Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More Titles For Black History Month
On December 9, 1938, the state of Georgia executed six black men in eighty-one minutes in Tattnall Prison’s electric chair. The executions were a record for the state that still stands today. The new prison, built with funds from FDR’s New Deal, as well as the fact that the men were tried and executed rather than lynched were thought to be a sign of progress. They were anything but. While those men were arrested, convicted, sentenced, and executed in as little as six weeks---E. D. Rivers, the governor of the state, oversaw a pardon racket for white killers and criminals, allowed the Ku Klux Klan to infiltrate his administration, and bankrupted the state. Race and wealth were all that determined whether or not a man lived or died. There was no progress. There was no justice.

David Beasley’s Without Mercy is the harrowing true story of the Great Depression, the New Deal, and the violent death throes of the Klan, but most of all it is the story of the stunning injustice of these executions and how they have seared distrust of the legal system into the consciousness of the Deep South, and it is a story that will forever be a testament to the death penalty’s appalling inequality that continues to plague our nation.
In 1962, James Meredith became a civil rights hero when he enrolled as the first African American student at the University of Mississippi. Four years later, he would make the news again when he reentered Mississippi, on foot. His plan was to walk from Memphis to Jackson, leading a “March Against Fear” that would promote black voter registration and defy the entrenched racism of the region. But on the march’s second day, he was shot by a mysterious gunman, a moment captured in a harrowing and now iconic photograph.

What followed was one of the central dramas of the civil rights era. With Meredith in the hospital, the leading figures of the civil rights movement flew to Mississippi to carry on his effort. They quickly found themselves confronting southern law enforcement officials, local activists, and one another. In the span of only three weeks, Martin Luther King, Jr., narrowly escaped a vicious mob attack; protesters were teargassed by state police; Lyndon Johnson refused to intervene; and the charismatic young activist Stokely Carmichael first led the chant that would define a new kind of civil rights movement: Black Power.

Aram Goudsouzian’s Down to the Crossroads is the story of the last great march of the King era, and the first great showdown of the turbulent years that followed. Depicting rural demonstrators’ courage and the impassioned debates among movement leaders, Goudsouzian reveals the legacy of an event that would both integrate African Americans into the political system and inspire even bolder protests against it. Full of drama and contemporary resonances, this book is civil rights history at its best.
Black Stats--a comprehensive guide filled with contemporary facts and figures on African Americans--is an essential reference for anyone attempting to fathom the complex state of our nation. With fascinating and often surprising information on everything from incarceration rates, lending practices, and the arts to marriage, voting habits, and green jobs, the contextualized material in this book will better attune readers to telling trends while challenging commonly held, yet often misguided, perceptions.

A compilation that at once highlights measures of incredible progress and enumerates the disparate impacts of social policies and practices, this book is a critical tool for advocates, educators, and policy makers. Black Stats offers indispensable information that is sure to enlighten discussions and provoke debates about the quality of Black life in the United States today--and help chart the path to a better future.

There are less than a quarter-million Black public school teachers in the U.S.--representing just 7 percent of all teachers in public schools.

Approximately half of the Black population in the United States lives in neighborhoods that have no White residents.

In the five years before the Great Recession, the number of Black-owned businesses in the United States increased by 61 percent.

A 2010 study found that 41 percent of Black youth feel that rap music videos should be more political.

There are no Black owners or presidents of an NFL franchise team.

78 percent of Black Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, compared with 56 percent of White Americans.
A year-by-year history of people and events, this lively multi-layered account tells the whole story of jazz music and its personalities. The Chronicle of Jazz charts the evolution of jazz from its roots in Africa and the southern United States to the myriad urban styles heard around the world today, Mervyn Cooke gives us a narrative rich with innovation, experimentation, controversy, and emotion. The book is completely up to date, exploring the exciting recent developments in the world of jazz, from the rise of modern Big Bands and the renaissance of the piano trio to the popular appeal of Jamie Cullum and HBO's Treme. Featuring hundreds of rare images, from record-cover artwork to pictures of live performances, each chronologically arranged section contains special box features on such topics as the unique tonal qualities of the bass clarinet, jazz clubs in Paris, personality sketches, and seminal gigs and albums. A substantial reference section features information on international jazz festivals, a glossary of musical terms, biographies of musicians, and extensive discography, and further reading. A celebration of the most imaginative and enduring music of the last 120 years, The Chronicle of Jazz is an essential work of reference for all music lovers.
Richard Pryor was arguably the single most influential performer of the second half of the twentieth century, and certainly he was the most successful black actor/comedian ever. Controversial and somewhat enigmatic in his lifetime, Pryor s performances opened up a new world of possibilities, merging fantasy with angry reality in a way that wasn't just new--it was heretofore unthinkable. His childhood in Peoria, Illinois, was spent just trying to survive. Yet the culture into which Richard Pryor was born--his mother was a prostitute; his grandmother ran the whorehouse--helped him evolve into one of the most innovative and outspoken performers ever, a man who attracted admiration and anger in equal parts. Both a brilliant comedian and a very astute judge of what he could get away with, Pryor was always pushing the envelope, combining anger and pathos, outrage and humor, into an art form, laying the groundwork for the generations of comedians who followed, including such outstanding performers as Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, and Louis C.K.  Now, in this groundbreaking and revelatory work, Joe and David Henry bring him to life both as a man and as an artist, providing an in-depth appreciation of his talent and his lasting influence, as well as an insightful examination of the world he lived in and the influences that shaped both his persona and his art.
A magnificent poetry collection to follow-up the debut Kevin Young compared to the those of Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Elizabeth Bishop's.

From the poet whose stunning debut was praised as "transcendent" by Kevin Young and "steadily confident" by Carl Phillips, Dangerous Goods tracks its speaker throughout North America and abroad, illuminating the ways in which home and place may inhabit one another comfortably or uncomfortably -- or both simultaneously. From the Bahamas, London, and Cairo, to Bemidji, Minnesota, and Milledgeville, Georgia, Sean Hill interweaves the contemporary with the historical, and explores with urgency the relationship between travel, migration, alienation, and home.

Here, playful "postcard" poems addressed to Nostalgia and My Third Crush Today sit alongside powerful reflections on the immigration of African Americans to Liberia during and after the era of slavery. Such range and formal innovation make Hill's second collection both rare and exhilarating. Part shadowbox, part migration map, part travelogue-in-verse, Dangerous Goods is poignant, elegant, and deeply moving.
A collection spanning the whole of Derek Walcott’s celebrated, inimitable, essential career

“He gives us more than himself or ‘a world’; he gives us a sense of infinity embodied in the language.” Alongside Joseph Brodsky’s words of praise one might mention the more concrete honors that the renowned poet Derek Walcott has received: a MacArthur Fellowship; the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry; the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013 draws from every stage of the poet’s storied career. Here are examples of his very earliest work, like “In My Eighteenth Year,” published when the poet himself was still a teenager; his first widely celebrated verse, like “A Far Cry from Africa,” which speaks of violence, of loyalties divided in one’s very blood; his mature work, like “The Schooner Flight” from The Star-Apple Kingdom; and his late masterpieces, like the tender “Sixty Years After,” from the 2010 collection White Egrets.

Across sixty-five years, Walcott has grappled with the themes that have defined his work as they have defined his life: the unsolvable riddle of identity; the painful legacy of colonialism on his native Caribbean island of St. Lucia; the mysteries of faith and love and the natural world; the Western canon, celebrated and problematic; the trauma of growing old, of losing friends, family, one’s own memory. This collection, selected by Walcott’s friend the English poet Glyn Maxwell, will prove as enduring as the questions, the passions, that have driven Walcott to write for more than half a century.

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