ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes


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"It has been my good fortune," said President Taft, at the dedication

of the Carnegie Library of Howard University, "to stand with Mr. Carnegie and to

speak with him  from the same platform at Tuskegee, at Hampton, and here



Tuskegee Library and Carnegie


One of the most interesting things about the library at Tuskegee is the fact that it was built almost wholly by the labor of the colored students. Moreover, the $20,000 given Tuskegee. by Mr. Carnegie provided not only the building but the furniture as well - and that was made entirely by students. The brick structure is in colonial style. Four Ionic columns at the front of the building support a well-designed pediment which forms a porch and lends to the whole an imposing appearance. 

On each side of the central portion are wings, 30 by 40 feet. In its greatest dimension, the building is 50 by I 10 feet and two stories high.

 In good arrangement the first floor provides a reading room, magazine and newspaper room, librarian's office, stack room and janitor's room. The second floor contains an assembly room, three study rooms, a museum and a stack room. The building is heated by steam and lighted by electricity.

Mr. R. R. Taylor, Director of Industries of Tuskegee Institute, and the first colored graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the architect who drew the plan of the library, which has received much praise from various parts of the country. The library is open from 7 A. M. to 10 P. M., and is at all times under the supervision of a competent librarian. Free access to the shelves is allowed, and liberal privileges are permitted to both teachers and students in taking out books for use in their rooms. An effort has been put forth to make Tuskegee a center of information regarding negro literature, and to that end living negro authors are asked to contribute their works, and pamphlets and books of every description written by negroes are obtained whenever possible.

In the periodical reading room all popular magazines are to be found, a special feature of this room being that it contains all current matter pertaining to the negro.

"It has been my good fortune," said President Taft, at the dedication of the Carnegie Library of Howard University, "to stand with Mr. Carnegie and to speak with him from the same platform at Tuskegee, at Hampton, and here, and to hear his accents of encouragement to the colored race and his wise advice to them as to the necessity for education on their part, and as to the obligation of each individual of the race to remember that in all his conduct he is a representative, and on trial. Mr. Carnegie was absent a year ago when we founded this library. I was glad, on the occasion of the laying of the cornerstone, for the moment to officiate in his place and to feel as a great millionaire benefactor feels. 

"We do not envy Mr. Carnegie his money and the fortune that has attended his efforts, but what we do envy him is the happiness that it must give him to be able to do so much good to his fellowmen as he is doing every month in the year. I am bound to say that he has increased the burdens of the President of the United States in the necessity that the Chief Executive feels in attending every function of this kind which registers a large donation from Andrew Carnegie."

Source: Theodore Wesley Koch. A Book of Carnegie Libraries. Publisher: The H. W. Wilson Company / White Plains, NY / 1917  and From 'Tech' to Tuskegee: The Life of Robert Robinson Tayor, 1868-1942 by Clarence G. Williams

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Robinson Robert Taylor (1868-1942) MIT graduate in 1892worked as an architect and educator at Tuskegee Institute from nearly the time of his graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until the end of his career, except for a short period (1899-1902) in which he worked for a Cleveland architectural firm. Some believe he had a falling out with the autocratic style of Booker T. Washington. Though he could have been better employed elsewhere, Taylor was faithful to the race and thought he could best serve it at Tuskegee, where he was responsible for designing many of its buildings including the library and the chapel. It was in this chapel that Taylor collapsed and died in 1942. He retired from Tuskegee in 1935.



Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, Taylor came from a relatively privilege background. His father Henry Taylor was the son of a black mother and his white slaveowning master. Before the Civil War Henry was allowed to go in business for himself and developed a prosperous career as a contractor and builder. R.R. Taylor was educated in Wilmington at the Williston School and later at the American missionary Association's Gregory Institute, a school for blacks.

Taylor entered MIT in 1888 and seemingly the first black student to enroll in MIT. His master's thesis was the design of a retirement home for Civil war veterans. After graduation he was recruited by Booker T. Washington. In his lifetime, Taylor was well-respected. He received an honorary doctorate from Lincoln University and he delivered a paper at his former alma mater in 1911 entitled "The Scientific Development of the Negro." The Tuskegee Alumni Bulletin hailed Taylor as one who "occupies in the Negro Race in architecture the position which Tanner holds in painting and Dunbar attained unto in poetry."

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John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk

This video chronicles the life and times of the noted African-American historian, scholar and Pan-African activist John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998). Both a biography of Clarke himself and an overview of 5,000 years of African history, the film offers a provocative look at the past through the eyes of a leading proponent of an Afrocentric view of history. From ancient Egypt and Africa’s other great empires, Clarke moves through Mediterranean borrowings, the Atlantic slave trade, European colonization, the development of the Pan-African movement, and present-day African-American history.

*   *   *   *   *'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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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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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 16 February 2012




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