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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

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There’s no villain, no idiot, no saint / just men who crave ease & power

men who know want & hunger / men who have crawled, who strive

with ecstasy of fear & strain / balked of hope & hate.

 

 

 

The Propaganda of History

                              

                                         For W. E. B. Du Bois

 

By Rudolph Lewis  

 

 

We’re the remnant of ten million

transported out of the of the dark

beauty of  our mother continent

into the new-found Eldorado

of the West. We descended

into Hell. After the third century

we rose from the dead to achieve

democracy, an upheaval unrivaled

in all past histories until now.

 

In dumb eyes, we're made mockery

& spit upon, degrading the eternal

mother; a sneer at human effort,

a mighty effort in a mighty century,

by aspiration and with art distorted:

a compromise with truth of the past

to make peace in the present

to guide policy in the future.

 

We read the truer deeper facts

of three decades with great despair

at once so simple & human, yet futile.

There’s no villain, no idiot, no saint

just men who crave ease and power,

men who know want and hunger

men who have crawled, who strive

with ecstasy of fear & strain 

balked of hope & hate. Yet the rich

world is wide enough for all, wants

all, needs all. So slight a gesture

a word might set the strife in order

not with full content, but with growing

dawn of fulfillment.

                             Instead roars

the crash of hell. After its whirlwind

in academic halls, learned in traditions

of elms & elders, the teacher in gown

shaped wisdom hears the voice of God

and sneers at “chinks” & “niggers”

as he looks into the upturned faces

of youth. He says the nation has changed

its Southern views of the vain imagination

of the political equality of man. Yet flames

of jealous murder sweep the earth, while

bodies of little children seed hills of memory.

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Responses:

Anita: That was so good!  It's true, I loved these lines: “the Eldorado of the West!”  and “So slight a gesture a word might set the strife in order not with full  content, but with growing dawn of fulfillment.”

Sharif: Wow! Nice work. 

posted 8 January 2006

The Propaganda of History by W. E. B. Du Bois

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign.  The Economy

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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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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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 / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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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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