Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness

Director: Llewellyn Smith
Country: USA
Year: 2006
Running Time: 57 min
Language: English

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Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness asks how a white American of Jewish ancestry, barely a generation removed from Central Europe, acquired the power to re-make the historical understanding of black people. The 20th century anthropologist Melville J. Herskovits re-defined black history and black people, making it possible for a people formerly despised as “Negroes” to pride themselves as African-Americans.  Bringing rarely seen archival footage together with witty animation, photo re-enactments and with interviews from leading scholars of race and culture, Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness delves into the historical and ongoing struggle over who has the power to understand and ascribe meaning to their own cultural identity, and who does not.