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LLL Presents Melvin Rogers & Eddie Glaude – “The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought”

Melvin Rogers, Brown University; Eddie Glaude, Religion and African American Studies

November 9, 2023 · 7:00 pm8:30 pm · Princeton Public Library

Labyrinth Books; Princeton Public Library

Could the African American political tradition save American democracy? Melvin Rogers provides a bold new account of African American political thought through the works and lives of individuals who built this vital tradition and discusses this tradition with Eddie Glaude, one of this country’s foremost public intellectuals helping to shape the conversation about race in the US.

African Americans have had every reason to reject America’s democratic experiment. Yet African American activists, intellectuals, and artists who have sought to transform the United States into a racially just society have put forward some of the most original and powerful ideas about how to make America live up to its democratic ideals.

Rogers reexamines how figures as diverse as David Walker, Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, Billie Holiday, and James Baldwin thought about the politics, people, character, and culture of a society that so often dominated them. Sharing a light of faith darkened but not extinguished by the tragic legacy of slavery, they resisted the conclusion that America would always be committed to white supremacy. They believed that democracy is always in the process of becoming and that they could use it to reimagine society. But they also saw that achieving racial justice wouldn’t absolve us of the darkest features of our shared past, and that democracy must be measured by how skillfully we confront a history that will forever remain with us.

Melvin L. Rogers is professor of political science and associate director of the Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Brown University. He is the author, previously, of The Undiscovered Dewey: Religion, Morality, and the Ethos of DemocracyEddie Glaude is professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. His influential books include Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul; In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America; and Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for our Own.

Co-presented by Labyrinth Books and The Princeton Public Library and co-sponsored by Princeton University’s Humanities Council, Religion Department, Office of the Dean of Religious Life, as well as SPIA in NJ and the Princeton Theological Seminary.

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