Becoming African American

Amateurish historians often tell us that we must study the past to avoid repeating its mistakes. Such efforts rarely work out well. Con­sider the determination of the U.S. in the 1930s to avoid replicating the events of World War I or subsequent efforts to oppose communism in places like Viet­nam to avoid repeating the appeasement of the 1930s.

Laurie Maffly-Kipp, by contrast, offers an unusual, complex and thoughtful approach to history. With remarkable erudition and careful analysis, she presents the lives and ideas of 19th-century African-American writers, preachers and missionaries who thought long and hard about their past.


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