"Defending the Spirit: A Black Life in...


"Defending the Spirit: A Black Life in America," by Randall Robinson. Dutton. 240 pages. $25.95.

There's no way, if you're an honest human, to get through "Defending the Spirit: A Black Life in America" without feeling naked and ashamed.

And so it's understandable why America's dad, Bill Cosby, carried Randall Robinson's memoir throughout Monday night's episode of "Cosby." It's understandable because you haven't been able to let go of "Defending the Spirit" either.

If you're lucky, you never will. The lessons between its covers are far too important to forget. For those willing to heed President Clinton's call for an "honest" dialogue about race, this book may be the best place to start.

"Defending the Spirit" is as much an autobiography as it is a lesson in world history. And yet Robinson acknowledges: "I've traveled a long way to nowhere.

Robinson gives us more than we need to take that first step toward racial conciliation; to arouse our interest in democracy beyond the ritual election; to learn more about our country's misbehavior in foreign policy; to understand that democracy not only requires us to know but to cause our leaders to make sure our policies are consistent with our ideals; and to appreciate the relationship between the past and present.

Pub Date: 5/10/98

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