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Fires in the Mirror

Leonard Jeffries in Fires in the Mirror is a controversial intelligent man who speaks in the play about the work he did with Alex Haley on the famous book and television series Roots. After going through extreme success in his private education, Leonard Jeffries began working and studying in Europe and Africa and then took a job as a professor of African American studies at the City University of New York (NYU). At this time, he had developed a great interest in working as an advocate and supporter for black social progress and movement, and he had begun to boost some of his main principal theories about race and race relations and issues.

He began to be criticized for his beliefs that there are genetic and mental differences between blacks and whites, and that rich European Jews had an important role in managing the slave trade. A New York Times editorial in 1990 declared Leonard Jeffries as a reckless professor and a conspiratorial theorist, and between 1992 and 1994 Jeffries underwent a court fight with the City University of New York over his title of head authority of the African American Studies Department of said university.

The scenes he makes in Anna Deveare Smith’s novel makes him question whether he is an anti-Semite; explores his past and present life and the views he maintains of himself; and plays with the feeling or sensation of losing and discovering African roots. Works Cited Smith, Anna Deavere. “Fires in the Mirror”. New York, New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. , 1993.

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