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Twenty years ago, less than two years after I’d received my doctorate in religion from Princeton, I appeared with Cornel West, Derrick Bell, and bell hooks in an illustration accompanying an article in The New Yorker about the rise of a new generation of black public intellectuals. Those were heady times. “A new African American intelligentsia has become part of this country’s cultural landscape,” wrote literary scholar Michael Bérubé. “It’s a development as noticeable as the ascendancy of the New York intellectuals after the Second World War.”  



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