Monday, May 10, 2010

Ishmael Reed on Barack Obama & the Jim Crow Media

Show description for Sunday 5/9/2010 @ 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

This afternoon on the 4 o'clock hour, poet, essayist, novelist and playwright, Ishmael Reed, returns to New Day Jazz, to discuss his most recent collection of essays, Barack Obama and the Jim Crow Media: The Return of the Nigger Breakers.

A towering presence in international arts and letters, Mr. Reed is one of a handfull of artists who have been instrumental in the development of English language literature over the past 40 years.


“Brilliant.” Jill Nelson, journalist, novelist, American Book Award winner.

For Ishmael Reed, Barack Obama, like Michelangelo’s St. Anthony, is a tormented man, haunted by modern reincarnations of the demonic spirits used to break slaves. These were the “Nigger Breakers”—men like Edward Covey, who was handed the job of breaking Frederick Douglass. “Isn’t it ironic,” writes Reed: “A media that scolded the Jim Crow South in the 1960s now finds itself hosting the bird.” In this collection, which includes several unpublished essays, Ishmael Reed brings to bear his grasp of the four-centuries-long African-American experience as he turns his penetrating gaze on Barack Obama’s election and first year in power—establishing himself as the conscience of a country that was once moved by Martin Luther King’s dream.

“Amazed at the many fronts on which [Ishmael Reed] has gathered little-reported facts…. I hope his book will lead to more journalistic self-reflection and intellectual honesty. ” — Werner Sollors, Professor of English Literature and of African and African American Studies, Harvard University

“In the past 40 years, Reed has published more than 20 books and has also made his mark as an editor, publisher, critic, journalist, songwriter, librettist and fearsome letter-to-the-editor writer. Reed is among the most American of American writers, if by ‘American’ we mean a quality defined by its indefinability and its perpetual transformations as new ideas, influences and traditions enter our cultural conversation.” — The New York Times

“With Ishmael Reed, the most persistent myths and prejudice crumble under powerful unrelenting jabs and razor-sharp insight.” — Le Devoir, Montreal

“Among American writers, Ishmael Reed is probably the one
whose sensibility is closest to jazz.” — The New York Times

IshmaelReed image

Ishmael Reed is an essayist, novelist, poet and playwright, and a prize-winner in all categories. He taught at the University of California (Berkeley) for thirty-five years, as well as at Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth. Reed is a member of Harvard’s Signet Society and Yale’s Calhoun Society. He lives in Oakland, California.

Ishmael Reed talks about this book with Phil Taylor of the Taylor Report

New Day Jazz

Justin Desmangles

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