Slavery & Freedom in the Rural North: African Americans in Monmouth County, New Jersey, 16651865.
By Graham Russell Hodges, Madison House Publishers, Madison, WI, 1997. 238 pp. Illustrations.
Over the last decade or so there has been a tremendous body of historical literature produced regarding African American communities in the nineteenth century. Most of these social histories have advanced from the Slavery Studies work of the 1970s and have included fresh perspectives from the burgeoning fields of Women's History, Cultural Studies, and the social history of the family. While most of these studies are focused on African Americans in the South, another area that has been receiving close attention has been the rural North.
Too many Americans still have the misguided notion that African Americans were few and far between in the North. While it is certainly true that the majority of black Americans have resided in the South, it cannot be stressed enough that racial slavery did exist in the North and that there were a substantive body of African Americans residing in the Northeast. Their stories have yet to be fully told. But that is rapidly changing.
Graham Russell Hodges has provided us with a strong example of the work that has been slowly building over the last ten years. He brings to this study of African Americans in Monmouth County, New Jersey a keen eye for detail and an immense amount of primary and secondary scholarship. It is the quality and depth of the research that should dispel any notion that African Americans were practically nonexistent in the Northeast in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Hodges meticulously traces the community and culture of black New Jerseyites and places them within the context of the region and American history in general. In this way Hodges has made an important contribution to the ongoing studies of those of us working in this area studying either nineteenth or twentieth century African Americans in the Northeast.
While this monograph will certainly be of importance to scholars in the field, its graceful writing makes it highly accessible to students in the classroom. All in all, Graham Russell Hodges has presented us with an important contribution to the growing field of African American regional studies in the Northeast.
Charles Pete Banner-Haley
Associate Professor of History
By Robert M. Levine '62. M.E. Sharpe, 1997. 209 pages.
When Bob Levine was at Colgate, he spent a semester abroad in Argentina. Juan and Eva Peron had helped to make that nation a subject of interest to youngsters growing up in the 1950s. Ironically, however, the most momentous part of his trip occurred not in Argentina, but in Brazil. On his way home at the end of the term, he spent a week in Rio de Janeiro. He was fascinated by the nation and its people. Since then Levine has become a prominent historian of Brazil. He has returned over and over and has authored sixteen books.
In Brazilian Legacies, Levine approaches his subject as if he were writing a mystery story. First he sets the scene. Brazil is a dynamic country known to most of us for its music and soccer players. It is the fourth largest country in the world, after Canada, the United States and China. It is stunningly rich in natural resources, has become a manufacturing giant, and exports beef and other food in quantities made possible by the presence of huge agro-industrial complexes. Its diverse population of 150 million includes more persons of African descent than any country except Nigeria . . . more Japanese than any country outside of Japan . . . and more descendants of Arab peoples than anywhere outside of the Middle East.
So why, Levine asks, do almost 45% of Brazil's people live in extreme poverty (defined as being unable to obtain enough basic foodstuffs) and why are 80% excluded from the formal market economy?
For answers to the riddle Levine turns to history. He explores such factors as the legacy of slavery and color prejudice, the artificial depression of salaries, the traditional expectation of privileges and favors being awarded to certain people, and the supposed Brazilian economic miracle of the 1960s and '70s when U.S. investors and the harsh military government joined forces to raise the country's GNP dramatically, but without making any effort to distribute profits widely or to ensure adequate food crop production.
Lest we see the Brazilian majority as being pathetic, Levine also includes chapters on their remarkable capacity for coping with problems most people in the United States would view as unbearable, and on their courage in organizing to fight back. It was once predicted by scholars, Levine reminds us, that the Brazilian people would not be able to break the strangle-hold of the military government. But they did. Levine, for one, is looking forward to watching them continue to shape their own future.
Assistant Professor of History
Protest, Power, and Change: An Encyclopedia of Nonviolent Action from ACT-UP to Women's Suffrage
Edited by Roger S. Powers and William B. Vogele '77, Garland Publishing, New York, 1997. 610 pp.
It must be rare indeed that one can write of an encyclopedic work like this I could use this as a text for teaching but that is what is so impressive about this volume; it combines the utility of a reference work with the page-by-page interest of a book read for the sheer fascination of the subject matter. This was my reaction in seeing the wealth of detail and excellent illustration in this compendium of nonviolent action. Bill Vogele '77, who co-edited this volume, worked in and studied Peace Studies at Colgate and served as assistant director, is now associated with the Einstein Institute at Harvard; that's an appropriate title. Just as the breakthroughs in nuclear physics for good or ill were one of the most remarkable scientific achievements of this century so, in the realm of social creativity, the key breakthrough was the systematization of the methods of nonviolent action. Who will be the man of the century Einstein or Gandhi? There are hundred of modes of nonviolence here that have radically altered the institutionalization of human conflict and the choices open to social movements. War by other means, is now an option the kind of non-military means so miraculously used by the peoples of Eastern and Central Europe as Gorby helped open up the opportunities for their use: practical non-military non-cooperation, war resistance, non-violent refusal of unjust laws, civil disobedience so many inspired by the ideas, life and experiments with truth of Mohandas Gandhi they are all listed here.
His work has been turned into a science by Gene Sharp and his colleagues like Vogele, Powers, McCarthy, Ackerman, Kreugler and others, and this beautifully compressed volume, written by both scholars and practitioners, is the latest example. Often the contributors are both activists and theorists I still remember Sharp giving out such texts in England, in the days of mass civil disobedience of 1961. The authors of this volume should be delighted that this may be assigned to students but just as important, it will be an invaluable addition to the libraries of faculty, nongovernmental organizations, international agencies, activists, researchers but also let us hope, last but not least policy makers, who can select from this armory of non-violence instead of automatically resorting to the archaic, but deadly mausoleum of military hardware.
Cooley Professor of Peace Studies
Director of Peace Studies Program