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.
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An Invitation to Community and Models for Connection
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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
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For the newly-freed black residents of Colfax, Louisiana, the beginning of Reconstruction promised them the right to vote, own property-and at last control their own lives. Tademy saw a chance to start a school for his children and neighbors. His friend Israel Smith was determined to start a community business and gain economic freedom. But in the space of a day, marauding whites would "take back" Colfax in one of the deadliest cases of racial violence in the South. In the bitter aftermath, Sam and Israel's fight to recover and build their dreams will draw on the best they and their families have to give-and the worst they couldn't have foreseen. Sam's hidden resilience will make him an unexpected leader, even as it puts his conscience and life on the line. Israel finds ironic success-and the bitterest of betrayals. And their greatest challenge will be to pass on to their sons and grandsons a proud heritage never forgotten-and the strength to meet the demands of the past and future in their own unique ways. An unforgettable achievement, a history brought to vibrant life through one of the most memorable families in fiction, Red River is about fathers and sons, husbands and wives-and the hopeful, heartbreaking choices we all must make to claim the legacy that is ours.
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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.
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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.
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The year was 1899 and the place a sweltering tobacco farm in the Jim Crow South town of Truevine, Virginia. George and Willie Muse were two little boys born to a sharecropper family. One day a white man offered them a piece of candy, setting off events that would take them around the world and change their lives forever.
Captured into the circus, the Muse brothers performed for royalty at Buckingham Palace and headlined over a dozen sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden. They were global superstars in a pre-broadcast era. But the very root of their success was in the color of their skin and in the outrageous caricatures they were forced to assume: supposed cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, even "Ambassadors from Mars." Back home, their mother never accepted that they were "gone" and spent 28 years trying to get them back.
Through hundreds of interviews and decades of research, Beth Macy expertly explores a central and difficult question: Where were the brothers better off? On the world stage as stars or in poverty at home? Truevine is a compelling narrative rich in historical detail and rife with implications to race relations today.
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From a leading journalist and activist comes a brave, beautifully wrought memoir.
When Darnell Moore was fourteen, three boys from his neighborhood tried to set him on fire. They cornered him while he was walking home from school, harassed him because they thought he was gay, and poured a jug of gasoline on him. He escaped, but just barely. It wasn't the last time he would face death.
Three decades later, Moore is an award-winning writer, a leading Black Lives Matter activist, and an advocate for justice and liberation. In No Ashes in the Fire, he shares the journey taken by that scared, bullied teenager who not only survived, but found his calling. Moore's transcendence over the myriad forces of repression that faced him is a testament to the grace and care of the people who loved him, and to his hometown, Camden, NJ, scarred and ignored but brimming with life. Moore reminds us that liberation is possible if we commit ourselves to fighting for it, and if we dream and create futures where those who survive on society's edges can thrive.
No Ashes in the Fire is a story of beauty and hope-and an honest reckoning with family, with place, and with what it means to be free.
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What do you want?
"I want the Ed Sullivan Show."
At the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement, like a lot of black Americans, comedian Jackie Mann wanted to be somebody. And for him there was only one way to achieve that: to make it big. Make it, no matter the cost: friends, family, one's own self-esteem and self-respect. This is the story of a young man's journey from Harlem to stardom, a story of Hollywood royalty, New York glitterati, Vegas Mafiosi, Northern bigotry, and Southern racism. This is a story of love, honor, betrayal, and redemption; of fame bought and paid for by any means necessary. It is the story of one man's desire and an entire race's demands, and the incredible moment when the two came together as one. This is the story of Jackie Mann.
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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.
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Hard-hitting, thought-provoking, and inspiring, Conversations in Black offers sage wisdom for navigating race in a radically divisive America, and, with help from his mighty team of black intelligentsia, veteran journalist Ed Gordon creates hope and a timeless new narrative on what the future of black leadership should look like and how we can get there.
In Conversations in Black, Gordon brings together some of the most prominent voices in black America today, including Stacey Abrams, Harry Belafonte, Charlamagne tha God, Michael Eric Dyson, Alicia Garza, Jemele Hill, Iyanla VanZant, Eric Holder, Killer Mike, Angela Rye, Al Sharpton, T.I., Maxine Waters, and so many more to answer questions about vital topics affecting our nation today, such as:
- Will the black vote control the 2020 election?
- Do black lives really matter?
- After the Obama presidency, are black people better off?
- Are stereotypical images of people of color changing in Hollywood?
- How is "Black Girl Magic" changing the face of black America?
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The book that inspired the documentary A Crime on the Bayou
2021 Chautauqua Prize Finalist
The "arresting, astonishing history" of one lawyer and his defendant who together achieved a "civil rights milestone" (Justin Driver).
In 1966 in a small town in Louisiana, a 19-year-old black man named Gary Duncan pulled his car off the road to stop a fight. Duncan was arrested a few minutes later for the crime of putting his hand on the arm of a white child. Rather than accepting his fate, Duncan found Richard Sobol, a brilliant, 29-year-old lawyer from New York who was the only white attorney at "the most radical law firm" in New Orleans. Against them stood one of the most powerful white supremacists in the South, a man called simply "The Judge."
In this powerful work of character-driven history, journalist Matthew Van Meter vividly brings alive how a seemingly minor incident brought massive, systemic change to the criminal justice system. Using first-person interviews, in-depth research and a deep knowledge of the law, Van Meter shows how Gary Duncan's insistence on seeking justice empowered generations of defendants-disproportionately poor and black-to demand fair trials. Duncan v. Louisiana changed American law, but first it changed the lives of those who litigated it.
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A major literary moment: after being lost to history for more than a century, The Road to Dawn uncovers the incredible story of the real-life slave who inspired Uncle Tom's Cabin.
-He rescued 118 enslaved people
-He won a medal at the first World's Fair in London
-Queen Victoria invited him to Windsor Castle
-Rutherford B. Hayes entertained him at the White House
-He helped start a freeman settlement, called Dawn, that was known as one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad
-He was immortalized in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, the novel that Abraham Lincoln jokingly blamed for sparking the Civil War
But before all this, Josiah Henson was brutally enslaved for more than forty years.
Author-filmmaker Jared A. Brock retraces Henson's 3,000+ mile journey from slavery to freedom and re-introduces the world to a forgotten figure of the Civil War era, along with his accompanying documentary narrated by Hollywood actor Danny Glover.
The Road to Dawn is a ground-breaking biography lauded by leaders at the NAACP, the Smithsonian, senators, authors, professors, the President of Mauritius, and the 21st Prime Minister of Canada, and will no doubt restore a hero of the abolitionist movement to his rightful place in history.
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A provocative case for integration as the single most radical, discomfiting idea in America, yet the only enduring solution to the racism that threatens our democracy.
Americans have prided ourselves on how far we've come from slavery, lynching, and legal segregation-measuring ourselves by incremental progress instead of by how far we have to go. But fifty years after the last meaningful effort toward civil rights, the US remains overwhelmingly segregated and unjust. Our current solutions -- diversity, representation, and desegregation -- are not enough.
As acclaimed writer Calvin Baker argues in this bracing, necessary book, we first need to envision a society no longer defined by the structures of race in order to create one. The only meaningful remedy is integration: the full self-determination and participation of all African-Americans, and all other oppressed groups, in every facet of national life. This is the deepest threat to the racial order and the real goal of civil rights.
At once a profound, masterful reading of US history from the colonial era forward and a trenchant critique of the obstacles in our current political and cultural moment, A More Perfect Reunion is also a call to action. As Baker reminds us, we live in a revolutionary democracy. We are one of the best-positioned generations in history to finish that revolution.
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"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.
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Young Black Americans have been trying to realize the promise of the American Dream for centuries and coping with the reality of its limitations for just as long. Now, a new generation is pursuing success, happiness, and freedom -- on their own terms.
In It Was All a Dream, Reniqua Allen tells the stories of Black millennials searching for a better future in spite of racist policies that have closed off traditional versions of success. Many watched their parents and grandparents play by the rules, only to sink deeper and deeper into debt. They witnessed their elders fight to escape cycles of oppression for more promising prospects, largely to no avail. Today, in this post-Obama era, they face a critical turning point.
Interweaving her own experience with those of young Black Americans in cities and towns from New York to Los Angeles and Bluefield, West Virginia to Chicago, Allen shares surprising stories of hope and ingenuity. Instead of accepting downward mobility, Black millennials are flipping the script and rejecting White America's standards. Whether it means moving away from cities and heading South, hustling in the entertainment industry, challenging ideas about gender and sexuality, or building activist networks, they are determined to forge their own path.
Compassionate and deeply reported, It Was All a Dream is a celebration of a generation's doggedness against all odds, as they fight for a country in which their dreams can become a reality.
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Winner of a 2020-2021 New York City Book Award
In a rapidly changing New York, two forces battled for the city's soul: the pro-slavery New Yorkers who kept the illegal slave trade alive and well, and the abolitionists fighting for freedom.
We often think of slavery as a southern phenomenon, far removed from the booming cities of the North. But even though slavery had been outlawed in Gotham by the 1830s, Black New Yorkers were not safe. Not only was the city built on the backs of slaves; it was essential in keeping slavery and the slave trade alive.
In The Kidnapping Club, historian Jonathan Daniel Wells tells the story of the powerful network of judges, lawyers, and police officers who circumvented anti-slavery laws by sanctioning the kidnapping of free and fugitive African Americans. Nicknamed "The New York Kidnapping Club," the group had the tacit support of institutions from Wall Street to Tammany Hall whose wealth depended on the Southern slave and cotton trade. But a small cohort of abolitionists, including Black journalist David Ruggles, organized tirelessly for the rights of Black New Yorkers, often risking their lives in the process.
Taking readers into the bustling streets and ports of America's great Northern metropolis, The Kidnapping Club is a dramatic account of the ties between slavery and capitalism, the deeply corrupt roots of policing, and the strength of Black activism.
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