1992 has been an explosive year for racial relations in the United States--from the reactions to the Rodney King verdict to debate about Malcolm X and the film portrayal of his role in American history. What relations do the recent events in Los Angeles have to the Watts Riots in 1965? Violence in the Black Imagination shows that these recent events force us to understand the history of racism in America and its legacy of antagonism and violence. Ronald T. Takaki presents three short novels of major African-American leaders in the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the leading black abolitionist; Martin Delany, the father of black nationalism; and William Wells Brown, a pioneer of the black novel. The novels are accompanied by substantive essays which provide both biographical information on the author and explore the common theme of their work--the issue of black revolutionary violence in antebellum America. The work includes a new preface which examines the 1992 South Central Los Angeles racial explosion in relationship to Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the 1965 Watts Riot.