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From Civil Rights to Black Liberation: Bibliophile
"As the civil rights struggle widened into a national liberation struggle, many activists began looking for political strategies that went beyond the integrationism of mainstream civil rights groups." Liberation School
It’s Black History Month! To celebrate, many readers are declaring a #ReadingBlackout—reading only books by Black authors for the month. (The hashtag reportedly originated with BookTuber Denise D. Cooper, who's reading only Black authors for a full year.)
So we’ve picked out one book by and/or about African Americans to recommend for each day of February. Black authors wrote some of our favorite works in the literary canon, but we wanted to make this list contemporary—all books published within the last five years—and offer up some books for readers of every age. We also included a range of nonfiction, memoir, literary fiction, and genre fiction (with science-fiction, romance, graphic novels, and more) to properly showcase the diversity of African American authors writing today.
In 1956, The First International Congress of Black Writers and Artists meets in Paris, featuring the likes of Richard Wright, Léopold Senghor, Aimé Césaire, and Frantz Fanon.
"The goal of events like Black History Month and Black Lives Matter at School Week is not simply for black and brown people to become 'recognized more and more.' The underlying purpose is to actually achieve the ends they fought for."
This month at OkayAfrica, we're celebrating Black revolution—icons and movements throughout history that have fostered revolutionary thinking and encouraged social progress. Black history is filled with an abundance of brave, era-defining artists, writers, politicians and more who've embodied a spirit of boldness and progressive thinking in the face of adversity. In today's rocky political landscape of hate, misogyny and anti-blackness, these thinker's teachings, words and ideas are invaluable.
Zora Neale Hurston
A bold retelling of the life of the Their Eyes Were Watching God author
7 black women science fiction writers everyone should know
Though Black women's literature spans every genre imaginable, the visibility of Black women in speculative fiction is often low. These women create work that not only speaks to their experiences but imagines new worlds and possibilities. Their stories take us on journeys. And while though the work may offer temporary moments of escape, when we return we're better able to interpret our own place in the world. If you're interested in taking the trip, you'll want to check out these Black women science fiction writers.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler; John Jennings (Illustrator); Damian Duffy (Adapted by)
Publication Date: 2017-01-10
Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent by Thomas B. Allen; National Geographic Kids Staff
The new Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center serves as an orientation center and gateway to the larger Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Scenic Byway. The visitor center offers exhibits, a film, restrooms, picnic facilities, and staff to offer further information and guidance to visit other sites along the byway.
Learn more about what you can see and do at the visitor center, and explore the stories of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad!
“There is no known image of Hamilton. Not an oil painting, a sketch, not even a photograph. He almost certainly did have photographs taken, and quite likely commissioned a painting, but if any likenesses have survived they are probably catalogued under ‘miscellaneous’ or as ‘subject unknown.’ ”
— Shane White, Prince Of Darkness
Not a single bookstore opened east of the Anacostia River for more than 20 years. That streak ended last month when Derrick and Ramunda Young opened MahoganyBooks, specializing in literature that they hope reflects their community’s diversity. The Youngs first launched MahoganyBooks as a niche online retailer ten years ago, working out of a one-bedroom apartment in Alexandria. They had both been working in digital commerce, but wanted to pivot to a business they felt more connected to—for the couple, this meant selling books by and for people of the African diaspora.
As LGBTQIAP+ literature has become more prominent in the past years, there is still a serious lack of black LGBTQIAP+ voices being highlighted in publishing. We’re featuring 8 books by black authors that you can support to join in the call for more black LGBTQIAP+ narratives in publishing.
Finalists for the Pauli Murray Book Prize in Black Intellectual History
The African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS) is pleased to announce the finalists for the first annual Pauli Murray Book Prize for the best book in black intellectual history. Named after lawyer, author, and women’s rights activist-intellectual Pauli Murray, this prize recognizes the best book concerning black intellectual history (broadly conceived) published between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017 by a member of AAIHS.
The power of Ann Petry: “the issues . . . she faces resonate with our times”
Petry’s debut, The Street (1946), was the first novel by an African American woman to sell more than a million copies and is still unsurpassed for its unblinking portrayal of the realities and challenges of black, female, working-class life. “To this day,” said Coretta Scott King, “few works of fiction have so clearly illuminated the devastating impact of racial injustice.”
When Jessie Carney Smith arrived at Fisk University in Nashville in 1965, she says many people there did not know about black literature. Smith, the dean of the library, says, “Many scholars were told that blacks had no history.” But African Americans within the library profession have certainly had a long history, with one of the first librarians of color, Edward C. Williams, joining the American Library Association (ALA) in 1896—20 years after the founding of the Association. And today, African Americans comprise roughly 14,250 of the estimated 190,000 librarians in the United States, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree is an astonishing feat of cultural archaeology, in both ambition and execution. The project somehow doesn’t seem quite real: a comic-book history of hip-hop going back to the very beginning—the late 70s—where lore is thick and documentation scarce. To tell this story in any language would be a challenge; to tell it in the language of comics feels like a magical summoning.
Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor (Artist)
Publication Date: 2013-12-06
Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor (Artist); Charlie Ahearn
Publication Date: 2014-09-07
Hip Hop Family Tree 1983-1984 by Ed Piskor (Artist)
Publication Date: 2015-08-08
Hip Hop Family Tree 1984-1985 by Ed Piskor (Artist)
That finding was part of a study that the authors say is the first of its kind: an examination of how much structural racism shapes fatal police shootings. But in order to examine structural racism, the researchers first needed a way to capture it. So they created a metric called the "state racism index." It took state-level data on black-white residential segregation, as well as disparities in educational attainment, employment status, economic status, and incarceration status, and scored each of these variables. Those scores were then tabulated into a number on on a zero to 100 scale; the higher the number, the more pronounced the structural racism in a state. Wisconsin topped the researchers' list with a state racism index of 74.9, followed by Minnesota (70.0), New Jersey (68.5) , Illinois (67.8) and Connecticut (63.9). (For comparison, the lowest state racism score belonged to Montana, at 25.9, followed by Hawaii, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Nevada, which all had scores below 35.)
Jesmyn Ward Wins National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’
Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award for fiction on Wednesday night for “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” a dark, fablelike family epic set in contemporary Mississippi that grapples with race, poverty and the psychic scars of past violence.
In the spring of 1968, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover announced to his agents that COINTELPRO, the counter-intelligence program established in 1956 to combat communists, should focus on preventing the rise of a “Black ‘messiah’” who sought to “unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement.” The program, Hoover insisted, should target figures as ideologically diverse as the Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture), Martin Luther King Jr., and Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.
No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; R. Gregory Christie (Illustrator)
Steve Biko (born Bantu Stephen Biko) was a South African anti-apartheid activist and leader of the Black Consciousness movement until his assassination in September 1977. An African nationalist and socialist, Biko was at the forefront of fights for Black liberation in the country, leading to a harassment campaign by the government that eventually resulted in his murder.
To See How Black History Month is Evolving, Go to School
Black History Month is increasingly marked with hollow representations of black history marketed by corporate America. This year’s Super Bowl offered a prime example when automaker Ram grossly misrepresented a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a commercial to sell trucks.
As we celebrate Black History Month, which takes place every February, RespectAbility recognizes the contributions made and the important presence of African Americans to the United States. It is important to note this includes more than 5.6 million African Americans living with a disability in the U.S., 3.4 million of which are working-age African Americans with disabilities. Therefore, we would like to reflect on the realities and challenges that continue to shape the lives of African Americans with disabilities.
With help from Hutchins Center, Schlesinger Library acquires papers of scholar-activist Angela Davis. For almost 60 years Angela Davis has been for many an iconic face of feminism and counterculture activism in America. Now her life in letters and images will be housed at Harvard. Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library has acquired Davis’ archive, a trove of documents, letters, papers, photos, and more that trace her evolution as an activist, author, educator, and scholar. The papers were secured with support from Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.
Freedom Is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis; Frank Barat (Editor); Cornel West (Preface by)
Maybe you’re a lucky person who’s already seen Black Panther, or are someone looking forward to seeing it for the first time. Or maybe superheroes aren’t your bag at all. Chances are, there’s still a comic out there for your particular tastes. The list below isn’t meant to be exhaustive. Rather, take a look at the titles below and treat them as guideposts that can send you into new vistas of enjoyment, all created by or featuring folks of African descent.
Black Lightning: Year One (New Edition) by Jan Van Meter; Cully Hammer (Illustrator)
Publication Date: 2018-01-16
Black Panther: a Nation under Our Feet Book 3 by Marvel Comics Staff (Text by); Ta-Nehisi Coates (Text by); Chris Sprouse (Illustrator); Brian Stelfreeze (Illustrator)
Publication Date: 2017-04-25
World of Wakanda by Marvel Comics Staff; Roxane Gay (Text by); Yona Harvey (Text by); Alitha Martinez (Illustrator); Afua Richardson (Illustrator)
Publication Date: 2017-06-27
Avengers of the New World by Marvel Comics Staff; Ta-Nehisi Coates; Wilfredo Torres (Artist)
After my stories last week on the 30th anniversary of the MOVE siege in West Philadelphia in 1985, in which Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on a residential neighborhood, leaving 11 dead — including five children — we were surprised by how many people told us they'd never heard of the bombing.
The Move Crisis in Philadelphia by Hizkias Assefa; Paul Wahrhaftig (Contribution by)