Length: 3 pages
Audiobook Length: 11 hours and 15 minutes
First Published: 2021
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A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present—edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire.
The story begins in 1619—a year before the Mayflower—when the White Lion disgorges “some 20-and-odd Negroes” onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States. It takes us to the present, when African Americans, descendants of those on the White Lion and a thousand other routes to this country, continue a journey defined by inhuman oppression, visionary struggles, stunning achievements, and millions of ordinary lives passing through extraordinary history.
Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.
This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present.
About Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi is a historian, author, professor, journalist, and activist. His works include The Black Campus Movement, Stamped from the Beginning, Stamped, and How to Be an Antiracist. Kendi is the founding director of The Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University and a professor of history and founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Visit the author’s website →
About Keisha N. Blain
Dr. Keisha N. Blain is an associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh and the president of the African American Intellectual History Society. She is the author of Set the World on Fire. Visit the author’s website →