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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

A stash of love letters results in Vanderbilt scholar’s first book

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SOURCE: Vanderbilt University

Long-neglected love letters between a domestic servant husband and his teacher wife have provided an important part of a new book that tracks how middle class African American marriages evolved in the early and mid 20th century.

Stormy Weather: Middle-Class African American Marriages between the World Wars, published by The University of North Carolina Press, was written by Anastasia C. Curwood, assistant professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University. The book documents the strains that developed in African American marriages as the early civil rights and sexual revolutions played out.

“Around the turn of the century, the big concept was respectability – chastity and piety in women, breadwinning and restrained manliness in men,” Curwood said.

But mass migration of black Americans to the north along with evolving political and sexual mores complicated matters, she found.

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Hurston/Wright Foundation Honors Acclaimed Black Authors

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By Queshonda Moore, AFRO

On Nov. 15, the Hurston/Wright Foundation held its ninth annual Legacy Award Ceremony at Northwest Washington, D.C. restaurant Eatonville, a popular eatery inspired by writer Zora Neale Hurston’s work. The District-based organization recognized, celebrated and awarded several African-American authors for their exceptional contributions in nonfiction, fiction and poetry.

For 20 years, the foundation – founded by Don’t Play in the Sun author Marita Golden and bibliophile Clyde McElvene – has strived to preserve and advance the past, present and future of Black writers and their literature. Named after Hurston and Black Boy author Richard Wright, the foundation is currently led by a board of directors and advisory board that includes notable scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., author Toni Morrison and Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe.

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Memoir by former teen mom, Summer Owens, seeks to both inform, inspire girls

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By Barbara Bradley, Commercial Appeal

Summer Owens’ childhood ended on her 15th birthday, the day she got pregnant. Soon afterward, hard necessity would leave no time to be a child.

Owens, who grew up in Jackson, Tenn., was raped by an older teenager, a friend of a family member, she said. They were left alone, they fooled around, he took it further. She didn’t even know his real name.

Owens, who said she was a virgin at the time, easily could have been headed for a life of ignorance and poverty. But she would prove remarkably determined. Now 31, a senior marketing specialist for FedEx in Memphis and mother of 15-year-old son Jaylan, Owens has self-published a book about her experience, “Life After Birth: A Memoir of Survival and Success as a Teenage Mother.” Detailing her struggle to work two jobs, be a mom, and stay in school, the book follows her to the University of Memphis, where she was a highly active student with a child often at her side, sometimes even during class.

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Written by Symphony

November 29, 2010 at 9:27 am

Honoring the Best in African American Poetry

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By Jane Ammeson,

While working on “The 100 Best African–American Poems” (Sourcebooks MediaFusion 2010; $22.99), award-winning poet Nikki Giovanni decided to cheat.

“Including just one hundred would only get me to the 1970s,” says Giovanni, a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech. “I definitely wanted to get some younger voices in too so there are actually 220 poems but they’re only numbered from one to a hundred.”

And so Giovanni’s diverse collection of poetic voices includes poems not only by Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks and Mari Evans but also Tupac Shakur.

“Anybody who knows anything about me knows that I love Tupac and I’m not the only one,” says Giovanni. “This is an incredibly important young man. Tupac’s been dead 10 years and people still treat him as if they know him. Because of the power of that young man, we had to include him. My admiration is based on his talent. How could we not honor him?”

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Written by Symphony

November 23, 2010 at 8:01 pm

African-American workers were key to Atlantic City’s success, new book argues

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By Chuck Darrow, Philadelphia Inquirer

WHEN IT comes to the history of Atlantic City, Nelson Johnson literally sees things in black and white.

Johnson, an Atlantic County Superior Court judge from Hammonton, N.J., is the author of Boardwalk Empire, which plotted Atlantic City’s storied tale by focusing on the white power structure from the town’s founding in 1854 through the current casino era. The chapter about early-20th-century political and underworld boss Enoch “Nucky” Johnson was the inspiration for the HBO series of the same name.

Tomorrow, Medford, N.J.-based Plexus Publishing releases Johnson’s The Northside, a parallel history of AyCee’s African-American community.

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Written by Symphony

November 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Black writers prominently featured at Book Fair

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U/Miami New Service

Black authors, including popular novelist Walter Mosley, Miami-based Haitian author Edwidge Danticat and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eugene Robinson will be among scores of prominent presenters at the Miami Book Fair International.

Celebrating its 27th anniversary, the fair takes place Nov. 14-21 at the Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami.

Fort Lauderdale resident Milca Esdaille, 50, a former board member of the Harlem Book Fair, applauds the Miami event for its inclusion of black authors.

“This is my favorite event in Miami,” said Esdaille, who attended a recent community event that presented the highlights of this year’s fair. “Any time I get to see authors that I am curious about or follow is inspiring.”

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Written by Symphony

November 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

Pioneer Fairfield educator Ethel Hall recalls life, career in book

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By Jeremy Gray, The Birmingham News

Ethel Hall’s decades long career in education took her from the classroom to the Alabama Board of Educa­tion.

The Fairfield Democrat is retiring from the board after 24 years, including 10 as vice president, and has writ­ten about her life and work as an educator.

Former students filed into the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on Thursday night as Hall signed copies of “My Journey: A Memoir of the First African American to Preside Over the Alabama Board of Education,” which she co-wrote with Carmelita Bivens.

“You wanted to be like her. She was knowledge­able, smart, pretty and well­-dressed,” recalled Sammie T. Stevenson, a former stu­dent of Hall’s who grad­uated from Westfield High School in 1963.

Classrooms were different in those days, Hall said. “There was no special edu­cation. Everyone took the same classes and everyone did it. We made our own gifted classes; all our stu­dents were gifted,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »