Why has autobiography been central to African American political speech throughout the twentieth century? What is it about the racialization process that persistently places African Americans in the position of speaking from personal experience? In Autobiography and Black Identity Politics: Racialization in Twentieth-Century America, Kenneth Mostern illustrates the relationship between narrative and racial categories such as 'colored', 'Negro', 'black' or 'African American' in the work of writers such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Paul Robeson, Angela Davis and bell hooks. Mostern shows how these autobiographical narratives attempt to construct and transform the political meanings of blackness. The relationship between a black masculine identity that emerged during the 1960s, and the counter-movement of black feminism since the 1970s, is also discussed. This wide-ranging study will interest all those working in African American studies, cultural studies and literary theory.

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