The short bio on Adolph Reed is that he is an American professor emeritus of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. He focuses on the issues of racism and U.S. politics. He is also an author having written extensively on racial and economic inequality.
Here are seven things Black America should know about this brilliant thinker.
Reed is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in studies of issues of racism and U.S. politics. Reed has taught at Yale University, Northwestern University, and the New School for Social Research. He is also a contributing editor to The New Republic and has been a contributor to The Progressive, The Nation, and various left-wing publications.
Reed was born in the Bronx, New York, and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Early on, he realized we wanted to speak out for poor Black people and in the late 1960s he organized various protests. He then went onto receive his B.A from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1971 and his Ph.D. from Atlanta University in 1981. He worked as an advisor to Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first Black mayor.
Reed also became a founding member of the U.S. Labor Party.
Reed has been a vocal critic of the policies and ideology of Black Democratic politicians, especially former President Barack Obama. Reed seems to feel Black Dems play it too safe and are too middle-of-the-road.
“Obama and his campaign did not dupe or simply co-opt unsuspecting radicals. On the contrary, Obama has been clear all along that he is not a leftist. Throughout his career he has studiously distanced himself from radical politics,” he wrote of Obama in Harper’s Magazine in 2014.
In an article in The Village Voice published on Jan. 16, 1996, Reed wrote of Obama, who started his political career in Illinois as a Senator: “In Chicago, for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched Black communitarian voices; one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable do-good credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program — the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle-class reform in favoring form over substance.”
He added, “I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. Black politics…So far, the Black activist response hasn’t been up to the challenge. We have to do better.”
During an Interview with Bill Moyers, Reed commented, “Obama has been clear all along that he is not a leftist. Throughout his career, he has studiously distanced himself from radical politics…When not engaging in rhetorically pretentious, jingoist oratory about the superiority of American political and economic institutions, he has often chided the left in gratuitous asides that seem intended mainly to reassure conservative sensibilities of his judiciousness.”
Reed supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns.
Reed’s work on U.S. politics has stood out for its critique of identity politics and anti-racism, particularly in relationship to Black politics.
Political scientist Adolph Reed (screenshot: https://www.persuasion.community/p/reed#details)