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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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PRINTED FROM MINNESOTA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.minnesota.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MNSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

Disappearing the Leader

Disappearing the Leader

The Vanishing Spectacle in Civil Rights Fiction

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

Erica R. Edwards

University of Minnesota Press

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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