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for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes


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You, created only a little lower than / The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness, / Have lain too long / Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words / Armed for slaughter.



Books by Maya Angelou

Letter to My Daughter  /  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings  /  The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou

The Heart of a Woman / Amazon Bibliography

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    Still We Rise

                              By Maya Angelou

    The night has been long,
    The wound has been deep,
    The pit has been dark,
    And the walls have been steep.

    Under a dead blue sky on a distant beach,
    I was dragged by my braids just beyond your reach.
    Your hands were tied, your mouth was bound,
    You couldn't even call out my name.
    You were helpless and so was I,
    But unfortunately throughout history
    You've worn a badge of shame.

    I say, the night has been long,
    The wound has been deep,
    The pit has been dark
    And the walls have been steep.

    But today, voices of old spirit sound
    Speak to us in words profound,
    Across the years, across the centuries,
    Across the oceans, and across the seas.
    They say, draw near to one another,
    Save your race.
    You have been paid for in a distant place,
    The old ones remind us that slavery's chains
    Have paid for our freedom again and again.

    The night has been long,
    The pit has been deep,
    The night has been dark,
    And the walls have been steep.

    The hells we have lived through and live through still,
    Have sharpened our senses and toughened our will.
    The night has been long.
    This morning I look through your anguish
    Right down to your soul.
    I know that with each other we can make ourselves whole.
    I look through the posture and past your disguise,
    And see your love for family in your big brown eyes.

    I say, clap hands and let's come together in this meeting ground,
    I say, clap hands and let's deal with each other with love,
    I say, clap hands and let us get from the low road of indifference,
    Clap hands, let us come together and reveal our hearts,
    Let us come together and revise our spirits,
    Let us come together and cleanse our souls,
    Clap hands, let's leave the preening
    And stop impostering our own history.
    Clap hands, call the spirits back from the ledge,
    Clap hands, let us invite joy into our conversation,
    Courtesy into our bedrooms,
    Gentleness into our kitchen,
    Care into our nursery.

    The ancestors remind us, despite the history of pain
    We are a going-on people who will rise again.

    And still we rise.

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    Read at the Million Man March by the poet

    posted 4/21/04

    On the Pulse of Morning

    Maya Angelou’s 1993 inaugural poem and remarks

     Mr. President and Mrs. Clinton,
    Mr. Vice-President and Mrs. Gore,
    And Americans Everywhere …

     A Rock, A River, A Tree
    Hosts to species long since departed,
    Marked the mastodon.

    The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
    Of their sojourn here
    On our planet floor,
    Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
    Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

    But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
    Come, you may stand upon my
    Back and face your distant destiny,
    But seek no haven in my shadow.

    I will give you no hiding place down here.

    You, created only a little lower than
    The angels, have crouched too long in
    The bruising darkness,
    Have lain too long
    Face down in ignorance.

    Your mouths spilling words
    Armed for slaughter.

    The Rock cries out to us today, you may stand on me,
    But do not hide your face.

    Across the wall of the world,
    A River sings a beautiful song,
    It says come rest here by my side.

    Each of you a bordered country,
    Delicate and strangely made proud,
    Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

    Your armed struggles for profit
    Have left collars of waste upon
    My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

    Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
    If you will study war no more. Come,

    Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
    The Creator gave to me when I and the
    Tree and the rock were one.

    Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
    Brow and when you yet knew you still
    Knew nothing.

    The River sang and sings on.

    There is a true yearning to respond to
    The singing River and the wise Rock.

    So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
    The African, the Native American, the Sioux,
    The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
    The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
    The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
    The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
    They all hear
    The speaking of the Tree.

    They hear the first and last of every Tree
    Speak to humankind today. Come to me, here beside the River.

    Plant yourself beside the River.

    Each of you, descendant of some passed
    On traveller, has been paid for.

    You, who gave me my first name, you
    Pawnee, Apache, Seneca, you
    Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
    Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
    Other seekers—desperate for gain,
    Starving for gold.

    You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Eskimo, the Scot ...
    You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
    Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
    Praying for a dream.

    Here, root yourselves beside me.

    I am that Tree planted by the River,
    Which will not be moved.

    I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
    I am yours—your Passages have been paid.

    Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
    For this bright morning dawning for you.

    History, despite its wrenching pain,
    Cannot be unlived, but if faced
    With courage, need not be lived again.

    Lift up your eyes upon
    This day breaking for you.

    Give birth again
    To the dream.

    Women, children, men,
    Take it into the palms of your hands.

    Mold it into the shape of your most
    Private need. Sculpt it into
    The image of your most public self.
    Lift up your hearts
    Each new hour holds new chances
    For new beginnings.

    Do not be wedded forever
    To fear, yoked eternally
    To brutishness.

    The horizon leans forward,
    Offering you space to place new steps of change.
    Here, on the pulse of this fine day
    You may have the courage
    To look up and out and upon me, the
    Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

    No less to Midas than the mendicant.

    No less to you now than the mastodon then.

    Here on the pulse of this new day
    You may have the grace to look up and out
    And into your sister's eyes, and into
    Your brother's face, your country
    And say simply
    Very simply
    With hope
    Good morning.

    Source: America

Maya Angelou 1993 Bill Clinton Inauguration

Wanda Coleman's Critique of Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou: The Art of Fiction No. 119 (Fall 1990)

Interviewed by George Plimpton

Maya Angelou: The language of all the interpretations, the translations, of the Judaic Bible and the Christian Bible, is musical, just wonderful. I read the Bible to myself; I’ll take any translation, any edition, and read it aloud, just to hear the language, hear the rhythm, and remind myself how beautiful English is. Though I do manage to mumble around in about seven or eight languages, English remains the most beautiful of languages. It will do anything.

George Plimpton: Do you read it to get inspired to pick up your own pen?

Maya Angelou: For melody. For content also. I’m working at trying to be a Christian and that’s serious business. It’s like trying to be a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Buddhist, a good Shintoist, a good Zoroastrian, a good friend, a good lover, a good mother, a good buddy—it’s serious business. It’s not something where you think, Oh, I’ve got it done. I did it all day, hotdiggety. The truth is, all day long you try to do it, try to be it, and then in the evening if you’re honest and have a little courage you look at yourself and say, Hmm. I only blew it eighty-six times. Not bad. I’m trying to be a Christian and the Bible helps me to remind myself what I’m about. . . .

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Maya Angelou

 I'm fine as wine in the summertime


"My connection was with Hillary Clinton," she says. "I had watched her when she was the first lady of Arkansas. I thought this white girl would come to Arkansas and play croquet on the lawn and throw tea parties. And she was just the opposite. She worked on public health and education… even prisons. When her husband ran for the presidency and she said she was not going to bake cookies, I thought, 'I'm going to watch her for a while.'

"I told her then: 'If you ever run for anything, I've got your back. I'd never heard of Senator Obama. So when she said she was running for president I said, 'I've got your back.' "

When it became clear that Hillary could not win, some Democratic party grandees asked her to try to persuade Hillary to step down. "I told them, 'I'm backing her. I'll step down when she steps down.' When she stepped down, I went over to President Obama."

She concedes that she never thought America would put a black man in the White House in her lifetime. "In 100 years' time or maybe 50," she says. "But not now, no. I did not believe it could happen now."

With hindsight, how does she think it came about? "The terrorist action of 9/11 gave birth to President Obama's entry to the White House," she suggests. "Not directly but indirectly." She launches into a lyrical riff on Obama's campaign slogan, "Yes we can" which explains that that feeling of boundless possibility encompasses the best and worst of what the country has to offer.

"Yes I can. I can do whatever I want to do. I can do both the best and worst I can imagine. I can own human beings. I can have slaves. Yes I can. I can be the best human being ever. I can defeat slavery and segregation. Yes I can. I can be so cruel I can tax people out of their homes. Yes I can. I can have the greatest charities in the world. Yes I can."

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.”

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.Lisa Adkins, University of London

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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