Eddie Glaude Jr. and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
April 17, 2024, 6:00 PM EDT

In conversation: Eddie Glaude Jr. *97 and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor discuss ‘We Are the Leaders We Have Been Looking For’

In “We Are the Leaders We Have Been Looking For,” one of the nation’s preeminent scholars and a New York Times bestselling author, Eddie Glaude Jr. *97 makes the case that the hard work of becoming a better person should be a critical feature of Black politics. Through virtuoso interpretations of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Ella Baker, Glaude shows how ordinary people have the capacity to be the heroes that our democracy so desperately requires, rather than outsourcing their needs to leaders who purportedly represent them. 

Based on the Du Bois Lectures delivered at Harvard University, the book begins with Glaude’s unease with the Obama years. He felt then, and does even more urgently now, that the excitement around the Obama presidency had become a disciplining tool to narrow legitimate forms of Black political dissent. This narrowing continues to undermine the well-being of Black communities. In response, Glaude guides us away from the Scylla of enthusiastic reliance on elected leaders and the Charybdis of full surrender to a belief in unchanging political structures. Glaude weaves anecdotes about his own evolving views on Black politics together with the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Dewey, Sheldon Wolin, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison. 

Narrated with passion and philosophical intensity, this book is a powerful reminder that if American democracy is to survive, we must build a better society that derives its strength from the pew, not the pulpit.

Glaude will discuss his new book with Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies.