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Malinda Alaine Lindquist

Department of History
lindqust@princeton.edu

Malinda Lindquist's research, ’Bringing the Black Boy to Manhood’: Cultural Policy Approaches to the Negro Problem, 1945-1995, explores the late-twentieth century debates over America’s number one social problem the young, black male. While the federal government continued to rely on the social sciences for insight into the problem, a number of non-profit think-tanks capitalized on this national problem, describing themselves as experts on the dilemmas of young, black manhood. As policy prescriptions proliferated, a nascent group of trained social scientists, in conjunction with religious groups, such as the Nation of Islam, subscribed to the idea that public policies might not be the only, or necessarily the best strategy for redeeming black manhood. This latter group sought to literally produce black men out of the raw material of young boys. In Bringing the Black Boy to Manhood: The Passage (1985) and Coming of Age: African American Male Rites-of-Passage (1992) the authors proposed complicated, communal, initiation rituals to instruct black boys in the responsibilities and privileges of black manhood. They believed that African-American boys needed inculcation in the values of racial manhood. This movement away from federal policy and towards the implementation of a cultural policy within the black community recalled the racial uplift strategies of the early-twentieth century and foreshadowed the principles that were later enshrined in the mission statement of the Million Man March.

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