"A triumph of storytelling as well as a triumph of spirit."--Alex Kotlowitz, award-winning author of There Are No Children Here
As a child in 1950s segregated Virginia, Gregory Howard Williams grew up believing he was white. But when the family business failed and his parents' marriage fell apart, Williams discovered that his dark-skinned father, who had been passing as Italian-American, was half black. The family split up, and Greg, his younger brother, and their father moved to Muncie, Indiana, where the young boys learned the truth about their heritage. Overnight, Greg Williams became black. In this extraordinary and powerful memoir, Williams recounts his remarkable journey along the color line and illuminates the contrasts between the black and white worlds: one of privilege, opportunity and comfort, the other of deprivation, repression, and struggle. He tells of the hostility and prejudice he encountered all too often, from both blacks and whites, and the surprising moments of encouragement and acceptance he found from each. Life on the Color Line is a uniquely important book. It is a wonderfully inspiring testament of purpose, perseverance, and human triumph. "Heartbreaking and uplifting... a searing book about race and prejudice in America... brims with insights that only someone who has lived on both sides of the racial divide could gain."--Cleveland Plain Dealer
Introduction by Arnold Rampersad.
Langston Hughes, born in 1902, came of age early in the 1920s. In The Big Sea he recounts those memorable years in the two great playgrounds of the decade--Harlem and Paris. In Paris he was a cook and waiter in nightclubs. He knew the musicians and dancers, the drunks and dope fiends. In Harlem he was a rising young poet--at the center of the "Harlem Renaissance."
Arnold Rampersad writes in his incisive new introduction to The Big Sea, an American classic: "This is American writing at its best--simpler than Hemingway; as simple and direct as that of another Missouri-born writer...Mark Twain."
From Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch, the second part of his epic trilogy on the American Civil Rights Movement.In the second volume of his three-part history, a monumental trilogy that began with Parting the Waters, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Taylor Branch portrays the Civil Rights Movement at its zenith, recounting the climactic struggles as they commanded the national stage.
The collection of primary documents in this volume recapitulates the course of African American life during the first half of the 20th century, while it provides a context for reading an important literary work. Keyed to events in the novel, the documents include selections by African American leaders (Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du bois, and Marcus Garvey); selections by leading African American writers (Langston Hughes and Richard Wright); songs, folktales, and other examples of black vernacular culture; and readings on African American migration, black labour in the industrial North, the role of communism in African American politics, and the end of legal segregation in the United States.
Through two award-winning National Public Radio documentaries, and now this powerful book, LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman have made it their mission to be loud voices from one of this country's darkest places, Chicago's Ida B. Wells housing project. Set against the stunning photographs of a talented young photographer from the projects, Our America evokes the unforgiving world of these two amazing young men, and their struggle to survive unrelenting tragedy. With a gift for clear-eyed journalism, they tell their own stories and others, including that of the death of Eric Morse, a five-year-old who was dropped to his death from the fourteenth floor of an Ida B. Wells apartment building by two other little boys.
Sometimes funny, often painful, but always charged with their dream of Our America, LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman reach out to grab your attention and break your heart
This New York Times Notable Book of the Year, 1998, is now in trade paper.From the bestselling author of Eyes on the Prize, here is the definitive biography of the great lawyer and Supreme Court justice.
With a new introduction, the groundbreaking classic Race Matters affirms its position as the bestselling, most influential, and most original articulation of the urgent issues in America's ongoing racial debate.Cornel West is at the forefront of thinking about race. In Race Matters he addresses a range of issues, from the crisis in black leadership and the myths surrounding black sexuality to affirmative action, the new black conservatism, and the strained relations between Jews and African Americans. He never hesitates to confront the prejudices of all his readers or wavers in his insistence that they share a common destiny. Bold in its thought and written with a redemptive passion grounded in the tradition of the African-American church, Race Matters is a book that is at once challenging and deeply healing.
One of the most prominent African-Americans of his time, James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was a successful lawyer, educator, social reformer, songwriter, and critic. But it was as a poet and novelist that he achieved lasting fame.
Among his most famous works, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man in many ways parallels Johnson's own remarkable life. First published in 1912, the novel relates, through an anonymous narrator, events in the life of an American of mixed ethnicity whose exceptional abilities and ambiguous appearance allow him unusual social mobility -- from the rural South to the urban North and eventually to Europe.
A radical departure from earlier books by black authors, this pioneering work not only probes the psychological aspects of "passing for white" but also examines the American caste and class system. The human drama is powerful and revealing -- from the narrator's persistent battles with personal demons to his firsthand observations of a Southern lynching and the mingling of races in New York's bohemian atmosphere at the turn of the century.
Revolutionary for its time, the Autobiography remains both an unrivaled example of black expression and a major contribution to American literature.