate disputation, and deeply considered analysis of the relationship between American blacks and American society. Reviewing black intellectual life from the Harlem Renaissance through the s, Cruse discusses the legacy and offers memorably acid-edged portraits of figures such as Paul Robeson, Lorraine Hansberry, and James Baldwin, arguing that their work was marked by a failure to understand the specifically American character of racism in the United States. This supplies the background to Cruse's controversial critique of both integrationism and black nationalism and to his claim that black Americans will only assume a just place within American life when they develop their own distinctive centers of cultural and economic influence. It is said that Cruse collected and read volumes of magazines. This book is a review of Black culture in America from the s to the '60s.
40 Years of 'The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual'
Published in , as the early triumphs of the Civil Rights movement yielded to increasing frustration and violence, The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual electrified a generation of activists and intellectuals. Reviewing black intellectual life from the Harlem Renaissance through the s, Cruse discusses the legacy and offers memorably acid-edged portraits of figures such as Paul Robeson, Lorraine Hansberry, and James Baldwin, arguing that their work was marked by a failure to understand the specifically American character of racism in the United States. He succeeded in both…. Category: 20th Century U. Add to Cart.
The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual: A Historical Analysis of the Failure of Black Leadership
Harold Wright Cruse March 8, — March 25, was an American academic who was an outspoken social critic and teacher of African American studies at the University of Michigan until the mids. The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual is his best-known book. Harold Cruse was born March 8, , in Petersburg, Virginia. Cruse became interested in the arts as a young man, thanks in large measure to his close relationship with an aunt who often took him to shows on the weekend. Army and served in Europe and north Africa. In Cruse joined the Communist Party for several years. Maxwell noted on page of his book F.
Polemics seldom age well. But when Harold Cruse published The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual during the fall of , he aimed his verbal artillery in so many directions that it seems as if some of the missiles are still landing four decades later. Crisis was certainly a product of its time — a moment when the alliances of the Civil Rights movement were disintegrating fast, and arguments over the direction of African-American politics and culture filled the air. Cruse took the measure of various ideologies and found them wanting. He had no use for what he saw as the illusions of the integrationist agenda. He was a black nationalist, yet quite pointed in criticizing the influence of Marcus Garvey and other pan-Africanists from the Caribbean.