Without the wisdom, encouragement, and guidance of family, friends, and colleagues, this book would not exist. The journey that culminated with this book began because Zan Skolnick, my father-in-law, nudged me to look into Toni Morrison's testimony in the copyright case about Alice Randall's The Wind Done Gone. That initial research received a warm welcome from Norm Yetman, then an editor of American Studies, and an audience at a Mid-American American Studies Association (MAASA) conference in St. Louis. Ted Vaggalis served as a regular sounding board for my ideas and was kind enough to read a rough draft of the entire manuscript. His comments and suggestions vastly improved the final version. Ken Egan, Charlie Ess, and Cheryl Ragar encouraged and helped mentor me through the process of publishing a book. Jaqueline Tygart, art librarian extraordinaire, assisted me in tracking down images and catalogs. Diane Ziegler and Marie Tracy provided amazing administrative support during the last few years.
I am deeply grateful that Michael Ray Charles, Huey Copeland, and David Sanjek granted my requests for phone interviews. Those conversations helped propel the project forward. Richard Delgado was a superb resource, and I appreciate his enthusiasm for the book at a time when I doubted that I would ever complete it. Julie Cohen offered numerous suggestions for improving the sections on intellectual property. Students in my African American literature and African American cultural studies classes helped hone and improve many of the ideas contained in this book. I am blessed by being a part of a supportive department. Jeanie Allen, Hueping Chin, Charlie Ess, Michael Hill, Erin Kenny, Sean Terry, and Ted Vaggalis are simply wonderful colleagues and make going to work each day a pleasure. Tony Clark, Lisa Esposito, Teresa Hornsby, David Katzman, Lovalerie King, Cheryl Lester, Elizabeth Paddock, Chris Panza, Greg Renoff, Ann Schofield, Sherrie Tucker, and Saundra Weddle all regularly asked about the book's progress and offered moral support. I would also like to express my appreciation of everyone associated with the University of Michigan Press, especially the blind reviewers whose comments guided my revisions.
I must acknowledge the tremendous imagination of the writers, musicians, and artists discussed herein. Their work, along with that of many other contemporary African American cultural workers, was an inspiration and provided a wealth of material to analyze and discuss. I hope that this book does justice to their artistry and encourages others to delve deeper into their work. Although I only know them through their writing, Rosemary Coombe, Henry Louis Gates, Nelson George, Norman Kelley, Lawrence Lessig, Kembrew McLeod, Mark Anthony Neal, Tricia Rose, Joseph Schloss, and Siva Vaidhyanathan provided the intellectual inspiration for this book. I would like to thank them for writing books that inspired me.
Last but not least, family and friends encouraged me throughout the journey of writing this book. Victor Schur, Eileen Schur, Blossom Skolnick, and Zan Skolnick are the best parents and in-laws a person could ask for. Roberta Schur, Elyse Tish, Gary Skolnick, Harriet Krauthamer, Ellen Mednick, Scott Tandy, Diane Smason, and Josh Flanders have been wonderfully supportive. I also want to thank my children, Ruth, Ari, and Max, for indulging my absentmindedness when I was lost in thought about this project. Most of all, I would like to thank Linda Skolnick. She supported this project from the beginning, agonized with me over it, and lent her considerable intellect to the challenges it presented.