Cover image for This is where I came in : Black America in the 1960s
This is where I came in : Black America in the 1960s
Early, Gerald Lyn.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xii, 144 pages ; 21 cm.
Muhammad Ali as third world hero -- Sammy Davis Jr., establishment rebel -- Cecil B. Moore and the rise of Black Philadelphia, 1964-1968

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.615 .E16 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
E185.615 .E16 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
E185.615 .E16 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
E185.615 .E16 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

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The fascinating and turbulent black America of the 1960s emerges in these essays, through the lenses of dissent and its contradictions. Gerald L. Early revisits this volatile time in American history, when class, culture, and race ignited conflagrations of bitterness and hatred across the nation. nbsp; The lives of three active and influential people are given special attention: Cecil B. Moore, advocate and agitator in the "racial tinderbox" of black Philadelphia; Muhammad Ali, promoter of a "colored" consciousness; and Sammy Davis Jr., survivor of black vaudeville and liberator of black performers. nbsp; The fiercely independent Moore, who rebuffed the black political establishment because it failed to address the concerns and needs of the majority of the black populace, used the authority of the NAACP to forge a militant, populist organization at the local level. Ali, one of the most widely recognized athletes of all time, combined protest and action to become a hero for black and "colored" people throughout the world, and became a type of ambassador to the Third World. Davis mirrored America's emancipation, confusion, and self-destructiveness, and, most important, its self-consciousness, which transcended even his remarkable accomplishments as an entertainer. As Early demonstrates, the careers and lives of Moore, Ali, and Davis illustrate and embody the ambiguity and struggle of American identity in the 1960s.

Author Notes

Cornell University graduate Gerald Early is an essayist and professor at Washington University.

Early was the director of African and Afro-American studies at Washington University and the director of the American Culture Studies Program. He was also named the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters in Arts and Sciences.

His essays have been included in Harpers, The New Republic, and Hungry Mind Review. His books include One Nation Under a Groove: Motown and American Culture, Lure and Loathing: Essays on Race, Identity and Ambivalence of Assimilation, and Body Language: Writers on Sport. Early received the National Book Critics Circle Award for his book The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Literature, Prizefighting, and Modern American Culture.

(Bowker Author Biography) Gerald Early is the author of "The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature, & Modern American Culture" & the editor of "The Muhammad Ali Reader". He is Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters at Washington University in St. Louis.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Early, a teenager during the turbulent 1960s, identifies Muhammad Ali, Sammy Davis Jr., and Philadelphia NAACP President Cecil Moore as icons of what he calls an age of self-conscious redefinition, particularly for black Americans struggling for racial justice. In three essays, Early outlines the particular contributions of Ali, Davis, and Moore through their transformative images. Ali's heroic image in heavyweight boxing--a profession that easily lent itself to images of champions and challengers--and his relationship with the Nation of Islam broadened the images of black men and civil rights to an international scale. Early defends Davis' image as an Uncle Tom and recognizes Davis' breakthroughs in the entertainment world and his important financial support for civil rights causes. Growing up in Philadelphia, Early was more intimately aware of Moore, whose aggressive political stance belied the typically sedate image of the NAACP during the period of race riots in urban America. Early aptly demonstrates how Ali, Davis, and Moore represent efforts of self and racial redefinition during a tumultuous period. --Vanessa Bush Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Despite its title, Early (The Culture of Bruising) quickly establishes that the three essays here are not autobiographical, but rather academic profiles-originally delivered as part of a university lecture series-of Muhammad Ali, Sammy Davis Jr. and Cecil B. Moore. Early sees the three men as symbols of America's self-conscious redefinition in the 1960s, and through them he offers a well-researched characterization of a decade for which Early professes no nostalgia. In the first essay, Early eschews narrative detail in favor of analysis, breaking down the charismatic appeal of Ali "in an era when black nationalism and color consciousness was intricately connected to masculinity." The profile of Sammy Davis Jr. is more gracefully written, threaded with stories and reviews that describe Davis's contradictions and the contradictory ways people responded to him, mirroring America's ambiguous identity in the 1960s and its paradoxical responses to race. Early's gifts as a scholar and writer are best displayed in the final essay on Moore, head of the Philadelphia NAACP at a time when the city was "a racial tinderbox." The match was struck when police intervened in a marital dispute and, fueled by rumors that the wife was pregnant and had been killed, the population burst into riot. Moore's ineffectiveness in stopping the violence, Early suggests, "intensified his desire for independence"; for the rest of his career, Moore distanced himself from political establishments and, by answering to no one, earned the trust of many in the black community. Early, who grew up in Philadelphia and remembers both Moore and the impact of his pressure politics, at last indulges in memoir, recalling the walls of the segregated Girard College and the racial slurs in the barber shop where he delivered papers. The essay is more poignant for it, and although the book ultimately succeeds in creating a portrait of 1960s America, readers may wish that Early had not been so faithful in his commitment to avoid autobiography. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In three essays that revise his "Abraham Lincoln Lectures" (2000) at the University of Nebraska, Early (director, African & Afro-American studies, Washington Univ., St. Louis) reexamines the 1960s through the private perspectives and public perceptions of three black figures who were their own man in different ways. Rendering boxer Muhammad Ali as Third World hero, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. as establishment rebel, and Philadelphia grass-roots organizer and lawyer Cecil Bassett Moore as the catalyst for the political rise of black Philadelphia, Early illuminates the 1960s as an age of self-conscious redefinition that was both narcissistic and populist. His incisive strokes open to view varieties of dissent and their contradictions in contexts of individual and racial identity, pride, and power. Recommended for collections on contemporary America and on black biography, history, and politics as a spirited contrast and companion to recent works such as Leonard N. Moore's Carl B. Stokes and the Rise of Black Political Power, Heather Ann Thompson's Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City, and John H. McWhorter's Authentically Black: Essays for the Black Silent Majority.-Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. vii
Muhammad Ali as Third World Herop. 1
Sammy Davis Jr., Establishment Rebelp. 36
Cecil B. Moore and the Rise of Black Philadelphia, 1964-1968p. 67
Notesp. 131
Indexp. 139