To teachers of African-American history, August Meier is well respected as a first-rank scholar and editor. But few people are aware of his formative experiences in the two decades following World War II, as a white professor teaching at black colleges and as an activist in the civil rights movement. This volume brings together sixteen of his essays written between 1945 and 1965. Meier has added a substantial introduction, reflecting on those years and setting the context in which the essays were written. John H. Bracey, Jr., contributes an afterword which speaks to the uniqueness of Meier's experience among historians of African-American studies. The essays range from an analysis of the work of black sociologists in the twentieth century to an examination of race relations at predominantly black colleges in the 1950s, to case studies of nonviolent direct action in which Meier participated during the early 1960s. Of particular interest is an account of his debate with Malcolm X at Morgan State College in 1962, in which Malcolm X made the case for black nationalism and Meier defended the integrationist position. Collected for the first time, these essays provide a novel perspective on the early years of the civil rights movement and on the experience of historically black colleges such as Tougaloo, Fisk, and Morgan State.
University Professor of history at Kent State University, August Meier is author or editor of ten books, including Negro Thought in America, 1880-1915 (1965), From Plantation to Ghetto (1976, with Elliott Rudwick), and Black History and the Historical Profession, 1915-1980 (1986, with Elliott Rudwick). John H. Bracey Jr. is professor of Afro-American studies at teh University of Massachusetts Amherst.