Category: Non-Fiction

Winton Hills Academy Students in Cincinnati Win National Contest with Book about Civil Rights Icon Marian Spencer

Congratulations to fourth-grade students Serenity Mills, Janyia New, Aliyana O’Neal and Nakiyah Ray at Winton Hills Academy in Cincinnati!

These ambitious young women  won a national book-writing contest for authoring and illustrating “Marian Spencer: A Light in the Darkness” about Ohio civil rights pioneer Marian Spencer.

To learn more, go to: wcpo.com

BHM: “Ain’t I A Woman?” The Life and Legacy of Abolitionist and Activist Sojourner Truth

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

It’s February 1st, which means it is now officially Black History Month! Although we here at Good Black News celebrate the achievements of Black people every day of the year, it is always lovely when the rest of the U.S. joins in to do the same for at least 28 of them. So, for #BHM2019, GBN will be highlighting the achievements of black women, past and present, who have and are paving the way to a better future.

Sojourner Truth Google Doodle (via google.com)

And what better person to start with than today’s Google Doogle, abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth, who, with “Ain’t I A Woman?” gave one of the most powerful and unforgettable American speeches of all time on what we now call intersectionality?

In 2014, Sojourner Truth was included in Smithsonian Magazine’s list of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” – yet the majority of Americans don’t know who she was, what she did, or they confuse her with Harriett Tubman.

Born Isabella (“Bell”) Baumfree circa 1797, Truth was born into slavery in Swartekill, Ulster County, New York, but escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. After going to court to recover her son, in 1828 she became the first black woman to win such a case against a white man.

She gave herself the name Sojourner Truth in 1843 after she became convinced that God had called her to leave the city and go into the countryside “testifying the hope that was in her.” Her best-known speech was delivered extemporaneously, in 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio.

The speech became widely known during the Civil War by the title Ain’t I a Woman?,” a variation of the original speech re-written by someone else using a stereotypical Southern dialect. Truth was from New York and grew up speaking Dutch as her first language, and had a Dutch accent. During the Civil War, Truth helped recruit black troops for the Union Army; after the war, she tried unsuccessfully to secure land grants from the federal government for former slaves.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sojourner_Truth)

There are a lot of other events and details in Truth’s life, of course, including collaboration with Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, President Abraham Lincoln and varied suffragists and women’s groups – Truth was known for her persuasive speeches against slavery as well as sexism – she even once defiantly opened her top and showed her breasts during a speech when she was accused of being a man.  

But what is remarkable and often not mentioned is that she is likely the first black woman in the U.S. to attain national fame (she sold photos and autographs of herself at events to make money “I sell the shadow to support the substance”) and the first to have her voice heard in America. It is also rather ironic that many of the records of her speeches were written by white men, and thus often altered to their perception of a black, female, former slave.

Some would quote that she had 13 children who were sold away from her (she had 5 and raised most of them) or say she was raving when she was calm. Truth’s was a 19th-century case of what is all too familiar today – media distortion by the dominant culture trying to make sense of “the other”- and in her instance, white men trying to process the experiences and truths of black women.

However, Truth was self-possessed – she claimed her ownership of herself by renaming herself and writing her own Narrative in 1850. Truth traveled and spoke to hostile, indifferent and embracing crowds, fought for women’s rights and black women’s right to vote, fought for land grants and reparations for former slaves, prison reform and the end of capital punishment.

Truth was in her 80s when she died at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1999, a 12-foot high monument was built in Battle Creek to honor her. The calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church remembers Truth annually, and the Lutheran Church calendar of saints remembers her on the same day as Harriet Tubman. 

In 2009, Truth became the first black woman honored with a bust in the U.S. Capitol.

Nancy Pelosi, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton honoring Sojourner Truth as her likeness is added to U.S. Capitol (photo via sfgate.com)

To learn more about Truth, you can read her autobiography The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, the biography Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol by Nell Irvin Painter, and for children, Who Was Sojourner Truth?  or My Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth written by Ann Turner and illustrated by James Ransome.

To watch a mini-biography on Truth on biography.com, go to: http://www.biography.com/video/sojourner-truth-mini-biography-11191875531

Author Claire Hartfield, Illustrator Ekua Holmes and More Win 2019 Coretta Scott King Book Awards

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Claire Hartfield, author of “A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919,” and Ekua Holmes, illustrator of “The Stuff of Stars,” are the winners of the 2019 Coretta Scott King Book Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults.

Tiffany D. Jackson, author of “Monday’s Not Coming,” and Oge Mora, illustrator of “Thank You, Omu!” are the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent winners.

The awards were announced yesterday at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Seattle, Washington and will be presented in Washington, D.C. at the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition in June.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards. Presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the ALA’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT), the awards encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and the graphic arts; promote an understanding and appreciation of the Black culture and experience, and commemorate the life and legacy of Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination in supporting the work of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for peace and world brotherhood.

“A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919,” is an exposition of the socio-economic landscape and racial tensions that led to the death of a black teen who wanted to swim, and the violent clash that resulted. In 20 chapters, Hartfield’s balanced, eye-opening account contextualizes a range of social justice issues that persist to this day.

“Hartfield’s nuanced account of unrest between African Americans and white European immigrants in early 20th century Chicago fills a much-needed gap in the children’s literature world,” said Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury Chair Sam Bloom.

In “The Stuff of Stars,” written by Marion Dane Bauer, illustrator Holmes uses hand marbled paper and collage to create a lush explosion of color that brings to life the formation of the universe while distinctly reflecting the essence of the African diaspora.

“Using oceanic waves of color, Holmes employs her trademark aesthetic to carry this creation story to its stunning crescendo,” said Bloom.

Holmes is a native of Roxbury, Massachusetts and a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The recipient of several children’s awards, Holmes received the 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for “Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets”; and a Caldecott Honor, Robert F. Sibert Honor, John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, and Boston Globe-Horn Book Non-fiction Honor for Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement.”

The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent affirms new talent and offers visibility for excellence in writing and/or illustration at the beginning of a career as a published African American creator of children’s books. In the timely thriller “Monday’s Not Coming,” author Jackson examines friendship, child abuse, and family relationships.

“Thank You, Omu!” is a fresh take on a timeless tale of altruism and community-mindedness. Mora’s collage work is skillfully pieced together with acrylic, marker, pastels, patterned paper, and old book clippings, creating a visual smorgasbord. Mora brings to life an amalgamation of many grandmothers and captures the African spirit of generosity and community.

Three King Author Honor Books were also selected:

“Finding Langston” by Lesa Cline-Ransome; “The Parker Inheritance” by Varian Johnson, and “The Season of Styx Malone” by Kekla Magoon.

Three Illustrator Honor Books were selected:

“Hidden Figures” illustrated by Laura Freeman, written by Margot Lee Shetterly; “Let The Children March” illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Monica Clark-Robinson; and “Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop” illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Alice Faye Duncan.

For information on the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit www.ala.org/yma.

Born On This Day in 1940: Civil Rights Activist, SNCC Leader, and Former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

As time passes, it becomes easier and easier to venerate only those we habitually do and forget about those who fought the same fight but perhaps didn’t have as prominent a position in the battle.

So today, a week before we will all – rightfully – celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his significant contributions to the betterment of this nation, I want to focus on one of his brothers-in-arms, the charismatic lecturer, activist, freedom fighter and leader in his own right, Julian Bond.

Horace Julian Bond was born Jan. 14, 1940, in Nashville, Tennessee and passed in 2015 in Fort Walton Beach, Florida at the age of 75. His father, Horace Mann Bond, rose to become the first African-American president of his alma mater, Lincoln University. Though his father expected Julian to follow in his footsteps as an educator (which he eventually did), as a young man, Bond instead was attracted to political activism.

While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Bond became one of original leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  In 1960, after word spread of student sit-ins at lunch counters in Greensboro, N.C., Bond and others at Morehouse organized protests against segregated public facilities in Atlanta. Bond dropped out of Morehouse in 1961 to devote himself to the protest movement, but returned in the 1970s to complete his English degree.

Among the sit-ins and protests, Bond worked to register voters and in 1965 was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. White members of the House refused to let him take his seat, accusing him of disloyalty, as Bond and SNCC were known for their stand against United States involvement in the Vietnam War.

His case against the House of Representatives went to all the way to the Supreme Court. In a unanimous decision in 1966, the Court ordered the Georgia state legislature to seat Bond on the grounds that it was denying Bond freedom of speech.

Bond served 20 years in the two houses of the legislature and while a lawmaker, he sponsored bills to establish and fund a sickle cell anemia testing program and to provide low-interest home loans to low-income Georgians. He also helped create a majority-black congressional district in Atlanta.

Bond also became a co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy organization based in Montgomery, Alabama, and served as its president from 1971 to 1979. He remained on its board for the rest of his life.

Bond published a book of essays titled “A Time to Speak, A Time to Act” about politics and the movement, and in 1998, Bond became chairman of the NAACP, serving in that position until 2010. Through the years, Bond also taught at Harvard, Williams, Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania.

While at Harvard, I had the personal honor and pleasure not only from taking a class from Bond, but also in taking him up on his offer to call him for dinner so he could spend time with and speak directly to his students. He didn’t give his office number – I didn’t speak to an assistant – I spoke to his wife, and then him.

Bond came to my dorm and had dinner with me and half a dozen other undergrads. He was kind, patient, thoughtful and wry – he answered all types of questions about MLK, SNCC and anything else we asked. What struck me the most when I wasn’t in complete awe, was how real and unassuming he was. No bluster, no overinflated sense of importance – just a man about the work he had done and was still doing until the day he died.

Julian Bond, thank you for your example, your service and for taking the time to make this then awkward undergraduate feel a little less awkward and that much more empowered. You are not and never will be forgotten.

Coretta Scott King Awards to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Honoring African-American Children and Youth Literature in 2019

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Coretta Scott King Award Seal (artist: Lev Mills)

Libraries, schools and civic organizations across the country and world will host a variety of celebrations to observe the 50th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards. Given annually since 1969, the awards commemorate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honor his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.

The awards are sponsored by American Library Association‘s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) and are supported by ALA’s Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS).

Award founders Glyndon Flynt Greer, a school librarian in Englewood, New Jersey, Mabel McKissick, a school librarian in New London, Connecticut, and John Carroll, a book publisher, envisioned an award that would recognize the talents of outstanding African-American authors and encourage them to continue writing books for children and young adults.

Winners are selected by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury and announced annually to a national audience at the ALA Youth Media Awards. The awards serve as a guide for parents, librarians and caregivers, for the most outstanding books for youth by African American authors and illustrators that demonstrate an appreciation of affirm African American culture and universal human values.

The Coretta Scott King Book Award titles promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream of a pluralistic society.

The first Coretta Scott King Award was presented in 1970 at the New Jersey Library Association conference in Atlantic City. The award went to Lillie Patterson, author of “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Man of Peace.” In 1974, the committee honored an illustrator for the first time. The award went to George Ford for his illustrations in “Ray Charles” by Sharon Bell Mathis. That year, the Coretta Scott King seal was designed by Lev Mills, an internationally renowned artist in Atlanta to identify book jackets of award winners.

Such notable African American authors and illustrators as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Walter Dean Myers, Virginia Hamilton, Jerry Pinkney and Christopher Paul Curtis are just an example of the notable artists who have received the award.

Currently the Coretta Scott King Book Award Anniversary Committee is planning 50th anniversary celebration events to take place during the whole of 2019, with a special Gala on June 21st in Washington D.C. This one-hour ticketed program will feature a host of special guests in the fields of children’s and young adult literature including Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jacqueline Woodson.

Additional information regarding Coretta Scott King Book Award 50th Anniversary activities will be available within the coming weeks at www.ala.org/csk.

Coretta Scott King Book Award merchandise is available thought the ALA Store at https://www.alastore.ala.org.

Former White House Staffer Lauren Christine Mims is Turning Michelle Obama’s “Becoming” into Curriculum for Black Girls

Lauren Christine Mims is a former assistant director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Psychology at the University of Virginia. She’s also one of the many women inspired by Michelle Obama’s Becoming, a New York Times best-selling book that sold more than 1.4 million copies within the first seven days of its release. Now, Mims is turning Obama’s book into a curriculum for black girls to further their learning and development.

“Reading Becoming was like sitting on the couch with your best friend and having one of those soulful conversations about life,” said Mims.

“Reading about how Michelle Obama felt unchallenged in elementary school, teased for the way she spoke, and noticed a difference in how she was perceived during adolescence was affirming.”

Mims hopes the Becoming curriculum will make space for black girls to thrive in a world that often seems to try and deny their humanity. As part of her doctoral research at the University of Virginia, Mims explores what it means to be a young, gifted, black girl in school.

“I disrupt the traditional practice of talking about black girls in pejorative ways and center them and their unique experiences to study how we can support them. For example, my research highlights what ‘Black Girl Magic’ means to black girls; the role teachers play in supporting or stopping the success of black girls; and more about what they are learning and how it makes them feel.”

“If you follow Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Norris, and Willow Smith, think about my interviews as Red Table Talks where black girls are supported in discussing challenges and designing solutions.”

Lauren Christine Mims (photo via blackenterprise.com)

As part of the curriculum, students read Becoming, and watch films featuring black girls in leading roles. Additionally, “we will have important conversations, like about what it means to feel like your presence is a threat or that you do not belong. We will discuss Maddie Whitsett and McKenzie Nicole Adams; two 9-year-old black girls who died by suicide after being subjected to bullying. At the end of the course, students will apply their knowledge to draft new research proposals, policies, and practices,” says Mims.

Beyond the walls of the classroom, Mims says there are four things we can all do to support black girls:

  • Create supportive, affirming, and loving environments by listening to their needs and centering their unique experiences of Becoming;
  • Advocate for, adopt, and enforce school policies and accountability practices that recognize the brilliance of black girls and ensure they are not being pushed out of school.
  • Address the bullying, harassment, and discrimination of black girls and ensure that all students have access to mental healthcare;
  • Care for your own mental health and well-being.

Ultimately, Mims wants girls to know that they are enough. As Michelle Obama writes, “Becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim,” yet there is so much pressure in college to define your identity and pick a career path. It can take a toll on you. Know that you are brilliant and never “underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”

Source: https://www.blackenterprise.com/michelle-obama-becoming-curriculum-black-girls/

Common’s Freedom Road Productions and Lionsgate to Bring Zora Neale Hurston’s ‘Barracoon’ to TV

Zora Neale Hurston (l), Cudjo Lewis (r) [photo via blackyouthproject.com]
by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to Deadline.com, hip hop artist and Academy-Award winner Common‘s Freedom Road Productions in conjunction with Lionsgate Entertainment, has optioned the rights to Barracoon: The Story of the Last ‘Black Cargo’, the recently discovered book by Zora Neale Hurston, to develop as a limited television event series.

Barracoon centers on 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis, who Hurston identified as the last known formerly enslaved person to survive the Middle Passage.

Hurston’s book chronicles Cudjo’s time of slavery and the profound complexities of reconstruction and freedom after the Atlantic slave trade was abolished.

This is the second project to emerge from Lionsgate and Freedom Road’s TV deal. They are already developing the Saturday Night Knife and Gun Club TV adaptation starring and produced by Common.

Princeton University Professor Tera Hunter Wins Two Book Awards From the American Historical Association

Princeton University’s Tera W. Hunter, Ph.D. (photo via princeton.edu)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

According to jbhe.com, Dr. Tera W. Hunter, the Edwards Professor of History and professor of African American studies at Princeton University, has earned the Joan Kelly Memorial Prize in women’s history and/or feminist theory as well as the Littleton-Griswold Prize in U.S. law and society from the American Historical Association. She will receive her honors at the association’s annual meeting in Chicago this coming January.

Professor Hunter’s book Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (Harvard University Press, 2017) is what garnered her the above awards. Hunter’s great-great grandparents were enslaved, freed, and married during the Reconstruction era in the U.S. In the book,Hunter used her research of court records, legal documents, and personal diaries to examine the constraints the system of slavery placed on intimate relationships.

Earlier in 2018, Hunter also garnered the Mary Nickliss Prize in U.S. Women’s and/or Gender History from the Organization of American Historians for Bound in Wedlock.

Professor Hunter joined the faculty at Princeton in 2007 after teaching previously at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Dr. Hunter is a graduate of Duke University, where she majored in history, and holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in history from Yale University.

Jeffrey C. Stewart, Elizabeth Acevedo and more Authors of Color Sweep National Book Awards

“The Poet X” and “The New Negro: The Life of Alaine Locke” cover art

by Sameer Rao via colorlines.com

The National Book Foundation announced Thursday that five literary works by writers of color earned all of its 2018 National Book Awards. Here are the winning novels and collections, as noted on the foundation’s website:

Fiction: “The Friend,” by Sigrid Nunez. The novel explores a woman’s grief after her best friend and mentor dies and leaves her his Great Dane.

Nonfiction: “The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke,” by Jeffrey C. Stewart. The Black studies scholar chronicles the life and relationships of the first African-American Rhodes Scholar and Harlem Renaissance leader.

Poetry: “Indecency,” by Justin Phillip Reed. This collection features several poems of varying forms that explore incarceration, White supremacy, masculinity and other social and racial justice issues.

Translated Literature: “The Emissary,” by Yoko Tawada and translated from original Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani. This novel takes place in Japan, after a major disaster prompts the country to isolate itself from the world. In this society, children like Mumei are born frail, while elderly people like his great-grandfather Yoshiro have the energy to care for the youth. “The Emissary” follows the pair’s day-to-day activities and fun in the face of dystopia.

Young People’s Literature: “The Poet X,” by Elizabeth Acevedo. A Dominican-American teenage girl navigates adolescence, crushes, harassment and her Harlem community while finding her voice through slam poetry.

Source: Authors of Color Sweep National Book Awards

BOOKS: New Biography “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” Focuses on the Man and his Voice

by Jennifer Szalai via nytimes.com

Time has a way of sanding off the rough edges of historical memory, turning even the most convulsive, contentious lives into opportunities for national triumphalism and self-congratulation. With “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” the historian David W. Blight wants to enrich our understanding of an American in full who, for more than half his life, wasn’t even legally recognized as such. Now that Douglass is enshrined on his pedestal, shorn of what made him “thoroughly and beautifully human,” Blight notes how the “old fugitive slave” has been “adopted by all elements in the political spectrum,” eager to claim him as their own.

Plenty has been written about Douglass in the 200 years since he was born, not least by Douglass himself, who recounted his life story in three autobiographies — a paper trail of memoirs that Blight deems “both a pleasure and peril” for the biographer. In tracing an arc from bondage to freedom, Douglass cast himself as a “self-made hero,” Blight writes, while leaving “a great deal unsaid.” A number of other books have filled in the gaps — exploring Douglass’s relationships with the women in his life, for instance, as well as his fraught and transformative friendship with Abraham Lincoln — but Blight’s is the first major biography of Douglass in nearly three decades, making ample use of materials in the private collection of a retired doctor named Walter O. Evans to illuminate Douglass’s later years, after the Civil War.

Blight, who has edited and annotated volumes of Douglass’s autobiographies, undertakes this project with the requisite authority and gravity. The result is comprehensive, scholarly, sober; Blight is careful to tell us what cannot be known, including the persistent mystery of Douglass’s father (who was most likely white, and may have been Frederick’s mother’s owner). On the stuff that’s known, Blight is an attentive if sometimes fastidious guide, poring over speeches and texts with the critical equivalent of a magnifying glass. Douglass, Blight says, was a “man of words,” making this book “the biography of a voice.”

That voice took shape and sharpened over time, but it would return again and again to the banks of the Tuckahoe River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born in 1818. Twenty years a slave, then almost nine years a fugitive; as Douglass himself described it in his autobiographies (having adopted his new surname from a Sir Walter Scott poem), the first decades of his life were both thrilling and terrifying. Until his abolitionist allies helped to purchase his freedom in 1846, everything he did felt provisional; he lived with the incessant fear of someone who could be plunged back into captivity at any moment.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/17/books/review-frederick-douglass-prophet-of-freedom-david-blight.html