Rayford W. LoganIntroduction by Kenneth Robert Janken
“This book provides a marvelous window into the contours of mid-20th century black political thought. . . . More than half a century after its publication, this book remains a valuable document for anyone interested in the origins of the modern civil rights movement. Its indictment of American racism remains powerful and relevant even today.” — Eric Arnsen, Chicago Tribune
In 1944, distinguished Howard University historian Rayford W. Logan gathered together essays on the subject “What the Negro Wants” written by fourteen prominent African American intellectuals, including Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Mary McLeod Bethune, A. Philip Randolph, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Roy Wilkins. The outspoken views expressed in the essays shocked even white liberals by their unanimous call for an end to segregation. The publication of What the Negro Wants thus helped set the agenda for the Civil Rights Movement to come.
This edition includes Rayford Logan’s introduction to the 1969 reprint, a new introduction by Kenneth Robert Janken, and an updated bibliography.
Reviews of the 1944 edition:
“The essays which make up the book vary widely in tone, in emotional attitude, and in specific details, but taken together they offer a real cross-section of Negro opinion. I recommend this book most earnestly and congratulate both editor and publisher on the production of a book of true importance.” — Book Week, Chicago Sun
“. . . [It] should be required reading for all Americans, white and Negro.” — Library Journal
“Rationalization and sublimation have been the means by which we have tried to solve the American race problem, and this ably written book is an outstanding example of the frontal approach.” — The New York Times Book Review
“The conspicuous thing about the book is the spirit in which it is written, the absence of rancor and the small amount of bitterness, the reasonableness with which these men state their case, the patience with which they assume that the white man cannot forever live with his own hypocrisy.” — Weekly Book Review, New York Herald Tribune Books