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African American Political Thought

A Collected History

Edited by: Melvin L. Rogers and Jack Turner
African American Political Thought offers an unprecedented philosophical history of thinkers from the African American community and African diaspora who have addressed the central issues of political life: democracy, race, violence, liberation, solidarity, and mass political action. Melvin L. Rogers and Jack Turner have brought together leading scholars to reflect on individual intellectuals from the past four centuries, developing their list with an expansive approach to political expression. The collected essays consider such figures as Martin Delany, Ida B. Wells, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Audre Lorde, whose works are addressed by scholars such as Farah Jasmin Griffin, Robert Gooding-Williams, Michael Dawson, Nick Bromell, Neil Roberts, and Lawrie Balfour.

While African American political thought is inextricable from the historical movement of American political thought, this volume stresses the individuality of Black thinkers, the transnational and diasporic consciousness, and how individual speakers and writers draw on various traditions simultaneously to broaden our conception of African American political ideas. This landmark volume gives us the opportunity to tap into the myriad and nuanced political theories central to Black life. In doing so, African American Political Thought: A Collected History transforms how we understand the past and future of political thinking in the West.

Author Information

Melvin L. Rogers is associate professor of political science at Brown University. He is the author of The Undiscovered Dewey: Religion, Morality, and the Ethos of Democracy. Jack Turner is associate professor of political science at the University of Washington. He is the author of Awakening to Race: Individualism and Social Consciousness in America.


“For far too long, mainstream white American political theorists, whether in political science or political philosophy, have gotten away with the construction of a Jim Crow canon for which black thinkers are separate, unequal, and invisible. This groundbreaking and comprehensive overview of the African American political tradition should henceforth make such intellectual ghettoization impossible.”
— Charles W. Mills, The City University of New York

African American Political Thought should become an instant classic. So much to mine here. So many lines of inquiry to follow. Rogers and Turner have masterfully curated a collection of essays that will guide the field of African American political thought for generations. The study of American political thought will never be the same.”
— Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Princeton University

“This book is an essential intervention in political theory and expands the notion of the canon of American political thought in ways that are both necessary and profound. Herein we begin to understand the richness of the legacies of politics reasoned from margin to center and the critical impact that can have on conceptions of democracy and justice. A must-read for those interested in understanding American politics and seriously engaging political theory.”
— Deva Woodly, The New School

Audience: Professional and scholarly;