Martin Delany, Frederick Douglasss, and the Politics of Representative Identity

University of North Carolina Press, 1997

The differences between Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany have been historically reduced to a simple binary pronouncement: assimilationist versus separatist. Now Levine restores the relationship of these two important nineteenth-century African American writers to its original complexity. He explores their debates over issues like abolitionism, emigration, and nationalism, illuminating each man's influence on the othe's political vision. Though each saw himself as the single best representative of his race, Douglass has been accorded that role by history -- while Delany, according to Levine, has suffered a fate typical of the black separatist: marginalization. In restoring Delany to his place in literary and cultural history, Levine makes possible a fuller understand of the politics of antebellum African American leadership.