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New Ayers book postponed by politics

In one of the best-kept secrets of the presidential campaign, Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, delayed publishing their new book lest it provide more ammunition for Barack Obama’s critics. Race Course: Against White Supre­macy had been scheduled for release last spring by the Chicago-based Third World Press.

When Obama’s connections with the controversial Ayers flared as an issue in the campaign in April, the head of Third World Press, Dr. Haki R. Madhubuti, says that Ayers and Dohrn—concerned that provocative state­ments in Race Course would be used against Obama—agreed to shelve the manuscript. “We didn’t want the right wing to get hold of the book,” says Madhubuti, even though he insists that it’s “not anti-American, anti-anything.”

Ayers and Dohrn declined to comment. Publication is planned for February, although Madhubuti says he hopes to have copies available when the new president takes office on January 20th.

Ayers and Dohrn were leaders of the radical Weather Underground movement against the Vietnam War in the early 1970s. Ayers is a professor of education at UIC, and Dohrn teaches law at Northwestern. They have supported their fellow Hyde Park resident, Obama, since his first race for the state senate in 1996.

Madhubuti says that Race Course is the couple’s first book written together—a collection of memoirs and essays about “unexamined bigotry” in American life and institutions, in part based on their own confrontations with authorities during the sixties and seventies. Ayers and Dohrn also reflect on their current roles as parents, teachers, and reformers.

Madhubuti says the book will also include a special “post election” essay by the authors, “dealing with the campaign and the demonization of Bill Ayers.”

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