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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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He carried a bag of magazines or maybe it was just a pouch filled with goober dust,

cat eyes and rabbit feet. The man was southern in the way he walked, dressed, and spoke




A Crucifix for DeRidder

or The Governor of Ollie Street Returns

By Ahmos ZuBolton II


he came back at us

screaming, hollering

told us stories of something in his eyes

something peeping thru the deep

and dark of him


we didn't believe him

thought him a make-believe griot,

called him blind in one eye

stoned in the other, said he was a punch-drunk boxer

fighting ghosts


he wanted a sword in headlines

published the morning after


so he jumped from a window

like it was his life


his final cure a gravity

which killed him

Source: Open Places, No. 29 (Spring 1980)

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Ahmos Zu-Bolton HooDoo Poet

 Opened a Channel to the Ancestors


This evening I was deeply saddened on receiving news of the passing of the humorous hoodoo poet Ahmos Zu-Bolton (1935-2005). Lee Grue, New Orleans poet, sent me these lines:

 Dear Rudy,

I thought you'd like to know:   Our old friend Ahmos died this past week.  Adella called to say that he'd been buried in Deridder.  He died in D.C, but his daughter Amber was with him, and cared for him in his last illness.  I remember the Copastetic Bookstore with many good memories.  Ahmos had a great capacity for friendship.  There is a service for him at The Community Bookstore this Thursday.    Adella asked me to be on the program.  I hope to write something fitting.


The last time I saw Ahmos I was with Yictove. We stopped by Copastetic. It was near the end of some reading that was taking place. Maybe that was ten years ago. We made our amends. I hate to see him go. But he will not be silenced. He has left behind an enviable body of work

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Below is what I pulled from E Notes, Ethelbert's Blog:

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Miss Walker, Miss Walker, your true love is dead
He sent you a letter to turn back your head

Ahmos Zu-Bolton was the author of A Niggered Amen (1978) and AIN'T NO SPRING CHICKEN (1998). Yep. Little Zu was born in 1935. So he leaves us in his 70th year.

Here is what I wrote about him in my memoir FATHERING WORDS:

"He carried a bag of magazines or maybe it was just a pouch filled with goober dust, cat eyes and rabbit feet. The man was southern in the way he walked, dressed, and spoke. If it were earlier in the century, it would be a perfect example of the Great Migration. Here was the type of guy Langston Hughes would meet while in high school in Cleveland, the guy who spoke in the rhythms poets wanted to capture on the page.
Henderson had introduced me to the blues and African American folklore. Ahmos Zu-Bolton introduced me to himself."

Sad news entering the middle of the week. I just learned that the poet Ahmos Zu-Bolton died in D.C. Amber (his daughter) called me this morning and told me. Ahmos was a wonderful character and a major influence on my life and work. We met around 1974. It was just after he had rejected a few of my poems for his Hoo-Doo magazine.

In the note he sent back he told me the work was not hoo-doo poetry. I still have no idea what that was or is. I do know that Ahmos was an excellent editor and a man walking around with ideas and spreading folklore; or maybe it was what Sterling A. Brown called lies. I can see Ahmos coming into the African American Resource Center at Howard in 1974. He was working at a community center in Maryland and wanted to borrow a few films. Once we started talking, something connected our lives together.

I think we were both in love with the same woman. Her name was poetry. I invited Ahmos to what was the second Ascension Poetry Reading. It was held at Dingane's Den located on 18th Street. Here Ahmos met many of the DC black poets that were writing at that time. People like Adesanya Alakoye and Amma Khalil. Shortly after Ahmos came to work at Howard. He took my two old jobs. He became assistant director at the African American Resource Center and research associate with the Institute for the Arts and Humanites (under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Henderson).

On good days one could find Ahmos and I typing poems back and forth on our typewriters in the Resource Center. I created my character Bo Willie around him . . . and I guess I started writing longer poems because of his style. Ahmos was writing science fiction poetry in the early 1970s. He also introduced me to the work of the following writers: May Miller, Wanda Coleman, Ai, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lorenzo Thomas and the list goes on.

It was Ahmos who organized HO0-DOO festivals. It was Ahmos who was always writing grants and trying to get funds. He got the D.C. Arts Commission to help pay for the first anthology of DC Black poetry. That was our anthology SYNERGY that we published back in the day. The word taken from my reading of too much Buckminister Fuller.

I could go on and on about Ahmos and the stories would slap me on the back and laugh until sunset. I'll stop for a moment right now and invite his spirit to drop by and tell the rest of the tale a little later.


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Here's a statement from Charles White, a kinsman and student of Ahmos:

Ahmos Zu-Bolton: teacher

My name is Charles White and Ahmos Zu-bolton was my father in law. I am a poet who learned a lot from him. I met him for the first time in the year 1995 while I was at Xavier University. At first I  did not know who he was or much about his work, but as time went on and I spoke to the man and read more of his work, his genius began to speak to me. Me and my wife moved to Columbia, Mo in the summer of 2001 and stayed with her mother and Ahmos for about three months during that time, me and Ahmos talked a lot about politics and poetry. 

He helped me develop my style and offered me constructive criticism when needed. He told me his stories about Howard and Galveston and some of the famous people he published. He encouraged me to read my poetry in front of an audience and offered me opportunities to read when he could. Before he left Columbia for the last time he expressed to me that he had put me on the list for a poetry festival that was coming up in late winter/early spring. 

Finally the most significant thing that tied me and him together as poets was that we were both Mississippi/ Louisiana poets and loved the south.

Words are weeping and syllables and sentences are standing at attention as the lips of a great griot are closed to future generations.

Please post this on your web site as a tribute to a great writer and a great mentor


Charles White, BA, M.Ed
Language Arts
Douglass High school

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Ahmos Zu-Bolton (1935-2005) -- Born in Poplarville, Mississippi, Zu-Bolton is the author of A Niggered Amen (Solo Press, 1976), a collection of poetry, and coeditor of Synergy: D.C. Anthology. he was the founder and editor of HooDoo magazine, and has taught fiction and folklore at the Galveston Arts Center, Xavier University, Delgado College, and was Tulane University's  first Writer-in-Residence.

For several years he operated his own publishing firm, Energy Earth Communications. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and in the anthologies Giant Talk, Mississippi Writers: Reflections of Childhood and Youth, Vol. III, and Black Southern Voices: An Anthology of Fiction Poetry, Drama, NonFiction, and Critical Essays (1992). In addition to operating a community bookstore, ZuBolton frequently writes for the Louisiana Weekly.

Photo above: Ahmos ZuBolton II and Haryette Mullen

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Ahmos Zu-Bolton II—(October 21, 1948 - March 8, 2005)—President Madison Apartments, 1908 Florida Ave. NW, Dupont Circle neighborhood, DC.—Zu-Bolton was an activist, teacher, playwright, and the author of three books of poems. He founded Energy BlackSouth Press, edited the literary journal HooDoo and co-edited an innovative journal on cassette tape called Black Box. He co-edited an anthology (with E. Ethelbert Miller), called Synergy D.C. (1975). After working at Howard University in the early 1970s, Zu-Bolton took teaching jobs at Xavier University, Delgado College, and Tulane University. His poetry books are A Niggered Amen (1975), No Spring Chicken (1998), and 1946 (2002).—DCwriters

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Video: "South Side Story" Ta-Nehisi Coates author of The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood discusses Michelle Obama with Paul Coates an outspoken publisher and former Black Panther—his father.

“American Girl" (Ta Nehesi Coates)

When Michelle Obama told a Milwaukee campaign rally last February, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country," critics derided her as another Angry Black Woman. But the only truly radical proposition put forth by Obama, born and raised in Chicago's storied South Side, is the idea of a black community fully vested in the country at large, and proud of the American dream.

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For July 1st through August 31st 2011


#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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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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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 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

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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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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posted 15 March 2005 




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