Shaking the Tree offers a panorama of both fiction and memoir, revealing perspectives as diverse as they are dynamic: asha bandele recounts how she fell in love with a prisoner charged with murder; Rebecca Walker explores a childhood split between disparate racial and cultural landscapes; ZZ Packer remembers her near-abduction from summer camp at a time when local black children were being found murdered; Danzy Senna and Carolyn Ferrell tell tales about being young and biracial in a society that sees only in black and white.
This anthology is as urgent as it is historical--these voices are the future of American literature.
In 1877, Standing Bear and his Indian people, the Ponca, were forcibly removed from their land in northern Nebraska. In defiance, Standing Bear sued in U.S. District Court for the right to return home. In a landmark case, the judge, for the first time in U.S. history, recognized Native American rights-acknowledging that "Standing Bear is a person"-and ruled in favor of Standing Bear. Standing Bear Is a Person is the fascinating behind-the-scenes story of that landmark 1879 court case, and the subsequent reverberations of the judge's ruling across nineteenth-century America. It is also a story filled with memorable characters typical of the Old West-the crusty and wise Indian chief, Standing Bear, the Army Indian-fighting general who became a strong Indian supporter, the crusading newspaper editor who championed Standing Bear's cause, and the "most beautiful Indian maiden of her time," Bright Eyes, who became Standing Bear's national spokesperson. At a time when America was obsessed with winning the West, no matter what, this is an intensely human story and a small victory for compassion. It is also the chronicle of an American tragedy: Standing Bear won his case, but the court's decision that should have changed everything, in the end, changed very little for America's Indians.
First published in 1971, Rules for Radicals is Saul Alinsky's impassioned counsel to young radicals on how to effect constructive social change and know "the difference between being a realistic radical and being a rhetorical one." Written in the midst of radical political developments whose direction Alinsky was one of the first to question, this volume exhibits his style at its best. Like Thomas Paine before him, Alinsky was able to combine, both in his person and his writing, the intensity of political engagement with an absolute insistence on rational political discourse and adherence to the American democratic tradition.
The noted writer-entertainer continues her autobiography, recounting her passage into adulthood and the white world, her initial experiences of marriage, motherhood, and show business, and her European tour in Porgy and Bess
At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document from the iconic author of If Beale Street Could Talk and Go Tell It on the Mountain. It consists of two letters, written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Described by The New York Times Book Review as sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle...all presented in searing, brilliant prose, The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of literature.
"My Bondage and My Freedom," writes John Stauffer in his Foreword, " is] a deep meditation on the meaning of slavery, race, and freedom, and on the power of faith and literacy, as well as a portrait of an individual and a nation a few years before the Civil War." As his narrative unfolds, Frederick Douglass--abolitionist, journalist, orator, and one of the most powerful voices to emerge from the American civil rights movement--transforms himself from slave to fugitive to reformer, leaving behind a legacy of social, intellectual, and political thought. Set from the text of the 1855 first edition, this Modern Library Paperback Classic includes Douglass's original Appendix, composed of excerpts from the author's speeches as well as a letter he wrote to his former master.
Attracted to remote lands by his interest in the postcolonial struggle, Richard Wright (1908-1960) became one of the few African Americans of his time to engage in travel writing. He went to emerging nations not as a sightseer but as a student of their cultures, learning the politics and the processes of social transformation.
When Wright fled from the United States in 1946 to live as an expatriate in Paris, he was exposed to intellectual thoughts and challenges that transcended his social and political education in America. Three events broadened his world view- his introduction to French existentialism, the rise of the Pan-Africanist movement to decolonize Africa, and Indonesia's declaration of independence from colonial rule in 1945. During the 1950s as he traveled to emerging nations his encounters produced four travel narratives-Black Power (1953), The Color Curtain (1956), Pagan Spain (1956), and White Man, Listen (1957). Upon his death in 1960, he left behind an unfinished book on French West Africa, which exists only in notes, outlines, and a draft.
Written by multinational scholars, this collection of essays exploring Wright's travel writings shows how in his hands the genre of travel writing resisted, adapted, or modified the forms and formats practiced by white authors. Enhanced by nine photographs taken by Wright during his travels, the essays focus on each of Wright's four separate narratives as well as upon his unfinished book and reveal how Wright drew on such non-Western influences as the African American slave narrative and Asian literature of protest and resistance. The essays critique Wright's representation of customs and people and employ a broad range of interpretive modes, including the theories of formalism, feminism, and postmodernism, among others.
Wright's travel books are proved here to be innovative narratives that laid down the roots of such later genres as postcolonial literature, contemporary travel writing, and resistance literature.
Virginia Whatley Smith is an associate professor of English at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Her work has appeared in African American Review, Mississippi Quarterly, and MLA Approaches to Teaching Wright's 'Native Son.'
George Washington Carver (1864-1943), best known for his work as a scientist and a botanist, was an anomaly in his own time--a black man praised by white America.
This selection of his letters and other writings reveals both the human side of Carver and the forces that shaped his creative genius. They show us a Carver who was both manipulated and manipulative who had inner tensions and anxieties. But perhaps more than anything else, these letters allow us to see Carver's deep love for his fellow man, whether manifested in his efforts to treat polio victims in the 1930s or in his incredibly intense and emotionally charged friendships that lasted a lifetime.
The editor has furnished commentary between letters to set them in context.
Edited and with Notes by Shelly Eversley
Introduction by Robert Reid-Pharr