Category: Books

Maya Angelou and Rupaul to be Inducted into State of California Hall Of Fame

California Hall of Fame Inductees Maya Angelou, Rupaul

Author Maya Angelou and performer/television series host RuPaul are among the inductees for the 2019 class of California Hall of Fame, according to sfgate.com.

California’s governor Gavin Newsom and his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom announced the inductees on Wednesday.

The class includes civil rights leader James M. Lawson Jr., actor and comedian George Lopez, soccer player and two-time World Cup champion Brandi Chastain, skateboarder and entrepreneur Tony Hawk,  chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, astrophysicist France A. Córdova, author Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston,and winemaker Helen M. Turley.

The class will be inducted during a ceremony on December 10. The California Hall of Fame started in 2006 and inductees are selected each year by the governor and first partner.

Read more: https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Maya-Angelou-RuPaul-among-California-Hall-of-14832054.php

Lupita Nyong’o Authors Children’s Book “Sulwe” to Help Young Readers “See More Dark Skin in a Beautiful Light”

“Sulwe” by Lupita Nyong’o (image via amazon.com); Lupita Nyong’o (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to popsugar.com, Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o is now a published author, and her children’s book Sulwe — which means “star” in the Luo language of her native Kenya — sends a powerful and much-needed message.

The 48-page book, to be released on October 15, focuses on the heartwarming, whimsical story of a young girl named Sulwe who goes on a journey to discover her own unique beauty.

“Sulwe has skin the color of midnight,” the summary reads. “She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.”

In her October 1st Instagram post, Nyong’o shared a photo of her 5-year-old self and reflected on how she felt about herself:

View this post on Instagram

This is 5-year-old me. I reflected on this little girl's feelings and fantasies when I decided to write my children's book, #Sulwe. With this book, I wanted to hold up a mirror for her. Here's why: As a little girl reading, I had all of these windows into the lives of people who looked nothing like me, chances to look into their worlds, but I didn't have any mirrors. While windows help us develop empathy and an understanding of the wider world, mirrors help us develop our sense of self, and our understanding of our own world. They ground us in our body and our experiences. #Sulwe holds up a mirror for dark-skinned children especially, to see themselves reflected immediately, and it is a window for all the others to cherish peering into. Colorism, society's preference for lighter skin, is alive and well. It's not just a prejudice reserved for places with a largely white population. Throughout the world, even in Kenya, even today, there is a popular sentiment that lighter is brighter. I imagined what it would have been like for this little girl to turn the pages of her picture books and see more dark skin in a beautiful light. This book is my dream come true for kids like her today. #Sulwe arrives October 15. ✨ Link in bio to pre-order. #NationalBookMonth #BrightnessIsJustWhoYouAre

A post shared by Lupita Nyong'o (@lupitanyongo) on

Lupita went on to point out that, even at a young age, girls are taught that light skin is preferred over dark skin, and that books like Sulwe can help to encourage self-love for darker-skinned girls everywhere.

“Colorism, society’s preference for lighter skin, is alive and well. It’s not just a prejudice reserved for places with a largely white population. Throughout the world, even in Kenya, even today, there is a popular sentiment that lighter is brighter.”

To order Sulwe on Amazon, go to: https://amzn.to/2ozcMLQ

Award-Winning Author Ta-Nehisi Coates Tours U.S. Cities with New, Best-Selling Novel “The Water Dancer”

“The Water Dancer” Author Ta-Nehisi Coates (photo via wikipedia.commons.org)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates is currently touring and discussing his first novel, “The Water Dancer,” in venues across the country.

Upcoming dates include the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago on Thursday, October 3, where Coates will be joined in conversation by renowned Chicago poet, Tara Betts, and October 17th at West Angeles Cathedral in Los Angeles, where Coates will be in conversation with Black Panther, Creed and Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler.

To register for Chicago, click here. To register for Los Angeles, click here.

Just how powerful are our memories? This is the central question of “The Water Dancer” by Coates, famously known for his Atlantic essays, and a National Book Award winner for “Between the World and Me.”

“The Water Dancer” follows Hiram Walker, a young slave in antebellum Virginia , as he explores the metaphorical and metaphysical boundaries of his world.

A remarkable blend of historical fiction and fantasy, evocatively detailed and constantly thought-provoking, “The Water Dancer” serves as a profound reminder of Coates ongoing proposition: that we must remember and speak of our history in relation to present predicaments.

To see more of Coates’ upcoming tour dates and information on tickets, click here.

Vanderbilt University Honors Trailblazing Student-Athlete Perry Wallace by Renaming a Street in His Honor

Perry Wallace (photo via vanderbilt.edu)

According to jbhe.comVanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee announced that part of 25th Avenue South in front of its Memorial Gymnasium will be ceremonially renamed “Perry Wallace Way” in memory of the trailblazing Vanderbilt student-athlete who integrated Southeastern Conference varsity basketball in 1967.

On December 2, 1967, Wallace made history when he played for Vanderbilt University in a game with Southern Methodist University. Two days later, he played in a game against Southeastern Conference rival, Auburn University. Wallace endured verbal abuse from fans and had objects thrown at him from the stands.

His story is told in Andrew Maraniss’ best-selling book Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South (Vanderbilt University Press, 2014).

After graduating from Vanderbilt University and Columbia Law School, Wallace served as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Later, Wallace entered the academic world and served on the faculty of the law schools at Howard University, the University of Baltimore, and American University.

John Warner Smith Appointed Poet Laureate of Louisiana, 1st Black Man to Hold the Position

John Warner Smith (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

According to jbhe.com, professor and writer John Warner Smith has been appointed by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the state’s Governor, John Bel Edwards, to serve as the next Poet Laureate of Louisiana. This appointment makes Smith the first African American man to hold the position.

“John Warner Smith’s writing captures the human experience through meaningful, passionate poetry that moves your emotions. John is not only a talented and gifted poet, he is a trailblazer who devotes himself to education and the greater good of the community,” Gov. Edwards said.

“He is making history today as the first African American male appointed as Louisiana Poet Laureate, and I’m confident that John will serve our great state well. I want to thank the LEH for leading this search, and I congratulate all of the nominees whose writings tell the unique stories of Louisiana, the place we call home.”

Currently, Smith teaches English at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He has published four collections of poetry: Muhammad’s Mountain (Lavender Ink, 2018), Spirits of the Gods (University of Louisiana Lafayette Press, 2017), Soul Be A Witness (MadHat Press, 2016), and A Mandala of Hands (Kelsay Books-Aldrich Press, 2015). His fifth collection, Out Shut Eyes: New & Selected Poems on Race in Americais forthcoming this year from MadHat Press.

Read more: https://www.jbhe.com/2019/08/john-warner-smith-is-the-first-black-male-poet-laureate-for-the-state-of-louisiana/

R.I.P. Acclaimed Author Toni Morrison, 88, Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer Prize Winner

Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Toni Morrison, who wrote the acclaimed novels “Beloved,” ”Song of Solomon,” “The Bluest Eye,” “Jazz,” and “Sula” among other works, has passed away at age 88.

According to yahoo.com, publisher Alfred A. Knopf announced that Morrison died Monday night at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Morrison’s family issued a statement through Knopf saying she died after a brief illness.

“Toni Morrison passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” the family announced. “The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing.”

“Her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful — a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy,” Obama wrote Tuesday on his Facebook page. “She was as good a storyteller, as captivating, in person as she was on the page.”

“Narrative has never been merely entertainment for me,” she said in her Nobel lecture. “It is, I believe, one of the principal ways in which we absorb knowledge.”

The second of four children of a welder and a domestic worker, Morrison was born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, a steel town outside of Cleveland. She was encouraged by her parents to read and to think, and was unimpressed by the white kids in her community.

Recalling how she felt like an “aristocrat,” Morrison believed she was smarter and took it for granted she was wiser. She was an honors student in high school, and attended Howard University because she dreamed of life spent among black intellectuals.

10 Books Besides ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ That Tackle Racial Injustice | PBS NewsHour

When the PBS NewsHour asked educators from different parts of the country to share their picks for some alternatives, they offered books that shift the perspective from a white girl’s point of view to people of color. The stories, many of them more contemporary than “To Kill A Mockingbird,” tackle the multitude of ways racism affects different marginalized groups in the U.S.

“Our most popular books are ‘Dear Martin,’ ‘I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,’ ‘The Book of Unknown Americans,’ and ‘The Hate U Give,’” wrote in Cicely Lewis, a library media specialist in Georgia who created a list of books she calls #ReadWoke. “They all have characters who look like my students and face issues plaguing our society. There’s a waiting list for these titles.”

In their own words, educators select 12 books, including a popular nonfiction pick, that are great reads and help continue the discussion around racial injustice in school and in life.

The overall top pick: Angie Thomas novels

“The Hate U Give” is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. It takes up issues of racial injustice and identity, both of which resonate with many students — and it feels particularly timely in the wake of countless police shootings of unarmed black men and women. One of my students said she thinks this is a book everyone should read, and I agree. It also models for students how they can stand up and speak out against injustice.

— Adison Godfrey, English teacher in Pennsylvania

I would like to nominate Angie Thomas’ book, On the Come Up.” The main character Brianna faces an unjust suspension when a rogue white officer body slams her to the floor in retaliation to a search and seizure shake-down upon entering the metal detectors at her school. This mimics incidents that made national news about white officers body-slamming girls in class.

It sheds light on the skewed suspension of more students of color. More importantly, it shows the youthful response to the archaic mindset of prejudice that keeps black Americans stuck in a post-slavery, Jim-Crow America. Using social media to spur on the injustice of treatment — the same way television was used during the 1960s civil rights movement when white and black freedom riders were beaten.

— Jean Darnell, high school librarian in Houston @awakenlibrarian on Twitter

Read more via 10 books besides ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ that tackle racial injustice | PBS NewsHour

“An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones Wins Women’s Prize for Fiction

Author Tayari Jones (photo via commons.wikipedia.org)

Author Tayari Jones has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction for her fourth book, An American Marriage (Algonquin Books, 2018)The prize, considered one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world, honors the year’s best novel written in English by a woman of any nationality across the globe.

An American Marriage tells the story of Celestial and Roy, two Black newlyweds whose lives are violently interrupted when Roy is imprisoned for a rape he did not commit.

In addition to An American Marriage, Jones has also authored  Leaving Atlanta, The Untellingand Silver Sparrow

Jones is currently a professor of English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta, is a graduate of Spelman College, and holds master’s degrees from the University of Iowa and Arizona State University.

Author Toni Morrison and Curator Thelma Golden to Receive 2019 Awards from American Academy of Arts and Letters

Toni Morrison and Thelma Golden (photos via artsandletters.org)

The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced the recipients of its highest honors for excellence in the arts, to be presented at its annual ceremony in May. Toni Morrison will be awarded the Gold Medal for Fiction. The Gold Medal is awarded to those who have achieved eminence in an entire body of work.

Thelma Golden will be recognized with the Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts for her significant contribution as Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem. Sculptor Lee Bontecou will also be honored this year.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters was founded in 1898 as an honor society of the country’s leading architects, artists, composers, and writers. Early members included Henry James, Theodore Roosevelt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton. The Academy’s 250 members are elected for life and pay no dues.

In addition to electing new members as vacancies occur, the Academy seeks to foster and sustain an interest in Literature, Music, and the Fine Arts by administering over 70 awards and prizes, exhibiting art and manuscripts, funding performances of new works of musical theater, and purchasing artwork for donation to museums across the country. This year’s total expenditures on awards and grants will be $1.2 million. Continue reading “Author Toni Morrison and Curator Thelma Golden to Receive 2019 Awards from American Academy of Arts and Letters”

Entrepreneur Noëlle Santos Brings Bookstore to the Bronx By Opening Crowdfunded The Lit. Bar

Noëlle Santos (photo via thelitbar.com)

There is an article by Ginia Bellafante in the New York Times this morning about inspiring Bronx native Noëlle Santos, who is opening The Lit. Bar, the Bronx’s first general bookstore since Barnes and Noble shuttered its store there in 2016.

According to the article, Santos, a self-described millennial Afro Latina who was working in human resources at the time, came across a petition on Facebook in 2014 to save the Bronx’ Barnes and Noble (which it managed to for two more years). The petition pointed out how alarming it was that the Bronx was getting more and more cellphone stores and chain restaurants but would be left without a place to buy novels or training manuals or SAT preparation guides.

Santos, who grew up and went to college and graduate school in the Bronx, suddenly felt a radical need to do change things.

“Up to that point I had measured my success by how far I could get away from the Bronx,’’ she is quoted as saying. “I was disappointed in myself for thinking about leaving a community in no better condition that I had found it,’’ she said.

“I had never been inside an independent book store before I decided to open one.”

Santos took that inspiration and worked to make her dream real by calling the American Booksellers Association to learn how to do just that. From ABA Santos learned about a course called “Owning a Bookstore” – which was held in Florida. Undeterred, Santos pooled her vacation days and sick days to fly there and take it. In that course, she learned how to calculate sales projections, negotiate a lease, think about layouts, floor plans, foot traffic, etc.

When Santos returned to New York, she furthered her education by volunteering at small bookstores around the city in exchange for mentorship, and entered a statewide competition for entrepreneurs with promising business plans. She won, and with that prize money, opened a pop-up bookstore in the Bronx Museum of the Arts.

To open an actual store, however, Santos needed much more capital, so she started a crowdfunding campaign and called it, “Let’s Bring a Goddamn Bookstore to the Bronx.’’ With it, she quickly raised $170,000.

To read more of Santos’ story, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/25/nyregion/bronx-bookstore.html?action=click&module=Features&pgtype=Homepage

To support The Lit. Bar in person, visit: 131 Alexander Avenue, Bronx, NY 10454

The Lit. Bar online: http://www.thelitbar.com