Attend an Event
Stars and Shadows: The Politics of Interracial Friendship from Jefferson to Obama
Join Eagleton’s Professor Saladin Ambar for a conversation about his new book: Stars and Shadows: The Politics of Interracial Friendship from Jefferson to Obama and listen to the stories of the friendships of highly influential cultural icons and political figures.
Dr. Ambar is a Senior Scholar at Eagleton’s Center on the American Governor and Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. He is the author of four books, including Malcolm X at Oxford Union: Racial Politics in a Global Era (Oxford University Press), which was nominated for a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for best non-fiction book written by an African American author.
Read the Book Description:
Stars and Shadows is the first work in American political history to offer a comprehensive overview of how friendship has come to shape the possibilities for democratic politics in America. Covering ten cases — from Benjamin Banneker and Thomas Jefferson’s ill-fated effort to navigate the limits imposed on democracy by slavery and white supremacy, to the more hopeful stories of James Baldwin and Marlon Brando as well as Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem — Ambar’s study illuminates how friendship is critical to understanding the potential for multiracial democracy. Political leaders and cultural figures are frequently involved in translating private feelings, relationships, and ideas, into a public ideal. Friendships and their meaning are therefore a significant part of any effort to shape public or elite opinion.
The symbolism inherent in interracial friendship has always been readily apparent, down to the powerful example of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who were not only allied politicians, but most importantly, friends. Ambar weaves a set of interlocking stories that help create a working theory of multiracial democracy that demands more of us as citizens: a commitment to engage one another and to engage our past with even greater courage and trust. Such gestures are a vital part of the story of how race and America have been shaped. Stars and Shadows helps explain America’s enduring difficulty in making friends of citizens across the color line — and why the narrative of racial friendship matters.
About the Moderator
David Greenberg is a professor of History and of Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, and a frequent commentator in the national news media on contemporary politics and public affairs.
**Participants can enjoy a 30% discount on book purchase.