The abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked "a new birth of freedom" in Lincoln's America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s America? In this new book, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of our leading chroniclers of the African-American experience, seeks to answer that question in a history that moves from the Reconstruction Era to the "nadir" of the African-American experience under Jim Crow, through to World War I and the Harlem Renaissance.
A historical work of non-fiction that chronicles the little-known stories of black railway porters-the so-called "Pullmen" of the Canadian rail lines. The actions and spirit of these men helped define Canada as a nation in surprising ways, effecting race relations, human rights, North American multiculturalism, community building, the shape and structure of unions, and the nature of travel and business across the US and Canada. Drawing on the stories and legends of several of these influential early black Canadians, this book narrates the history of a very visible, but rarely considered, aspect of black life in railway-age Canada. These porters, who fought against the idea of Canada as White Man's Country, open only to immigrants from Europe, fought for and won a Canada that would provide opportunities for all its citizens.
From his first days in Canada in the early 1950s as an M. A. and subsequently a PhD student at the University of Toronto, Daniel Hill developed an avid interest in the history of Blacks in Canada. His 1960 PhD thesis, Negroes in Toronto, evaluated the history and current situation of Blacks in the city.
In 1981, his book The Freedom Seekers: Blacks in Early Canada was published by The Book Society of Canada. The book became the first history of Blacks in Canada written for the popular reading market, and it remained in print until the demise of its final publisher, Stoddart Publishing Company, in 2002.
The very term, “The Freedom Seekers” reflects the challenge that Daniel Hill faced in trying to find appropriate terms to describe early Black residents in Canada. Rather than accenting the negative fact that many such residents had previously been enslaved, he sought to emphasize their unrelenting desire to win and protect their freedom, dignity and equality-hence, “The Freedom Seekers.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of "race," a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men -- bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Coates's attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son -- and readers -- the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children's lives were taken as American plunder.
In his 2015 cover story for Toronto Life magazine, Desmond Cole exposed the racist actions of the Toronto police force, detailing the dozens of times he had been stopped and interrogated under the controversial practice of carding. The story quickly came to national prominence, shaking the country to its core and catapulting its author into the public sphere. Cole used his newfound profile to draw insistent, unyielding attention to the injustices faced by Black Canadians on a daily basis.
In this lyrical, unsentimental, and compelling memoir, the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American. It begins in New York, where Barack Obama learns that his father, a figure he knows more as a myth than as a man, has been killed in a car accident. This sudden death inspires an emotional odyssey, first to a small town in Kansas, from which he retraces the migration of his mother's family to Hawaii, and then to Kenya, where he meets the African side of his family, confronts the bitter truth of his father's life, and at last reconciles his divided inheritance.
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells--taken without her knowledge--became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first "immortal" human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her "immortality" until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.
The novel follows Marguerite's (later called My, or Maya, by her brother) young life and the struggles she undergoes in the segregated South. Abandoned by their parents at an early age, she and her older brother, Bailey, are sent to live with their maternal grandmother ("Momma") and crippled uncle in Stamps, Arkansas, where her grandmother operates a general store. The family later moves to St. Louis and then California, where Mary becomes pregnant, a fact which she hides from her family until her eighth month of pregnancy in order to graduate from high school.
A harrowing memoir about one of the darkest periods in American historyBorn a free man in New York, Solomon Northup was abducted in Washington, D.C., in 1841 and spent the next twelve years of his life in captivity as a slave on a Louisiana cotton plantation. After his rescue, he published this exceptionally vivid and detailed account of slave life--perhaps the best written of all the slave narratives. It became an immediate bestseller and today is recognized for its unusual insight and eloquence as one of the very few portraits of American slavery produced by someone as educated as Solomon Northup, or by someone with the dual perspective of having been both a free man and a slave.
For readers of Lawrence Hill comes a debut novel set in the small Nova Scotia town of Africville, settled by former slaves. 'Africville' chronicles the lives of three generations of the Sebolt family - Kath Ella, her son, Omar/Etienne, and her grandson Warner - whose lives unfold against the tumultuous events of the 20th century, from the Great Depression of the 1930s, through the social protests of the 1960s, to the economic upheavals of the 1980s.
Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonial, and will live in comfort in the sprawling, palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising half-caste children who will be sent abroad to be educated in England before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the Empire. Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon, and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she will be sold into slavery. Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi's has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and--with outstanding economy and force--captures the troubled spirit of our own nation
As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides "physical, intellectual and moral training" so the delinquent boys in their charge can become "honorable and honest men." In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear "out back." Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King's ringing assertion "Throw us in jail and we will still love you." His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. The tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys' fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.
Two brown girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life, while her friend leaves the old neighborhood behind, traveling the world as an assistant to a famous singer, Aimee, observing close up how the one percent live. But when Aimee develops grand philanthropic ambitions, the story moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, young men risk their lives to escape into a different future, the women dance just like Tracey—the same twists, the same shakes—and the origins of a profound inequality are not a matter of distant history, but a present dance to the music of time.