The role of black middle-class culture and ideology in reshaping mainstream America
In late twentieth-century America the black middle class has occupied a unique position. It greatly influenced the way African Americans were perceived and presented to the greater society, and it set roles and guidelines for the nation's black masses.
Though historically a small group, the black middle class has attempted to be a model for inspiration and uplift. As a key force in the "Africanizing" of American culture, the black middle class has been both a shaper and a mirror during the past three decades. This study of that era shows that the fruits of integration have been at once sweet and bitter. This history of a pivotal group in American society will cause reflection, discussion, and debate.
Charles T. Banner-Haley is a professor of history at Colgate University.