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1. W.E.B. Du Bois and the literature of upheaval

There is a moment in the George Miller film Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) that has stuck with me over the two decades since I first saw it. A bedraggled Max (Mel Gibson) is escorted through the crumbling desert outpost of Bartertown.

The post W.E.B. Du Bois and the literature of upheaval appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. #OscarsSoWhite: new branding for an old problem

In 1996, decades before the trending hashtag, Reverend Jesse Jackson led a boycott protesting the lack of diversity at the Oscars. Having encouraged attendees to wear a rainbow ribbon in support of the issue, he was ridiculed for his efforts.

The post #OscarsSoWhite: new branding for an old problem appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. The Remarkable Life of Frank Braxton, Hollywood’s First Black Animator

Frank Braxton broke animation's color barrier in the early-1950s, changing the animation industry forever.

The post The Remarkable Life of Frank Braxton, Hollywood’s First Black Animator appeared first on Cartoon Brew.

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4. Michaela DePrince, Author of Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina | Speed Interview

The extraordinary memoir of Michaela DePrince, a young dancer who escaped war-torn Sierra Leone for the rarefied heights of American ballet.

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5. Interview With Joseph McGill, Founder of the Slave Dwelling Project

Joseph McGillToday on the blog we are honored to be able to interview Joseph McGill, Founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, which works to preserve extant slave dwellings and organizes overnight stays in them to bring attention to the history and experiences of enslaved people. Welcome, Mr. McGill!

When and how did you first get the idea for the Slave Dwelling Project?

As a former employee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, I would assist property owners in saving places. Those places were usually iconic and architecturally significant which left a void for those structures important to African Americans, especially those who were enslaved. I have also been a Civil War reenactor for over 20 years. Five years ago, my experience with being a preservationist and a Civil War reenactor morphed into the Slave Dwelling Project. The concept is simple, find extant slave dwellings and ask the owners if I can spend a night in them in order to bring much needed attention to these often neglected dwellings.

How many different slave dwellings have you slept in?

I have spent nights in over 80 slave dwellings, some more than once, in the states of Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Was there a particular dwelling or experience that moved you the most?

The experience that moved me the most was the opportunity to stand on an auction block at Seward Plantation in Brenham, Texas. I thought about enslaved people standing on auction blocks having to expose their backs to show the potential buyers that there were no scars on their backs. Scars were indications that they were defiant and were beaten. No slave owner wanted to buy a defiant enslaved person to insert among his already docile and broken enslaved people.

Why do you think it’s so important to preserve these places?

The buildings that we preserve fit the historical narrative that we espouse. In other words, we tend to show our history in the buildings we choose to preserve. Preserving only the architecturally significant buildings supports a false narrative. This false narrative suggests that the purging of Native Americans was just; interning Japanese Americans during World War II was just; the lynchings that occurred in this nation were just. There are lots of items that can be added to the aforementioned list because some of our preserved buildings and monuments honor some of the people who perpetrated some of those atrocities. It is imperative that we preserve extant slave dwellings because when properly interpreted, these buildings can help change the narrative.

Joseph McGill with a group of students (image from The Slave Dwelling Project)
Joseph McGill with a group of students (image from The Slave Dwelling Project)

What do we stand to lose if they are destroyed?

If these buildings are destroyed, we tend to lose the opportunity to change the narrative. If a visitor to a site that once enslaved people should leave that site thinking that slavery was a good thing, that site has failed in its attempt to interpret the institution of slavery. When the buildings are there, it is harder to deny the presence of the people who lived there.

How receptive have plantation and property owners been to your project?

The reception of this project to plantations and property owners has been mixed. As expected, five years ago trying to convince those property owners of my intent was a challenge. Despite that, far more stewards said yes than no, which gave me that confidence to step out on faith to embark on this journey. Five years later, the project is still going strong and has become the clearinghouse for all matters pertaining to extant slave dwellings. More site stewards now reach out to me than I reach out to them.

I’m not sure if you’ve seen this, but two children’s books came under fire recently for depicting smiling slaves (more info here and here). What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any advice for children’s book authors who want to write about slavery, or parents teaching their children about slavery for the first time?

Everyone should do their homework. No one should portray slavery I encourage people of all races, especially African Americans, to visit sites that once engaged in enslaving peopleas being good for this nation. No one should portray the enslaved as being satisfied with their lot in life because that is that false narrative that needs to be corrected.

What is the top thing you wish Americans knew or understood better about slavery?

Although movies and books are good sources for obtaining history, they do not always get it right. I encourage people of all races, especially African Americans, to visit sites that once engaged in enslaving people. The fact that African Americans have a tendency not to want to visit these sites, gives the stewards the unchecked opportunities to interpret these sites as they wish.

How can people support your work or get involved?

The opportunity to spend a night in a slave dwelling with me and others is an open invitation. You can find out more about upcoming stays or become a member of the Slave Dwelling Project by visiting the website at: www.slavedwellingproject.org.

Joseph McGillMr. Joseph McGill, Jr. is a history consultant for Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC and the founder of The Slave Dwelling Project, Inc. His extensive experience in preservation and education includes positions as a field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as Executive Director of the African American Museum located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, as Director of History and Culture at Penn Center, St. Helena Island, South Carolina, and as a Park Ranger at Fort Sumter National Monument in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Mr. McGill is  also the founder of Company “I” 54th Massachusetts Reenactment Regiment in Charleston, South Carolina, the regiment portrayed in the award winning movie “Glory.” As a Civil War Reenactor, Mr. McGill participates in parades, living history presentations, lectures, and battle reenactments. He appears in the book Confederates in the Attic and is a member of the South Carolina Humanities Council Speakers Bureau. Mr. McGill is a native of Kingstree, South Carolina.

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6. Black History Month: YA Titles

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7. Celebrate Black History Month with Five Collections from LEE & LOW BOOKS

February is Black History Month. The origins of Black History Month began with historian Carter G. Woodson launching Negro History Week in 1926. Woodson felt that teaching African American history was essential for the survival of the African American race.

In 1969, students at Kent State University proposed expanding Black History Week to Black History Month. The first Black History Month was celebrated a year later. In 1976, Black History Month was recognized by the federal government and has been celebrated ever since.

Today, heritage months can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, relegating culturally diverse books to specific months of the year can mean these books are overlooked the rest of the year. It can also separate Black history from American history, when in fact black history is American history.

On the other hand, we are still working to undo a long history in which the achievements and contributions of people of color were routinely ignored. Having a special time of year to highlight these achievements can help fill in the gaps in our history.

Our opinion? Black History Month isn’t a time for once-a-year books; the books you use this month should be in your regular rotation. But Black History Month is a good time to give your collection of African American titles a little extra love–or updating, if it needs it.

LEE & LOW is proud to offer a number of different Black History Month collections. Check them out below:

k-2 collectionBlack History Month Collection, Grades K-2

This paperback collection features a mix of historical fiction and biographies from African Americans who excelled in arts and politics for young readers.

Featured Books:

Love Twelve Miles Long, written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Colin Bootman – Frederick Douglass’s mother travels twelve miles late at night to visit him in another plantation. Mama recounts why every step of the way is special to her.

Knockin’ On Wood, by Lynne Barasch – Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates, a legendary 20th century tap dancer, lost his leg in an accident at the age of twelve. He taught himself how to dance, first with crutches and then later with a peg leg.

Purchase this collection here


3-6 collection

Black History Month Collection, Grades 3-6

This collection explores the lives of great African Americans with a wide range of picture book biographies and historical fiction books for young readers.

Featured Books:

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated byFrank Morrison – This award-winning biography follows the life of Melba Liston, a trailblazing musician and a great unsung hero of jazz.

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Floyd Cooper -Ira Aldridge dreamed of being on stage one day performing the great works of William Shakespeare. Due to little opportunity in the United States, Ira journeyed to Europe and through perseverance and determination became one of the most respected Shakespearean actors of his time.

Purchase this collection here


BHM collection 7-12Black History Month Collection, Grades 7-12

This collection is perfect for a wide range of middle to high school level readers. Readers will be able to explore the history of African American music, Civil Rights, and sports.

Featured Books:

i see the rhythm, written by Toyomi Igus and illustrated by Michele Wood – This book explores African American music throughout history, starting with its roots in Africa.

I and I Bob Marley, written by Tony Medina and illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson – This book of poems explores the life of famous musician Bob Marley.

Purchase this collection here


Black History Month Special Collection

Black History Month Special Collection This collection features a mix of award-winning hardcover and paperback biographies of great African Americans at a range of reading levels.

Featured Book:

Love to Langston, written by Tony Medina and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie – Fourteen original poems explore the life of Langston Hughes, one of America’s most beloved poets.

Purchase this collection here


Black History Month Paperback Collection

Black History Month Paperback Collection

This collection features hand-picked award winning books, available in paperback.

Featured Book:

In Her Hands, written by Alan Schroeder and illustrated by JaeMe Bereal – Augusta Savage enjoyed sculpting with clay, despite her stern father thinking it was a waste of her time. To pursue a career as an artist, Augusta leaves everything she knows behind and journeys to New York.

Further Reading:

Who Is Ira Aldridge?

Remembering Cortez Peters

Why Remember Bill Traylor?

Why Remember Florence “Baby Flo” Mills?

Why Remember Author Ashe?

Why Remember Robert Smalls?

Why Remember Toni Stone?

Storyline Online: Catching the Moon

Seven Core Values to Celebrate During Black History Month

Why You Should See Selma

Katheryn Russell-Brown on the Research Behind Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

Protesting Injustice Then and Now

Resources for Teaching About Wangari Maathai and Seeds of Change

Three Ways to Teach Etched in Clay

The Origins of the Coretta Scott King Award

More Resources

Twelve Months of Books

The Problem with Ethnic Heritage Months

African American History Month (Library of Congress)

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8. Mary Church Terrell: a Capitol crusader

When Mary Church Terrell died on 24 July 1954, at the age of 90, her place in civil rights history seemed secure. She had served as the first president of the National Association of Colored Women. She had been a charter member of the NAACP.

The post Mary Church Terrell: a Capitol crusader appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton – PPBF, Diversity Day, 2016

  Celebrating Black History Month! Title: Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses HortonPoet: Author and illustrator: Don Tate Publisher: Peachtree Books, 2015 Themes: slavery, illiteracy, poetry, African American, perseverance, Genre: biography Ages: 6-9 Opening: GEORGE LOVED WORDS. He wanted to learn how to read, but George was enslaved. He and his family lived … Continue reading

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10. John Roy and George and Don and me

To commemorate Black History Month, the Texas Book Festival has posted an interview with Don Tate and me about his book Poet: The Remarkable True Story of George Moses Horton and our book The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch. Here’s a bit of what Don has to say about the stories he wants to […]

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11. Perseverance: Four American Performers of Color Who Found Success Abroad

2016 is the second year in a row that all the 20 nominees in the acting categories for the Oscars are all white. This prompted the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite created by April Reign to resurface. While television has started to become more diverse, this still isn’t reflected other media.

Diversity Gap in the Academy Awards

While the news media may cover this year’s Oscars Diversity Gap as a new issue, the truth is that discrimination toward artists of color is as old as America. Historically, performers of color were often unable to find places in the United States to perform and hone their talent. Ultimately, many of these performers had to leave America in order to be able to perform, and often found great success and acclaim in Europe, Russia, and other parts of the world. Here are just a few:

Ira's Shakespeare Dream

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream, written by Glenda Armand and illustrated by Floyd Cooper – Ira Aldridge dreams of performing Shakespeare’s plays. He journeys to England to realize his dreams.

Ira Aldridge was born in New York in 1807. As a child, he attended the African Free School. While a teenager, he acted with the African Grove Theater, performing plays for mostly black audiences. At the time, black actors were not allowed to perform for white audiences onstage – or even to share the same theaters. Eventually, Ira traveled to England in order to pursue his dream to act in Shakespeare’s plays. Even in England, he encountered resistance from critics saying he shouldn’t play roles that were meant for white actors. Yet Ira persevered, and became the first black actor to play the coveted role of Othello on the English state. Ira traveled around Europe performing Shakespeare’s plays, and was especially well-received in Russia and Prussia, where he was knighted. Despite never being able to return to the United States, Ira would often preach about the evils of slavery after his plays and raise money for abolitionist causes.

Shining Shar: The Anna May Wong Story, written by Paula Yoo and illustrated by Lin Wang – The true story of Chinese American film star Anna May Wong, whose trail-blazing career in Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s broke new ground for future generations of Asian American actors.

During the time that Anna May Wong rose to acting fame, most movies that portrayed Asian characters used white actors in yellowface. Anna May got her start as an extra in a film near where she lived. Later, Anna May was cast in many supporting roles where she caught the public eye. But even with fame and success, many of the roles offered to Anna May were racial stereotypes Chinese people. Tired of portraying stereotypes, Anna May journeyed to Europe, where she had supporting roles in films like Piccadilly. In 1935, Anna May lost the role of O-lan in The Good Earth to Luise Rainer. The United States had laws that would prevent Anna May from sharing an onscreen kiss with a white actor. Pearl S. Buck, the author of The Good Earth wanted the film to be cast with an all Chinese cast, but was told that American audiences weren’t ready for such a film.

Later, Anna May journeyed to China, and she vowed to never play another racial stereotype. In 1951, she starred in the first TV show to star an Asian American actor, The Gallery of Madam Liu-Tsong

Unfortunately, stereotypes still permeate television and film. Many actors of color have had the experience of casting directors asking them to play up racial or ethnic stereotypes.

Other books about American performers who found success outside the US:

Give Me Wingsby Kathy Lowinger – After Ella Sheppard enters Fisk Free Colored School (later Fisk University), she becomes a founding member of the Jubilee Singers, in order to raise funds for the school. They traveled around the United States and Europe introducing audiences to spirituals.

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson: This book follows the life of Josephine Baker, who was raised in the slums of St. Louis. Later, she found great success in Europe as a dancer and actress.

Further Reading

Please check out the following posts in the Ira’s Shakespeare Dream blog tour:

StackingBooks.com review

Unconventional Librarian Review

This Little Light of Mine: Five African Americans who Excelled in the Arts

Buy Ira’s Shakespeare Dream

Buy Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story

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12. #685 – Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper

9781623701703x
x
Juneteenth for Mazie

Written by Floyd Cooper
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Capstone Young Readers 2/01/2015
978-1-62370-170-3
40 pages Age 6—9
x
x
“Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history—the day her ancestors were no onger slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth. This beautiful story by award-winning author and illustrator Floyd Cooper will captivate both children and adults.”

Review
Juneteenth for Mazie made me think. I read it, slowly, three times, enjoying the story more with each read. Being a children’s historical fiction and a diversity book makes Juneteenth for Mazie a picture book that deserves more than a quick glance. Young Mazie is not having one of her better days. She wants to play outside, but it is too late in the day; and eat a cookie, but it is nearly bedtime; and stay up late, but she is too young. Dad asks why his “Sugar Bear” is grumpy.

9781623701703_int4

“I can’t go where I want, have what I want, or do what I want.”

Tomorrow, Dad tells his daughter, is a day of celebrating—Juneteenth. Though not understanding, Mazie’s above frustrations mirror those of her not-so-distant relatives. What is Juneteenth? How is it rooted in early American history? Juneteenth is a celebration, much like the Fourth of July or Independence Day. In fact, another name for this celebration is Juneteenth Independence Day. Most of us know this day as Emancipation Day; some as Freedom Day. On the final page, author/illustrator Floyd Cooper explains what happened.¹

150-years-ago this year, Mazie’s fictional Great, Great, Great Grandpa Mose became a free man. Dad relates Grandpa Mose’s life beginning with working long days in cotton fields as a slave—all the time thinking of and praying for freedom and a better life—to running for the northern United States and freedom, where life would be difficult but his own; to the day Mose’s first heard President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and then celebrating the first Juneteenth. The newly free never forgot the huge significance of that day, even as they continued to struggle with inequality. My favorite sentences are these:

“They learned and grew . . .
“They forgave . . .
“They excelled and accomplished . . .
“They became heroes . . .”

The brown and yellow oil painting illustrations are wonderful, but I do not like the grainy-look (more pronounced in print). Cooper’s technique does give the spreads the look and feel of a time long ago that has aged, but never lost its details, despite repeat readings. 

9781623701703_int6

Rooted firmly in history, Juneteenth for Mazie relates the most important details in kid-friendly language. Cooper, while forgoing chunks of detail, keeps the story and history lesson interesting, thoughtful, and accessible to young children. His writing style and story will engage kids in history more than any textbook ever could. Teachers should find no trouble integrating Juneteenth for Mazie into their lesson plans. Juneteenth for Mazie is both heart wrenching and heartwarming.

A side note: 2015 marks not only the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, but also the 50th anniversary of the the Voting Rights Act of 1965.²

JUNETEENTH FOR MAZIE. Text and Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Floyd Cooper. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Young Readers, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Juneteenth for Mazie at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesCapstone.

Learn more about Juneteenth for Mazie HERE.
Meet award-winning author/illustrator, Floyd Cooper, at his website:  http://www.floydcooper.com/
Find more nonfiction/ historical fiction picture books at the Capstone website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Young Readers is a Capstone imprint.

Review Section: word count = 401³

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
x
¹“On June 19, 1865, soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, announcing the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery in the United States. It was more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Celebrated every year on June 19, Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of African-American citizens throughout the United States.”

²Thanks to Capstone for mentioning the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the Juneteenth for Mazie press release.

³Trying to keep the review portion between a 400—600 word count. Hoping that by noting this, it will keep me focused on this goal. Chide me if I miss this range (unless it is a “great review,” of course :))

FTC - Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper – Capstone 2015


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Picture Book Tagged: abolition, Black History Month, Capstone, Capstone Young Readers, celebrations, emancipation proclamation, Floyd Cooper, Freedom Day, Juneteenth for Mazie, Juneteenth Independence Day, President Lincoln, slavery

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13. #682 – Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper

9781623701703x
x
Juneteenth for Mazie

Written by Floyd Cooper
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Capstone Young Readers 2/01/2015
978-1-62370-170-3
40 pages Age 6—9
x
x
“Mazie is ready to celebrate liberty. She is ready to celebrate freedom. She is ready to celebrate a great day in American history—the day her ancestors were no onger slaves. Mazie remembers the struggles and the triumph, as she gets ready to celebrate Juneteenth. This beautiful story by award-winning author and illustrator Floyd Cooper will captivate both children and adults.”

Review
Juneteenth for Mazie made me think. I read it, slowly, three times, enjoying the story more with each read. Being a children’s historical fiction and a diversity book makes Juneteenth for Mazie a picture book that deserves more than a quick glance. Young Mazie is not having one of her better days. She wants to play outside, but it is too late in the day; and eat a cookie, but it is nearly bedtime; and stay up late, but she is too young. Dad asks why his “Sugar Bear” is grumpy.

9781623701703_int4

“I can’t go where I want, have what I want, or do what I want.”

Tomorrow, Dad tells his daughter, is a day of celebrating—Juneteenth. Though not understanding, Mazie’s above frustrations mirror those of her not-so-distant relatives. What is Juneteenth? How is it rooted in early American history? Juneteenth is a celebration, much like the Fourth of July or Independence Day. In fact, another name for this celebration is Juneteenth Independence Day. Most of us know this day as Emancipation Day; some as Freedom Day. On the final page, author/illustrator Floyd Cooper explains what happened.¹

150-years-ago this year, Mazie’s fictional Great, Great, Great Grandpa Mose became a free man. Dad relates Grandpa Mose’s life beginning with working long days in cotton fields as a slave—all the time thinking of and praying for freedom and a better life—to running for the northern United States and freedom, where life would be difficult but his own; to the day Mose’s first heard President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and then celebrating the first Juneteenth. The newly free never forgot the huge significance of that day, even as they continued to struggle with inequality. My favorite sentences are these:

“They learned and grew . . .
“They forgave . . .
“They excelled and accomplished . . .
“They became heroes . . .”

The brown and yellow oil painting illustrations are wonderful, but I do not like the grainy-look (more pronounced in print). Cooper’s technique does give the spreads the look and feel of a time long ago that has aged, but never lost its details, despite repeat readings. 

9781623701703_int6

Rooted firmly in history, Juneteenth for Mazie relates the most important details in kid-friendly language. Cooper, while forgoing chunks of detail, keeps the story and history lesson interesting, thoughtful, and accessible to young children. His writing style and story will engage kids in history more than any textbook ever could. Teachers should find no trouble integrating Juneteenth for Mazie into their lesson plans. Juneteenth for Mazie is both heart wrenching and heartwarming.

A side note: 2015 marks not only the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth, but also the 50th anniversary of the the Voting Rights Act of 1965.²

JUNETEENTH FOR MAZIE. Text and Illustrations copyright © 2015 by Floyd Cooper. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Capstone Young Readers, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Juneteenth for Mazie at AmazonBook DepositoryiTunesCapstone.

Learn more about Juneteenth for Mazie HERE.
Meet award-winning author/illustrator, Floyd Cooper, at his website:  http://www.floydcooper.com/
Find more nonfiction/ historical fiction picture books at the Capstone website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Young Readers is a Capstone imprint.

Review Section: word count = 401³

Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews
x
¹“On June 19, 1865, soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, announcing the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery in the United States. It was more than two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Celebrated every year on June 19, Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of African-American citizens throughout the United States.”

²Thanks to Capstone for mentioning the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the Juneteenth for Mazie press release.

³Trying to keep the review portion between a 400—600 word count. Hoping that by noting this, it will keep me focused on this goal. Chide me if I miss this range (unless it is a “great review,” of course :))

FTC - Juneteenth for Mazie by Floyd Cooper – Capstone 2015


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Picture Book Tagged: abolition, Black History Month, Capstone, Capstone Young Readers, celebrations, emancipation proclamation, Floyd Cooper, Freedom Day, Juneteenth for Mazie, Juneteenth Independence Day, President Lincoln, slavery

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14. Five Biblical remixes from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Civil Rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a theologian and pastor, who used biblical texts and imagery extensively in his speeches and sermons. Here is a selection of five biblical quotations and allusions that you may not have noticed in his work (in chronological order). 1. “And there is still a […]

The post Five Biblical remixes from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. Four remarkable figures in Black History

Given the scope and the length of time I’ve been working on the African American National Biography (over 13 years and counting), selecting just a few biographies that were somehow “representative” of the overall project would have been an impossible task. Instead, working with The Root’s managing editor, Lyne Pitts, I chose four entries that showcased some of the diversity of the collection, but focused on hidden or barely remembered figures in black history.

The post Four remarkable figures in Black History appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis and Gary Kelly

February is Black History Month and this year's theme is A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture.  It is a good time to look back and reflect on the changes and contributions of African Americans to the fabric of American life in the last century.  

For example, more and more we are learning about the achievements of African American soldiers in World War II.  Books like The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin,  Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles by Tanya Lee Stone, Double Victory: How African American Women Broke the Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II by Cheryl Mullenbach, and The Double V Campaign: African Americans and World War II by Michael L. Cooper all highlight the contributions these courageous Americans made in the fight for democracy even as they were being denied their basic civil rights.

Now, J. Patrick Lewis and Gary Kelly, the same duo who produced the lovely book And the Soldiers Sang, about the Christmas Truce in 1914 during World War I, have written a book introducing us to the brave and talented unsung heroes of the 15thNew York National Guard, which was later federalized as the 369th Infantry Regiment, soldier that the Germans dubbed the Harlem Hellfighters. "because of their tenacity."

In beautifully lyrical prose, Lewis tells how bandleader James "Big Jim" Reese Europe was recruited to organize a new black regiment in New York.  Traveling around in an open air double-decker bus, his band played on the upper level, while the new recruits lined up below.  Willing to fight like any American, enthusiastic patriotism may have motivated these young men, but racism at home, and in the army resulted in segregation while training and doing the kind of grunt work not given to white soldiers in Europe, even as they entertained tired soldiers with [Jim] Europe's big band jazz sounds.

Each page tells small stories of the 369th: their heroics, homesickness, the bitter cold, the lynchings back home, the fighting on the French front lines.  Extending the narrative are Gary Kelly's dark pastel illustrations.  Kelly's visual representations of the men of the 369th Infantry are both haunting and beautiful.   He has used a palette of earth tones and grays, so appropriate for the battlefields and uniforms of war, but with color in the images of patriotism, such as flags and recruiting posters, and highlighting the reasons we go to war.   Some of Kelly's image may take your breath away with their stark depiction of, for example, the hanging figures, victims of a lynching, or the irony of the shadowy faces of people in a slave ship hull, shackles around their necks, on their voyage to America and slavery next to a soldier heading to Europe to fight for freedom and democracy.

Harlem Hellfighters is an exquisitely rendered labor of love, but readers may find it a little disjointed in places.  Lewis's fact are right, though, and he also includes a Bibliography for readers who might want to know more or those who just want more straightforward nonfiction books about the 369th Regiment.

As a picture book for older readers, Harlem Hellfighters would pair very nicely with Walter Dean Myer's impeccable researched and detailed book The Harlem Hellfighters: When Pride Met Courage written with Bill Miles.  Myer's gives a broader, more historical view of these valiant men.  These would extend and compliment each other adding to our understanding and appreciation of what life was like for African American soldiers in World War I.

Both books is recommended for readers age 10+
Harlem Hellfighters was bought for my personal library


February is Black History Month

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17. African-American Experience Children’s Literary Reference Guide (2010-2015)

We’re in the thick of the month of February now and recently I ran into an interesting problem.  It being Black History Month and all I was looking to create a list of Black Experience children’s books for my librarians to pull from for displays and purchasing and such.  So I trolled about online looking for a recent list of titles.  Don’t get me wrong – I love books like Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, but in spite of the relatively small publishing numbers we really have had some wonderful books come out in the last few years.  So I looked about and looked about and found almost nothing.  If it’s not an award winner or 20+ years old, it’s hard to find lists of recent books.

So I created my own.  I wanted a list of titles from the last five years.  Moreover, I didn’t want to limit it to just historical books.  So in the end what I came up with was an African-American Experience Literary Reference Guide.  This is by NO MEANS an all-encompassing list.  It’s just some of the recent things I’ve liked and enjoyed and that we all have a need for. Please note that all listed titles are currently in print. Also, they are organized by where they are cataloged in the New York Public Library system.

Enjoy and feel free to add your own in-print titles out in the last five years in the comments.

Picture Books

Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty, illustrated by Bryan Collier, ISBN: 9780316209175

Lucky Beans by Becky Birtha, illustrated Nicole Tadgell, ISBN: 9780807547823

Beautiful Moon: A Child’s Prayer by Tonya Bolden illustrated by Eric Velasquez, ISBN: 9781419707926

My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, ISBN: 9780670012855

Can’t Scare Me! by Ashley Bryan, ISBN: 9781442476578

Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite by Anna Harwell Celenza, illustrated by Don Tate, ISBN: 9781570917004

Max and the Tag-Along Moon by Floyd Cooper, ISBN: 9780399233425

Firebird by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers, ISBN: 9780399166150

A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina’s Dream by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, ISBN: 9780399252846

Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, ISBN: 9780312603267

Underground by Shane W. Evans, ISBN: 9781250056757

We March by Shane W. Evans, ISBN: 9781596435391

The Hula Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin, illustrated Vanessa Brantley-Newton, ISBN: 9781600608469

My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey by Jeanne Walker Harvey, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, ISBN: 9780761458104

My Friend Maya Loves to Dance by Cheryl Willis Hudson, illustrated by Eric Velasquez, ISBN: 9780810983281

Lullaby (For a Black Mother) by Langston Hughes, illustrated Sean Qualls, ISBN: 9780547362656

Goal! by Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by A.G. Ford, ISBN: 9780763658229

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, ISBN: 9780689873768

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, ISBN: 9780803735118

We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, ISBN: 9781423119548

Hope’s Gift by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated Don Tate, ISBN: 9780399160011

Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, ISBN: 9780399252136

Ellen’s Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Daniel Minter, ISBN: 9780399250033

Every Little Thing: Based on the Song ‘Three Little Birds’ by Bob Marley and Cedella Marley, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, ISBN: 9781452106977

One Love by Cedella Marley, Vanessa Brantley-Newton, ISBN: 9781452102245

These Hands by Margaret H. Mason, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, ISBN: 9780547215662

Busing Brewster by Richard Michelson, illustrated by R.G. Roth, ISBN: 9780375833342

H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination by Christopher Myers, ISBN: 9781606842188

My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete & Ryan Elizabeth Peete, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, ISBN: 9780545094665

Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend: A Civil Rights Story by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, Bettye Stroud, Bettye, and John Holyfield, ISBN: 9780763640583

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, ISBN: 9780761352556

Under the Same Sun by Sharon Robinson, illustrated by A.G. Ford, ISBN: 9780545166720

Me and Momma and Big John by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by William Low, ISBN: 9780763643591

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown, illustrated by Frank Morrison, ISBN: 9781600608988

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison, illustrated by Frank Morrison, ISBN: 9781619631786

In the Land of Milk and Honey by Joyce Carol Thomas, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, ISBN: 9780060253837

As Fast As Words Could Fly by Pamela M. Tuck, illustrated by Eric Velasquez, ISBN: 9781600603488

Grandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez, ISBN: 9780802720825

Freedom Song: The Story of Henry “Box” Brown by Sally M. Walker, illustrated by Sean Qualls, ISBN: 9780060583101

Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, ISBN: 9780807576502

A Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, ISBN: 9781590787120

Jazz Age Josephine by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, ISBN: 9781416961239

This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration by Jacqueline Woodson, Jacqueline, illustrated by James Ransome, ISBN: 9780399239861

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, ISBN: 9780399239878

Early Chapter Books

Dog Days by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman, ISBN: 9780547970448

Election Madness by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman, ISBN: 9780547850719

Skateboard Party by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman, ISBN: 9780544283060

Birthday Blues by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman, ISBN: 9780547248936

Nikki and Deja by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman, ISBN: 9780547133621

Substitute Trouble by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman, ISBN: 9780544223882

Keena Ford and the Secret Journal Mix-Up by Melissa Thomson, illustrated by Frank Morrison, ISBN: 9780142419373

Keena Ford and the Field Trip Mix-Up by Melissa Thomson, illustrated by Frank Morrison, ISBN: 9780142415726

EllRay Jakes and the Beanstalk by Sally Warner, illustrated by Brian Biggs, ISBN: 9780670784998

EllRay Jakes the Dragon Slayer! by Sally Warner, illustrated by Brian Biggs, ISBN: 9780670784974

EllRay Jakes Walks the Plank! by Sally Warner, illustrated by Jamie Harper, ISBN: 9780670063062

EllRay Jakes Is a Rock Star by Sally Warner, illustrated by Jamie Harper, ISBN: 9780670011582

EllRay Jakes is Not a Chicken! by Sally Warner, illustrated by Jamie Harper, ISBN: 9780670062430

Ellray Jakes Rocks the Holidays! by Sally Warner, illustrated by Brian Biggs, ISBN: 9780451469090

Ellray Jakes Is Magic! by Sally Warner, illustrated by Brian Biggs, ISBN: 9780670785001

Middle Grade Fiction

Sasquatch in the Paint by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, ISBN: 9781423178705

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, ISBN: 9780544107717

How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen, ISBN: 9780061992728

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett, ISBN: 9780545299886

The Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrik Henry Bass, illustrated by Jerry Craft, ISBN: 9780545132107

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond, Victoria and T.R. Simon, ISBN: 9780763643003

Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth, ISBN: 9780545224963

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg, ISBN: 9780545535649

Riding on Duke’s Train by Mick Carlon, ISBN: 9781935248064

Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet by Andrea Cheng, ISBN: 9781600604515

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis, ISBN: 9780545156646

Africa Is My Home: A Child of the Amistad by Monica Edinger, illustrated by Robert Byrd, ISBN: 9780763650384

Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon Flake, ISBN: 9780545609609

Winter Sky by Patricia Reilly Giff, ISBN: 9780375838927

The Perfect Place by Teresa E. Harris, ISBN: 9780547255194

Buddy by M.H. Herlong, ISBN: 9780142425442

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson, ISBN: 9780545525527

Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana, ISBN: 9781452124568

Nightingale’s Nest by Nikki Loftin, ISBN: 9781595145468

True Legend by Mike Lupica, ISBN: 9780399252273

The Sittin’ Up by Sheila P. Moses, ISBN: 9780399257230

Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri, illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson, ISBN: 9780763649227

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes, ISBN: 9780316043083

8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, ISBN: 9780545097253

The Other Side of Free by Krista Russell, ISBN: 9781561457106

Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells, illustrated by Marcos Calo, ISBN: 9780544238336

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, ISBN: 9780060760885

P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia, ISBN: 9780061938627

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond by Brenda Woods, ISBN: 9780399257148

Crow by Barbara Wright, ISBN: 9780375873676

Non-Fiction

What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Raymond Obstfeld, and Ben Boos, illustrated by A.G. Ford, ISBN: 9780763645649

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, ISBN: 9780375867125

The Cart That Carried Martin by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Don Tate, ISBN: 9781580893879

Words Set Me Free: The Story of Young Frederick Douglass by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome, ISBN: 9781416959038

Ballerina Dreams: From Orphan to Ballerina by Michaela Deprince, Michaela and Elaine Deprince, illustrated by Frank Morrison, ISBN: 9780385755160

Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey by Gary Golio, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, ISBN: 9780547239941

Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix by Gary Golio, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, ISBN: 9780618852796

I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery by Cynthia Grady, illustrated by Michele Wood, ISBN: 9780802853868

The Great Migration: Journey to the North by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist, ISBN: 9780061259210

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, ISBN: 9781596435407

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier, ISBN: 9780316107310

I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier, ISBN: 9781442420083

The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the Advent of the Civil Rights Movement by Teri Kanefield, ISBN: 9781419707964

Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman: Olympic High-Jump Champion by Heather Lang, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, ISBN: 9781590788509

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson, ISBN: 9781561456277

When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Various, ISBN: 9781452101194

Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper by Ann Malaspina, illustrated by Eric Velasquez, ISBN: 9780807580356

Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Will Allen, illustrated by Eric-Shabazz Larkin, ISBN: 9780983661535

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson, ISBN: 9780061783746

Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans
by Kadir Nelson, ISBN: 9780061730740

Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Sean Qualls, ISBN: 9780763664596

Martin & Mahalia: His Words – Her Song by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Andrea Davis, illustrated by J. Brian Pinkney, ISBN: 9780316070133

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by J. Brian Pinkney, ISBN: 9781423142577

Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by J. Brian Pinkney, ISBN: 9780316070164

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Christian Robinson, ISBN: 9781452103143

Jackie Robinson: American Hero by Sharon Robinson, ISBN: 9780545569156

Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige Vs. Rookie Joe Dimaggio by Robert Skead, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, ISBN: 9780761366195

Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith Jr., illustrated by Floyd Cooper, ISBN: 9780061920820

Stars in the Shadows: The Negro League All-Star Game of 1934
by Charles R. Smith Jr., illustrated by Frank Morrison, ISBN: 9780689866388

Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson by Charles R. Smith Jr., illustrated by Shane W. Evans, ISBN: 9781596434738

Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickels: America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone, ISBN: 9780763651176

It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw by Don Tate, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, ISBN: 9781600602603

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Don Tate, ISBN: 9780061349201

My Uncle Martin’s Words for America: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Niece Tells How He Made a Difference by Angela Farris Watkins, illustrated by Eric Velasquez, ISBN: 9781419700224

My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart by Angela Farris Watkins, Angela illustrated by Eric Velasquez, ISBN: 9780810989757

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, ISBN: 9780399252518

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18. Jacqueline Woodson ~ Author of Brown Girl Dreaming

Jacqueline_Woodson_by_David_ShankboneJacqueline Woodson (born February 12, 1963) is an American writer of books for children and adolescents. She is best known for Miracle’s Boys, which won the Coretta Scott King Award in 2001 and her Newbery Honor-winning titles Brown Girl Dreaming, After Tupac & D Foster, Feathers, and Show Way. Her work is filled with strong African-American themes, generally aimed at a young adult audience.

For her lifetime contribution as a children’s writer, Woodson won the Margaret Edwards Award in 2005[1] and she was the U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2014. IBBY named her one of six Andersen Award finalists on March 17, 2014. She won the National Book Award in 2014 in the category of “Young People’s Literature” for her work Brown Girl Dreaming.

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19. Stella by Starlight, by Sharon M. Draper | Book Review

Stella by Starlight, by esteemed storyteller Sharon M. Draper, is a poignant novel that beautifully captures the depth and complexities within individuals, a community, and society in 1932, an era when segregation and poverty is at the forefront.

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20. A Conversation with Sharon M. Draper About Stella by Starlight | Interview

In this conversation, we talked to Draper about the inspiration behind Stella by Starlight and the basic goodness in humanity.

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21. Seven Middle Grade Books for African American History Month

February is African American History Month. Sharing these books with young readers comes with the responsibility to discuss ... progress towards equality.

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22. 7 Core Values to Celebrate During Black History Month

The month of February is a time when many communities pause and celebrate the great contributions made by African Americans in history. At Lee & Low we like to not only highlight African Americans who have made a difference, but also explore the diverse experiences of black culture throughout history, from the struggle for freedom in the South and the fight for civil rights to the lively rhythms of New Orleans jazz and the cultural explosion of the Harlem Renaissance.

We put together a list of titles – along with additional resources 7 Core Values for copy– that align with 7 core values and
themes to help you celebrate both Black History Month and African American culture all 365 days of the year.

It’s important to remember that heritage months, like Black History Month, can encourage a practice of pulling diverse books that feature a particular observed culture for only one month out of the year. To encourage a more everyday approach, we developed an 8-step checklist for building an inclusive book collection that reflects the diversity of the human experience. Teaching Tolerance also offers some helpful solutions to connect multicultural education with effective instructional practices and lists insightful “dos and don’ts” for teaching black history that are applicable to any culturally responsive curriculum or discussion.

How do you celebrate during Black History Month? Or, better yet, how do you help children discover the cultural contributions and achievements of black history all year long? Let us know in the comments!

Perseverance, Determination, & Grit

Leadership & Couragemain_large-4

Teamwork & Collaboration

Responsibility & Commitmentmain_Mooncover

 Optimism & Hope

Compassion & Love

Passion & Pridemain_large

Discussion questions when reading and learning about core values:

  1. How does/do the character(s) show (core value)?
  2. What positive effects are associated with having/showing (core value)?
  3. How do you show (core value)?
  4. How can you work towards having/showing (core value)?
  5. What core values do you think are important to apply in our classroom? Why?

Further reading on teaching core values with students:

Looking for additional resources for teaching Black History? Check out these lesson plans, videos, and tips:

veronicabioVeronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.

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23. An African American in Imperial Russia: the story of Frederick Bruce Thomas

Decades before P. Diddy, Jay-Z, and Russell Simmons, there was Frederick Bruce Thomas, known later in his life as Fyodor Fyodorovich Tomas — one of the most successful African-American musical impresarios and businessmen of his generation.

Why isn’t he better known now?

The first reason is that a century ago, white America had no interest in celebrating black achievement.

The second is that he triumphed not in the United States, but in Tsarist Russia, which was one of the last places anyone would have expected to find a black American at the dawn of the twentieth century.

As we celebrate Black History Month, Thomas’s story — which until recently was virtually forgotten — provides a striking example of how blacks who fled the United States to escape racism could rise to the top of the economic pyramid in Europe and elsewhere, despite the wars, revolutions, and other hurdles they had to overcome.

Thomas was born in 1872 in Coahoma County, Mississippi and got his wings from his parents — freedmen who had become successful farmers. However, since the Thomas family lived in the Delta — which has been called the most “Southern place on earth” — their prominence was also the cause of their ruin. In 1886, a rich white planter who resented their success tried to steal their land. After fighting him as much as they could, the Thomases decided it would be prudent to get out of harm’s way and moved to Memphis.

Several decades before the Great Migration began, Thomas left the South and went to Chicago, and then Brooklyn. Seeking even greater freedom, he went to Europe in 1894, several decades before some black Americans began to seek a haven in Paris. And in 1899, after crisscrossing the Continent, mastering French, and honing his skills as a waiter and a valet, he signed on to accompany a nobleman to Russia, a country where people of African descent were virtually unknown.

Frederick Bruce Thomas, Paris, c. 1896. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Frederick Bruce Thomas, Paris, c. 1896. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Thomas’s career in Moscow proved to be more successful than he could ever have imagined. He found no “color line” there, as he put it, and in a decade he went from being a waiter to an owner of a large entertainment garden called Aquarium near the city center. Within a year of acquiring it, he had transformed a failing business into one of the most successful venues for popular theatrical entertainment in Moscow.

Were it not for the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Thomas would have happily spent the rest of his life in his adopted country. He married twice, acquired a mistress who became his third wife, and fathered five children. He also took Russian citizenship, and was possibly the first black American ever to do so.

But when the Bolsheviks seized power, Thomas suddenly discovered that he was on the wrong side of history. His newly acquired wealth trumped his past oppression as a black man in the United States, and nothing could mitigate this class “sin.”

To save himself, Thomas fled Soviet Russia. In 1919, after surviving hair-raising perils, he managed to reach Constantinople. Although he had lost all his wealth, within three months of arriving he opened an entertainment garden on the city’s outskirts. He was the first person to import jazz to Turkey, and its popularity among the city’s natives and swarms of well-heeled tourists consolidated his success and made him rich once again.

However, after escaping from Russia, Thomas was never again free of the burden of race, and it would be his undoing. Although his skin color was of no concern to the Turks, he could not avoid dealing with the diplomats in the American Consulate General in Constantinople, or with their racist superiors in the State Department. When he most needed their help, they refused to recognize him as an American and to give him legal protection. Abandoned by the United States, and caught between the xenophobia of the new Turkish Republic and his own extravagance, he fell on hard times, was thrown into debtor’s prison, and died in Constantinople in 1928. The New York Times was one of the few American newspapers that noticed his passing, and on 8 July in an article about Constantinople, referred to him as the city’s late “Sultan of Jazz.”

Perhaps if the United States ever becomes a genuinely post-racial society, Black History Month will fade in importance. But in the meantime, we can at least try to recover and remember the lives of extraordinary individuals like Frederick Bruce Thomas.

Heading image: Red Square, Moscow. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The post An African American in Imperial Russia: the story of Frederick Bruce Thomas appeared first on OUPblog.

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24. February is Black History Month

blackstarsFebruary is Black History Month. To commemorate the contributions of African-Americans to science and innovation, we offer this list of 12 books chronicling some of their many achievements: Black Inventors.

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25. Celebrate Black History Month with Two Book Collections from LEE & LOW BOOKS!

A heads up to our blog readers that we have two great sales happening now to celebrate Black History Month!

We’re offering 25% off two Black History Month collections on leeandlow.com through the end of the month. Kick-start your Black History book collection or mix things up with great books that can be used all year long.

CELEBRATE

Both collections offer biographies of great leaders who excelled in many different fields including writing, politics, music, and the culinary arts and will appeal to a wide range of readers.

Our Black History Month Paperback Collection features four award-winning picture books in paperback:

John Lewis in the Lead
I and I Bob Marley
George Crum and the Saratoga Chip
Love to Langston 

Originally $40, it’s currently on sale for $29.95.

Our Black History Month Special Collection features five award winning picture book biographies in a mix of paperback and hard cover editions:

John Lewis in the Lead
George Crum and the Saratoga Chip
It Jes’ Happened
Love to Langston
Baby Flo

Originally $65.70, it’s currently on sale for $50.

0 Comments on Celebrate Black History Month with Two Book Collections from LEE & LOW BOOKS! as of 2/13/2015 2:43:00 PM
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