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Living Our Stories, Telling Our Truths

Living Our Stories, Telling Our Truths: Autobiography And The Making Of The African American Intellectual Tradition


From the publication of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave in 1845 to Lorene Cary'sBlack Ice and Brent Staples's Parallel Time: Growing Up in Black and White in the 1990s, the autobiography has been the most important literary genre in the African-American intellectual tradition. Whether used to clarify the nature of the relationship between ideology and personal experience or simply because "oftentimes personal truth was stranger than fiction," the autobiography fulfilled the need to define the individual "black self" to a society that denied the existence of black reality. In Living Our Stories, Telling Our Truths, V.P. Franklin provides the first comprehensive examination of African-American intellectual history in over twenty-five years, presenting original interpretations of the lives and thought of twelve major black American writers and political leaders who played a central role in this powerful literary genre.Focusing on the autobiographical works of such prominent figures as Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Malcolm X, Gwendolyn Brooks, and James Baldwin, as well as lesser known but equally crucial figures including Alexander Crummell, who declared black Americans a "chosen people" of the Lord, and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the most famous black American woman at the turn of the century, Franklin shows that the need to tell the truth to authority, to document the original cultural contributions of rural and urban blacks, and to defend the interests of the black working class has always been a principal preoccupation of African-American intellectuals. The particular areas of the "race problem" that these individuals chose to focus on, however, were as varied as the times in which they wrote: from James Weldon Johnson's commitment to documenting the significant artistic and cultural contributions of African-Americans and James Baldwin's view that African-Americans were destined "to redeem the soul of America" to Malcolm X's rejection of integrationist doctrines and Harry Haywood's determination that the leadership of the Communist Party recognize the revolutionary potential of the black working class. And through it all, the objectives are strikingly similar--self-determination, "race vindication," and the struggle for freedom have all been at the core of the collective experience of African Americans in the United States. Given the negative evaluations of black culture and community coming from the larger white-dominated society, African-American intellectuals used their autobiographies to tell the truth about the nature of the black experience in this society and throughout the world.Providing personal accounts of what freedom meant and how it could be achieved, the autobiography allowed African-American intellectuals to use their personal experience as a mirror to reflect the larger social and political context for black America. A major contribution to American history, Living Our Stories, Telling Our Truths acknowledges this rich tradition and makes it clear that these works provide a vital intellectual legacy for African-Americans as they enter the twenty-first century.



  • Condition: --
    HPB condition ratings
    • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
    • Fine/Like New (F): No defects, little usage. May show remainder marks. Older books may show minor flaws.
    • Very Good (VG): Shows some signs of wear and is no longer fresh. Attractive. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. Possible loose bindings, highlighting, cocked spine or torn dust jackets. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    • Fair (FR): Obviously well-worn, but no text pages missing. May be without endpapers or title page. Markings do not interfere with readability. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    • Poor (P): All text is legible but may be soiled and have binding defects. Reading copies and binding copies fall into this category. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
    Conditions Guide
  • Format: Paperback
  • Sold by: --
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr
  • ISBN-13: 9780195103731
  • ISBN: 0195103734
  • Publication Year: 1996
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HPB condition ratings
  • New: Item is brand new, unused and unmarked, in flawless condition.
  • Fine/Like New (F): No defects, little usage. May show remainder marks. Older books may show minor flaws.
  • Very Good (VG): Shows some signs of wear and is no longer fresh. Attractive. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Good (G): Average used book with all pages present. Possible loose bindings, highlighting, cocked spine or torn dust jackets. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Fair (FR): Obviously well-worn, but no text pages missing. May be without endpapers or title page. Markings do not interfere with readability. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
  • Poor (P): All text is legible but may be soiled and have binding defects. Reading copies and binding copies fall into this category. Used textbooks do not come with supplemental materials.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: Mint condition or still sealed (SS). Absolutely perfect in every way. New.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): No defects, little sign of use, well cared for. Plays perfectly. Close to new. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. Could be an unopened promotional or cut item. Sometimes called: mint-minus.
  • Very Good (VG): Will show some signs that it was played and otherwise handled by a previous owner who took good care of it.
  • Good (G): Attractive and well cared for, but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, scuffing or scratching, but will play almost perfectly. For vinyl: barely detectable crackles or pops.
  • Fair (FR): This item is in okay condition. For vinyl: good is not so good and the record may have low level crackles or pops when playing. CD: one or more tracks may skip.
  • Poor (P): Obviously well-worn and handled. Most vinyl collectors will not buy good or below, but some tracks on CD or vinyl will play.
Conditions Guide
HPB condition ratings
  • New: This movie is unopened and brand new.
  • Fine/Like New (EX): Near new. No defects, little sign of use. Plays perfectly. Not necessarily sealed or unused, but close. No skipping; no fuzzy or snowy frames in VHS.
  • Very Good (VG): Attractive and well cared for but no longer fresh. Minor signs of wear, but will play almost perfectly. For VHS: barely detectable distortion or very few fuzzy or snowy frames.
  • Good (G): This item is in okay condition and basically works well. There may be some minor distortion on VHS tape; slight scratching or wear on DVD.
  • Fair (FR): Basically plays, but may be obviously well-worn with some scratching or tape distortion.
  • Poor (P): Disc or tape is intact, but may be scratched or stretched. There may be skips or distortion or product defects.
Conditions Guide
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