October 17th in African American History – Lerone Bennett, Jr.

Lerone Bennett, Jr.

Lerone Bennett, Jr.

October 17, 1928, Lerone Bennett, Jr., scholar, author and social historian, was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Bennett earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College in 1949 and served in the United States Army from 1951 to 1952. He joined Ebony Magazine in 1954 and for decades served as executive editor. Bennett is the author of several books, including “Before the Mayflower:

A History of Black America, 1619-1962”, which was published in 1963 and discusses the contribution of African Americans in the United States, and “Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream,” published in 2000 and questions Lincoln’s role as the “Great Emancipator.” Bennett has honorary degrees from several colleges and universities and in 2003 was awarded the Carter G. Woodson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.

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One Response to October 17th in African American History – Lerone Bennett, Jr.

  1. Lou Magnani February 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    After seeing Lerone Bennett, Jr. on booktv, for the first time, discussing his work on Lincoln published in 2000, I had to say something. I’m saying it here because the man may not be alive as he was quite elderly in the interview and I don’t find a website for him.

    I’m not a historian but a big fan of history and read quite a bit about civil war era. I just finished reading a number of books on John Brown that confirm so much of what Mr. Bennett said. So, I really don’t disagree with anything Mr. Bennett said with just a little exception and a big question.

    Without having read the book I don’t know if any credit for growth is given to Lincoln – and he did grow in his presidency. While i understand he was a racist i also understand that i was one too. A Jimmy Carter book discusses his racism candidly but the reader understands that he no longer is – as i hope i no longer am. As Walt Whitman, Emerson and Thoreau all were racists, shouldn’t they get credit for coming to understand what brought them to that thinking, and changing it to the point where they, practically alone among whites, celebrated the life and death of John Brown even before he was hung?

    I’m in agreement with Mr. Bennett that “the real history” should be taught so that we can learn from it. But the real history is about people who are always, and inevitably, flawed. So, while Lincoln was an “inept appeaser” and a rascist when he came into office, did he not harden and become resolved before the end of the war and did his association with Chase, Seward, Douglas and others not change his attitude on race? I am under the impression it did.

    But the big question in my mind is how Mr. Bennett feels about the Obama administration. I am 65 and have been disgusted with Presidents all my adult life. I was just starting to come out of it with Bill Clinton in office. And then there was the unspeakable. And then there was hope – but it was dashed.

    Perhaps Obama too will grow in office; but thus far he has had little to say about the fundamentals of injustice and inequality that exist, and are getting worse, in this country. I see a parallel between the 30 year period from Jackson to Lincoln as it concerned the moral problem of racism and slavery and the 30 year period between 1980 and 2010 as it concerns the moral problem of economic inequality. Do black, white and brown readers share my concerns and dissappointment in this administration?

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