BLACK PROFILES IN COURAGE by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

BLACK PROFILES IN COURAGE

A Legacy of African-American Achievement
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A spirited collection of stories interspersed with the athlete-author's often clichÇd comments and observations. Former NBA basketball star Abdul-Jabbar (Kareem, 1990) contends that the accomplishments of African-Americans have--for the most part--deliberately been written out of the history books. Penned in a conversational tone, this book is meant to ``inform, encourage and inspire'' those ``young Americans who most need a heritage to embrace.'' Among those profiled here are some relatively obscure African-Americans, including Peter Salem, a slave who helped repel two British assaults at Bunker Hill, and Lewis H. Latimer, Thomas Edison's chief patent expert, who helped Edison usher in the age of electricity. Well-known African- Americans, such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks, are also covered. In addition to celebrating the achievements of blacks, the author is out to demythologize the accomplishments of supportive whites. Abraham Lincoln, for example, is referred to as ``the Late Emancipator,'' who ``deliberately delayed while black people died.'' Abdul-Jabbar surmises that historians have constantly denied credit to those blacks who were at the forefront of our nation's major historical events because ``it was too much of a contradiction to enlist blacks in the fight for freedom and then deny them those rights on the basis of their skin color.'' While many of Abdul-Jabbar's contentions are certainly valid, there is one major flaw to his thesis. Whereas his generation's textbooks did omit the contributions of blacks, this is not the case in the multicultural '90s. Many of the nation's current textbooks celebrate the contributions of minorities (especially Native Americans and African-Americans), often at the expense of dead white males. Even a decade after JFK's title, Black Profiles in Courage would have been a slam dunk. In 1996, though, it seems curiously behind the times. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-688-13097-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1996




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