Melville Herskovits: the Elvis of African-American studies

PBS has "must-see" viewing tonight.  (It’s on at 11:00 on my PBS station in NYC.  Check the PBS Independent Lens website here for local listings and more details.)

It’s a documentary called Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness.  Melville Herskovits (1895-1963) established the African Studies Center at Northwestern, the first at any American university, and he wrote The Myth of the Negro Past, which help re-defined black history.

Harvard history prof, Vincent Brown, calls Herskovits the "Elvis of African-American studies."  (Coincidentally, this wins our "best metaphor" award for Winter 2010.)

Here’s what the Independent Lens says about the Herskovits accomplishment:

When a white, Jewish intellectual named Melville Herskovits asserted in the 1940s that black culture was not pathological, but in fact grounded in deep African roots, he gave vital support to the civil rights movement and signaled the rise of identity politics.

Pictured: Vincent Brown, Professor of History at Harvard and project advisor, Christine Herbes-Sommers, Executive Producer, and Llewellyn Smith, Director and Producer of Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness.

Note: this post was lost in the Network Solutions debacle.  It was restored December 26, 2010.