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Kwame Toure left a legacy of audacious and committed struggle

designed to overthrow  injustice and human exploitation

in order to create a liberated African world.

 

 

Books on Carmichael and Black Power

Ready for Revolution: The Life and Struggles of Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)  /  Black-Power:The Politics of Liberation 

Stokely Speaks: From Black Power to Pan-Africanism

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A Tribute to Kwame Toure/Stokely Carmichael

The Life and struggle of a Revolutionary Warrior

Dr. Floyd W. Hayes, III

December 1, 1998

 

I want to express my appreciation to Ms. Dorothy Washington, the Black Cultural Center’s Librarian [Purdue University], for inviting me to comment on the life and struggle of our recently deceased brother, Kwame Toure. I am honored to talk about a person, who in many respects, represents the highest expression and continuing significance of the modern American struggle for black human rights that emerged in the 1960s. 

He became civil rights reformist, Black Power activist, and Pan-African revolutionist. Toure is significant because it was he, along with fellow SNCC worker Willie Ricks, who enunciated audaciously the "Black Power" slogan during June of 1966, which provided the political language for the turbulent black liberation struggle during the late 1960s and 1970s.

Given the present resurgence of antiblack racism and violence throughout Americaas witnessed by lynchings in Virginia and Texas, recent white supremacist aggression at many college campuses, such as Miami University in Ohio and Cornell University in upstate New York, and the vicious right-wing assault on Affirmative Action policiesKwame Toure’s commitment to contest and uproot all forms of cultural domination is important because it should inspire us to study and struggle against injustice, even to fight the racism and repression at Purdue. Indeed, he epitomizes the contours, questions, challenges, and struggles of our times. 

Kwame Toure died Sunday, November 15, 1998, in Conakry, Guinea, of prostate cancer. He was 57 years old.

In the spring semester of 1974, then recently hired Black Cultural Center director Tony Zamora invited Kwame Toure to Purdue University. Toure spoke to an overflowing audience in the South Ballroom of the Purdue Memorial Union. After his speech, Toure came over to the center and continued to talk with students. You can imagine that in this bastion of white supremacist conservatism, many worried about what the relatively new BCC director was up to. It was to his credit that the BCC’s imaginative leader, who retired in 1995 after 22 years of service, had the foresight and courage to bring Toure here. For it was under Zamora’s improvisational leadership that the BCC gained national recognition as one of the major university treasures of black culture and history.

I want to take a few minutes to examine dimensions of Kwame Toure’s life and times, briefly focusing on his background, ideas, and organizational activism. In the process, I shall assert that one of his major preceptsthat black people need to be organized in order to struggle against systems of injusticestill demands our attention.

Born Stokely Carmichael on June 29, 1941, in Trinidad, West Indies, he renamed himself in honor of Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana, and Ahmed Sekou Toure, past president of Guinea. In 1952, his parents brought him to New York City, where he later attended the academically prestigious Bronx High School of Science. In 1960, he went to Howard University, where he majored in philosophy, graduated with a B.A. in 1964, and became active in the Civil Rights Movement.

As a civil rights reformist, Kwame Toure went South to participate in the struggle to desegregate public transportationbus trips known as freedom rideswhere he learned first hand the terror of being locked up in Mississippi jails. In 1964, as a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) field organizer, he participated in a dangerous voter registration campaign that increased the numbers of black voters in rural Lowndes County, Alabama, from 70 to 2,600. Using the black panther as its party symbol, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization became active in local political elections.

Two years later, Kwame Toure became the national leader of SNCC, and within days, he and Willie Ricks demanded "Black Power." In 1968, Toure left SNCC to be the Prime Minister of the Black Panther Party, which Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton had founded in October, 1966. Although both Toure and the Panthers were socialists and internationalists, Toure’s Pan-Africanism clashed with the Panthers’ more traditional Marxist-Leninism, which allowed the development of coalitions with white radicals. 

Toure strongly opposed coalitions with white individuals and organizations. It needs to be pointed out that in the 1960s, politically radical individuals and groups held rigid ideological positions; few tolerated the slightest apparent ideological deviation from the party line. Consequently, Toure only remained in the Black Panther Party for a short time.

Like many black activists of the 1960s, Toure’s political ideas and ideologies changed. During his early 1960s years at Howard University, he believed in the basic tenants of reformist or liberal integrationism. And as the head of SNCC, Toure stood at the side of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in the struggle for black civil rights. However, his frustration with the slow pace of reforms within the American political system, and his growing resistance to King’s nonviolent social protest methodology in the face of vicious white terrorism, provided the impetus for Toure to embrace the more aggressive "Black Power" doctrine as the rallying cry of younger black radicals. 

Toure’s break with King precipitated the radicalization and increased militancy of the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s. King recognized this shift as he struggled desperately to explain and critique these developments to white America in his 1967 book, entitled Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? At the same time, Kwame Toure collaborated with then Roosevelt University political science professor Charles V. Hamilton in writing of the 1967 book, Black-Power:The Politics of Liberation , which sought to present a radical political framework and ideology of black liberation and self-determination. 

They wrote that Black Power:

is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to begin to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations and to support those organizations. It is a call to reject the racist institutions and values of this society (p. 44).

Clearly influenced by Malcolm X, the Black Power Movement’s spiritual and intellectual father, Toure and Hamilton spoke decisively to black America in setting forth a political outlook and social practice that centered on the collective concerns of America’s black population.

As were many radical activists in the 1960s, Toure had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and he read vociferously. (In the fall semester of the 1966-1967 academic year, just after the explosive Black Power slogan burst on the world scene, I was vice president of North Carolina Central University’s Student Government Association. We invited Toure to speak to our campus community. 

Afterward, I watched him read a book on the Vietnam war. And that evening at Duke University, he quoted from that book word-for-word in a talk on the war. I was astounded by his memory!) In addition to his study and work, Toure’s travels contributed significantly to his intellectual and theoretical development. 

In 1967, he went to African and Third World nations. In the process, he was making plans for his future residence in Guinea, West Africa, having become convinced of the need for further study and of the need for black people to establish concrete ties with Mother Africa. He had established the groundwork for these plans during his visits with certain African heads of state and with Osaygefo, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

In early 1968, the American mass media began a clever campaign to discredit Toure on both personal and political levels. During this and earlier times, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and the mass media attacked and discredited a variety of black and white revolutionaries in campaigns designed to crush all radical political formations (see Donner, 1980; O’Reilly, 1989. 

Moreover, assaults came from within the black community by Black Panther Party leaders and other so-called Marxist groups, who began to label Toure "pork chop nationalist" or "cultural nationalist." Even a few remaining members of a once dynamic and influential, but now waning, SNCC decided to "expel" the enigmatic Toure from the organization. Toure continued to travel, speaking to college audiences throughout the United States. He also continued to speak to numerous audiences in Canada, Guyana, Africa, and England.

In 1969, Kwame Toure made another significant political transition when he embraced the ideology of Pan-Africanism and moved to the West African country of Guinea. Under the auspices of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, he sought to organize a United States of Africa committed to democratic socialism. He always had been anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. 

Even so, from the Mississippi Delta to Conakry, Guinea, Toure experienced a logical growth and development of his ideas from Black Power to Pan-Africanism. Clearly influenced by a close reading of Kwame Nkrumah, Toure argued that all black people are Africans. He called for a united Africa based on the ideology of socialism. In a speech, entitled "Black Power Back To Pan-Africanism," Toure declared:

Pan-Africanism is grounded in the belief that Africa is one; the artificial borders being the result of the Berlin conference [of 1884-1885], where European powers carved up the continent and divided the spoils among themselves. Pan-Africanism is grounded in the belief that all African peoples, wherever we may be, are one, and as Dr. Nkrumah says, "belong to the African nation"; our dispersal was the result of European imperialism and racism. Pan-Africanism is grounded in socialism which has its roots in communalism. Any ideology seeking to solve the problems of the African people must find its roots in Pan-Africanism (Carmichael, 1971: 221).

Noting that the concept of Pan-Africanism was not new, Toure delineated a genealogy of Pan-Africanist theoreticians: W. E. B. Du Bois, Henry Sylvester-Williams, Joseph Casely-Hayford, George Padmore, Marcus Garvey, Patrice Lumumba, Malcolm X, Ben Bella, Ahmed Sekou Toure, and Kwame Nkrumah. 

For Toure, as for his predecessors, the unity of Africans is the indisputable prerequisite for the complete liberation of African peoples. Toure stated that Malcolm X’s call for Black Nationalism is really African Nationalism, and the highest aspiration of African Nationalism in Pan-Africanism. Hence, Black Power really means African Power. In the above-mentioned speech, Toure continued:

The African’s power base is his homelandMother Africa. In order to achieve African power, Mother Africa must be strong. To be strong she must be unified. Modern-day Pan-Africanism, which finds its highest political expression in Nkrumahism, holds as its basic tenet "the total liberation and unification of Africa under an All-African socialist government." 

As soon as this goal is achieved, Africans the world over will not only be respected but will have the Black Power to demand respect. This must be our primary objective and it must be relentlessly pursued, no matter what the sacrifice. It is a prerequisite for world peace (Carmichael, 1971: 224-225).

Unlike many Black Power militants of the 1960s who have since faded from the scene, Kwame Toure remained a revolutionary activist until his very last days. Toure’s activism was sustained by his quest to uproot injustices wherever they existed. He maintained his revolutionary zeal because he was profoundly and unalterably committed to African and human liberation. 

The African tradition of social justice requires a long-term commitment; Toure’s was a life-long struggle for black liberation. In this context, I am reminded of his distinction between the black militant and the black revolutionary. He said that a black militant is a black person who is angry at white folks for keeping him out of their system. On the contrary, a black revolutionary is an angry black person who wants to tear down and destroy an entire system that is oppressing the people and replace it with a new system where the people can live like human beings (Carmichael, 1971).

Throughout his active life, Kwame Toure put forward three major concepts: (1) We must have undying love for our people. (2) Every Negro is a potential black person. (3) For black people the question of community is not simply a question of geographical boundaries but a question of our people and where we are. Toure argued that we are Africans scattered all over the Western hemisphere. Underlying these three concepts was another powerful perspective. Toure constantly called on black people to organize so that we could fight collectively against injustice and for human rights. 

Yes, Toure was anti-racist, anti-imperialist, Pan-Africanist, and socialist. In the face of capitalist European cultural domination and Euro-American white supremacy, Toure called for black unity. He was a thoroughgoing revolutionary collectivist in the best sense of that tradition. 

Throughout the numerous times that I heard him speak, Toure constantly challenged his audiences to embrace and practice the essential necessity of organized struggle. For him, effective organization is the vehicle for conveying the revolutionary idea of black self-determination and black consciousness that will provide the basis for political, economic, and cultural strength. Now and in the coming millennium, we need to grasp Toure’s legacy of organized struggle in order to combat the structures, processes, and discourses of racial, gender, and economic oppression and exploitation.

As we prepare to enter the twenty-first century, the forces of antiblack racism, political repression, gender oppression, cultural domination, and economic indifference are mounting in an evolving managerial society that is energized by new knowledge, advanced science, and high technology. The emerging social order will not utilize knowledge only for social participation and techno-science solely in the people’s interest. 

Rather we are witnessing the increasing use of knowledge for social control and the techno-science of surveillance, especially in urban areas that have high concentrations of people of color and impoverished populations. With the new society’s dramatic expansion of private-enterprise prisons, a growing number of citizens will experience the new managerial politics of surveillance. 

Witness the strategic placement of video cameras at ATMs, malls, parking facilities, and stores, etc. Increasingly, the postmodern spirit is characterized by what my colleague Mike Weinstein calls "postcivilized modernity" (Weinstein, 1995). 

It is the unhappy consciousness of a morally and socially decadent culturea breakdown in the rules and laws that guide civil conduct. It is the emergence of a managerial order ruled by the postmodern tyranny of the high-tech police state or the cybernetic fascist statethe tyranny of culture over flesh. As usual, power is exercised at the expense of the people.

How shall we speak of rebellion against the postmodern condition? How can we understand a world that is an unfit habitation for human beings? In answer to these stirring questions, I am reminded of a passage articulated by the rebel-outsider in Richard Wright’s powerful novel of ideas, The Outsider:

Knowing and seeing what is happening in the world today, I don’t think that there is much of anything that one can do about it. But there is one little thing, it seems to me, that a man owes to himself. He can look bravely at this horrible totalitarian reptile and, while doing so, discipline his dread, his fear, and study it coolly, observe every slither and convolution of its sensuous movements and note down with calmness the pertinent facts. 

In the face of the totalitarian danger, these facts can help a man to save himself; and he may then be able to call the attention of others around him to the presence and meaning of this reptile and its multitudinous writhings (Wright, 1953: 367).

Kwame Toure left a legacy of audacious and committed struggle designed to overthrow injustice and human exploitation in order to create a liberated African world. As long as there is one of us who can speak his name, Toure will live in our hearts and minds. 

His legacy challenges us to study and struggle against the forces of evil. If we are to struggle for freedom in the new social order that is rapidly developing at the dawn of the twenty-first century, we will have to cast off the psychological blinders of fear, silence, complacency, and ignorance so that we can acquire the courage and commitment necessary in order to continue the task of creating our own liberated world.

Long live Kwame Toure!

References Cited

Carmichael, Stokely. 1971. Stokely Speaks: From Black Power to Pan-Africanism. New York: Vintage Books.

_____ and Charles V. Hamilton. 1967. Black-Power:The Politics of Liberation. New York: Random House.

Donner, Frank J. 1980. The Age of Surveillance: The Aims and Methods of America’s Political Intelligence System. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. 1967. Where Do We Go From here: Chaos or Community? Boston: Beacon Press.

O’Reilly, Kenneth. 1989. Racial-Matters: The FBI's Secret Files on Blac America, 1960-1972. New York: Free Press.

Weinstein, Michael A. 1995. Culture/Flesh: Explorations of Postcivilized Modernity. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Wright, Richard. 1953. The Outsider.

posted 22 February 2006 /

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Black Power, A Critique of the System / Black Power  / What We Want

Amite County   Beginning   Kish Mir Tuchas     A Tribute to Kwame Toure/Stokely Carmichael

Keeping It Trim & Burning (poem for Fannie Lou Hamer)

Fannie Lou Doc 1 / Fannie Lou Hamer Doc 2 / Fannie Lou Hamer Doc 3 / Fannie Lou Hamer Doc 4 / Fannie Lou Hamer Doc 5

Fannie Lou Hamer's speech at the 1964 DNC

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Arson and Cold Grace,

or How I Yearn to Burn Baby, Burn

 

                                                                                 By Worth Long

 

We have found you out, four face Americas, we have found you out.

We have found you out, false faced farmers, we have found you out.

The sparks of suspicion are melting your waters

And waters can’t drown them, the fires are burning

And firemen can’t calm them with falsely appeasing

And preachers can’t pray with hopes for deceiving

Nor leaders deliver a lecture on losing

Nor teachers inform them the chosen are choosing

For now is the fire and fires won’t answer

To logical reason and hopefully seeming

Hot flames must devour the kneeling and feeling

And torture the masters whose idiot pleading

Get lost in the echoes of dancing and bleeding.

We have found you out, four faced farmers, we have found you out.

We have found you out, four faced America, we have found you out.

Source: To Free a Generation: The Dialectics of Liberation, edited by David Cooper. London: Collier Books, 1969.

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Stokely Speaks; Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism

By Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Standiford Churchill Carmichael—(June 29, 1941 - November 15, 1998), also known as Kwame Ture, was a Trinidadian-American black activist active in the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. He rose to prominence first as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced "Snick") and later as the "Honorary Prime Minister" of the Black Panther Party. Initially an integrationist, Carmichael later became affiliated with black nationalist and Pan-Africanist movements. He popularized the term "Black Power."

In 1965, working as an SNCC activist in Lowndes County, Alabama, Carmichael helped to increase the number of registered black voters from 70 to 2,60 — 300 more than the number of registered white voters.

Black residents and voters organized and widely supported the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, a party that had the black panther as its mascot, over the white dominated local Democratic Party, whose mascot was a white rooster. Although black residents and voters outnumber whites in Lowndes, they lost the county wide election of 1965.

Carmichael became chairman of SNCC later in 1966, taking over from John Lewis. A few weeks after Carmichael took office, James Meredith was attacked with a shotgun during his solitary "March Against Fear". Carmichael joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Floyd McKissick, Cleveland Sellers, and others to continue Meredith's march. He was arrested once again during the march and, upon his release, he gave his first "Black Power" speech, using the phrase to urge black pride and socio-economic independence:

"It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations."

While Black Power was not a new concept, Carmichael's speech brought it into the spotlight and it became a rallying cry for young African Americans across the country. According to Stokely Carmichael : "Black Power meant black people coming together to form a political force and either electing representatives or forcing their representatives to speak their needs [rather than relying on established parties]. Heavily influenced by the work of Frantz Fanon and his landmark book Wretched of the Earth, along with others such as Malcolm X, under Carmichael's leadership SNCC gradually became more radical and focused on Black Power as its core goal and ideology. This became most evident during the controversial Atlanta Project in 1966.

SNCC, under the local leadership of Bill Ware, engaged in a voter drive to promote the candidacy of Julian Bond for the Georgia State Legislature in an Atlanta district. However, unlike previous SNCC activities—like the 1961 Freedom Rides or the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer — Ware excluded Northern white SNCC members from the drive. Initially, Carmichael opposed this move and voted it down, but he eventually changed his mind. When, at the urging of the Atlanta Project, the issue of whites in SNCC came up for a vote, Carmichael ultimately sided with those calling for the expulsion of whites, reportedly to encourage whites to begin organizing poor white southern communities while SNCC would continue to focus on promoting African American self reliance through Black Power.

Carmichael saw nonviolence as a tactic as opposed to a principle, which separated him from moderate civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr.. Carmichael became critical of civil rights leaders who simply called for the integration of African Americans into existing institutions of the middle class mainstream.

Gil Noble’s (1932-2012) Legendary Interview with Stokely Carmichael  / Stokely Carmichael—Black Power Speech

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African Revolutions

       By  Mukoma wa Ngugi

Her womb pressed against the desert to bear the parasite

that eats her insides like termites drill into dry wood. 

He is born into an empty bowl, fist choking umbilical cord. 

She dies sighing, child son at last.  He couldn't have known,

 

instinct told him - always raise your arm in defense of your

own -Strike! Strike until they are all dead! Egg shells

in your hands milk bottle held between your toes,

you have been anointed twice, you strong enough to kill

 

at birth and survive.  You will want to name the world

after yourself but you will have no name- a collage of dead

roots, tongues and other things.  You will point your sword

to the center of the earth, duel the world to split into perfect

 

mirrors after your imperfect  mutations but you will be

too weak having latched your self onto too many streams

straddling too many continents, pulling patches of a self

as one does fruits from an from an orchard, building a home

 

of planks with many faces. How does one look into a mirror

with a face that washes clean every rainy season? 

He has an identity for every occasion - here he is Lenin

 there Jesus and yesterday Marx - inflexible truths inherited

 

without roots.  To be nothing to remain nothing, to kill

at birth - such love can only drink from our wrists.  We

storming from our past to Jo'Burg eating wisdom of others

building homes made of our grandparent's bones.  We

 

gathering momentum that eats out of our earth, We standing

pens and bullets hurled at you, your enemies.  Comrade, there

are many ways to die. A dog dies never having known

why it lived but a free death belongs to a life lived in roots,

 

roots not afraid of growing where they stand, roots tapped all over

the earth. Comrade, for a tree to grow, it must first own its earth.

Source: Zeleza

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The Slave Ship (Marcus Rediker)

 

Guarding the Flame of Life / Strange Fruit Lynching Report

 

John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk

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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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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 Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently “voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama” . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled “Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.”  Recalling some of the criticisms of America’s past made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who “never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.” 

His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him “boy,” and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedy’s father “relished Muhammad Ali’s quip that the Vietcong had never called him ‘nigger.’ ” The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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A Matter Of Law: A Memoir Of Struggle In The Cause Of Equal Rights

By Robert L. Carter and Foreword by John Hope Franklin

Robert Lee Carter (March 11, 1917 – January 3, 2012) insisted on using the research of the psychologist Kenneth B. Clark to attack segregated schools, a daring courtroom tactic in the eyes of some civil rights lawyers. Experiments by Mr. Clark and his wife, Mamie, showed that black children suffered in their learning and development by being segregated. Mr. Clark’s testimony proved crucial in persuading the court to act, Mr. Carter wrote in a 2004 book, “A Matter of Law: A Memoir of Struggle in the Cause of Equal Rights.” As chief deputy to the imposing Mr. Marshall, who was to become the first black Supreme Court justice, Mr. Carter labored for years in his shadow. In the privacy of legal conferences, Mr. Carter was seen as the house radical, always urging his colleagues to push legal and constitutional positions to the limits.

He recalled that Mr. Marshall had encouraged him to play the gadfly: “I was younger and more radical than many of the people Thurgood would have in, I guess. But he’d never let them shut me up.” Robert Lee Carter was born in Caryville, in the Florida Panhandle . . . . NYTimes / Oral History  Archive

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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 27 May 2012

 

 

 

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