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In New World A-Coming: Inside Black America, Roi Ottley presents this city within a city and its one million people,

packed sardine-fashion into some two square miles, as something more than "the capital of clowns, cults, and cabarets

and the cultural hub of the Negro world." Since its beginnings around 1900 as a little community of "black aristocracy," Harlem's modern history began with the purchase, by Negroes, of thirteen large apartment houses on 135th Street.

   

Books by Roi Ottley

New World A-Coming: Inside Black America (1943) /  Black Odyssey: The Story of the Negro in America (1948)  /

The Lonely Warrior: The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott (1955)  /  White Marble Lady (1965)

The Negro in New York: An Informal Social History, 1626-1940 (1967)

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Roi Ottley Bio

 

Roi Ottley (2 August 1906-1 October 1960) was born in New York City and educated at St. Bonaventure College (1926-1927), University of Michigan, and St. John's Law School (Brooklyn). Ottley worked for the Amsterdam News as reporter, columnist, and editor (1931-1937). In 1937, he joined New York City Writers' Project as editor. His bestseller New World A-Coming: Inside Black America (1943), a survey of Harlem's history, incorporated Writers' Project reports and became a bestseller and was adapted into a series of radio programs.  Harry Hansen called it "a book that might be classified as a social study, actually so entertaining that it reads like a novel.

Roi Ottley grew up in Harlem, "the nerve center of advancing Black America," and was for several years a reporter and columnist for Harlem's Amsterdam Star News, as well as a social worker.

Roi Vincent Ottley, the son of Jerome P. and Beatrice (Brisbane) Ottley, grew up as a Roman Catholic and first attended New York public schools. He also studied two years at the University of Michigan, after which he returned to New York to begin his career as a reporter (1930) on the Amsterdam Star News. On that paper, for the following seven years, he was a reporter, columnist, and editor. During those years, he continued his studies both at Columbia University (1934-35) and New York University (1935-36). He also attended St. John's University School of law in Brooklyn.

In the fall of 1943 Ottley was publicity director of the National C.I.O. War Relief Committee, a group which in 1942 collected over $20 million for relief purposes and divided that sum among members of the United Nations. In April 1941, he dedicated New World a-Coming, and he made his home (when not on business in Washington, D.C.) in Harlem.

What is Harlem? In New World A-Coming: Inside Black America, Roi Ottley presents this city within a city and its one million people, packed sardine-fashion into some two square miles, as something more than "the capital of clowns, cults, and cabarets and the cultural hub of the Negro world." Since its beginnings around 1900 as a little community of "black aristocracy," Harlem's modern history began with the purchase, by Negroes, of thirteen large apartment houses on 135th Street. Now [1943] Harlem, woefully overcrowded, is infinitely subdivided and intermixed with all shades and varieties of color. There are about 2,000 native pure black Africans; 5,000 Moslems; as many more Jewish Negroes, descendants of the "lost Black Tribe" of Abyssinia. Among 125,000 others are French-speaking Haitians, Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans and Cubans, pro British East Indians. In Harlem also live some 2,000 Chinese.

The amazing intermixture produced leading citizens in many fields of activity and the author presents some profiles of famous Harlem leaders, not omitting Father Divine. They include the late Marcus Garvey, Harlem's first mass leader; Joe Louis, a hero to his people; A. Philip Randolph, organizer of the Pullman porters; Walter White, sophisticated leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Ottley writes also of the singers Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson; of Ted Poston, racial adviser to Elmer Davis; of Dr. Robert C. Weaver, the first Negro ever to earn a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard; of Chrystal Bird Fauset, adviser to James M. Landis of the O.C.D.

Ottley believed that the defeat of the Axis powers, after the War, there would be a "new world a-coming." He felt that "the day for talking quietly" had passed.

John Chamberlain of the New York Times described Ottley's style: "He writes a vigorous prose, mingling history, irony, drama, and sober reflection in a work that explains the current status and the wholly reasonable demands of the Negroes as no other book does." Other reviewers agreed with chamberlain's pronouncement of the book. Lewis Gannett described it as "a shrewd, lively, and often surprising interpretation of the present state of mind of Negro America," and Sam Harper of the New York Post wrote, "The way to start in to learn about the Negroes is to read Ottley's fine book." The book inspired a tone poem of the same name by Duke Ellington, which was performed for the first time at Ellington's Carnegie hall concert in December 1943. in its various episodes it dwells on the contentment awaited by the Negro race in the democratic post-war world.

One thing which new World a-Coming did not stress was: when Harlem sits down to eat, what's on the table? Accordingly, a feature writer for the new York Herald Tribune put that question to Roi Ottley, who knew Harlem cooking  by eating anything, everything Harlem has to offer. He knew the lofty fare of Sugar Hill's penthouse tables. He had a love for hot pig's feet as sold by the street venders. He rolled chitterlings on his tongue at a rent party. He sinned on Saturday night and praised the Lord on Sunday, paying his 15¢ to eat chicken dinner at a Father Divine's heaven. Ottley praised the Negro dishes, particularly the use of the hog, "right down to the squeal." Deep fat frying, he added, was introduced to us from Africa, not from France. Also the pit barbecue is a Negro invention.

Ottley fancied himself "as something of a culinary expert," tooand okra is the one thing he likes to cook. He made a West Indian okra dish known as "cookoo"okra with corn meal in mold--to serve with salt cod. He also likes to make rabbit casserole with okra, or a vegetable casserole with okra, carrots, and cucumbers.

The Rosenwald Foundation and Houghton Mifflin, publishers of New World a-Coming sponsored a round-the-world tour for Roi Ottley, in which he gathered material for his book No Green Pastures (1951), a firsthand account of the colored peoples who fought on the world's battle fronts. He was also on on assignment for liberty magazine as the first Negro war correspondent for a national publication. Ottley visited Africa, India, china, and russia and spent time with Negro troops of the United States forces.

Ottley also worked as a war correspondent for PM, Pittsburgh Courier, and Liberty; and in 1943 he was publicity director of national CIO War Relief Committee. His other books include Black Odyssey: The Story of the Negro in America (1948),  The Lonely Warrior: The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott (1955). His novel White Marble Lady (1965) and The Negro in New York: An Informal Social History, 1626-1940 (1967, with William J. Weatherby) were published after his death.

See also http://web.sbu.edu/friedsam/archives/ottley/

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#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 Eroticanoir.com 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

Non-fiction

#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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And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life

By Charles J. Shields

A New York Times Notable Book for 2011—A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011—The first authoritative biography of Kurt Vonnegut Jr., a writer who changed the conversation of American literature. In 2006, Charles Shields reached out to Kurt Vonnegut in a letter, asking for his endorsement for a planned biography. The first response was no ("A most respectful demurring by me for the excellent writer Charles J. Shields, who offered to be my biographer"). Unwilling to take no for an answer, propelled by a passion for his subject, and already deep into his research, Shields wrote again and this time, to his delight, the answer came back: "O.K." For the next year—a year that ended up being Vonnegut's last—Shields had access to Vonnegut and his letters. And So It Goes is the culmination of five years of research and writing—the first-ever biography of the life of Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut resonates with readers of all generations from the baby boomers who grew up with him to high-school and college students who are discovering his work for the first time. Vonnegut's concise collection of personal essays, Man Without a Country, published in 2006, spent fifteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold more than 300,000 copies to date. The twenty-first century has seen interest in and scholarship about Vonnegut's works grow even stronger, and this is the first book to examine in full the life of one of the most influential iconoclasts of his timeSlaughterhouse Five

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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what's in your heart than what's in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America's shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, "Happy can make you money, but money can't make you happy."

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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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