Whoever has tried to understand the experience of African Americans in the United States is well aware of its controversial nature. Highly regarded scholars often differ markedly in their interpretations of empirical findings. For many years, for example, the views of Melville J. Herskovits and E. Franklin Frazier about the extent of African influence on American Negro life were hotly debated. More recent controversies include among others, the polemics over Stanley Elkins' interpretation of slavery, over the Moynihan Report, and over William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner, all dating from the late twentieth century.
Peter I. Rose is Sophia Smith Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Anthropology at the Louise W. and Edmund J. Khan Liberal Arts Institute and a member of the Graduate Faculty of the University of Massachusetts. He has been a Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Leicester in England, at Kyoto University in Japan, and at the Flinders University in Australia.