RETURN TO BLACK AMERICA by William Gardner Smith


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Smith, a black novelist who left his ghetto home in Philadelphia in 1951 and went to live in Paris, found it quite a homecoming in the summer of 1967 (and then summer '68) when he returned as a French correspondent to observe America's racial scene. Setting out to make up for lost time, he extracted every shade of opinion from a spectrum of black and a sampling of white interviewees and supplemented the picture with his own experience of ""The Black Man in Europe,"" France's May Revolution (influenced by the black revolts of '67), and two years lived in Africa during Nkrumah's fall. There are featured raps with Elijah Muhammad, Stokely Carmichael, Rap Brown, and James Boggs, an older lesser-known black power theoretician, and secondary chats with Smith's own relatives, old friends, and other assorted individuals. The prognosis is that the black revolt and the white youth movement will eventually bring about a fundamental transformation of U.S. society, ""within which black America would be in a sufficiently strong position to negotiate its status, on an equal footing with the white leadership."" But meanwhile ""it looks as though we're in for a long, hot decade or two."" Well written for the most part, but melange-ish in approach and organization, Return to Black America says it all, but says nothing new.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1969
Publisher: Prentice-Hall