Preface  pp. ix-xii


By Alphonso Pinkney

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Although I have long maintained an interest in Afro-American nationalism, it never occurred to me to attempt to write a book on the subject. Therefore, it seems appropriate to say a word about the development of this book. In Black Americans (Prentice-Hall, 1969), I dealt briefly with the transformation of the civil rights movement into the black power movement. But it was my judgment at the time that contemporary black nationalism had not gained sufficient momentum in the United States to warrant lengthy treatment.

In August 1969, I was invited to present a paper at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, as part of a larger panel on ethnic and race relations in the United States. I elected to do a paper entitled “The Case for Pluralism for Black Americans.” Researching and writing this paper stimulated my interest in contemporary black nationalist groups in the United States.

Shortly thereafter, I received an invitation to present a paper in a course on black life and culture at Douglass College of Rutgers University to be held in the spring of 1970. It was requested that the paper focus on contemporary developments in the black community; that it should expand on those unfolding events that had been mentioned only briefly in Black Americans. There seemed little doubt that nationalism was the dominant ethos of the black movement at that time. This time I chose to do a paper specifically on contemporary black nationalism. All papers presented in this course were later published in a volume edited by Rhoda L. Goldstein, Black Life and Culture in the United States (Thomas Y. Crowell, 1971).