From the author of the New York Times bestseller Begin Again, a politically astute, lyrical meditation on how ordinary Black Americans can shake off their reliance on a small group of professional politicians and pursue self-cultivation and grassroots movements to achieve a more just and perfect democracy.
We are more than the circumstances of our lives, and what we do matters. In We Are the Leaders We Have Been Looking For, one of the nation’s preeminent scholars and a New York Times bestselling author, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., makes the case that the hard work of becoming a better person should be a critical feature of Black politics. Through virtuoso interpretations of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Ella Baker, Glaude shows how ordinary people have the capacity to be the heroes that our democracy so desperately requires, rather than outsourcing their needs to leaders who purportedly represent them.
Based on the Du Bois Lectures delivered at Harvard University, the book begins with Glaude’s unease with the Obama years. He felt then, and does even more urgently now, that the excitement around the Obama presidency had become a disciplining tool to narrow legitimate forms of Black political dissent. This narrowing continues to undermine the well-being of Black communities. In response, Glaude guides us away from the Scylla of enthusiastic reliance on elected leaders and the Charybdis of full surrender to a belief in unchanging political structures. Glaude weaves anecdotes about his own evolving views on Black politics together with the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Dewey, Sheldon Wolin, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, and Ralph Ellison.
Narrated with passion and philosophical intensity, this book is a powerful reminder that if American democracy is to survive, we must build a better society that derives its strength from the pew, not the pulpit.
Though they speak directly to tendencies within the ongoing Black political struggle, the wisdom these important essays offer about the true nature of democratic action is equally relevant to all Americans seeking to rebuild a ravaged democracy and its broken institutions. A powerfully eloquent, concise book.
We Are the Leaders We Have Been Looking For is nothing short of a complete refreshment of the concept of intellectual vocation. It is a work of critical and rigorous social theory, elegant prose, and immediate political consequence. We know Glaude is prolific and pathbreaking as a scholar and highly influential as an intellectual working for the public good. But in this book, we see Glaude as we haven’t previously witnessed—a public philosopher.
Reading We Are the Leaders We Have Been Looking For is like attending a jazz concert with all of one’s favorite musicians. In his long meditation on the nature of intellectual and cultural inheritance, of nostalgia and self-possession, of prophecy and soul-craft, Glaude riffs on some of the most compelling voices in the tradition: James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Ella Baker, Toni Morrison, and more. In one relatively short volume, he brilliantly takes us on an epic tour through their lives and work.
- 176 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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