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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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 As guardians of family collections, or as a business person like Nestor, we need to be diligent

about informing a trusted family member about the business and about the location

and disposal of family collections. 



Scattered Treasures

Losing the Legacy of Photographer Nestor Hernandez, Jr. 

By Donna M. Wells


About two weeks ago, it was brought to the attention of the local African American photography community that the photographs, negatives, portfolios, camera equipment, and photography books belonging to Nestor Hernandez, Jr. were being sold by two vendors at the 6th street and Florida Avenue flea market.  Nestor was a locally based award winning documentary photographer who died in 2006 at the age of 45.  

Although he is recognized for his work as the official photographer for the Children’s Museum and for DC Public Schools, he is best known among his peers for his extensive body of work documenting the people and culture of persons of African descent.  During the last years of his life, he devoted his time to cultural exchange ventures which linked like-minded photographers from around the world. 

Between 1978 and 2003, he made eighteen trips to Cuba, initially making personal connections with his Cuban family.  For his last three trips, he invited American photographers to accompany him to meet and discuss photography with Cuban photographers which resulted in two comprehensive exhibits both in Cuba and in Washington, DC. 

Nestor’s photo prints were being sold for an appalling $3.00 each at the market.  Working with members of a local photography association, we learned that Nestor’s father had placed his son’s collection in a self-storage unit at a commercial facility after Nestor died in 2006.  The father never told the rest of the family and when he himself died unexpectedly a year later, the bill for the storage unit remained unpaid until it was auctioned off recently.  The family is devastated by the loss and this echoes what has happened around the country with family collections, like the Malcolm X Papers and the photographs of Teenie “One Shot” Harris, for example.

The photography community is equally devastated by the loss and by the way Nestor’s legacy is being scattered to the winds.  The vendors informed us that everything had already been sold although they were previously apprised of the situation and were made an offer to purchase everything that was left.  An arts attorney said that nothing could be done about the prints since the storage bin sale was legitimate.  However, the creative rights to print from the negatives remains with the family regardless of the fact that the vendors claim they don’t know who they sold them to. 

The bigger picture is that we need to be more aggressive in protecting family collections, not just in the preservation sense, but in the security of our belongings. The current economic conditions have forced many families to lose their homes and family papers and other treasures are being left behind or lost in the process.  At the same time, venues such as eBay and the Antique Roadshow encourage many of us to see dollar signs on items hanging on the walls and gracing the shelves of our homes.  As guardians of family collections, or as a business person like Nestor, we need to be diligent about informing a trusted family member about the business and about the location and disposal of family collections.  In this high tech environment, this also includes keeping track of and sharing with family members the passwords to e-mail accounts, on-line business services, and website domains.   

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Archival Forum

The Historical Society of Washington, DC

801 K Street, NW / Washington, DC 20001

October 15th, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

The Historical Society of Washington, DC, the Exposure Group African American Photographers Association, and the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University are hosting a forum to address this issue on October 15th, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the Historical Society.  The situation will be discussed from a variety of perspectives and the panelists will include an archivist, a member of the Hernandez family, a copyright specialist, an arts attorney, and a collector.  This event is free and open to the public.

Speakers include:

Syreeta N. Swann Joseph, Copyright specialist; Larry Frazier, Attorney for Wills, Estates & Probate Law; Philip Merrill, Founder of Nanny Jack & Co., author, historian, and former appraiser of Black Memorabilia on PBS' Antiques Roadshow; Allan Stypeck Owner of Second Story Books / Senior Member; Yvonne Hernandez, Sister, Nestor Hernandez, Jr.; Donna M. Wells, Prints and Photo Librarian at Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, author, historian, co-author of Legacy: Treasures of Black History.

Yvonne Carignan, archivist for the Historical Society of Washington, DC, will moderate the program on the 15th.

Donna M. Wells / Prints and Photographs Librarian / Moorland-Spingarn Research Center / Howard University / 500 Howard Place, NW / Washington, DC 20059 / (202) 806-7480 / fax:  (202) 806-6405  


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Donna M. Wells is Prints and Photographs Librarian at Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.  Before coming to Howard, she was the assistant archivist for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Formerly, she served as the archivist for Gallaudet University, where she also taught Museum Studies, and has also worked as a photo librarian at the Library of Congress.  Since receiving her Masters degree in library and archives administration in 1983, Wells has devoted her work to the care and interpretation of African American collections and to the preservation of Washington, DC history.  Currently, she serves on the city’s Emancipation Celebration Commission and on the Historical Records Advisory Review Board.  She is also a board member of the Historical Society of Washington, DC and has served on the program committee of the DC Historical Studies Conference since 1995.

  In 1993, she was a consultant for the development of an archive at Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum and in 2001 she was an advisor to the Griffith Stadium Memorial and Museum Project.  Recently, she was drafted to serve as a consultant for Fred’s Army, an organization on Maryland’s Easton Shore which is devoted to honoring their most famous resident, Frederick Douglass. 

Ms. Wells is involved in a number of projects devoted to the care and preservation of historical image collections.  She frequently lectures and conducts workshops on the care of photographs for general audiences.  Her lectures on photographic history incorporate a unique approach that fuses the role of African Americans as the subject, as the creator, and as the critic of images.  Although not a photographer, she is an active member of the Exposure Group African American Photographers Association and the FotoCraft Camera Club, serving as a consultant for their public programs and as a resource for the archiving of their life’s work. 

She has published reviews and articles on photography and on photographers, including Protecting Your Image, which appeared in Essence Magazine in1999, and several short biographies which will be published in the upcoming encyclopedia of African American biographies by Oxford University Press.  She is co-author with Thomas C. Battle of National Geographic’s award winning Legacy: Treasures of Black History.  Currently, she is working as a researcher and writer for Freedom in my Heart: a People’s Courage and Contribution, a joint publication of National Geographic and the U. S. National Slavery Museum

Ms. Wells is a native Washingtonian.  She received her Bachelors of Art in art history from Hampton University, a Masters in Library Science from the University of Maryland, and is A.B.D. in the Department of History at Howard University.

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The photographs of Nestor Hernández, Jr.—Nestor Hernandez, Jr. departed this life on Friday, May 12, 2006 in Washington, DC. He was 45. Nestor will be missed by the many, many people whose lives he touched.

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A Treasury of American Folklore

By Benjamin Botkin

Botkin embraced the ever-evolving state of folklore. According to him, folklore was not static but ever changing and being created by people in their daily lives. He developed his novel approach to American folklore while teaching in Oklahoma and later working in the federal government during the late 1930s and early '40s. His book Lay My Burden Down: A Folk History of Slavery was the first book to use oral narratives of formerly enslaved African Americans as legitimate historical sources.

While many researchers viewed folklore as a relic from the past, Botkin and other New Deal folklorists insisted that American folklore played a vibrant role in the present, drawing on shared experience and promoting a democratic culture.—Wikipedia

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Black Exodus
The Great Migration from the American South

Edited by Alferdteen Harrison

What were the causes that motivated legions of black southerners to immigrate to the North? What was the impact upon the land they left and upon the communities they chose for their new homes? Perhaps no pattern of migration has changed America's socioeconomic structure more than this mass exodus of African Americans in the first half of the twentieth century. Because of this exodus, the South lost not only a huge percentage of its inhabitants to northern cities like Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Philadelphia but also its supply of cheap labor. Fleeing from racial injustice and poverty, southern blacks took their culture north with them and transformed northern urban centers with their churches, social institutions, and ways of life. In Black Exodus eight noted scholars consider the causes that stimulated the migration and examine the far-reaching results.

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B.B. King Thrill Is Gone  /  B.B. King-The Thrill is Gone with lyrics

B.B. King - The Thrill Is Gone ft. Tracy Chapman  / B.B. KingThe Thrill Is Gone

B. B. King & Eric ClaptonThe Thrill Is Gone  / B. B. KingThe Thrill Is Gone (1993)

B.B. King is the greatest living exponent of the blues and considered by many to be the most influential guitarist of the latter part of the 20th century. His career dates back to the late forties and despite now being in his eighties he remains a vibrant and charismatic live performer. B.B. King has been a frequent visitor to the Montreux festival, appearing nearly 20 times, so choosing one performance was no easy task. This 1993 concert will surely rank as one of his finest at any venue. With a superb backing band and a great set list its a must for any blues fan.

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The Thrill is Gone


The thrill is gone
The thrill is gone away
The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away
You know you done me wrong baby
And you'll be sorry someday

The thrill is gone
It's gone away from me
The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away from me
Although I'll still live on
But so lonely I'll be

The thrill is gone
It's gone away for good
Oh, the thrill is gone baby
Baby its gone away for good
Someday I know I'll be over it all baby
Just like I know a good man should

You know I'm free, free now baby
I'm free from your spell
I'm free, free now
I'm free from your spell
And now that it's all over
All I can do is wish you well


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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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Common Ground

A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families

By  J. Anthony Lukas

The climax of this humane account of ten years in Boston that began with news of Martin Luther King's assassination, is a watershed moment in the city's modern history—the 1974 racist riots that followed the court-ordered busing of kids to integrate the schools. To bring understanding to that moment, Lukas, a former New York Times journalist, focuses on two working-class families, headed by an Irish-American widow and an African-American mother, and on the middle-class family of a white liberal couple. Lukas goes beyond stereotypes, carefully grounding each perspective in its historical roots, whether in the antebellum South, or famine-era Ireland. In the background is the cast of public figuresincluding Judge Garrity, Mayor White, and Cardinal Cushingwith cameo roles in this disturbing history that won the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.

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Africa Unite

                       By Bob Marley


Africa, Unite
'Cause we're moving right out of Babylon
And we're going to our father's land

How good and how pleasant it would be
Before GOD and man, yeah
To see the unification of all Africans, yeah
As it's been said already let it be done, yeah
We are the children of the Rastaman
We are the children of the Higher Man

Africa, unite 'cause the children wanna come home
Africa, unite 'cause we're moving right out of Babylon
And we're grooving to our father's land

How good and how pleasant it would be
Before GOD and man
To see the unification of all Rastaman, yeah

As it's been said already let it be done
I tell you who we are under the sun
We are the children of the Rastaman
We are the children of the Higher Man

So, Africa, unite, Africa, unite
Unite for the benefit of your people
Unite for it's later than you think

Unite for the benefit of your children
Unite for it's later than you think
Africa awaits its creators, Africa awaiting its creators
Africa, you're my forefather cornerstone
Unite for the Africans abroad, unite for the Africans a yard
Africa, Unite

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The Slave Ship

By Marcus Rediker

Marcus Rediker is professor of maritime history at the University of Pittsburgh and the author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (1987), The Many-Headed Hydra (2000), and Villains of All Nations (2005), books that explore seafaring, piracy, and the origins of globalization. In The Slave Ship, Rediker combines exhaustive research with an astute and highly readable synthesis of the material, balancing documentary snapshots with an ear for gripping narrative. Critics compare the impact of Rediker’s history, unique for its ship-deck perspective, to similarly compelling fictional accounts of slavery in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage. Even scholars who have written on the subject defer to Rediker’s vast knowledge of the subject. Bottom line: The Slave Ship  is sure to become a classic of its subject.—Bookmarks Magazine  

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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#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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A History of African-American Artists

From 1792 to the Present

By Romare Bearden and Harry Henderson

The late Romare Bearden, a premier African American artist in his own right, devoted 15 years to researching and writing this magnificent study of the lives and achievements of 36 significant African American artists born prior to 1925. He and longtime friend and coauthor Henderson were motivated by frustration over the lack of literature on black artists. Through great perseverance and determination, they managed to track down forgotten artwork, piece together vivid biographical portraits, and conduct interviews with surviving artists, who, in spite of their stature and longevity, had never before been interviewed. As Bearden and Henderson set the scene, historically speaking, for such artists as Robert S. Duncanson, Edmonia Lewiss, and Henry Ossawa Tanner, they expose the degree to which racism limited opportunities for black artists. The life stories of the artists associated with the Black Renaissance during the 1920s—such as Aaron Douglas; Archibald Motley, the first painter to boldly celebrate urban African American society; and sculptor and influential mentor Augusta Savage—are recorded with consummate insight, as are accounts of the giants of the Depression era, Beauford Delaney and Jacob Lawrence.

 Richly illustrated and written with resounding empathy and pride, this is a major contribution to the literature on African American history and to the annals of American art.Booklist 

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The Shameful Life of Salvador Dali

By Ian Gibson

In his detailed and excellent book on Salvador Dali, Ian Gibson has documented Dali’s identification with fascism in Spain from the very beginning. During the civil war, Dali never came out in support of the Republic.  He did not collaborate, for example, in the Paris Fair in 1937, where Picasso presented his Guernica, aimed at raising funds for the Republican cause.  And he soon made explicit his sympathies for the fascist coup of 1936 and for the dictatorship that it established in a letter to Buñuel, a well-known filmmaker in Spain. 

He made explicit and known his admiration for the figure and writing of the founder of the Spanish fascist party (La Falange), José Antonio Primo de Rivera, and used in his speeches and writings the fascist narrative and expressions (such as the fascist call “Arriba España”), referring to the special role Spain had in promoting the imperial dreams over other nations.  He sympathized with the anti-Semitic views of Hitler and celebrated Franco’s alliance with Hitler and Mussolini against France, Great Britain and the United States.  

 He also welcomed the “solution to the national problem” in vogue in Nazi and fascist circles at that time.Dali became the major defender of the Franco dictatorship in the artistic world.  He was also, as Spanish fascism was, very close to the Church and to the Vatican of Pope Pius XII, indicating that modern art needed to be based on Christianity.  His loyalty to the fascist dictatorship continued to the very end, defending the state terrorist policies that included political assassinations, even in the last moments of that dictatorship.—counterpunch

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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 / 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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ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more) 







posted 26 September 2008 




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Related files:   Nestor Hernandez 1960- 2006