Author Talk: Deborah G. Plant “Of Greed and Glory: Black Freedom and the American Pursuit of Popular Sovereignty”

Author Talk: Deborah G. Plant “Of Greed and Glory: Black Freedom and the American Pursuit of Popular Sovereignty”

In her studies of Zora Neale Hurston, Deborah Plant became fascinated by Zora’s explanation for the atrocities of the international slave trade. In her memoir, Dust Tracks on a Road, Zora wrote: “But the inescapable fact that struck in my craw, was: my people had sold me and the white people had bought me. . . . It impressed upon me the universal nature of greed and glory.”

America, like many other countries, was obsessed with accumulating wealth and power and used free Black labor to achieve it. Throughout history, policies have prevented Black Americans from fully exercising their right to liberty and prosperity on American soil. From the first iterations of displacement—Africans stolen from their homeland—to the strategic development programs that uproot Black people from their homes and communities, racist policies like redlining and blockbusting have persistently worked to ensure the economic and social divide between Black and white Americans.

Plant’s brother is serving a life sentence in Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison. Founded after the Civil War. Angola was built with “convict” labor on a former slave plantation, and Louisiana was among the first Southern states to re-enslave newly freed Black people within the state’s equally infamous convict leasing system. Plant quickly comes to realize that when her brother was locked up, so too was her family; the labyrinthine penal system traps convict’s entire community in long-term bondage in which there is always something more to pay. Of Greed and Glory highlights the ways in which slavery is still practiced in the United States, tracing the throughline from slavery to mass incarceration and demonstrating how this uprooting has devastated African American advancement in America, while it has enriched white America. And this corrupt system is not only harming Black Americans; the greed driving our capitalist society threatens the liberty of every last one of us. Freedom is the defining characteristic of America, and it is being undone.

Of Greed and Glory dissects the systemic practices developed throughout history that perpetuate Blacks’ present state of inequality and injustice, underlining the lack of personal sovereignty threatening all Americans should this relentless pursuit of profit persist. By raising consciousness and clarifying the consistency with which Black lives have been devalued, and how we are all enthralled to this madness, Plant charts a path forward toward the personal sovereignty our nation is founded upon.

Our programs are geared toward a general audience and are open to all, including Temple students, faculty, staff, alumni, neighbors, and friends. Registration is encouraged.

Contact John Pyle at with questions. 

Thursday, February 22, 2024
2:00pm - 3:30pm
Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection
Main Campus
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