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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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"What does it take to love my fellow man / His troubles are the same as mine

Why is it so hard for us to understand / that love transcends all space and time"


(Abiola Sinclair)



CDs by Weldon Irvine

Liberated Brother / Sinbad  /  Spirit Man  /  Time Capsule / Cosmic Vortex  /   Keyboards Wild DJs Smile  

Time Capsule / Music Is the Key  /  The Price of Freedom

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Weldon Irvine Documentary

Sistas' Place hosts  

"The Edification of Weldon Irvine" 

(NYU Graduate Institute of Motion Picture and Television Production)

 Friday, May 7, beginning at 7pm.



Contact: Colette Pean
Sistas' Place
456 Nostrand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11216
(718) 398 1766

 Debut: Weldon Irvine Documentary

Sistas' Place 

 456 Nostrand Ave

hosts a special preview of a documentary,

"The Edification of Weldon Irvine" 

(NYU Graduate Institute of Motion Picture and Television Production), 

 Friday, May 7 [2002], beginning at 7pm.

Known in Jazz and poetry circles simply as Weldon and within the world of Hip Hop as Master Wel, Weldon Irvine's skills as a musician and lyricist throughout his career were well demonstrated in just about every genre of African American music. 

With over 500 compositions to his credit, he produced, arranged and conducted countless numbers of concerts and staged musicals that focused on each of those genres: Gospel, Rhythm and Blues, Be Bop, Hard Bop, Fusion, Funk, Free Jazz and Hip Hop. He has worked with such artists as Miles Davis, Stanley Turrentine, Bill Jacobs, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, Louis Reyes Rivera, George Edward Tait, Rich Bartee, KRS-One, Grand Master Flash, Gang Starr, Big Daddy Kane, Ice Cube, Black Star, Tree, Rah Goddess, and Mums the Schemer, to name just a few.

The Edification of Weldon Irvine is an hour-long 16mm film profile of the jazz musician and playwright. Produced, written, directed and edited by Collis Davis, this documentary takes the audience through  Weldon's early years from the late-1970s back to his childhood days in Virginia.

With this first public screening in the United States, the film portrays the struggle of a multi-talented African-American artist who attempts to attain peace of mind amidst a troubled family background, a turbulent adolescence, and a mercurial professional career with RCA Records. 

A childhood playmate of Mr. Davis, Weldon talks about growing up in Hampton, Virginia, his fascination with weapons, his several mentors (including songstress Nina Simone, for whom he served as musical director and wrote the lyrics of the song, "To Be Young, Gifted and Black"), his personal discipline as an artist and professional gambler, as well as his quest for inner enlightenment.

Throughout the film, Weldon is seen in performance at New York's The Village Gate, a studio solo piano performance, and a rousing song and dance number from one of his many musicals, "To Be Young, Gifted and Broke."

Collis Davis will be on hand to introduce the video and to answer any questions following its screening.

Sistas' Place is located at 456 Nostrand Ave. (at Jefferson Ave.), in Brooklyn. There is a suggested donation of $5.00. For further information call 718 398 1766.

1st & 3rd Saturdays Writers' Workshop
with Louis Reyes Rivera
Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, Essays
Basics & Advanced
Saturday, May 1, 2004

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The Edification of Weldon Irvine
16mm film, 60-minutes (filmed in 1974-1977)

The film is a documentary by Collis Davis [Jazzphil member], on jazz pianist Weldon Irvine. It consists of a series of interviews, as well as footage of the artist in performance, and as he goes about other activities of interest.—Joey Valenciano, reviewer, JazzSociety

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The Edification of Weldon Irvine—a Master of Fine Arts thesis film project (New York University Graduate Institute of Motion Picture and Television Production, 1975)— is a 60- minute, 16mm documentary profile of the jazz musician and playwright. Collis Davis produced, wrote, directed, and edited by, the film, which takes the audience through a journey in the life of Weldon Irvine from his childhood days in Virginia to the late 1970s in New York.

The Edification of Weldon Irvine portrays the struggle of a young African-American to attain some measure of peace of mind amidst a troubled family background, a turbulent adolescence, and a mercurial professional career with RCA Records. A childhood playmate of the filmmaker, Weldon talks about growing up in Hampton, Virginia, his fascination with weapons, his mentors such as songstress, Nina Simone, for whom he served as musical director, personal discipline as an artist and as a professional gambler, and his quest for inner enlightenment.

Throughout the documentary, Weldon is seen in performance at New York's well-known jazz club, The Village Gate, a studio solo piano performance, and a rousing song and dance number from his musical, To Be Young, Gifted and Broke. Additionally, there is a audio performance of the Hampton University choir singing Weldon's arrangement of the Negro Spiritual, "I Feel Like a Motherless Child" edited to a montage of a Charles White mural, "The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America," and historical still photographs taken at the University. Okara

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Weldon Irvine

By Jason Ankeny

 All Music Guide

Keyboardist Weldon Irvine looms large in the pantheon of jazz-funk, profoundly influencing the subsequent generations of hip-hop artists for whom he served as collaborator and mentor. Born in Hampton, VA, on October 27, 1943, Irvine was raised by his grandparents in the wake of his parents' divorce, and while his grandmother played standup bass in a series of regional classical ensembles, her husband served as dean of the men's college at Hampton Institute. Irvine began playing piano as a teen, and while he later majored in literature at Hampton, music remained his first love, especially after discovering jazz.

Upon settling in New York City in 1965, he was recruited into Kenny Dorham and Joe Henderson's big band, a year later [1966] signing on with Nina Simone as the legendary singer's organist, bandleader, arranger, and road manager. The two also wrote songs together, and after seeing a performance of playwright Lorraine Hansberry's To Be Young, Gifted and Black, Simone instructed Irvine to compose lyrics for a song of the same title. After two weeks of writer's block, the words came to him in a flash of inspiration, and the finished song would later merit cover versions by performers including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Donny Hathaway on its way to becoming the best known of his approximately 500 published compositions.

After splitting from Simone, Irvine formed his own 17-piece group that at different times included the likes of Billy Cobham, Randy Brecker, Bennie Maupin, and Don Blackman; in 1973, the Nodlew label issued his first headlining session, Liberated Brother, followed a year later by Time Capsule. Over the course of these records the keyboardist truly hit his stride, honing not only his singular yet skilled fusion of jazz, funk, soul, blues, and gospel—a direct antecedent of what would later be known as acid jazz—but also the social consciousness and impassioned spiritually that further defined his career.

In addition to subsequent LPs like 1975's Spirit Man and the next year's Sinbad, Irvine also began writing musicals for the stage, and in 1977 New York's Billie Holiday Theatre produced his Young, Gifted and Broke, which proved both a commercial and critical smash that won a series of awards during its eight-month run. The Billie Holiday Theatre also mounted more than 20 of Irvine's other musicals, most notable among them The Vampire and the Dentist, The Will, and Keep It Real.

But while Irvine focused on his stage projects, his recording career fell by the wayside, and following 1979's Sisters he did not headline a new LP for another 15 years. In that time his work was rediscovered and praised by a growing number of politically minded young rappers, especially Boogie Down Productions, A Tribe Called Quest, and Leaders of the New School, all of whom sampled his vintage recordings. Unlike many artists of his generation, Irvine embraced these upstarts in turn, in 1994 recording the hip-hop-inspired Music Is the Key for the indie label Luv'N'Haight.

Three years later he cut Spoken Melodies, even rapping himself under the name Master Wel, and that same year lent keyboard and string arrangements to Mos Def's Black on Both Sides; he even gave piano lessons to rappers Q-Tip and Common. In 1999 Irvine called on Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Q-Tip for The Price of Freedom, a searing indictment of police brutality inspired by the death of Amadou Diallo, a defenseless African immigrant murdered in a hail of gunfire by New York City cops.

On April 9, 2002, Irvine committed suicide outside a New York City office complex— he was just 58 years old.—Amazon

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Nina Simone at a Harlem Festival (1969) Donny Hathaway. Young, Gifted, and Black (Live)

Bob Andy & Marcia, Young, Gifted & Black

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To Be Young, Gifted and Black

                        Lyrics by Weldon Irvine


To be young, gifted and black,
Oh what a lovely precious dream
To be young, gifted and black,
Open your heart to what I mean

In the whole world you know
There are billion boys and girls
Who are young, gifted and black,
And that's a fact!

You are young, gifted and black
We must begin to tell our young
There's a world waiting for you
This is a quest that's just begun

When you feel really low
Yeah, there's a great truth you should know
When you're young, gifted and black
Your soul's intact

Young, gifted and black
How I long to know the truth
There are times when I look back
And I am haunted by my youth

Oh but my joy of today
Is that we can all be proud to say
To be young, gifted and black
Is where it's at

Credits: Irvine, Weldon (Songwriter); Simone, Nina (Songwriter); EMI GROVE PARK MUSIC INC (Publisher); NINANDY MUSIC CO (Publisher)

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"To Be Young, Gifted and Black" is a song by Nina Simone with lyrics by Weldon Irvine. It was written in memory of Simone's late friend Lorraine Hansberry, author of the play Raisin in the Sun. The song was originally recorded by Simone for her 1970 album Black Gold; released as a single, it became a Top Ten R&B hit and a Civil Rights anthem. Notable cover versions of the song were recorded by Donny Hathaway (on his 1970 album Everything Is Everything), Aretha Franklin (on her 1972 album Young, Gifted and Black) and Bob and Marcia (whose 1970 recording reached number 5 in the UK charts).

Elton John recorded a version of "To Be Young, Gifted and Black" prior to his solo success. Intended to be released as a low budget sound-alike version of the original, it was later reissued on the compilation album Covers as Sung by Elton John. Wikipedia

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After her death, her ex-husband Robert Nemiroff adapted a collection of her work, correspondence, and interviews together in To Be Young, Gifted and Black. It opened Off-Broadway with an eight month run at the Cherry Lane. The same year To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words adapted by Robert Nemiroff was published [1970]— Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965): A Brief Biography” by Tammy Burris

The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window ran for 110 performances on Broadway and closed the night she died. Her ex-husband Robert Nemiroff became the executor for several unfinished manuscripts. He added minor changes to complete the play Les Blancs, which Julius Lester termed her best work, and he adapted many of her writings into the play, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, which was the longest-running Off-Broadway play of the 1968-1969 season. It appeared in book form the following year under the title, To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words [1970]. Wikipedia

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1969 was rife with turmoil and hopeful new beginnings. The Vietnam War was in full swing and instituted the first draft since World War II… The Beatles made their last public concert appearance… James Earl Ray plead guilty to assassinating Martin Luther King, Jr… Golda Meir became the first female prime minister of Israel… And a few weeks after the Stonewall riots, man took his first tentative steps on the moon.  We conclude our Pride series with a look back at the Off-Broadway.  .  .  . productions performing in the shadow of the Ston

Racial conflict was explored in Charles Gardone’s drama No Place to Be Somebody, which had recently opened at The Public Theatre. For this work, playwright Charles Gardone became the first African-American author to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and No Place was the first time the Prize was given to an Off-Broadway production. At the Cherry Lane Theatre, Lorraine Hansberry’s husband adapted many of his late wife’s writings to create To Be Young, Gifted and Black, the longest-running play of the 1968-1969 Off-Broadway season. Billy Dee Williams was seen in Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, Lonne Elder III’s family drama that unfolded at a barbershop in Harlem.—Off-Broadway Pride Part III, Stonewall-Era Time Machine, Blog posted June 27, 2009

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Lorraine Hansberry


The granddaughter of a freed slave Lorraine Hansberry became a spokesperson for black Americans. Her writings reflected her fight for black civil rights, and her views against racism and sexual and statutory discrimination. Due to her short life her legacy left only a few works but all with dramatic effect on all, no matter race or color, who came in touch with them.

Lorraine Vivian Hansberry was born May 19, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois the youngest by seven years, of four children.

Her father, Carl A. Hansberry, was a successful real estate broker, who later contributed large sums of money to NAACP and the Urban League. Her mother, Nannie Perry, was a schoolteacher who entered politics and became a ward committeewoman (Metzger 146). . . .

In 1963 Lorraine Hansberry became very active in the civil rights movement in the South. She was a field organizer for CORE. Along with several other celebrated people among them Harry Belefonte, Lena Horne, and James Baldwin they met with the then attorney general Robert Kennedy challenging his position on civil rights (221). In 1964, she wrote The Movement: Documentary of a Struggle for Equality. During this time period she was diagnosed with cancer and divorced her husband although they continued their literary collaboration (253). Her second play The Sign in Sidney Bustein's Window opened on Broadway the same year. It received modest success. Lorraine Hansberry died of cancer on January 12, 1964 at the age of 34. The Sign in Sidney Bustein's Window closed on Broadway the same day.—Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965): A Brief Biography” by Tammy Burris

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Lorraine Hansberry was the fourth child born to Carl Augustus Hansberry (a prominent real estate broker) and Nannie Louise Perry, and niece of the Africanist Professor William Leo Hansberry, after whom the Hansberry Institute of African Studies in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria, was named. She grew up on the south side of Chicago in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

The family moved into an all-white neighborhood, where they faced racial discrimination. Hansberry attended a mostly white public school while her parents fought against segregation. Hansberry's father engaged in a legal battle against a racially restrictive covenant that attempted to prohibit African-American families from buying homes in the area. The legal struggle over their move led to the landmark Supreme Court case Hansberry v. Lee, 311 U.S. 32 (1940). Though victorious in the Supreme Court, Hansberry's family was subjected to what Hansberry would later ironically describe as a "warm and cuddly white neighborhood". This experience later inspired her to write her most famous work, A Raisin in the Sun..

Her family home at 6140 S. Rhodes Ave. has since been designated a City of Chicago landmark.— Wikipedia

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Weldon Irvine on YouTube

Morning Sunrise / We gettin down  / I love you  / Music is the key  / Nursery Rhyme Song

 Boogie Down It's Funky  / Jungle Juice  / Gloria  /  Here's Where I Came In  /

Legendary Weldon Irvine's beautiful composition, "Here's Where I Came In": it is touching, poignant, and heartbreaking.

 Misty Dawn  / Weldon Irvine raps at West End NYC 96  /  Sexy Eyes

*   *   *   *   *'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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Spectres of 1919: Class and Nation in the Making of the New Negro

By Barbara Foley

Foley's book is a lucid and useful one... A heavyweight intervention, it prompts significant rethinking of the ideological and representational strategies structuring the era.—Journal of American Studies  

Foley does a masterful job of analyzing the racial and political theories of a wide range of black and white figures, from the radical Left to the racist Right... Students of African American political and cultural history in the early twentieth century cannot ignore this book. Essential.—Choice

In our current time of crisis, when ruling classes busily promote nationalism and racism to conceal the class nature of their inter-imperialist rivalries, one can only hope that readers will not be daunted by Foley's dedication to analyzing the ideological milieu of the 1920s that contributed to the eclipse of New Negro radicalism by New Negro nationalism.—Science & Society

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Harlem Cultural Political Movements

1960-1970, From Malcolm X (Black Is Beautiful)

By Klytus Smith, Abiola Sinclair, Hannibal Ahmed


Abiola Sinclair, 56, Amsterdam News columnist, dies.

Final rites for Abiola Sinclair, a former Amsterdam News columnist, were held Wednesday, March 21, at Unity Funeral Home, Frederick Douglass Boulevard and West 126th Street. Sinclair, who was also publisher of Black History Magazine, died at Mount Sinai Hospital on March 16, following her admission to the medical center in late January. She was 56 years old.

Sinclair reportedly was suffering from walking pneumonia, which friends said she didn't know she had for some time. In addition, Sinclair had a long-term heart condition.—J. Zamgba Browne, New York Amsterdam News, 28 March 2001.

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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 Benefit and The Burden: Tax Reform

Why We Need It and What It Will Take

By Bruce Bartlett

The United States Tax Code has undergone no serious reform since 1986. Since then, loopholes, exemptions, credits, and deductions have distorted its clarity, increased its inequity, and frustrated our ability to govern ourselves. At its core, any tax system is in place to raise the revenue needed to pay the government’s bills. But where that revenue should come from raises crucial questions: Should our tax code be progressive, with the wealthier paying more than the poor, and if so, to what extent? Should we tax income or consumption or both? Of the various ideas proposed by economists and politicians—from tax increases to tax cuts, from a VAT to a Fair Tax—what will work and won’t? By tracing the history of our own tax system and by assessing the way other countries have solved similar problems, Bartlett explores the surprising answers to all of these questions, giving a sense of the tax code’s many benefits—and its inevitable burdens.

Tax reform will be a major issue debated in the years ahead. Growing budget deficits and the expiration of various tax cuts loom. Reform, once a philosophical dilemma, is turning into a practical crisis. By framing the various tax philosophies that dominate the debate, Bartlett explores the distributional, technical, and political advantages and costs of the various proposals and ideas that will come to dominate America’s political conversation in the years to come.


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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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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

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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 19 August 2012




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Related files:  Weldon Irvine Obituary   Weldon Irvine Documentary     Young, Gifted, and Black