Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 January 2022
This chapter explores Ellison’s critical engagement with the black cultural radicalisms of the Black Power era (c. 1965-75). The chapter’s main focus is Ellison’s response to the writer-activist Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones). For Ellison, the work of 1960s black radicals was an unwarranted, even unprincipled refusal of the promise of American cultural pluralism, a promise that blacks themselves had long struggled mightily to fulfill. But Baraka’s generation had reckoned seriously with pluralism; it was not simply Black Power’s other. Indeed, a number of Baraka’s contemporaries embraced Ellison’s pluralist interventions as a usable black past.