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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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Leadership’s Looks

Leadership’s Looks

The Aesthetics of Black Political Modernity

(p.35) Chapter 2 Leadership’s Looks
Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership

Erica R. Edwards

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter delves into the notion of charisma as an organizing structure of black political engagement. It looks at how writers contest this idea. During the 1920s and 1930s, authors such as W. E. B. Du Bois and George Schuyler used their works to dethrone existing charismatic archetypes, primarily Marcus Garvey, the founder of Universal Negro Improvement Association. It examines black modern leadership in two forms: the visual imagery of the black charismatic scenario that was cultivated during the Harlem Renaissance, and the connection between erotics, politics, and aesthetics in the cultural production of black leadership. A reading of Du Bois’Dark Princess and Schuyler’s Black Empire suggests that the expressions and visions of charismatic black leadership are constitutive of the culture of black political modernity, and of the structures corresponding to the blacks’ struggle for the rights and privileges of citizenship.

Keywords:   charisma, black political engagement, W. E. B. Du Bois, George Schuyler, Marcus Garvey, Universal Negro Improvement Association, Harlem Renaissance, cultural production, Dark Princess, Black Empire

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