The lives and works of 100 black women novelists, short-story writers, playwrights, poets, essayists, critics, historians, journalists, and editors are chronicled in this book. All wrote between 1900 and 1945 and among those examined are Zora Neale Hurston, Katherine Dunham and Angelina Weld Grimke. Drawing on archival research and interviews, the book traces its subjects' contribution to literature, their concerns about race and gender, and their influences on their modern day counterparts in American literature. The book also explores the political, economic, and social awareness of the time.
"Anne Moody's autobiography is an eloquent, moving testimonial to her courage."--Chicago Tribune Born to a poor couple who were tenant farmers on a plantation in Mississippi, Anne Moody lived through some of the most dangerous days of the pre-civil rights era in the South. The week before she began high school came the news of Emmet Till's lynching. Before then, she had "known the fear of hunger, hell, and the Devil. But now there was . . . the fear of being killed just because I was black." In that moment was born the passion for freedom and justice that would change her life. A straight-A student who realized her dream of going to college when she won a basketball scholarship, she finally dared to join the NAACP in her junior year. Through the NAACP and later through CORE and SNCC, she experienced firsthand the demonstrations and sit-ins that were the mainstay of the civil rights movement--and the arrests and jailings, the shotguns, fire hoses, police dogs, billy clubs, and deadly force that were used to destroy it. A deeply personal story but also a portrait of a turning point in our nation's destiny, this autobiography lets us see history in the making, through the eyes of one of the footsoldiers in the civil rights movement. Praise for Coming of Age in Mississippi
"A history of our time, seen from the bottom up, through the eyes of someone who decided for herself that things had to be changed . . . a timely reminder that we cannot now relax."--Senator Edward Kennedy, The New York Times Book Review "Something is new here . . . rural southern black life begins to speak. It hits the page like a natural force, crude and undeniable and, against all principles of beauty, beautiful."--The Nation
"Engrossing, sensitive, beautiful . . . so candid, so honest, and so touching, as to make it virtually impossible to put down."--San Francisco Sun-Reporter
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
Tracing the political struggles over American citizenship laws from the colonial period through to the Progressive era, this text shows that for much of the nation's history, most adults were legally denied access to full citizenship solely because of their race, ethnicity or gender.
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.'
The classic story of life in Apartheid South Africa.Mark Mathabane was weaned on devastating poverty and schooled in the cruel streets of South Africa's most desperate ghetto, where bloody gang wars and midnight police raids were his rites of passage. Like every other child born in the hopelessness of apartheid, he learned to measure his life in days, not years. Yet Mark Mathabane, armed only with the courage of his family and a hard-won education, raised himself up from the squalor and humiliation to win a scholarship to an American university. This extraordinary memoir of life under apartheid is a triumph of the human spirit over hatred and unspeakable degradation. For Mark Mathabane did what no physically and psychologically battered Kaffir from the rat-infested alleys of Alexandra was supposed to do -- he escaped to tell about it.
The children in this book defy the stereotypes of urban youth too frequently presented by the media. Tender, generous and often religiously devout, they speak with eloquence and honesty about the poverty and racial isolation that have wounded but not hardened them.
The book does not romanticize or soften the effects of violence and sickness. One fourth of the child-bearing women in the neighborhoods where these children live test positive for HIV. Pediatric AIDs, life-consuming fires and gang rivalries take a high toll. Several children die during the year in which this narrative takes place.
A gently written work, Amazing Grace asks questions that are at once political and theological. What is the value of a child's life? What exactly do we plan to do with those whom we appear to have defined as economically and humanly superfluous? How cold -- how cruel, how tough -- do we dare be?