Our Bests for Black History Month

Lizzy-

A Raisin in the Sun, a great play about an African American family trying to live the American dream. Portrays typical family roles for late fifties in an inspiring way, shows what sort of ideals possess a people hungry to live their potential.

click here to see the movie trailer

Melanie-

Invisible Man by Richard Wright.  It’s hard to track down, but if you’re interested, Dick will do his darndest to obtain one for you.

Wright’s more popular book is Native Son.

Dani-I picked up a beat-up copy of Jazz in a used bookstore in Chicago while I was living in an all black neighborhood on the Southside the only caucasin for blocks.  Growing up in small town Iowa, this was quite a change.  My hometown didn’t have one African American family, and no matter the “education” you get and the tolerance that is preached, arriving in a completely different environment, and it is, will always be a shock. I was no longer just ‘female’ I was ‘white’ and ‘female’.  I’d never been a minority of this magnitude before.  Talk about eye opening.

Jazz is set in the roaring 20s and builds around an unhappily married door -to-door salesman whose obsession with his young mistress drives him to kill her. The causes and effects are laid on the table, bare-boned and beautiful.  It exemplifies the cathartic nature found in both human emotion and jazz music.

Morrison has written many novels about African American life but Jazz is different; it pulsates with the tones of the music that shares it’s name. Jazz music’s call and response is mirrored so the different characters can explain the same event from their different perspectives and the rhythm of the book, though fluid, changes in tempo and beat.  It’s the kind of book that really gets under your skin and melds to your bones.

p.s. Happy Birthday Toni Morrison.  She turned 79 February 18th.

Erin-

Lucille Clifton, perhaps one of my favorite poets, passed away on Saturday at 74.  I got sent home for reading one of her poems in high school, called Hommage  to my Hips.

these hips are big hips.
they need space to

move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go

they do what they want to do.

these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and

spin him like a top


Anyhow, her poems and writings center around African History and the female body. click here to hear her read.

So, if we continue on the line of poetry, I would say Nikki Giovanti, Ai, Gwendolyn Brooks( who I saw speak the day before she died) Phyllis Wheatley, Audre Lourde, Rita Dove, Alice Walker , and of course Maya Angelo whom I DO NOT LIKE due to a personal experience I had with her when she visited Detroit years ago…

Of course there are a few men to mention… Langston Hughes, Imamu Amiri Baraka, Ethridge Kingsley,James Wheldon Johnson, Countee Cullen, Anthony Butts & Robert Hayden (DETROIT MEN) and  Regie Gibson( who comes out and sometimes does readings at the fieldstation)


Perhaps one of my favorite quotes from dear Lucille:



“Poetry is a matter of life, not just a matter of language.”–Lucille Clifton

Suzanne-

Black Cat Bone by J. Patrick Lewis Illustrated by Gary Kelley

Not only do I love Robert Johnson‘s music and the mystery and legend behind him, but this is important information to give to our kids.  This book, with it’s gorgeous illustrations perfectly appeals to people of any age.

click here to see a video and hear Johnson play.

Dick-

In Charles Johnson‘s terrific novel Middle Passage, Rutherford Calhoun
is a dandy and a hustler in 1830 New Orleans, who escapes being
blackmailed into marriage by signing on a departing ship, The
Republic.  Unfortunately, the ship–whose captain is a great character,
the nasty but well-read dwarf, Ebenezer Falcon–turns out to be a slave ship
bound for Africa. Calhoun, who becomes Falcon’s cabin boy, tells
through his journal entries the story of this terrible voyage,
the trip to Africa, the enslavement of the members of a legendary
African tribe, and their transport to America. The book has an
abundance of energy, rich language, and ideas, and won the National
Book Award in 1990.

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