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When native Ohioan William Hannibal Thomas, a preacher, teacher, trial justice, state legislator, and journalist who began as a champion of the freedman's cause, wrote the 1901 The American Negro: What He Was, What He Is, and What He May Become, his self-loathing led him to attack members of his own race as inferior. The American Negro located "the Negro problem" in the black community and suggested that blacks model themselves after "notable" mulattos, such as Thomas himself. In response, the African-American community united against the book; it was banned from many public libraries, and Thomas himself was shunned by his race, living in solitude until his death at age 92.

Black Judas: William Hannibal Thomas and The American Negro is John David Smith's compelling study of one of America's most notorious "race traitors." Despite the fact that Thomas deliberately left very few records behind in an effort to cover his own tracks, Smith, who is the graduate alumni distinguished professor of history at N.C. State, has managed to piece together Thomas's story and delve fairly into his psychology. Smith will discuss and sign copies of his book at the New Hope Commons Barnes & Noble in Durham on May 17 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. For information, call 489-3012.

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