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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Decades ago, King spoke of millions of Americans “smoldering in

an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society.”



Books by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Strength to Love / The Measure of a Man Why We Can't Wait

A Testament of Hope  /  A Knock at Midnight   /  The Papers of  Martin Luther King, Jr., 1948-1963


Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story


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 What would Martin Luther King Do?

By Mara Voukydis


Last year around this time, as throngs of protesters chanted and booed on the streets nearby, President Bush placed a wreath on Dr. King's grave in Atlanta. The President had said of King earlier that day that he wanted to “honor his life and what he stood for.”

Now, as we usher in the President for a second term in office, it’s time to ask whether he has lived up to Dr. King¹s legacy. On his watch working people and poor  people ‹disproportionately people of color‹ lost ground.

“Every American deserves to be an owner of the American dream,” said President Bush, but a great racial divide remains. If Bush wants to make this a nation where we can all be owners, he should be asking “WWMLKD? (What would Martin Luther King do?)”

What does it take to be an owner of the American dream?  A house comes to mind, and a savings account, and a retirement account, maybe a business and those things are usually accessible only to those with well-paying jobs, help from family and/or government subsidies. Yet for generations people of color have been afforded fewer opportunities to own, blocked by discriminatory practices in housing, loans, hiring, and more.

Decades ago, King spoke of millions of Americans “smoldering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society.” This still rings true in 2005. In the past four years, some gains made in the nineties have been lost. In 2000, the Black unemployment rate dipped to an all-time low of 7%.

Now more than one out of ten Black Americans is unemployed, as compared to roughly one out of twenty whites. The familiar call for personal responsibility loses its momentum when a person tries desperately and is unable to find work.

Income levels and poverty rates also worsened since 2000. The number of families in poverty fell rapidly during the nineties for all groups, but especially fast for Latinos and Blacks. Much of that progress has been lost in the past four years. As for earnings, the average Black income was 65% of white income in the year 2000, but 62% of white income in 2003. The first Bush administration blocked Congressional efforts to increase the minimum wage.

Many measures taken by other administrations to counter high joblessness, such as public works programs and extra state aid, didn¹t reappear in the Bush administration. Instead, tax cuts were supposed to be the cure-all. In fact, they only increased the racial divide by benefiting primarily taxpayers with very high incomes, who are overwhelmingly white. Social Security privatization is another so-called solution that would actually worsen economic insecurity by lowering benefits, adding risk, and ballooning the federal debt.

Refreshingly, the President has faced up to the racial homeownership gap, addressing certain challenges facing non-white Americans. It is hard to ignore the fact that while three-quarters or white families own homes, fewer than half of Blacks and Latinos, and less than 60% of Asians and American Indians, are homeowners. While attention to the homeownership gap is welcome, much more should be done. Rising home prices, falling incomes, deceptive predatory loans, and discrimination block many renters of color from homeownership.

So WWMLKD? Of course there is no quick fix for centuries of unequal opportunity, but there are many positive steps the federal government could take. The next Bush administration should maintain those few progressive taxes we do have, such as the estate tax, which funds services and programs for the neediest through after-death taxes on multimillionaires. We need new policies that encourage wealth-building. Imagine a brand-new version of the post-WWII GI Bill, one that helps Americans build up nest eggs, get mortgages, and fund higher education. The money could come from closing corporate loopholes and giveaways.

Dr. King was greatly disturbed by the complacency of many Americans towards the economic injustice around them. He said,  “Let us be dissatisfied until those who live on the outskirts of hope are brought into the metropolis of daily security.” We should take heed as we inaugurate another four years of President Bush. The dream of economic security is still out of reach for many. If the president wants to honor Dr. King, he should do it not with words or a wreath, but with actions that patch up our damaged ladder of opportunity.

Mara Voukydis ( is a researcher at United for a Fair Economy ( and co-author of UFE¹s new report, "The State of the Dream 2005: Disowned in the Ownership Society.

posted 15 January 2005 

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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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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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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. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—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 / 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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Update 24 February 2012




Home   Religion & Politics   The Du Bois-Malcolm-King  The Du Bois-Malcolm-King

Related files:  State of the Dream  White Privilege Shapes the U.S.   State Of Black America   state of black nation 2005   The State of the Dream 2005    Myths of Low-Wage Workers      Skip Gates and the Talented Fifth 

 Responses to Skip Gates  The State of HBCUs   The State of Black Journalism   Press Release from United for a Fair Economy