On this edition of Parallax Views, much ink has been spent chronicling the history of the United States through the the political careers of its various presidents. But what of those Presidents relationship to Black America, a segment of the U.S. populace who have historically faced discrimination, prejudice, and racism from the earliest moment of arrival in the country? Margaret Kimberley, a New York-based activist and editor/columnist for Black Agenda Report, seeks to uncover that relationship in her new book Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents (Truth to Power; 2020).
Margaret Kimberley joins us to discuss this fascinating new book which sheds an often more unpleasant light on Presidential history than usually recognized. We begin by discussing the Black Agenda Report and what listeners can expect from its analysis. Then we pivot into the subject of her new book by looking at how the mythology of the United States prevents many from taking a critical look at our Presidents, including the Founding Fathers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Magaret relates how these Founding Father were slave owners and how even the ones who had conflicted feelings about slavery, like Thomas Jefferson, weren't willing to challenge the institution. We then move on to the Presidency of "The Great Emancipator" Abrahahm Lincoln, who Margaret argues we have, to some extent, romanticized as for ending slavery while forgetting the abolitionists, slaves, and former slaves who pushed for the end of that terrible institution. We also discuss the relationship between President Theodore Roosevelt and the African American community leader Booker T. Washington and the controversies surrounding their dinner at the White House. And, of course, we discuss Franklin Delano Roosevelt relationship to black America.
From there we fast-forward bit to more contemporary history. For example, we untangle the major changes the changed the relationship of the black community to Republicans and Democrats in the wake of the Civil Rights era into the Presidencies of Nixon, Carter, and Reagan. We also take a critical look at Bill Clinton, who was once referred to as "The First Black President". Then we discuss the Presidency of Barack H. Obama, Obama's controversial relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and the legacy of it all. Finally, we delve into the current Presidential race and the Democratic Primaries between Joe Biden and Bernie Sandets.