And Still I Rise: Black America Since MLK

Neil Drumming in The New York Times:

Gates“And Still I Rise: Black America Since MLK,” a companion to a coming PBS special, makes for brisk and emotionally uncomplicated reading. No writing that claims such a focus can truly be dispassionate, but “Rise” aims to be more comprehensive than rousing. That’s not to say that the authors, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Kevin M. Burke, are without their prejudices — more on those in a moment. But in these times when race so sizzles at the forefront of the public consciousness, “Rise,” particularly in its earlier chapters, can feel encyclopedically bland — and that’s probably the book’s most refreshing trait. The surprisingly objective telling somehow lends itself to an enjoyably subjective experience. Starting where it starts — the civil rights movement in 1965 — “Rise” is heavy with historical and political significance right from the beginning. In fact, if this broad survey can be said to have a narrative thread, it is the legacy of civil rights and the effort by so many to uphold that movement’s central tenets throughout the United States’ changing administrations and attitudes. And within that scope, other, more specific themes emerge, such as the dismantling of the welfare system and the decimation of ­affirmative action as an ideal as well as a ­reality.

More here.