Tag Archive

American scholars

The Elvis of Scholars

There is a new documentary coming out on Melville Herskovits. This preview makes it look fascinating. The filmmakers call Herskovits the Elvis of scholars because on the one hand he appropriated what black scholars had already been doing, and on the other he popularized the thesis that black Americans had a cultural past from Africa. I’ve read a lot of his correspondence and I’m struck over and again by the way he personally interacts with black scholars. He wanted so badly to be accepted by them, and yet at the same time could not quite let go of white privilege. Read more