ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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I never wanted to be part of planet Earth, and I did

everything not to be a part of it .  . . If I can get out of

 enlightening this planet, I'll do so with the greatest of  

pleasure, and let them stay in their darkness,

cruelty, hatred, ignorance . .



 Sun Ra Music CDs

Space Is the Place  (1972)  /  Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy/Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow (1992)

Lanquidity (2000)  /  Angels & Demons at Play/The Nubians of Plutonia  (1956, 1993)  / The Magic City  (1965; 1993) 

 Super Sonic Jazz  (1956; 1992)  / Jazz in Silhouette: Music (1958, 1992)  / The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Vol. 1  (1965, 1999)

/ When Angels Speak of Love  (2000)  / Nuclear War  (1982, 2001)  /  Visits Planet Earth/Interstellar Low Ways (1956, 1992)

Sunrise in Different Dimensions  (1980, 2007)  / Atlantis (1967, 1993)

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Sun Ra

May 22 1914—May 30 1993


Of all the jazz musicians, Sun Ra was probably the most controversial. He did not make it easy for people to take him seriously, for he surrounded his adventurous music with costumes and mythology that both looked backward toward ancient Egypt and forward into science fiction. In addition, Ra documented his music in very erratic fashion on his Saturn label, generally not listing recording dates and giving inaccurate personnel information, so one could not really tell how advanced some of his innovations were. It has taken a lot of time to sort it all out (although Robert L. Campbell's Sun Ra discography has done a miraculous job). In addition, while there were times when Sun Ra's aggregation performed brilliantly, on other occasions they were badly out of tune and showcasing absurd vocals. Near the end of his life, Ra was featuring plate twirlers and fire eaters in his colorful show as a sort of Ed Sullivan for the 1980s.

But despite all of the trappings, Sun Ra was a major innovator. Born Herman Sonny Blount in Birmingham, AL (although he claimed he was from another planet), Ra led his own band for the first time in 1934. He freelanced at a variety of jobs in the Midwest, working as a pianist/arranger with Fletcher Henderson in 1946-1947. He appeared on some obscure records as early as 1948, but really got started around 1953. Leading a big band (which he called the Arkestra) in Chicago, Ra started off playing advanced bop, but early on was open to the influences of other cultures, experimenting with primitive electric keyboards, and playing free long before the avant-garde got established.

After moving to New York in 1961, Ra performed some of his most advanced work. In 1970, he relocated his group to Philadelphia, and in later years alternated free improvisations and mystical group chants with eccentric versions of swing tunes, sounding like a spaced-out Fletcher Henderson orchestra. Many of his most important sidemen were with him on and off for decades (most notably John Gilmore on tenor, altoist Marshall Allen, and baritonist Pat Patrick). Ra, who recorded for more than a dozen labels, has been well served by Evidence's extensive repackaging of many of his Saturn dates, which have at last been outfitted with correct dates and personnel details. In the late '90s, other labels began reissuing albums from Sun Ra's vast catalog, an effort that will surely continue for years to come.Scott Yanow, All Music Guide,


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Sun Ra—Space Is The Place

In 1974 Sun Ra made the film Space Is The Place featuring himself and his Arkestra. The film serves a few objectives for Sun Ra including showing the struggle between good and evil in American society, the need for African-Americans to repair their self worth after centuries slavery and racism, and even deals with physics and metaphysics of the Universe through sound. These themes defined Sun Ra's career and as strange as he may have appeared to some his goal through his life and music above all else was to raise awareness of the individual and shift the perspective from how we are trained to see the world today to the reality that is and always has been. Sun Ra was what seems like a unique man with a unique view of the world especially now, but upon studying the spiritual history of man, philosophy and metaphysics, the roots of Sun Ra's message have been echoed through time for thousands and thousands of years.  Philosophy aside,  Space Is The Place  is an entertaining watch for any Jazz fan and definitely worth the time.Jazz on the Tube

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Sun Ra—Space Is The Place

This peculiar, rather warped feature is a product of the highly original mind of the late "musician-thinker" Sun Ra (the former Herman "Sonny" Blount, an accomplished jazz pianist and bandleader). The 82-minute, 1974 film melds effects that are straight out of '50s Japanese sci-fi, politics reflecting '60s racial radicalism, and the overall vibe of '70s blaxploitation films, with some African-Egyptian mythology thrown in for good measure. It isn't exactly a masterpiece of cinema; the production values are mediocre, the story is thin (Ra, who co-wrote, portrays an alien who offers oppressed African Americans the opportunity to seek their "alter-destiny" in outer space; complications ensue before his spaceship departs with true believers on board), the acting amateurish. But it's entertaining--Ra's array of costumes (especially his headgear) is impressive, and we do at least get a taste of his Intergalactic Solar Arkestra's heady brew of avant-garde jazz.—Sam Graham, Amazon

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Sun Ra—Space is the Place—Full Part 01

"Sun Ra—space-age prophet, Pharaonic jester, shaman-philosopher and avant-jazz keyboardist/bandleader--lands his spaceship in Oakland, having been presumed lost in space for a few years. With Black Power on the rise, Ra disembarks and proclaims himself "the alter-destiny." He holds a myth-vs reality rap session with vblack inner-city youth at a rec center, threatening "to chain you up and take you with me, like they did you in Africa" if they resist his plea to go to outer space. He duels at cards with The Overseer, a satanic overlord, with the fate of the black race at stake. Ra wins the right to a world concert, which features great performance footage of the Arkestra. Agents sent by the Overseer attempt to assassinate Ra, but he vanishes, rescues his people, and departs in his spaceship from the exploding planet Earth." YouTube

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The Differences

                    By Sun Ra

Sometimes in the amazing ignorance
I hear things and see things
I never knew I saw and heard before
Sometimes in the ignorance
I feel the meaning
Invincible invisible wisdom,
And I commune with intuitive instinct
With the force that made life be
And since it made life be
It is greater than life
And since it let extinction be
It is greater than extinction.
I commune with feelings more than
For there is nothing else to ask for
That companionship is
And it is superior to any other is.
Sometimes in my amazing ignorance
Others see me only as they care to see
I am to them as they think
According the standard I should not be
And that is the difference between I and them
Because I see them as they are to is
And not the seeming isness of the was.

Source: Jazz on the Tube

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Sun Ra

Composer and Arranger

A Bio-Chronology Music

Video: Sun Ra


Sun Ra (1914-1993) -- at times  seemingly controversial, weird, unpatriotic -- was a major innovator who made use of mythology and costumes, looking back on ancient Egypt and forward with a galactic narrative. He made something like 125 LPs. He performed everything from 30s hotel-band schmaltz to synthesizer pieces

1914 (May 22)-- Born ("arrived on the planet") Herman Poole "Sonny" Blount in Birmingham, Alabama (The Magic City).  bout his family we know little. He had an older brother, Robert, an older half-sister, Mary, and an older stepbrother, Cary Blount, Jr. Three more stepsiblings resided in Demopolis, Alabama. His mother ran restaurants. The Blounts did not live in either a black neighborhood or a white neighborhood. Theirs was the only house on an entire city block. They were located across the street from the Post Office and close to the main railroad station. There was a piano in the house  and Sonny was a genuine prodigy.


1932 (January) -- Graduated from high school. Was already playing piano on a substitute basis with bands like the Society Troubadours.


1933 -- Sonny transcribes a band arrangement Fletcher Henderson's Yeah Manoff a record for the first time.


1934 -- Sonny led his own band for the first time. Fall, went on a tour of the Southeast with a band led by Ethel Harper, a biology teacher who had ambitions to make it as a singer. She left in mid-tour with a vocal group, leaving Sonny in charge. The Sonny Blount Band ranged as far as Chicago, where Sonny joined the Musicians' Union local on December 15, 1934.


1935-1936 -- Attended Alabama A&M University in Huntsville as a music education major. "I think I studied everything in that college except farming." Dr. S. F. Harris paid for scholarships for Sonny and several other musicians from his high school. Studied Chopin and Rachmaninov. Ended up eighth in his freshman class, with a Grade Point Average of 3.18. Sonny dreams he traveled with robed figures to the planet Jupiter.


1936-1946 -- Led the Sonny Blount Orchestra.

1930s -- Moves north, first to Washington and then to Chicago.

1942 (October) --  Drafted but declares himself a Conscientious Objector. Spends five weeks in jail in Jasper, Alabama. Later sent to a Civilian Public Service Camp in a place called  Marienville, in the boondocks of Northwestern Pennsylvania.


1943 (March) -- Leaves Civilian Public Service camp on a physical disability discharge, because he had a hernia.

1946 --  Headed north to Nashville, where for three or four months he backed R&B singer Wynonie Harris at Club Zanzibar. Harris and his combo made four sides for the local Bullet label. One of them was Sonny's feature, Dig This Boogie. Picks up the idea of costuming  from Chicago-based drummer Oliver Bibb who led a society band that dressed up in Revolutionary War Patriot uniforms.


1946 (August) -1947 (May 18)-- Worked with Fletch Henderson and his band, South Side Chicago at Club DeLisa. Sonny replacing Henderson on the piano.  The club featured all of the top entertainers in Chicago: singer Lurleen Hunter, blues vocalist Little Miss  Cornshucks,  impressionist George Kirby, and another singer named Jo Jo Adams, who was renowned for his wardrobe of outrageously colored tuxedos. There were tap dancers like the Four Step Brothers and Cozy Cole's Drum Dancers. Picked up many of his ideas about  entertainment.


Fall of 1947 -- Was music director of a successful medium-sized band.


1948 (November) -- Recorded with Eugene Wright's Duke of Swing, Yusef Lateef on sax. Arranged the Dukes' entire book.


1948 (December) --During this period Sonny also played for a month at the North Side of town  with Coleman Hawkins and Stuff Smith.


Mid-1949 -- Sonny and Tommy Hunter began playing in trios in Calumet City, a Chicago suburb mainly known for its strip joints. On his very first tape machine, a Sound Mirror, Sonny recorded Stuff and himself playing  the Solovox, a primitive electronic instrument in his tiny apartment.


Early 1950s -- Worked at the Birdland and Robert's Lounge Club in Chicago, playing for Red Saunders, Red Holloway, Sonny Stitt and accompanying B.B. King on a tour through the States. During this

period Sonny became "busy with spirit things . . .I wasn't even really here." His concerns about racism and man's inhumanity together with his extensive readings from books about the occult the  hidden meanings found in the Bible and anthropological speculations on Egypt as the source of all civilization. Sonny discovered we are all "children of the sun." 

Sonny associated with a loose secret society on  the South Side of Chicago,. an unusual variety of Black   Nationalism, admonishing Black men to recognize the importance of outer space. Alton Abraham, the Arkestra's manager and head of Sun Ra's record label, was affiliated with this group, as were Lawrence Allen, T. S. Mims, Sr., and  others who would later provide financial backing for recordings. Abraham and his friends may have been local  gangsters.


1951 --  Sonny formed the Space Trio to play his far-out music: one charter member was Pat Patrick (1929-1991), who played alto and baritone sax. The drum chair was occupied on some occasions by Tommy Hunter.


1952 --  Sonny proclaimed he was a citizen of Saturn, not of Planet Earth; that he was not human, but rather of an angel race; that he was to serve as the Cosmic Communicator, bringing the Creator's message to benighted Earthlings.


 1952 (October 20) -- Sonny officially changed his name to Le Sony'r Ra -- Ra after the Egyptian sun  god. Sun Ra (sometimes Le Sun Ra) was technically his stage name.


1953 -- Sun Ra leads a trio with Richard Evans and Robert Barry. John Gilmore and Charles Davis joined the band.


1954 --  Birth of Arkestra (renames his band, a respelling that happens to include "Ra" both forwards and backwards)., after Marshall Allen, Pat Patrick, Art Hoyle, Julian Priester, and James Scale join up with Sonny's band. They called themselves alternately the Mythscience or Solar Arkestra.


              John Gilmore (born 1931 in Summit, Mississippi, but raised in Chicago) had attended

             DuSable High School with its fabled band program. After getting out of the Air Force in

             1953, he worked with Earl Hines and quickly became regarded as one of the up and      

             coming young musicians in Chicago.


1954 -1958 -- Sun Ra wrote songs in four-part harmony -- Black Sky and Blue Moon, Take the Outer Drive to the South Side. Many of these are lost, but not all.


Early 1956 -- Wilburn Green was playing what Sunny quaintly called the "electronic bass" and Gilmore's old Air Force buddy Art Hoyle had become the Arkestra's main trumpeter. Some  money must have been available, because time was booked at RCA Studios.


1956 (Jul 12) -- Arkestra records first album Jazz by Sun Ra -- Sun Song, for Transition

1957 -- Arkestra records an album for Delmark. The first Arkestra  was a hard-bop band. It was modal hard-bop, polytonal hard-bop, polyrhythmic hard-bop. Sunny wrote a new tune in  honor of his "home planet" --  Saturn; it became the band's theme song Sun Ra begins using an electric piano.


1957 -- Supersonic Jazz released.


1958 -- Jazz in Silhouette released.


1959 -- Sun Ra composed the score of a documentary, The Crya of Jazz."

1961 -- Arkestra left Chicago for a concert in Montreal and in a town in the mountains of Quebec.

1961 -- Arkestra moves to New York. Between 1961-1965 Arkestra records ten albums for their Saturn label.

1963 -- Sun Ra uses the clavoline.

1965 -- Arkestra makes first recording for ESP DISK, titled Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Vol.1, followed by Vol. 2 on November 16, 1965.


1966 (May) -- Records one album (last for ESP) with Pharaoh Sanders, who replaced John Gilmore, title Nothing Is.


1960s -- Sun Ra developed style for ensemble play; produced a distinctive environment of music and dress.


Late 60s -- Sun Ra records first solo album Monorails and Satellites.


1966-1972 -- Regular gig at Slug's Saloon in the Lower East Side in New York, few blocks from Sun Ra's   home.

1968 -- El Is a Sound of Joy ,one of Sunny's best compositions (ca. 1956), released by Delmark

1969 -- Sun Ra uses the Moog synthesizer,  plays celesta, organ, rocksichord, harpsichord, and piano

1970 --  Sun Ra to begins sing or preach to the audience. Arkestra plays at Berlin Jazz Festival. Misunderstood by Germans -- the dancing, lighting, walking and playing. An album of performance made by Germans.


1970 -- Arkestra's The Solar Myth Approach, Vols. 1 and 2 released by BYG-Actuel. Relocated his group to Philadelphia


1971 -- Arkestra plays in front of pyramids in Egypt.

1972 -- Arkestra tours and records all through the States and returns to Chicago. Plays the Ann Arbor Festival.


1978 -- Sun Ra makes a duo album with Walt Dickerson.

1993 (Memorial Day) -- Sun Ra returns to home planet, Saturn

DVD Performances

Space Is The Place (1974, 2003)  /   Live in Oakland  (2006) / The Magic Sun (2005)  /  A Joyful Noise  (1980, 1999)

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Bill Moyers and James Cone (Interview)  / A Conversation with James Cone

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John Coltrane, "Alabama"  /  Kalamu ya Salaam, "Alabama"  / A Love Supreme

A Blues for the Birmingham Four  /  Eulogy for the Young Victims   / Six Dead After Church Bombing 


*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#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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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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Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction

By Kiini Ibura Salaam

Ancient, Ancient collects the short fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam, of which acclaimed author and critic Nalo Hopkinson writes, ''Salaam treats words like the seductive weapons they are. She wields them to weave fierce, gorgeous stories that stroke your sensibilities, challenge your preconceptions, and leave you breathless with their beauty.'' Indeed, Ms. Salaam's stories are so permeated with sensuality that in her introduction to Ancient, Ancient, Nisi Shawl, author of the award-winning Filter House, writes, ''Sexuality-cum-sensuality is the experiential link between mind and matter, the vivid and eternal refutation of the alleged dichotomy between them. This understanding is the foundation of my 2004 pronouncement on the burgeoning sexuality implicit in sf's Afro-diasporization. It is the core of many African-based philosophies. And it is the throbbing, glistening heart of Kiini's body of work. This book is alive. Be not afraid.''

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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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The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly).

Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

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Karma’s Footsteps

By Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Somebody has to tell the truth sometime, whatever that truth may be. In this, her début full collection, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie offers up a body of work that bears its scars proudly, firm in the knowledge that each is evidence of a wound survived. These are songs of life in all its violent difficulty and beauty; songs of fury, songs of love. 'Karma's Footsteps' brims with things that must be said and turns the volume up, loud, giving silence its last rites. "Ekere Tallie's new work 'Karma's Footsteps' is as fierce with fight songs as it is with love songs. Searing with truths from the modern day world she is unafraid of the twelve foot waves that such honesties always manifest. A poet who "refuses to tiptoe" she enters and exits the page sometimes with short concise imagery, sometimes in the arms of delicate memoir. Her words pull the forgotten among us back into the lightning of our eyes.—Nikky Finney /  Ekere Tallie Table

Her Voice   / Mother Nature: Thoughts on Nourishing Your Body, Mind, and Spirit During Pregnancy and Beyond  

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.

The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.

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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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update 31 July 2012




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Related files: Long Live the Kings of Black Entertainment   New School Arkestra in Concert   Music Video: Sun Ra