The findings from wide-ranging interviews and careful historical research, Black Genius explores the roots of black achievement in America. The results are surprising and inspiring. Interweaving past and present, beginning with this country's inception, Russell covers the importance of continuity and tradition in nurturing black artists, scientists, and leaders. Here are memorable portraits of Wynton Marsalis, Ralph Ellison, Louis Armstrong, Toni Morrison, Duke Ellington, James Baldwin, Paul Robeson, Muhammad Ali, Lois Mailou-Jones, and other black notables. Through their eyes, we see how they were inspired, fostered, and encouraged by their mentors, how the creative tradition was passed from one generation to the next. This great theme of interconnectedness is played out, for example, in Wynton Marsalis's links to not only Ellington and Armstrong, but also, through the venerable author Albert Murray, to Ellison and the artist Romare Bearden.
In addition to these well-known figures, Russell also rediscovers less familiar ones: writers, activists, scientists, and artists whose reputations may be underrecognized, whose courage and achievements are something to aspire toward.
Black Genius is a resounding yes to the black youth who might question their own ability to create, inspire, and influence. It provides them with a historical journey, rich with wisdom and anecdotes. It is a must-listen for all those interested in the African American experience in America and in the generations of black geniuses' contributions to our country's ideals.