In Close to the Knives, David Wojnarowicz gives us an important and timely document: a collection of creative essays -- a scathing, sexy, sublimely humorous and honest personal testimony to the "Fear of Diversity in America." From the author's violent childhood in suburbia to eventual homelessness on the streets and piers of New York City, to recognition as one of the most provocative artists of his generation -- Close to the Knives is his powerful and iconoclastic memoir. Street life, drugs, art and nature, family, AIDS, politics, friendship and acceptance: Wojnarowicz challenges us to examine our lives -- politically, socially, emotionally, and aesthetically.
Black North Dakotans were indeed something of a rarity in 1914, when young Erabelle Thompson and her family moved to a farm near the small community of Driscoll. In fact, when the Thompsons traveled thrity miles to join two other black families for Christmas dinner, "there were fifteen of us, four percent of the state's entire Negro population."In this lively autobiography, Thompson describes the experiences of her North Dakota girlhood: busting broncos with her brothers; making friends with Norwegian and German neighbors; meeting Governor Lynn J. Frazier, for whom her father worked as a personal messenger; running footraces at picnics (and knowing that people were betting on her to win); selling used furniture in Mandan; working her way through college in Grand Forks; and facing prejudice without the support of a large black community. She also discusses the impact of her North Dakota background on her later adventures in St. Paul and Chicago.
In a coming-of-age story as enchantingly vivid and ribald as anything Mark Twain or Zora Neale Hurston, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., recounts his childhood in the mill town of Piedmont, West Virginia, in the 1950s and 1960s and ushers readers into a gossip, of lye-and-mashed-potato "processes," and of slyly stubborn resistance to the indignities of segregation.A winner of the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Award and the Lillian Smith Prize, Colored People is a pungent and poignant masterpiece of recollection, a work that extends and deepens our sense of African American history even as it entrances us with its bravura storytelling
Former slaves themselves--an important but long-neglected source of information about the institution of slavery in the United States. Who could better describe what slavery was like than the people who experienced it? And describe it they did, in thousands of remarkable interviews sponsored by the Federal Writers' Project during the 1930s. More than 170 interviews were conducted in North Carolina. Belinda Hurmence pored over each of the North Carolina narratives, compiling and editing 21 of the first-person accounts for this collection.
Belinda Hurmence was born in Oklahoma, raised in Texas, and educated at the University of Texas and Columbia University. She has written several novels for young people, including Tough Tiffany (an ALA Notable Book), A Girl Called Boy (winner of the Parents' Choice Award), Tancy (winner of a Golden Kite Award), and The Nightwalker.
She has also edited We Lived in a Little Cabin in the Yard and Before Freedom, When I Just Can Remember, companion volumes to this book. She now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.
"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
One of the most famous and admired African-American women in U.S. history, Sojourner Truth sang, preached, and debated at camp meetings across the country, led by her devotion to the antislavery movement and her ardent pursuit of women's rights. Born into slavery in 1797, Truth fled from bondage some 30 years later to become a powerful figure in the progressive movements reshaping American society.
This remarkable narrative, first published in 1850, offers a rare glimpse into the little-documented world of Northern slavery. Truth recounts her life as a slave in rural New York, her separation from her family, her religious conversion, and her life as a traveling preacher during the 1840s. She also describes her work as a social reformer, counselor of former slaves, and sponsor of a black migration to the West.
A spellbinding orator and implacable prophet, Truth mesmerized audiences with her tales of life in bondage and with her moving renditions of Methodist hymns and her own songs. Frederick Douglass described her message as a "strange compound of wit and wisdom, of wild enthusiasm, and flint-like common sense." This inspiring account of a black woman's struggles for racial and sexual equality is essential reading for students of American history, as well as for those interested in the continuing quest for equality of opportunity.
From the pioneering legal scholar and bestselling author of Faces at the Bottom of the Well, a compelling investigation of racial justice in America
In And We Are Not Saved, civil rights activist and legal scholar Derrick Bell employs a series of dramatic fables and dialogues to probe the foundations of America's racial attitudes and raise disturbing questions about the nature of our society. How have we failed to achieve racial equality, Bell asks--and why? What does this failure mean--for black people and for whites? Where do we go from here? Should we redirect the quest for racial justice? Guided by these questions, Bell aims to provoke discussion that will provide new insights and prompt more effective strategies for pursuing racial justice.
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.
In the 1930s and the 1940s Rondo Avenue was at the heart of St. Paul's largest black neighborhood. African Americans whose families had lived in Minnesota for decades and others who were just arriving from the South made up a vibrant, vital community that was in many ways independent of the white society around it.
The Days of Rondo is Evelyn Fairbanks's affectionate memoir of this lively neighborhood. Its pages are filled with fascinating people: Mama and Daddy--Willie Mae and George Edwards--who taught her about love and pride an dignity; Aunt Good, a tall and stately woman with a "queenly secretive attitude"; brother Morris, who "took the time to teach me about the street and the people I would find there"; Mrs. Neal, the genteel activist who showed her the difference between a salad fork and a dessert fork; Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, who started a girls' string band; and a whole assortment of street vendors and playmates who made up the world of her childhood
As she grew up, Fairbanks saw many different sides of her community. Her words bring to life the all-day Sunday services at the Sanctified church, the "perfect days" of her girlhood, and the ghost stories told on the porch of a soft midwestern summer evening. But she also remembers a visit to relatives in Georgia, the deaths of her Mama and Daddy, and the difficult lessons her free-wheeling brother taught her about friends and money. By the time Evelyn was a teenager, World War II was changing St. Paul and the whole world in ways that touched upon her own life. And through the years she was also discovering what it meant to grow up as a black person in Minnesota.
A gifted storyteller, Fairbanks has recreated the patterns of her neighborhood life in a northern city. Her story ends in the mid-1950s, a few years before the Rondo neighborhood was destroyed by freeway construction. In preserving her memories of this distinctive community, Evelyn Fairbanks has added an important dimension to our understanding of Minnesota during those years.
"Fairbanks spins yarns about St. Paul's black society with the flair of a campfire storyteller." --St. Paul Pioneer Press
"Must reading for anyone wanting a clearer understanding of the history of race relations." --Library Journal
"Narrative history at its best." --Choice
"Her prose is simple and concise and is leavened by a rich sense of humor." --Minnesota Monthly
"The Days of Rondo is an interpretive account of events in the life of a black family from the South struggling for survival and meaning in a northern city. Rich in humor and detail, it provides a well-illustrated mosaic of socioeconomic, ethnic, and class realities as seen through the eyes of a young black woman." --David V. Taylor, author of African-Americans in Minnesota