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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Missing entry from THE KATRINA PAPERS

Missing entry from TKP

The following entry was deleted from the published manuscript of THE KATRINA PAPERS: A Journal of Trauma and Recovery (2008).  If you own  the book, copy and insert this entry between pages 78 and 79.

TKP, Thursday, February 9, 2006

Escaping for two days from New Orleans (the Washington Post, 2/9/06 front page story on a cycle of waiting labeled the city "Limbo Land") to Washington, DC permits me to taste life as it once was. The Doubletree Guest Suites is adjacent to George Washington University.  I took advantage of proximity and visited James A. Miller in the Department of English.  I did not announce my visit.  I just took a chance that he might be around at lunchtime.  He was.  And he was surprised.  We had a very collegial chat ----two black men concerned, as we mutually discovered, about the invention of new New Negroes and the shameless theorizing of Katrina and the undeniable consequential abandoning of a historical sense that would validate an African American historical purpose.  My conversation with Jim was a stream of topic hits:  Richard Wright, "social death," Julia Wright, the RW Newsletter, Paul Gilroy's Black Atlantic categories and my disdain for Gilroy's Against Race;  Yale, the projected  Cambridge History of African American Literature (CHAAL); the state of Dillard University and the state of GWU.  When two men who cut their academic teeth (& future patterns thereof) in the ambience of BAM get together, the racialized implications of everything NOW is the likely theme.  Jim mentioned Endesha Ida Mae Holland  ---a reminder of my suggesting last week that she be remembered along w/Rosa Parks and Mrs. Coretta Scott King.  I do not like the cheap praise of the famous overshadowing the genuine praise of the unsung.  When I arrived at Jim's office he was eating a modest lunch.  He accompanied me to a nearby Au Bon Pain so that I could satisfy my own hunger with a sandwich and coffee.  Seeing Jim was a godsend, a reknotting of old professional bonds.

Had dinner at Circle Bistro, 1 Washington Circle, NW, with John Page, whose sending me a novel by Ishmael Reed is a remote historical cause for my being in DC to talk about Reed at Howard U's Heart's Day on February 10.  John has been reading daily, and he is very interested in my view of things in my embattled city.  John brought me the anniversary copy of Black Boy with intro by Edward P. Jones.

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