Selections from the prolific writings of the prize-winning author and dramatist.
Born in 1930, Duberman (History Emeritus/CUNY Graduate School; Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left, 2012, etc.) has been a participant in, and witness to, many of the significant historical events of the last 50 years. As the founder of the Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies at CUNY and a participant in the development of the movement for gay rights, Duberman's account of the Stonewall riots of 1969 is exemplary of his overall approach, a mix of the historical and the personal. Under the rubric of social and economic justice, he writes about the relationship between individuals and society, along with the struggle for political and personal/sexual freedoms. He discusses the antebellum abolitionist movement and provides thumbnail biographies that frame the question of “normal” vs. “neurotic.” Duberman works these themes into his treatment of the civil rights, black nationalist and gay rights movements. The author does not offer broad generalizations, but particular exemplification: the career of Paul Robeson and his struggle against racism, Howard Zinn's involvement with the 1950s civil rights movement in Atlanta, and the actions of the Student National Coordinating Committee, the Gay Academic Union and the National Gay Task Force. He also examines the tragedy of AIDS and the issue of racism in the gay male community, and he offers incendiary thoughts on the death of Ronald Reagan, lionized by most but disdained by the author for his refusal to assist in AIDS research (“Reagan wouldn’t lift a finger to foster research or to combat the mounting epidemic in any way. Mr. Compassion couldn’t even say the AIDS word”) or provide any protection of the civil liberties of minorities.
A provocative collection that is thoughtful in both scope and attention to detail.