The Nigger Bible

by Craig Stark

11 April 2023

Robert H. deCoy's Controversial Masterpiece

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Funny thing. Just now I ran a search for Robert H. deCoy's The Nigger Bible on WorthPoint. No dice. Funny, I say, because dozens of results came up on Terapeak, Abebooks, etc., and this book exists in numerous printings. I suspect that this is an instance of keyword suppression because absolutely nothing with the word "nigger" in it comes up on WorthPoint - even just the word by itself. With respect to the searching issues discussed in the previous article, here's yet another thing that can trip you up on a search.

Anyway, though controversial, especially in its first and early iterations, deCoy's modest paperback caused a stir with readers. Some hailed it as groundbreaking; others voiced less favorable opinions. The blurb on the back panel of the first edition (self-published, BTW) reads: "Written by an acknowledged Nigger, for and about the experiences of Niggers, addressed and directed exclusively to my Nigger people for whom it was purposely conceived." Second and later printings included a Dick Gregory introduction, wherein Gregory called deCoy "one of the literary giants of our time." Today it's frequently acclaimed as one of the classics of the black experience, and Mark Gould, in his Come Alive by Saying No: An Introduction to Black Power characterizes it as a "key statement" in the early Black Power movement.

Published on January 18, 1967, the first printing is the sweet spot. A later Holloway House printing followed in the same year, along with several other, later appearances. All do pretty well, often reaching three figures, and if the first is in good condition, $200 or more is within reach - and up. Issue points on the first printing include Maurice Scales cover art featuring the title on a white burning (KKK) cross against a black background, the author's photo to the back panel and no Gregory introduction. Publisher: Blawhit: A California Corporation. The cover title is A Nigger's Bible, altered to The Nigger Bible on the title page. 191 pp. MMPB format: 7" x 4 1/4".

The first:

Several later printings:

Lots of copies out there. Go fish.

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