African American Intellectual-Activists: Legacies in the Struggle

This study examines the narrated life experiences of 11 African American intellectual-activists. An intellectual-activist is defined as a person whose education has provided him or her with a body of knowledge to which he/she is continually adding (intellectual self) and who works daily for, or has a career dedicated to, the betterment of African American people (activist self). The voices of the subjects focus on the events in their lives that contributed to their development as intellectuals and activists. Discussions of the individuals' backgrounds illuminate the forces that influenced their life experiences and guided their actions toward involvement with the struggle to improve the lives of the African American community. The overarching theme in these life stories is the possession of a positive African American self-concept. The study explores the ways in which the subjects developed this positive self-concept, how this self-concept influenced the goals of their activism, and how they define progress toward these goals.