LET YOUR MOTTO BE RESISTANCE"": The Life and Thought of Henry Highland Garnet by Earl Ofari

LET YOUR MOTTO BE RESISTANCE"": The Life and Thought of Henry Highland Garnet

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Henry Highland Garnet (1815-1872) was the offspring of a runaway slave family who became an abolitionist leader distinguished for his militancy and his black nationalism. His political activism drew him to the Liberal Party, the Free Soilers, and ultimately to a scheme of black emigration to Africa and Haiti, where cotton farming would compete with, and ultimately destroy, the Southern plantation oligarchy. Ofari is an uncritical biographer: he praises Garnet's views without examining their origins, strengths, or weaknesses. There is a strain of ""black capitalism"" throughout Garnet's positions, as when ""he urged blacks as a group to develop their own resources"" or when he called upon the National Negro Convention in 1847 to establish ""a bank. . . under the 'control of the people of color.'"" Ofari advises black Americans to ""look at a historical figure to learn methods and tactics. . . that may have some value for. . . survival in the present,"" but which of Garnet's ideas were viable and which chimerical (from religious revivalism to colonizing projects) is hedged by a stream of often dubiously warranted praise. A collection of Garnet's speeches and letters is included: the motto throughout is ""resistance,"" but as the speeches show, the content of resistance often followed strange footpaths. A reference rather than a critique for intent students.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1972
Publisher: Beacon