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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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A BAM Poet Still in the Struggle for Justice



 Books by Sonia Sanchez

Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems (1999) /  Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums: Love Poems (1998) 

 Does Your House Have Lions? (1995) / Wounded in the House of a Friend (1995)  /  Under a Soprano Sky (1987) / Homegirls & Handgrenades (1984)

I've Been a Woman: New and Selected Poems (1978) /   A Blues Book for Black Magical Women (1973) / We a BaddDDD People (1970)

 Homecoming (1969)  / A Sound Investment and Other Stories (1979)   /    The Adventure of Fat Head, Small Head, and Square Head (1973)

It's a New Day: Poems for Young Brothas and Sistuhs (1971)  / We Be Word Sorcerers: Twenty-five Stories by Black Americans (1973) 

 Living At The Epicenter (Morse Poetry Prize) (1995)

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Sonia Sanchez and Ten Grandmothers

Acquitted of 'Defiant Trespassing'

By Jamie Walker


Philadelphia, PA—Sonia Sanchez, 71, and ten other grandmothers, who are part of an organization called The Granny Peace Brigade (GBP), were recently acquitted in a Philadelphia Community Courtroom on charges of 'defiant trespassing' in front of an Army Recruitment Center earlier this year.

The grandmothers—all of whom are against the war in Iraq—staged a peaceful protest outside a U.S. Armed Forces Center in downtown Philadelphia on June 28, 2006. While protesting, the women "sang peace songs, spoke out against the war, and displayed colorful banners."

They also chanted, "Take us, not Philadelphia's children and grandchildren. Let them live their lives."

As a result, all of the women were arrested and detained. Their trial, which was set for December 1, 2006, lasted only fifteen minutes long, and drew thousands of supporters from around the world. The charges against them were dropped because they were protesting in a public building and exercising their right to free speech.

"What are we grandmothers going to have to do, for God's sake, to try and wake up America?" asks Joane Wile, Founder and Director of Grandmothers Against the War and a member of the GBP.

"The anti-war movement must get ever more creative and determined," says Wile. "New methods of protest must be developed. Larger numbers of people must be engaged. New leaders must emerge."

Wile believes that perhaps, most importantly, "the youth must be aroused to leave their insulated comfort zones (their video games, their rock concerts) and come out and speak against the Bush atrocities."

The Granny Peace Brigade was actually born on October 17, 2005, when 18 women, ages 59 to 91, many of them grandmothers, tried to enlist in the United States military. They asked to enlist in order to replace their grandchildren who they believed were being "deployed in Iraq unnecessarily."

As one "Peace Granny" asserted, "We wanted our young people to come home while they were still alive and whole, to have the same opportunity for enjoying a long life as we have had."

The grannies, however, we were denied access, arrested, and jailed. After a six-day trial, they were acquitted of all charges, "which was an affirmation of the legality of non-violent protest."

Sonia Sanchez, herself a peace activist, notable poet, and proud grandmother, heard about the GPB and decided to join the Philadelphia chapter.

"All we are simply saying is let us begin this discussion of peace," Sanchez said in her interview with Professor Kim Pearson before her trial. "Let us begin to invigorate this earth with peace. Let us begin again the whole idea of people being able to live on this earth in a peaceful fashion. Let us begin again the beginning work that must be done that says, simply, that peace is necessary."

Peace is necessary for the survival of this planet. As water is to life, human beings need peace in order to ensure the righteous development of our young people. The earth needs peaceful warriors with the spirit of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Fanny Lou Hamer in order to ensure that generations after us will not buckle when their basic human rights have been taken away.

Future generations need to be inspired to know peace, breathe peace, speak peace, and be the peace that they want to see in the world. They must know that their grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, sisters, fathers, and brothers are inspiring them to take up the torch and follow their precious lead.

"These grandmothers are actively looking at ways to move towards peace for future generations," says Kadija Sesay, a literary activist who was present at the trial. "It's wonderful that our elders should do that, and it was great to see that a lot of the younger generations were there to support them."

The grannies have been traveling to various places in the United States, promoting peace and garnering support for their efforts through their website: They are willing to put their lives on the line in a quest to save human lives.

Presently, they are calling upon all grandmothers to join them on January 18, 2007 in Washington, DC, as they meet with senators in hopes that the new 110th Congress will "honor the mandate of the electorate, act with integrity, and restore the basic tenets of our Constitution."

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Jamie Walker is a freelance journalist who recently completed a new book on Sonia Sanchez called Sonia On My Mind. She can be reached through her website:

posted 3 December 2006

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Sonia Sanchez on the State of Black Books I'm usually reading five or six different books at a time. I'm reading Dreams in a Time of War by Ngugi wa Thiong'o. I remember when Ngugi was writing this book because I was writing the first part of my memoir at the same time. The joy of this memoir is simply that he talks about his views as a boy during World War II. So we get a wonderful sense of who he is as a young man.

I'm reading the biography—the only biography—of John Oliver Killens [John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard], a great novelist who died too early, too young. I make sure all of my students read him. I'm also reading Isabel Allende's new book, The Island Beneath the Sea (La isla bajo el mar). I just love Isabel and what she writes and the musicality of her work. I just got in the mail yesterday Nairobi Heat, a detective novel by Mukoma wa Ngugi, Ngugi's son, that I can't wait to start reading.

And I'm reading the manuscript for this new anthology on rap, so I'm immersing myself in Chuck D, Rakim and Talib Kweli. I'm so happy this book is happening and that they asked me to write a blurb for it because they said I was one of the older people who support young rappers. And I do. I get up in the morning now and I play Rakim's "Casualties of War" to remind myself about the dead bodies that come home every day because of the two wars we are involved in.—TheRoot 

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Poet, Activist, Sonia Sanchez Reading Toni Cade Bambara

Sonia Sanchez: Shake Loose Memories  / Sonia Sanchez speaks about Shake Loose Memories

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#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.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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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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update 26 February 2012




Home  Black Arts and Black Power Figures

Related files: Sonia Sanchez: Poet & Educator  Sonia's Song  Sonia Sanchez and Ten Grandmothers  Wounded in the House of a Friend  (Marvin X Review)