Skip to main content

African Americans




A Patient and Scholarly Biography of Paul Robeson

Martin Duberman's new book delves deep into the complicated political and artistic life of the African American actor and activist. Book critic John Leonard admires how exhaustive the biography is, and how it never shies away from difficult topics like Robeson's womanizing and depression.


"Philadelphia Fire" by John Edgar Wideman

Book critic John Leonard reviews the African American writer's new novel, set against the events surrounding the 1985 burning of the MOVE house in West Philadelphia by the Philadelphia police.


Fleshing Out the History of Frederick Douglass

Critic Maureen Corrigan reviews a new biography of the former slave, writer, and abolitionist by Pulitzer Prize-winning author William McFeely. The book fills in the many gaps and silences in all three of Douglass's autobiographies.


Rumors and Conspiracy Theories in the Black Community.

Professor Patricia Turner, of the African American Studies department at University of California, Davis. Her new book "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (U. of California Press) examines the historical and social ramifications of rumor in African American culture. From Ku Klux Klan-owned clothing and cigarette companies to a military conspiracy to infect Africans with AIDS, she looks at the role of legend and rumor, finding it has long been a feature of the community.


Tensions Between Genders in the Black Community.

Mike Tyson returns to the ring Saturday night after a four year absence. Three of those years were spent in jail on a rape conviction. .Tyson continues to deny the charge. Commentator Gerald Early says that Tyson's release from prison sparked new questions about an old debate in the black community: tensions between the genders. Gerald Early teaches English at Washington University where he directs the program on African and Afro-American studies. He's the author of The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prize fighting, Literature and Modern American Culture.

Did you know you can create a shareable playlist?


There are more than 22,000 Fresh Air segments.

Let us help you find exactly what you want to hear.
Just play me something
Your Queue

Would you like to make a playlist based on your queue?

Generate & Share View/Edit Your Queue