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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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Disappearing the Leader

Disappearing the Leader

The Vanishing Spectacle in Civil Rights Fiction

Chapter:
(p.105) Chapter 4 Disappearing the Leader
Source:
Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership
Author(s):

Erica R. Edwards

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816675456.003.0004

This chapter discusses William Melvin Kelley’s novel A Different Drummer, which restages the charismatic scenario into an alternative leadership model framed by disappearance and silence rather than visibility and spectacle. Social and cultural histories of the black freedom struggle have worked to produce in their own accounts of invisible political and cultural-political labor during the 1940s to 1960s. While the novel tells the story of an exodus of black residents out of a segregated Southern town, it refuses to offer the reader the perspective of its “leader,” Tucker Caliban. Kelly hides Tucker from the story and leaves the town residents to wonder why he left the town, inspiring others to do the same. The silent disappearance of the black characters in the novel suggests the visibility of civil rights spectacle as a central theoretical problem for contemporary African American history and social movements.

Keywords:   William Melvin Kelley, A Different Drummer, charismatic scenario, alternative leadership, disappearance, silence, visibility, spectacle, black freedom struggle, civil rights

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