On June 19, 1865 slavery in America officially ended—honor this holiday by learning about the individuals and communities that have continued the fight for equality, safety, and justice for Black Americans.
An unflinching account of what it means to be a young black man in America today, and how the existing script for black manhood is being rewritten in one of the most fascinating periods of American history.
How do you learn to be a black man in America? For young black men today, it means coming of age during the presidency of Barack Obama. It means witnessing the deaths of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, and too many more. It means celebrating powerful moments of black self-determination for LeBron James, Dave Chappelle, and Frank Ocean.
In Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, Mychal Denzel Smith chronicles his own personal and political education during these tumultuous years, describing his efforts to come into his own in a world that denied his humanity. Smith unapologetically upends reigning assumptions about black masculinity, rewriting the script for black manhood so that depression and anxiety aren't considered taboo, and feminism and LGBTQ rights become part of the fight. The questions Smith asks in this book are urgent -- for him, for the martyrs and the tokens, and for the Trayvons that could have been and are still waiting.
The long-hidden stories of America's black pioneers, the frontier they settled, and their fight for the heart of the nation
When black settlers Keziah and Charles Grier started clearing their frontier land in 1818, they couldn't know that they were part of the nation's earliest struggle for equality; they were just looking to build a better life. But within a few years, the Griers would become early Underground Railroad conductors, joining with fellow pioneers and other allies to confront the growing tyranny of bondage and injustice.
The Bone and Sinew of the Land tells the Griers' story and the stories of many others like them: the lost history of the nation's first Great Migration. In building hundreds of settlements on the frontier, these black pioneers were making a stand for equality and freedom. Their new home, the Northwest Territory -- the wild region that would become present-day Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin -- was the first territory to ban slavery and have equal voting rights for all men. Though forgotten today, in their own time the successes of these pioneers made them the targets of racist backlash. Political and even armed battles soon ensued, tearing apart families and communities long before the Civil War. This groundbreaking work of research reveals America's forgotten frontier, where these settlers were inspired by the belief that all men are created equal and a brighter future was possible.
Named one of Smithsonian's Best History Books of 2018
by Kevin Merida
Over the last 100 years, perhaps no segment of the American population has been more analyzed than black males. The subject of myriad studies and dozens of government boards and commissions, black men have been variously depicted as the progenitors of pop culture and the menaces of society, their individuality often obscured by the narrow images that linger in the public mind. Ten years after the Million Man March, the largest gathering of black men in the nation's history, Washington Post staffers began meeting to discuss what had become of black men in the ensuing decade. How could their progress and failures be measured?
Their questions resulted in a Post series which generated enormous public interest and inspired a succession of dynamic public meetings. It included the findings of an ambitious nationwide poll and offered an eye-opening window into questions of race and black male identity -- questions gaining increasing attention with the emergence of Senator Barack Obama as a serious presidential contender. At the end of the day, the project revealed that black men are deeply divided over how they view each other and their country.
Now collected in one volume with several new essays as well as an introduction by Pulitzer Prizewinning novelist Edward P. Jones, these poignant and provocative articles let us see and hear black men like they've never been seen and heard before.
by Bryan Shih
Introduction by Peniel E. Joseph
"Brilliant, painful, enlightening, tearful, tragic, sad, and funny, this photo-essay book is at its core about healing, and about the social justice work that still needs to be done in the era of hip-hop, Black Lives Matter, and the historic presidency of Barack Obama." -- Kevin Powell, author of The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy's Journey into Manhood
"A brilliantly conceived volume. Bryan Shih and Yohuru Williams demonstrate why the Panthers' story-its lessons and failures-even fifty years after its founding remains key to understanding national and international struggles for freedom and justice today." -- Cheryl Finley, professor and director of visual studies, Cornell University
Even fifty years after it was founded, the Black Panther Party remains one of the most misunderstood political organizations of the twentieth century. But beyond the labels of "extremist" and "violent" that have marked the party, and beyond charismatic leaders like Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver, were the ordinary men and women who made up the Panther rank and file.
In The Black Panthers, photojournalist Bryan Shih and historian Yohuru Williams offer a reappraisal of the party's history and legacy. Through stunning portraits and interviews with surviving Panthers, as well as illuminating essays by leading scholars, The Black Panthers reveals party members' grit and battle scars-and the undying love for the people that kept them going.
With Lee A. Daniels
Black Americans have always relied on the oral tradition -- storytelling, preaching, and speechmaking -- to assert their rights and preserve and pass on their history and culture. In the pulpit, courtroom, or cotton field, they have understood the power of words, distinctively delivered, to educate and inspire.
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., one of the nation's finest speakers, imbibed this tradition as a young man and has given it his own unique inflection from his work on the civil rights front lines, to the National Urban League, to positions of influence at the highest level of business and politics. A friend and confidant to presidents, Jordan has never forgotten the men and women -- from Ruby Hurley to Wiley Branton to Gardner C. Taylor to Martin Luther King, Jr. -- whose oratorical skill in service to social justice deeply influenced him. Their examples and voices, reflected in Vernon's own, make this book both a history and an embodiment of black speech at its finest: Full of emotion, controlled force, righteous indignation, love of country, and awe in front of the God-given challenges ahead.
During Reconstruction, Herschel V. Cashin was a radical republican legislator who championed black political enfranchisement throughout the South. His grandson, Dr. John L. Cashin, Jr., inherited that passion for social justice and formed an independent Democratic party to counter George Wallace's Dixiecrats, electing more blacks to office than in any Southern state. His "uppity" ways attracted many enemies. Twice the private plane Cashin owned and piloted was sabotaged. His dental office and boyhood home were taken by eminent domain. The IRS pursued him, as did the FBI. Ultimately his passions would lead to ruin and leave his daughter, Sheryll, wondering why he would risk so much.
In following generations of Cashins through the eras of slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, civil rights, and post-civil rights political struggles, Sheryll Cashin conveys how she came to embrace being an agitator's daughter with humor, honesty, and love.
WINNER OF THE 2018 PEN OPEN BOOK AWARD
"A rich and urgently necessary book" (New York Times Book Review), A Moonless, Starless Sky is a masterful, humane work of journalism by Alexis Okeowo--a vivid narrative of Africans who are courageously resisting their continent's wave of fundamentalism.
In A Moonless, Starless Sky Okeowo weaves together four narratives that form a powerful tapestry of modern Africa: a young couple, kidnap victims of Joseph Kony's LRA; a Mauritanian waging a lonely campaign against modern-day slavery; a women's basketball team flourishing amid war-torn Somalia; and a vigilante who takes up arms against the extremist group Boko Haram. This debut book by one of America's most acclaimed young journalists illuminates the inner lives of ordinary people doing the extraordinary--lives that are too often hidden, underreported, or ignored by the rest of the world.
by Alex Haley
When Roots was first published forty years ago, the book electrified the nation: it received a Pulitzer Prize and was a #1 New York Times bestseller for 22 weeks. The celebrated miniseries that followed a year later was a coast-to-coast event-over 130 million Americans watched some or all of the broadcast. In the four decades since then, the story of the young African slave Kunta Kinte and his descendants has lost none of its power to enthrall and provoke.
Now, Roots once again bursts onto the national scene, and at a time when the race conversation has never been more charged. It is a book for the legions of earlier readers to revisit and for a new generation to discover.
To quote from the introduction by Michael Eric Dyson: "Alex Haley's Roots is unquestionably one of the nation's seminal texts. It affected events far beyond its pages and was a literary North Star.... Each generation must make up its own mind about how it will navigate the treacherous waters of our nation's racial sin. And each generation must overcome our social ills through greater knowledge and decisive action. Roots is a stirring reminder that we can achieve these goals only if we look history squarely in the face."
The star- studded cast in this new event series includes Academy Award-winners Forest Whitaker and Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Derek Luke, Grammy Award-winner Tip "T.I." Harris, and Mekhi Phifer. Questlove of The Roots is the executive music producer for the miniseries's stirring soundtrack.
A deeply reported book that brings alive the quest for justice in the deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray, offering both unparalleled insight into the reality of police violence in America and an intimate, moving portrait of those working to end it.
Conducting hundreds of interviews during the course of over one year reporting on the ground, Washington Post writer Wesley Lowery traveled from Ferguson, Missouri, to Cleveland, Ohio; Charleston, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland; and then back to Ferguson to uncover life inside the most heavily policed, if otherwise neglected, corners of America today.
In an effort to grasp the magnitude of the repose to Michael Brown's death and understand the scale of the problem police violence represents, Lowery speaks to Brown's family and the families of other victims other victims' families as well as local activists. By posing the question, "What does the loss of any one life mean to the rest of the nation?" Lowery examines the cumulative effect of decades of racially biased policing in segregated neighborhoods with failing schools, crumbling infrastructure and too few jobs.
Studded with moments of joy, and tragedy, They Can't Kill Us All offers a historically informed look at the standoff between the police and those they are sworn to protect, showing that civil unrest is just one tool of resistance in the broader struggle for justice. As Lowery brings vividly to life, the protests against police killings are also about the black community's long history on the receiving end of perceived and actual acts of injustice and discrimination.
They Can't Kill Us All grapples with a persistent if also largely unexamined aspect of the otherwise transformative presidency of Barack Obama: the failure to deliver tangible security and opportunity to those Americans most in need of both.
by Lorraine Johnson-Coleman
By returning to the cotton fields, tobacco barns, and humble dwellings of her ancestral home in the rural South, this author learned firsthand what is missing from the history books between the pages on slavery and present-day African-American culture. It is the experience of ordinary people who, on second glance, have led truly extraordinary lives. She developed an appreciation for their words, wit, and wisdom and has made it her life's work to pass along their experiences. In this collection of original short stories, she pays homage to these ordinary folks through lyrical tributes, many of which have aired or will air on National Public Radio. Her own program, Just Plain Folks: Wisdom from the Front Porch, airs weekly on NPR.
Like her radio segments, the stories in Just Plain Folks are meant both to entertain and to educate. Each story concludes with an author's note that places it in its proper cultural context.
For a century Harlem has been celebrated as the capital of black America, a thriving center of cultural achievement and political action. As gentrification encroaches, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts untangles the myth and meaning of Harlem's legacy. Examining the epic Harlem of official history and the personal Harlem that begins at her front door, Rhodes-Pitts introduces us to a wide variety of characters, past and present. At the heart of their stories, and her own, is the hope carried over many generations, hope that Harlem would be the ground from which blacks fully entered America's democracy.
Rhodes-Pitts is a brilliant new voice who, like other significant chroniclers of places -- Joan Didion on California, or Jamaica Kincaid on Antigua -- captures the very essence of her subject.
"No geographic or racial qualification guarantees a writer her subject . . . Only interest, knowledge, and love will do that -- all of which this book displays in abundance." -- Zadie Smith, Harper's
The remarkable emotional energy with which the Coatses wage their daily battles-as they negotiate with their former owner, as they assist escaped slaves en route to freedom, as they prepare for the encroaching war, and as they strive to love each other enough-is what propels Stand the Storm and makes the novel's tragic denouement so devastating.
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