When Elijah was in the fourth grade, he came to me, came home from school bubbling over with excitement about what he had learned that day about African-American history. Now, I’m an African-American and cultural studies professor, and so, as you can imagine, African-American culture is kind of serious around my home. So I was very proud that my son was excited about what he had learned that day in school. So I said, “What did you learn?” He said, “I learned about Rosa Parks.” I said, “OK, what did you learn about Rosa Parks?” He said, “I learned that Rosa Parks was this frail, old black woman in the 1950s in Montgomery, Alabama. And she sat down on this bus, and she had tired feet, and when the bus driver told her to give up her seat to a white patron, she refused because she had tired feet. It had been a long day, and she was tired of oppression, and she didn’t give up her seat. And she marched with Martin Luther King, and she believed in nonviolence.”
And I guess he must have looked at my face and saw that I was a little less than impressed by his … um … history lesson. And so he stopped, and he was like, “Dad, what’s wrong? What did I get wrong?” I said, “Son, you didn’t get anything wrong, but I think your teacher got a whole lot of things wrong.”The Real Story of Rosa Parks – And Why We Need to confront Myths about Black History – TEDxNashville
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Hailed as the most famous African American of his time, he sang with a voice that left audiences weeping, and, for a period, had the entire world at his feet – and then lost everything for the sake of his principles. Weaving travelogue with biography, this is a story of political ardor, heritage, and trauma – a luminous portrait of a man and an urgent reflection on the politics that define us today.
Focuses on Washington’s efforts to help black people in the segregated South by promoting economic independence and moral character in order to integrate blacks into an American life free of exploitation and discrimination.
Beginning with the return of World War I African-American veterans to the riots and lynchings of the “Red Summer” of 1919 and ending with Du Bois’s self-imposed exile and death in Ghana forty-four years later, Lewis charts the dramatic evolution of the premier architect of the Civil Rights movement from Talented Tenth elitist to internationalist and proponent of economic as well as racial democracy for all people of color.
12 Years a Slave is the harrowing account of a black man, born free in New York State, who was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in 1841. Having no way to contact his family, and fearing for his life if he told the truth, Solomon Northup was sold from plantation to plantation in Louisiana, toiling under cruel masters for twelve years before meeting Samuel Bass, a Canadian who finally put him in touch with his family, and helped start the process to regain his freedom.
The inspiring true story of a former slave who risked everything to help others escape bondage. This intimate portrait follows Harriet on her journey from childhood to becoming a heroine and a national symbol of courage.
In the second year of the Civil War, a twenty-three-year-old slave named Robert Smalls did the unthinkable and boldly seized a Confederate steamer. With his wife and two young children hidden on board, Smalls and a small crew ran a gauntlet of fortifications in Charleston Harbor and delivered the vessel and the massive guns it carried to nearby Union forces. Smalls’ courageous act freed him and his family from slavery and made him a Union hero.
The fearless, intimate, and inspiring story behind ESPN anchor Stuart Scott’s unrelenting fight against cancer.
Stand-up comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish grew up in one of the poorest parts of South Central Los Angeles. The Last Black Unicorn is a memoir of the struggles of a woman who was able to achieve her dreams by reveling in her pain and awkwardness, showing the world who she really is, and inspiring others through the power of laughter.
The acclaimed actor reveals the passion, spirituality, and intellectual fervor that have driven his life and career, citing the elements of his childhood that gave him his sense of worth and ethics.
The intimate debut memoir by the man known to the world as Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’s “Officer Clemmons,” a Grammy Award-winning artist who made history as the first African American actor to have a recurring role on a children’s television program.
An inspiring political memoir from Karine Jean-Pierre, Chief Public Affairs Officer for MoveOn, chronicling her path from New York’s Haitian community to working in the Obama White House, and offering a blueprint for anyone who wants to change the face of politics.
The inspirational story of one woman learning to surf and creating a new life in gritty, eccentric Rockaway Beach.
The untold story of the woman whose music and afro inspired a generation, whose voice provided a soundtrack for the unfolding civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s.
The definitive political biography of Rosa Parks examines her six decades of activism, challenging perceptions of her as an accidental actor in the civil rights movement and presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks.
In the first major biography of Baldwin in more than a decade, Bill V. Mullen celebrates the personal and political life of the great African-American writer who changed the face of Western politics and culture. As a lifelong anti-imperialist, black queer advocate, and feminist, Baldwin (1924-1987) was a passionate chronicler of the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, the U.S. war against Vietnam, Palestinian liberation struggle, and the rise of LGBTQ rights. Mullen explores how Baldwin’s life and work channel the long history of African-American freedom struggles, and explains how Baldwin both predicted and has become a symbol of the global Black Lives Matter movement.
More words have been written about Muhammad Ali than almost anyone else. He was, without doubt, the world’s most-loved sportsman. At the height of his celebrity, he was the most famous person in the world. And yet, until now, the one voice missing belonged to the man who knew him best–his only sibling, and best friend, Rahaman Ali. No one was closer to Ali than Rahaman. Born Cassius and Rudolph Arnett Clay, the two brothers grew up together, lived together, trained together, traveled together, and fought together in the street and in the ring. A near-constant fixture in his sibling’s company, Rahaman saw Ali at both his best and his worst: the relentless prankster and the jealous older brother, the outspoken advocate, the husband and father. In My Brother, Muhammad Ali, Rahaman offers an insider’s perspective on the well-known stories as well as never-before-told tales, painting a rich and intimate portrait of a proud, relentlessly polarizing, yet often vulnerable man. In this extraordinary, poignant memoir, Rahaman tells a much bigger and more personal story than in any other book on Muhammad Ali–that of two brothers, almost inseparable from birth to death. It is the final and most important perspective on an iconic figure.
This long-overdue biography reestablishes William Monroe Trotter’s essential place next to Douglass, Du Bois, and King in the pantheon of American civil rights heroes. William Monroe Trotter (1872- 1934), though still virtually unknown to the wider public, was an unlikely American hero. With the stylistic verve of a newspaperman and the unwavering fearlessness of an emancipator, he galvanized black working-class citizens to wield their political power despite the violent racism of post- Reconstruction America. For more than thirty years, the Harvard-educated Trotter edited and published the Guardian, a weekly Boston newspaper that was read across the nation. Defining himself against the gradualist politics of Booker T. Washington and the elitism of W. E. B. Du Bois, Trotter advocated for a radical vision of black liberation that prefigured leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. Synthesizing years of archival research, historian Kerri Greenidge renders the drama of turn-of-the-century America and reclaims Trotter as a seminal figure, whose prophetic, yet ultimately tragic, life offers a link between the vision of Frederick Douglass and black radicalism in the modern era
The Chiffon Trenches [Available as an eBook]: A Memoir / André Leon Talley.
Discover what truly happens behind the scenes in the world of high fashion in this detailed, storied memoir from style icon, bestselling author, and former Vogue creative director André Leon Talley. During André Leon Talley’s first magazine job assisting Andy Warhol at Interview, a fateful meeting with Karl Lagerfeld began a decade’s long friendship with the enigmatic, often caustic designer. Propelled into the upper echelons by his knowledge and adoration of fashion, Talley moved to Paris as bureau chief of John Fairchild’s Women’s Wear Daily, befriending fashion’s most important designers. But as Talley made friends, he also made enemies. A racially tinged encounter with a member of the house of Yves Saint Laurent sent him back to New York and into the offices of Vogue under Grace Mirabella. There, he developed an unlikely but intimate friendship with Anna Wintour, and as she rose to the top of Vogue’s masthead, Talley became the most influential man in fashion. The Chiffon Trenches is a candid look at the who’s who of the last fifty years of fashion, and proof that fact is always fascinatingly more devilish than fiction. André Leon Talley’s engaging memoir tells the story of how he not only survived but thrived–despite racism, illicit rumors, and all the other challenges of this notoriously cutthroat industry–to become one of the most legendary voices and faces in fashion
Serena Williams: Tennis Champion, Sports Legend, and Cultural Heroine / Merlisa Lawrence Corbett.
Record-breaking, trend-setting, and controversial, tennis star Serena Williams often sparks conversation and debate. She’s one of the most intriguing figures in sports, and this book offers insight not only into her impact on tennis and popular culture but also into how she has challenged race and gender norms
The Brown Bullet [Available as an eBook]: Rajo Jack’s Drive to Integrate Auto Racing / Bill Poehler.
The powers-that-be in auto racing in the 1920s, namely the American Automobile Association’s Contest Board, barred everyone who wasn’t a white male from the sport. Dewey Gatson, a black man who went by the name Rajo Jack, broke into the epicenter of racing in California, refusing to let the pervasive racism of his day stop him from competing against entire fields of white drivers. Though Rajo Jack spent his whole life striving to reach the pinnacle of the sport, the Indianapolis 500, the greatest race in the world wouldn’t have him. In The Brown Bullet, Bill Poehler uncovers the life of a long-forgotten trailblazer and the great lengths he took to even get on the track, and, in the end, tells how Rajo Jack proved to a generation that a black man could compete with some of the greatest white drivers of his era, winning some of the biggest races of the day
The Truths We Hold: An American Journey / Kamala Harris.
From one of America’s most inspiring political leaders, a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country. By reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her, Kamala Harris offers in The Truths We Hold a master class in problem solving, in crisis management, and leadership in challenging times. Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values. In a book rich in many home truths, not least is that a relatively small number of people work very hard to convince a great many of us that we have less in common than we actually do, but it falls to us to look past them and get on with the good work of living our common truth. When we do, our shared effort will continue to sustain us and this great nation, now and in the years to come
Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters / collected and edited by Carla Kaplan
A collection of more than five hundred letters, written to such people as Langston Hughes, Dorothy West, and many others, paints a portrait of the enigmatic woman who became one of the greatest literary figures in American history.
Alex Haley and the Books that Changed A Nation / Robert J. Norrell.
“It is difficult to think of two twentieth-century books by one author that have had as much influence on American culture when they were published as Alex Haley’s monumental bestsellers, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), and Roots (1976). They changed the way white and black America viewed each other and the country’s history. This first biography of Haley follows him from his childhood in relative privilege in deeply segregated small-town Tennessee to fame and fortune in high powered New York City. It was in the Navy, that Haley discovered himself as a writer, which eventually led to his rise as a star journalist in the heyday of magazine personality profiles. At Playboy Magazine, Haley profiled everyone from Martin Luther King and Miles Davis to Johnny Carson and Malcolm X, leading to their collaboration on The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Roots was for Haley a deeper, more personal reach. The subsequent book and miniseries ignited an ongoing craze for family history and made Haley one of the most famous writers in the country. Roots sold half a million copies in the first two months of publication, and the original television miniseries was viewed by 130 million people. Haley died in 1992. This deeply researched and compelling book offers the perfect opportunity to revisit his authorship, his career as one of the first African American star journalists, as well as an especially dramatic time of change in American history”
Wild Thing: the Short, Spellbinding Life of Jimi Hendrix / Philip Norman.
“Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s death, the best-selling author of Shout! delivers a compelling new biography of the legendary guitarist. Celebrated as the most innovative guitarist ever to play, Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) is renowned for symphonic solos and virtuosic picking (sometimes, with his teeth). But, as Philip Norman describes, before Hendrix was setting guitars aflame onstage, he was a shy kid in Seattle, lucking at a broken ukulele and looking out for his father, who chided him for playing left- handed. Interweaving new interviews with friends, lovers, bandmates, and his family, Wild Thing vividly reconstructs Hendrix’s remarkable life- from playing in segregated clubs on the Chitlin’ Circuit to earning stardom in Swinging London in 1966. For more than four mind- boggling years Hendrix found unparalleled success, making historic appearances at Monterey and Woodstock while becoming the highest paid musician of his day, but it all abruptly ended with his tragic death in the sordid basement of a London hotel. Filled with insights into the greatest moments in rock history, Wild Thing reveals the endlessly complex figure behind the unforgettable riffs”
Buses Are A comin’: Memoir of a Freedom Rider / Charles Person, with Richard Rooker.
Buses Are a Comin’ provides a front-row view of the struggle to belong in America, as Charles leads his colleagues off the bus, into the station, into the mob, and into history to help defeat segregation’s violent grip on African American lives.