I've read parts of the original Washington Post story that Haygood did on the life of Eugene Allen and his years working as a butler in the White HousI've read parts of the original Washington Post story that Haygood did on the life of Eugene Allen and his years working as a butler in the White House and was looking forward to a more fleshed out story. Instead, this book only covers Haygood finding and befriending Allen and the subsequent making of the movie based on his life.
If you are a movie buff, you will find the part of the filmmaking interesting, but I was disappointed that I didn't get more of a biography of Eugene Allen....more
In the early 90's I managed a couple of Black bookstores and one of our most popular titles was Afrocentriciy by Molefi Asante. This book was the founIn the early 90's I managed a couple of Black bookstores and one of our most popular titles was Afrocentriciy by Molefi Asante. This book was the foundation of a cultural movement at the time that sought to strengthen the ties between African-Americans and their African heritage. But while Professor Asante was on the lecture and media circuit, the foundation of his home life was crumbling.
M.K. Asante (Malo) has written an incredible memoir of his adolescence in Philadelphia. With his older stepbrother in prison, his mother struggling with a mental illness and a father always away, Malo is forced to navigate his own path through a life of gangs, violence and drugs. What sets this apart from other "coming-of-age" urban stories is Malo's intelligence, and his need to connect with the family that has abandoned him in a sense. Discovering his mother's diary, instead of feeling invasive, helps him learn about the woman she was and has become, while the published excerpts give the reader insight into a mother's fear of losing her sons to the streets.
Malo's story of transformation through his discovery of his love of the written word is one of the most beautiful I've read all year....more
As I've probably mentioned before, I used to manage a couple of Black bookstores back in the day. And besides being able to do my favorite thing, talkAs I've probably mentioned before, I used to manage a couple of Black bookstores back in the day. And besides being able to do my favorite thing, talk about books all day long, I also learned so much about Black history, African history, and the many cultures within the African diaspora. I came to meet Rastafarians, Hebrew Israelites, Muslims and felt my world become bigger because of it.
Raboteau, the biracial daughter of a Princeton professor of religion, grew up hearing about the concept of "Zion" and the promised land as it relates to the African-American experience. Her childhood best friend was a Jewish woman who relocated to Israel, a place considered "home" for her people and visiting her, comes across a community of Black Jews while in Israel and she begins to take an interest in other black communities who have set off from their place of birth to find their Zion or Promised Land.
Her journey finds her in contact with Black Hebrew Israelites who left America to establish a home in Israel, Ethiopian Jews who have done the same, and Rastafarians who have relocated to their spiritual home of Ethiopia. In visiting these communities and hearing the stories of the seekers, she also reflects on her own need to find a "home" and where she, as a half black woman, belongs in the world. Although this memoir tends to go off the rails at times, it was in the interest of providing historical context to Raboteau's experiences. Quite a unique memoir....more
This is not some serious textbook chronicling the history of racial integration in America. Neither is it a personal memoir about the author's lack ofThis is not some serious textbook chronicling the history of racial integration in America. Neither is it a personal memoir about the author's lack of black friends. It's kind of a combination of both.
Colby realized that during the 2008 election, people of many races came together to choose our country's first black president. An when we were done cheering our victory, we went back to our mostly still segregated neighborhoods, school districts, and churches.
Colby uses some of his personal experiences to outline the policies (written & unwritten, legal & illegal) that have worked to keep us apart. I found the chapters about real estate to be especially fascinating. The lengths to which people went to ensure that their neighborhoods stayed "white", while not surprising, was still a little mind-blowing. On the flip-side you had people who used the "white flight" to the suburbs as a way to take advantage of the black residents who moved in, by raising mortgages and rents and ignoring their other needs.
This book was written with insight and humor (his first two books were biographies of John Belushi and John Candy) making this sensitive topic more accessible and easy to read about....more
I don't think that I can categorize myself as a James Brown "fan". His music has just always been there as a part of my life. From my parents albums tI don't think that I can categorize myself as a James Brown "fan". His music has just always been there as a part of my life. From my parents albums to the samples used in the hip-hop music I later gravitated towards as a young adult.
While the subtitle says "Life And Music", this book is more of a memoir of Brown as a musician and businessman, covering his entrepreneurial spirit from boyhood on. His personal and family life is not covered with as much scrutiny. That's probably for the better, because, although he was know to be gracious to children (his own and strangers), he was not that kind to the women in his life.
The stories of him as a strict bandleader are legendary and those are included. Hearing about his creating and recording process was enlightening, especially since his career spanned so many decades and he had to reinvent himself several times. What I found really interesting was the political and socially conscious James Brown. I wasn't aware of his close ties with President Nixon and Vice President Hubert Humphrey and it was difficult reconciling this James Brown with the one who wrote "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud).
Exhaustive interviews provide a comprehensive look at how he became one of the hardest working men ever in entertainment. This is a must-read for anyone who loves contemporary music. The author is obviously a big fan of music, because sometimes his descriptions border on the poetic. ...more
Epic is right! As you can tell by the past posts of my blog, I'm not a huge reader of books about history. I'm not sure why, but I'd much rather get lEpic is right! As you can tell by the past posts of my blog, I'm not a huge reader of books about history. I'm not sure why, but I'd much rather get lost in a work of fiction, or in someone's personal story than to read a book about historical events. However, I've been fortunate that when I do go out on a limb and climb out of my reading comfort zone, I'm always pleasantly surprised.
I received an advanced copy of this book back in early summer, but because it was so thick, I decided not to read it just then but save it for the cooler months. When it was finally published, the reviews were so incredible that I went ahead and picked it up. If you know anything about American history and slavery in this country then you are already familiar with the migration that African-Amercians made as they left the confines of their lives in the South for hopefully brighter pastures in the North. What you probably don't know is this movement started in the right after slavery ended and well into the 1970's.
Wilkerson centers her book on the stories of three individuals of varying degrees of education and economic status, who hailed from three different states and migrated to three different areas of the country in three different time periods, for three different reasons. So while you are learning about an important part of American history, you are really reading the biographies of three people, making the story relatable and interesting.
I'm definitely glad I picked this up and I learned so much while reading. On a side note, I was at work a couple weeks ago in the office talking with a co-worker. Then over the radio a cashier asks if we have any more copies of The Warmth of Other Suns in the store because the author was here to sign them. I hopped out of my chair in mid-sentence and ran out to the sales floor. Luckily, I was in the middle of reading it and had my copy with me so Ms. Wilkerson could sign. Doret & I were so excited to meet her (authors are like rockstars to us)! We also had good news for her because Debbie Allen had been in earlier in the week and bought 30 copies of the book and was trying to get in touch with her. ...more