The twelve essays presented here are a representative sample of the pioneering work Sydney Kaplan has produced in the fields of American and black studies. Selected from over fifty published pieces, the essays reflect Kaplan's lifelong passion to demonstrate the centrality of the African-American experience to our national experience, to show that an understanding of black history is indispensable to an understanding of American history. He takes particular pride in his works that that point out the presence and significance of African Americans who too often are rendered invisible or out of focus in national portraits. The emphasis throughout the essays is on Kaplan's attempts to give a full and fair description of what he aptly calls the American chiaroscuro: blacks and whites in the nation's images of itself in history, literature, and art.
A recipient of the Bancroft Award from the Journal of Negro History, the late Sidney Kaplan was professor emeritus of English and African American studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His books include The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution (University of Massachusetts Press, 1989), written with his wife, Emma Nogrady Kaplan. Author of African Muslims in Antebellum America, Allan D. Austin is professor of English and black studies at Springfield College.
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