Tag: books

Maya Angelou Honors Mom, Grandmother in New Book

Dr. Maya Angelou poses at the the Special Recognition Event for Dr. Maya Angelou � The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait at Dr. Angelou's home June 21, 2010 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Ken Charnock/Getty Images)

Dr. Maya Angelou (Photo by Ken Charnock/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Writer, actor, dancer. Activist, teacher, composer. In the melange of Maya Angelou’s 85 years is also daughter, of two women who deserved one with a good memory.  So Angelou writes in her latest literary memoir, “Mom & Me & Mom,” a sweet ode to “Lady,” her mother Vivian Baxter, and “Momma,” her paternal grandmother Annie Henderson, who took her in at age 3 in tiny, segregated Stamps, Ark., and returned her at age 13, when the time was right.

Baxter, rough-and-tumble poor from St. Louis, and Henderson, refined believer in southern etiquette, are both long gone but figure big in Angelou’s legendary life.  The fierce and fun Vivian was Angelou’s abandoner and, later, her most loyal protector. She and Annie are familiar to admirers of the poet and spinner of autobiographical fiction. It’s Angelou’s eighth book to unravel her often painful and tumultuous life, including the 1969 National Book Award winner “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” chronicling her rape as a girl that left her mute for five years.

Angelou lost her beloved older brother Bailey in 2000, after his slide into drugs, and her mother in 1991, at age 79 or 85, depending on who’s doing the counting, joked Angelou in a recent telephone interview from her home in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she has lived part-time for more than 30 years while on the faculty of Wake Forest University.  Her son, Guy, whom she had at age 17, remains with us, enduring years on crutches after numerous surgeries for spinal injuries he suffered in an auto accident.

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WWII’s African-American Paratroopers, the “Triple Nickles,” Lauded in New Book

Award-winning author Tanya Lee Stone is clear about why she’s written her new nonfiction book, “Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers” (Candlewick Press, $24.99).  “I want to help the Triple Nickles become as well-known as the Tuskegee Airmen,” Stone says.
The Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American pilots in the U.S. military, are now an integral part of the history of World War II. Far fewer people, however, have heard of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion — nicknamed the “Triple Nickles” — and the unit’s pioneering efforts to open up paratrooper jobs during World War II.
In her meticulously researched, well-written book, Stone tells the story of how the 555th was established in 1943 — a unit with black soldiers and black officers, the first-ever black U.S. paratroopers.

The unit’s nickname was a nod to the Buffalo Soldiers, as the African-American regiments in the U.S. Civil War and later were called. The “Triple Nickles” name also connects to the buffalo image that was stamped on American nickels for many years.

It took Stone 10 years, working off and on, to write “Courage Has No Color.” It was definitely worth the wait, as Stone movingly portrays the inspiring courage, determination and persistence displayed by African-American servicemen in the face of overwhelming racial prejudice in the U.S. military. It’s a story that Stone strongly believes should be much better known than it is.  “These men are almost not with us anymore,” Stone says, noting that many of the Triple Nickles are in their 90s.

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‘The Black Count’ Wins 2013 Pulitzer Prize For Biography; ‘Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America’ for General Nonfiction

 Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, aka Alexandre Dumas, aka “Black Devil” by some of the armies he fought against (let’s just say he was good at his job), aka The Black Count, is at the center of the recently published book from acclaimed author Tom Reiss. Its full title is The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo.  Dumas’ son, likely the most popular Dumas, also named Alexandre Dumas, was author of literary classics like The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers.  In fact, Dumas, the father of the author, was the inspiration for The Count Of Monte Cristo.

Other 2013 Pulitzer Prize Winners of note include Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King, in the General Nonfiction category. Continue reading “‘The Black Count’ Wins 2013 Pulitzer Prize For Biography; ‘Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America’ for General Nonfiction”

Words and War: Toni Morrison at West Point

Students at West Point attending a reading by Toni Morrison on Friday. She read from her novel “Home,” which focuses on a Korean War veteran. (Kirsten Luce for The New York Times)

WEST POINT, N.Y. — As thousands of hungry West Point cadets streamed into the mess hall for their 20-minute lunch break here on Friday, they paused from the rush to the tables to give a rousing group cheer to a guest who has received hundreds of accolades, but perhaps none this thunderous.

“I can’t believe this — it’s like a movie,” said Toni Morrison, who sat at one of the 420 wooden tables in the flag-bedecked Washington Hall, a majestic Romanesque structure at the United States Military Academy.

Seated with members of the African-American Arts Forum at West Point, Ms. Morrison ate her Army-issue ravioli and prepared to read from her most recent novel, “Home,” to the freshman cadets, who studied the book in English class this semester.

The novel is the story of Frank Money, a black Georgia native and Korean War veteran struggling to reintegrate into civilian life in a segregated America, while struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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R.I.P. Nigerian Novelist Chinua Achebe, Grandfather of African Literature

Chinua Achebe in 2008 at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., where he was a professor at the time.(Craig Ruttle/Associated Press)

LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, widely seen as the grandfather of modern African literature, has died at the age of 82.  From the publication of his first novel, “Things Fall Apart”, over 50 years ago, Achebe shaped an understanding of Africa from an African perspective more than any other author.  As a novelist, poet, broadcaster and lecturer, Achebe was a yardstick against which generations of African writers have been judged. For children across Africa, his books have for decades been an eye-opening introduction to the power of literature.

Describing Achebe as a “colossus of African writing”, South African President Jacob Zuma expressed sadness at his death. Nelson Mandela, who read Achebe’s work in jail, has called him a writer “in whose company the prison walls fell down.”

Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”, published in 1958, told of his Igbo ethnic group’s fatal brush with British colonizers in the 1800s – the first time the story of European colonialism had been told from an African viewpoint to an international audience. The book was translated into 50 languages and has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide.

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Conflict and Costume: The Herero Tribe of Namibia – in Pictures

Men and women of the Herero tribe feature in a new book by photographer Jim Naughten, published by Merrell. Wearing traditional costumes fashioned on the influence of the missionaries and traders of the late nineteenth century, Naughten’s dramatic portraits reveal Namibia’s colonial history. An exhibition of the photographs will open at the Margaret Street Gallery, London on 5 March 2013.

via Conflict and costume: the Herero tribe of Namibia – in pictures | Art and design | guardian.co.uk.

Happy Black History Month! Some Ideas on Celebrating with Kids and Family

Martin Luther King statue

Perhaps you want to share the important history of African Americans with your children, but know you need to brush up on your facts first. So where should you begin?

Define it

The best way to start teaching yourself about Black History Month is to begin with the definition. What exactly is this 28-day tribute in February? Also known as African-American History Month, Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African-Americans in U.S. history. The event used to be known as Negro History Week and was extended to a month-long observance in 1976.

Read up

50 Black WOmen Who Changed America

If your child is school-aged, he’s definitely being taught about the importance of Black History Month in his classroom. But there’s a lot you can do to reinforce the learning at home. To educate your little one — and yourself — about Black History Month, head to the library and check out one of the hundreds of books on the subject. Any of these options (and more) can start an important discussion about racial diversity between you and your child.

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Ballerina Misty Copeland Dances into Two-Book Deal

misty-copeland-hb

(Misty Copeland/Photo: Hello Beautiful) 

Ballet dancer Misty Copeland has a two-book deal.  Copeland, 30, is working on a memoir for Simon & Schuster‘s Touchstone imprint and picture book for G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, part of Penguin Group (USA). Copeland helped break ground as an African-American female soloist for the American Ballet Theatre. According to a release Wednesday by the two publishers, both of her books are scheduled for 2014.

In her memoir, Copeland is expected to describe the battles between her mother and her dance instructors while she was a teen over whether she should be allowed to pursue her career and who was her legal guardian.

article via blackamericaweb.com

Eight Fascinating Facts About Martin Luther King Jr.

The Martin Luther King Memorial is seen

At this time of year there are many different posts about Martin Luther King Jr.  Here are eight facts that are not commonly discussed:

Fact 1:  He was born Michael Luther King, Jr. January 15, 1929 in  Atlanta, Georgia.

Fact 2:  His father, Michael King, Sr., changed their names to Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr. when Martin Jr. was about five.

Fact 3: King was the youngest person, at the time, to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Fact 4:  King authored six books published from 1958 through 1968, works on American race relations and collections of his sermons and lectures.

Fact 5: King stood behind President Lyndon B. Johnson as Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.

Fact 6: Senate investigations revealed that the FBI illegally bugged King’s hotel rooms and home phone from 1962-1968.

Fact 7:  An ongoing controversy over the inscription on the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial which says “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”, is taken from a 1968 King sermon, “If you want to say I was a drum major, say I was a drum major for justice, say I was a drum major for peace, I was a drum major for righteousness and all the other shallow things will not matter.”, at issue is also the cost to repair, change or delete the inscription.

Fact 8:  King met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, and Lester Grange on problems affecting black Americans. Making it an  interesting  fact that he actually met with two presidents about Civil Rights at different times.

article by Oretha Winston via theurbandaily.com

College Sophomore Honored for Her Work With Children Whose Parents Are in Prison

oliviastinson

Olivia Stinson, a sophomore at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina was recognized as a 2012 L’Oreal Paris International Woman of Worth. Stinson, a business administration major from Charlotte, was honored for creating the Peers Engaged and Networking (PEN) Pals Book Club for the children of incarcerated parents. At age 13, Stinson used a $500 grant to start the project for children aged 12 to 19. The PEN Pals Book Club has evolved into a full support group for the children of parents who are in prison. She has now added a Be a Reader (BEAR) Book club for children aged 2 to 11. The clubs now not only provide books and other school supplies, but also food and other support. Since the program was established, more than 4,000 children have received benefits from the program.

For winning the Woman of Worth distinction, Stinson’s book clubs will receive a $10,000 contribution from L’Oreal Paris.  To learn more, check out Stinson’s Huffington Post blog here.

article via jbhe.com