Bestselling Books on African American History in September 2011

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The bestselling African American books on history published in September 2011.

  1. Vivid by Jenkins Beverly
    (NYLA, 2011-09-04, Kindle Edition)
    It’s 1876 and Dr.Viveca Lancaster is frustrated by the limits placed upon female physicians of color. When she is offered the chance to set up a practice in the small all Black community of Grayson Grove, Michigan she leaves her California home and heads east. The very determined Viveca is one of the few nineteenth century Black women to graduate from the prestigious Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania but she needs more than determination to face down handsome Nate Grayson, the Grove’s bull-headed mayor.Nate Grayson goes to the train station expecting Dr. V. Lancaster to be a man. When the lovely dark-skinned Viveca introduces herself he is speechless, then wants her back on the train and out of his town. It’s 1876 and women aren’t supposed to be doctors, men are. However he isn’t prepared for her stubbornness and fire, nor for the vivid way she heals, then steals his heart.

     

  2. Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
    (Balzer + Bray, 2011-09-27, Hardcover)
    The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. But it is also the story of injustice; of a country divided by law, education, and wealth; of a people whose struggles and achievements helped define their country. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it’s about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it’s about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It’s a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination and triumphs. Kadir Nelson, one of this generation’s most accomplished, award-winning artists, has created an epic yet intimate introduction to the history of America and African Americans, from colonial days through the civil rights movement. Written in the voice of an “Everywoman,” an unnamed narrator whose forebears came to this country on slave ships and who lived to cast her vote for the first African American president, heart and soul touches on some of the great transformative events and small victories of that history. This inspiring book demonstrates that in gaining their freedom and equal rights, African Americans helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice – the true heart and soul of our nation.

     

  3. The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone
    (Orbis Books, 2011-09-01, Hardcover)
    They put him to death by hanging him on a tree. Acts 10:39The cross and the lynching tree are the two most emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community. In this powerful new work, theologian James H. Cone explores these symbols and their interconnection in the history and souls of black folk. Both the cross and the lynching tree represent the worst in human beings and at the same time a thirst for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning. While the lynching tree symbolized white power and black death, the cross symbolizes divine power and black life God overcoming the power of sin and death. For African Americans, the image of Jesus, hung on a tree to die, powerfully grounded their faith that God was with them, even in the suffering of the lynching era.In a work that spans social history, theology, and cultural studies, Cone explores the message of the spirituals and the power of the blues; the passion and of Emmet Till and the engaged vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.; he invokes the spirits of Billie Holliday and Langston Hughes, Fannie Lou Hamer and Ida B. Well, and the witness of black artists, writers, preachers, and fighters for justice. And he remembers the victims, especially the 5,000 who perished during the lynching period. Through their witness he contemplates the greatest challenge of any Christian theology to explain how life can be made meaningful in the face of death and injustice.

     

  4. Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins by Thomas G. Smith
    (Beacon Press, 2011-09-06, Hardcover)
    In 1961 – as America crackled with racial tension – the Washington Redskins stood alone as the only professional football team without a black player on its roster. In fact, during the entire twenty-five-year history of the franchise, no African American had ever played for George Preston Marshall, the Redskins — cantankerous principal owner. With slicked-down white hair and angular facial features, the nattily attired, sixty-four-year-old NFL team owner already had a well-deserved reputation for flamboyance, showmanship, and erratic behavior. And like other Southern-born segregationists, Marshall stood firm against race-mixing. “We’ll start signing Negroes,” he once boasted, “when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites.” But that was about to change. Opposing Marshall was Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, whose determination that the Redskins – or “Paleskins,” as he called them – reflect John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier ideals led to one of the most high-profile contests to spill beyond the sports pages. Realizing that racial justice and gridiron success had the potential either to dovetail or take an ugly turn, civil rights advocates and sports fans alike anxiously turned their eyes toward the nation’s capital. There was always the possibility that Marshall – one of the NFL’s most influential and dominating founding fathers – might defy demands from the Kennedy administration to desegregate his lily-white team. When further pressured to desegregate by the press, Marshall remained defiant, declaring that no one, including the White House, could tell him how to run his business. In Showdown, sports historian Thomas G. Smith captures this striking moment, one that held sweeping implications not only for one team’s racist policy but also for a sharply segregated city and for the nation as a whole. Part sports history, part civil rights story, this compelling and untold narrative serves as a powerful lens onto racism in sport, illustrating how, in microcosm, the fight to desegregate the Redskins was part of a wider struggle against racial injustice in America.

     

  5. Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South by E. Patrick Johnson
    (The University of North Carolina Press, 2011-09-01, Paperback)
    Giving voice to a population rarely acknowledged in writings about the South, Sweet Tea collects life stories from black gay men who were born, raised, and continue to live in the southern United States. E. Patrick Johnson challenges stereotypes of the South as “backward” or “repressive,” suggesting that these men draw upon the performance of “southernness” – politeness, coded speech, and religiosity, for example – to legitimate themselves as members of both southern and black cultures. At the same time, Johnson argues, they deploy those same codes to establish and build friendship networks and to find sexual partners and life partners.Traveling to every southern state, Johnson conducted interviews with more than seventy black gay men between the ages of 19 and 93. The voices collected here dispute the idea that gay subcultures flourish primarily in northern, secular, urban areas. In addition to filling a gap in the sexual history of the South, Sweet Tea offers a window into the ways that black gay men negotiate their sexual and racial identities with their southern cultural and religious identities. The narratives also reveal how they build and maintain community in many spaces and activities, some of which may appear to be antigay. Ultimately, Sweet Tea validates the lives of these black gay men and reinforces the role of storytelling in both African American and southern cultures.

     

  6. Still a House Divided: Race and Politics in Obama’s America (Princeton Studies in American Politics) by Desmond S. King
    (Princeton University Press, 2011-09-11, Hardcover)
    Why have American policies failed to reduce the racial inequalities still pervasive throughout the nation? Has President Barack Obama defined new political approaches to race that might spur unity and progress? Still a House Divided examines the enduring divisions of American racial politics and how these conflicts have been shaped by distinct political alliances and their competing race policies. Combining deep historical knowledge with a detailed exploration of such issues as housing, employment, criminal justice, multiracial census categories, immigration, voting in majority-minority districts, and school vouchers, Desmond King and Rogers Smith assess the significance of President Obama’s election to the White House and the prospects for achieving constructive racial policies for America’s future. Offering a fresh perspective on the networks of governing institutions, political groups, and political actors that influence the structure of American racial politics, King and Smith identify three distinct periods of opposing racial policy coalitions in American history. The authors investigate how today’s alliances pit color-blind and race-conscious approaches against one another, contributing to political polarization and distorted policymaking. Contending that President Obama has so far inadequately confronted partisan divisions over race, the authors call for all sides to recognize the need for a balance of policy measures if America is to ever cease being a nation divided. Presenting a powerful account of American political alliances and their contending racial agendas, Still a House Divided sheds light on a policy path vital to the country’s future.

     

  7. Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times by Amy Sonnie
    (Melville House, 2011-09-16, Paperback)
    The historians of the late 1960s have emphasized the work of a group of white college activistss who courageously took to the streets to protest the war in Vietnam and continuing racial inequality. Poor and working-class whites have tended to be painted as spectators, reactionaries, and, even, racists. Most Americans, the story goes, just watched the political movements of the sixties go by. James Tracy and Amy Sonnie, who have been interviewing activists from the era for nearly ten years, reject this old narrative. They show that poor and working-class radicals, inspired by the Civil Rights movement, the Black Panthers, and progressive populism, started to organize significant political struggles against racism and inequality during the 1960s and 1970s.

     

  8. My Uncle Martin’s Words for America: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Niece Tells How He Made a Difference by Angela Farris Watkins
    (Harry N. Abrams, 2011-09-01, Hardcover)
    In this inspirational story about Martin Luther King Jr. – told from the perspective of his niece Angela Farris Watkins – readers learn how King used his message of love and peace to effectively fight for African Americans’ civil rights. Focusing on important words and phrases from his speeches, such as justice, freedom, and equality, Watkins uses King’s language to expose young readers to important events during the civil rights era. The simple yet striking text, along with a timeline and glossary, makes this book an accessible tool for helping a young audience learn about the importance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of nonviolence and his contributions to American history.

     

  9. The Devil Finds Work (Vintage International) by James Baldwin
    (Vintage, 2011-09-13, Paperback)
    Baldwin’s personal reflections on movies gathered here in a book-length essay are also a probing appraisal of American racial politics. Offering an incisive look at racism in American movies and a vision of America’s self-delusions and deceptions, Baldwin challenges the underlying assumptions in such films as In the Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and The Exorcist. Here are our loves and hates, biases and cruelties, fears and ignorance reflected by the films that have entertained us and shaped our consciousness. And here too is the stunning prose of a writer whose passion never diminished his struggle for equality, justice, and social change.

     

  10. Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I by Adriane Lentz-Smith
    (Harvard University Press, 2011-09-30, Paperback)
    For many of the 200,000 black soldiers sent to Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, encounters with French civilians and colonial African troops led them to imagine a world beyond Jim Crow. They returned home to join activists working to make that world real. In narrating the efforts of African American soldiers and activists to gain full citizenship rights as recompense for military service, Adriane Lentz-Smith illuminates how World War I mobilized a generation. Black and white soldiers clashed as much with one another as they did with external enemies. Race wars within the military and riots across the United States demonstrated the lengths to which white Americans would go to protect a carefully constructed caste system. Inspired by Woodrow Wilson’s rhetoric of self-determination but battered by the harsh realities of segregation, African Americans fought their own “war for democracy,” from the rebellions of black draftees in French and American ports to the mutiny of Army Regulars in Houston, and from the lonely stances of stubborn individuals to organized national campaigns. African Americans abroad and at home reworked notions of nation and belonging, empire and diaspora, manhood and citizenship. By war’s end, they ceased trying to earn equal rights and resolved to demand them. This beautifully written book reclaims World War I as a critical moment in the freedom struggle and places African Americans at the crossroads of social, military, and international history. (20091220)

     

  11. The Battle of New Market Heights: Freedom Will Be Theirs by the Sword (VA) by James S. Price
    (The History Press, 2011-09-09, Paperback)
    In the predawn darkness of September 29, 1864, black Union soldiers attacked a heavily fortified position on the outskirts of the Confederate capital of Richmond. In a few hours of desperate fighting, these African American soldiers struck a blow against Robert E. Lee’s vaunted Army of Northern Virginia and proved to detractors that they could fight for freedom and citizenship for themselves and their enslaved brethren. For fourteen of the black soldiers who stormed New Market Heights that day, their bravery would be awarded with the nation’s highest honor–the Congressional Medal of Honor. With vivid firsthand accounts and meticulous tactical detail, James S. Price brings the Battle of New Market Heights into brilliant focus, with maps by master cartographer Steven Stanley.

     

  12. Free!: Great Escapes from Slavery on the Underground Railroad by Lorene Cary
    (New City Community Press, 2011-09-19, Paperback)
    Stories based upon actual incidents of Black people escaping from chattel slavery. Lorene Cary adapted these tales from narratives and records that were first told by William Still who was one of the key organizers of the underground railroad. The stories are brought to life by the craft of Ms. Cary.

     

  13. Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
    (Balzer + Bray, 2011-09-27, Library Binding)
    The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. But it is also the story of injustice; of a country divided by law, education, and wealth; of a people whose struggles and achievements helped define their country. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it’s about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it’s about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It’s a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination and triumphs. Kadir Nelson, one of this generation’s most accomplished, award-winning artists, has created an epic yet intimate introduction to the history of America and African Americans, from colonial days through the civil rights movement. Written in the voice of an “Everywoman,” an unnamed narrator whose forebears came to this country on slave ships and who lived to cast her vote for the first African American president, heart and soul touches on some of the great transformative events and small victories of that history. This inspiring book demonstrates that in gaining their freedom and equal rights, African Americans helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice – the true heart and soul of our nation.

     

  14. Abandoned in the Heartland: Work, Family, and Living in East St. Louis by Jennifer Hamer
    (University of California Press, 2011-09-01, Paperback)
    Urban poverty, along with all of its poignant manifestations, is moving from city centers to working-class and industrial suburbs in contemporary America. Nowhere is this more evident than in East St. Louis, Illinois. Once a thriving manufacturing and transportation center, East St. Louis is now known for its unemployment, crime, and collapsing infrastructure. Abandoned in the Heartland takes us into the lives of East St. Louis’s predominantly African American residents to find out what has happened since industry abandoned the city, and jobs, quality schools, and city services disappeared, leaving people isolated and imperiled. Jennifer Hamer introduces men who search for meaning and opportunity in dead-end jobs, women who often take on caretaking responsibilities until well into old age, and parents who have the impossible task of protecting their children in this dangerous, and literally toxic, environment. Illustrated with historical and contemporary photographs showing how the city has changed over time, this book, full of stories of courage and fortitude, offers a powerful vision of the transformed circumstances of life in one American suburb.

     

  15. William H. Johnson: An American Modern (Jacob Lawrence Series on Ameri)
    (University of Washington Press, 2011-09-07, Paperback)
    My aim is to express in a natural way what I feel, what is in me, both rhythmically and spiritually, all that which in time has been saved up in my family of primitiveness and tradition, and which is now concentrated in me. -William H. JohnsonAn essential figure in modern American art, William H. Johnson (1901-1970) was a virtuoso skilled in various media and techniques, who produced thousands of works over a career that spanned decades, continents, and genres. This volume considers paintings from the collection of Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, that show the pivotal stages in Johnson’s career as a modernist painter of post-impressionist and expressionist works reminiscent of Cezanne, Van Gogh, and Soutine, and the vernacular paintings in which he articulates his specific, unforgettable voice as an artist. In this lavishly illustrated book, some of the world’s premier scholars of William H. Johnson and African American art history examine the artist and his artistic genius in fresh new ways, including his relationship with one of his earliest patrons, the Harmon Foundation; the critical role played by scholars at the nation’s historically black colleges and universities; the context of Johnson’s experiences living in Harlem and his deep southern roots; and Johnson as a trailblazer in the genres of still life and landscape painting. Richard J. Powell is the John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art and Art History at Duke University. Other contributors are Aaron Bryant, David C. Driskell, Leslie King-Hammond, and Lowery Stokes Sims.

     

  16. Becoming American under Fire: Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship during the Civil War Era by Christian G. Samito
    (Cornell University Press, 2011-09-08, Kindle Edition)
    In Becoming American under Fire, Christian G. Samito provides a rich account of how African American and Irish American soldiers influenced the modern vision of national citizenship that developed during the Civil War era. By bearing arms for the Union, African Americans and Irish Americans exhibited their loyalty to the United States and their capacity to act as citizens; they strengthened their American identity in the process. Members of both groups also helped to redefine the legal meaning and political practices of American citizenship. For African American soldiers, proving manhood in combat was only one aspect to their quest for acceptance as citizens. As Samito reveals, by participating in courts-martial and protesting against unequal treatment, African Americans gained access to legal and political processes from which they had previously been excluded. The experience of African Americans in the military helped shape a postwar political movement that successfully called for rights and protections regardless of race.For Irish Americans, soldiering in the Civil War was part of a larger affirmation of republican government and it forged a bond between their American citizenship and their Irish nationalism. The wartime experiences of Irish Americans helped bring about recognition of their full citizenship through naturalization and also caused the United States to pressure Britain to abandon its centuries-old policy of refusing to recognize the naturalization of British subjects abroad. As Samito makes clear, the experiences of African Americans and Irish Americans differed substantially-and at times both groups even found themselves violently opposed-but they had in common that they aspired to full citizenship and inclusion in the American polity. Both communities were key participants in the fight to expand the definition of citizenship that became enshrined in constitutional amendments and legislation that changed the nation.

     

  17. The House of Bondage ; Or, Charlotte Brooks and Other Slaves, Original and Life Like, as They Appeared in Their Old Plantation and City Slave by Octavia Victoria Rogers Albert
    (, 2011-09-04, Kindle Edition)
    One of the most interesting volumes…is also one of the most eclectic. The House of Bondage or Charlotte Brooks and Other Slaves by Octavia Rogers Albert is a fascinating piece of literature partly because it is so experimental in its attempt to blend an interview format with slave narratives, biographical accounts, historical information, and even her own personal commentary. Published in 1890, House of Bondage is an example of the black oral tradition in process. The reader becomes an eye-witness to black culture and history in formation…Albert skillfully moves the dialogue between the black vernacular of the slaves and the standard English of the black middle-class narrator….Frances Smith Foster in her introduction to House of Bonage argues that the narrative authority of Albert’s personal experience makes her book more authentic in its portrayal of slavery [than Uncle Tom’s Cabin].–The Women’s Review of Books”The personal narratives, especially a group narrative like Octavia Albert’s ‘House of Bondage’ (1890), were a means of perserving fragile antebellum life history as the slave generations grew old and died. Just as important, they provided a counterweight against the plantation myth and the denigration of black freedom being generated by respected white novelists such as Thomas Nelson Page and Thomas Dixon, and historians such as James Ford Rhodes.”–Eric J. Sundquist in The New York Times Book Review quist”Narrated by Octavia Albert, this book documents the true stories of several former slaves, their personal views, their struggles, and their triumphs. The stories are heartfelt and the convictions of the author to pass on the history of her people are evident in her dedicated writing.” – Amazon Reviewer

     

  18. You Can Get There from Here: My Journey from Struggle to Success by Bob Knowling
    (Portfolio Hardcover, 2011-09-29, Hardcover)
    The inspiring memoir of a determined kid who became one of the business world’s best change leaders. Bob Knowling is respected by many of America’s top executives, from Jack Welch to Michael Bloomberg. He has led large organizations through periods of dramatic transformation. Leadership guru Noel Tichy calls him “a change agent’s change agent.” But even more impressive than Knowling’s rᅢᄅsumᅢᄅ is the road he took to the top. He grew up in a poor family of thirteen in Indiana, surrounded by crime, drug abuse, and racism. Later he lived and worked on his grandparents’ farm in Missouri. No one encouraged him to have big ambitions or even bothered to ask “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But Knowling used his athletic and academic talents to earn a college scholarship and later an MBA. He became an expert at leading change-helping others see a better future, then work hard to make it real. Eventually he was running large divisions of telecommunications companies, then became a CEO of several firms, an adviser to troubled companies, and a leader at non-profits such as the YMCA and the New York City public schools. With great humility, Knowling blends a unique personal story with universal lessons. He proves that almost any disadvantage can be overcome with persistence and a passion for excellence. And he teaches us how to embrace change rather than cling to the past.

     

  19. Children of Fire: A History of African Americans by Thomas C. Holt
    (Hill and Wang, 2011-09-27, Kindle Edition)
    Ordinary people don’t experience history as it is taught by historians. They live across the convenient chronological divides we impose on the past. The same people who lived through the Civil War and the eradication of slavery also dealt with the hardships of Reconstruction, so why do we almost always treat them separately? In Children of Fire, renowned historian Thomas C. Holt challenges this form to tell the story of generations of African Americans through the lived experience of the subjects themselves, with all of the nuances, ironies, contradictions, and complexities one might expect. Building on seminal books like John Hope Franklin’s From Slavery to Freedom and many others, Holt captures the entire African American experience from the moment the first twenty African slaves were sold at Jamestown in 1619. Each chapter focuses on a generation of individuals who shaped the course of American history, hoping for a better life for their children but often confronting the ebb and flow of their civil rights and status within society. Many familiar faces grace these pages – Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, and Barack Obama – but also some overlooked ones. Figures like Anthony Johnson, a slave who bought his freedom in late seventeenth century Virginia and built a sizable plantation, only to have it stolen away from his children by an increasingly racist court system. Or Frank Moore, a WWI veteran and sharecropper who sued his landlord for unfair practices, but found himself charged with murder after fighting off an angry white posse. Taken together, their stories tell how African Americans fashioned a culture and identity amid the turmoil of four centuries of American history.

     

  20. Unspeakable Violence: Remapping U.S. and Mexican National Imaginaries (Latin America Otherwise) by Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernandez
    (Duke University Press Books, 2011-09-14, Paperback)
    Unspeakable Violence addresses the epistemic and physical violence inflicted on racialized and gendered subjects in the U.S. Mexico borderlands from the mid-nineteenth century through the early twentieth. Arguing that this violence was fundamental to U.S., Mexican, and Chicana/o nationalisms, Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernᅢᄀndez examines the lynching of a Mexican woman in California in 1851, the Camp Grant Indian Massacre of 1871, the racism evident in the work of the anthropologist Jovita Gonzalez, and the attempted genocide, between 1876 and 1907, of the Yaqui Indians in the Arizona Sonora borderlands. Guidotti-Hernandez shows that these events have been told and retold in ways that have produced particular versions of nationhood and effaced other issues. Scrutinizing stories of victimization and resistance, and celebratory narratives of mestizaje and hybridity in Chicana/o, Latina/o, and borderlands studies, she contends that by not acknowledging the racialized violence perpetrated by Mexicans, Chicanas/os, and indigenous peoples, as well as Anglos, narratives of mestizaje and resistance inadvertently privilege certain brown bodies over others. Unspeakable Violence calls for a new, transnational feminist approach to violence, gender, sexuality, race, and citizenship in the borderlands.

     

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