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Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership$
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Erica R. Edwards

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816675456

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816675456.001.0001

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Restaging the Charismatic Scenario

Restaging the Charismatic Scenario

Fictions of African American Leadership

(p.3) Chapter 1 Restaging the Charismatic Scenario
Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership

Erica R. Edwards

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter situates the twentieth-century cultural complex of black charismatic leadership within the making of post-Reconstruction black political culture. In African American political culture since the Reconstruction, charismatic leadership can be described as a fraught discursive compact—a narrative and performative regime—that has had to contend repeatedly with the contestations of performing artists, writers, social critics, and activists. Charisma, as a political fiction or ideal, forms assumptions about authority and identity that structures how political mobilization is conceived and enacted. This fiction is staged in real time and in media playback: its narrative thread is woven into the fabric of what might be called the charismatic scenario, which has throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries taken form in ways as diverse as the United Negro Improvement Association parades, the Million Man and Millions More marches, and the various scenes that make up the historical imaginary of the civil rights and Black Power movements.

Keywords:   cultural complex, black charismatic leadership, Reconstruction, African American political culture, narrative, performative, charisma, political mobilization, charismatic scenario

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