On the ninetieth anniversary of Booker T. Washington’s death comes a passionate, provocative dialogue on his complicated legacy, including the complete text of his classic autobiography, Up from Slavery.
Booker T. Washington was born a slave in 1858, yet roughly forty years later he had established the Tuskegee Institute. Befriended by a U.S. president and corporate titans, beloved and reviled by the black community, Washington was one of the most influential voices on the postslavery scene. But Washington’s message of gradual accommodation was accepted by some and rejected by others, and, almost a century after his death, he is still one of the most controversial and misunderstood characters in American history.
Uncle Tom or New Negro? does much more than provide yet another critical edition of Washington’s memoirs. Instead, Carroll has interviewed an outstanding array of African American luminaries including Julianne Malveaux, cultural critics Debra Dickerson and John McWhorter, and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and radio talk-show host Karen Hunter, among others. In a dazzling collection bursting with invigorating and varying perspectives, (e.g. What would Booker T. think of Sean Combs or Russell Simmons? Was Washington a “tragic buffoon” or “a giver of hope to those on the margins of the margins”?) this cutting-edge book allows you to reach your own conclusions about a controversial and perhaps ultimately enigmatic figure.