In 1931, Malcolm’s father died in mysterious circumstances, run over by a streetcar. Although it was never proved, the suspicion remained that he had been killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan. The police recorded the death as suicide, thereby annulling Earl Little’s life insurance.
Left poverty-stricken, Malcolm’s mother struggled to make ends meet for her large family. The pressure took its toll and in 1937, six years after her husband’s death, she was committed to an asylum. The children were farmed out to various foster parents and homes. Malcolm went to school where a teacher asked the vulnerable Malcolm what he wanted to be. Malcolm answered, a lawyer. The teacher scoffed, told him to be realistic and recommended, instead, he become a carpenter. Disillusioned, he dropped out of school at the age of 15 and went to Boston to live with his older half-sister, Ella.
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Abderrahmane Sissako‘s adoring and visually stunning film Timbuktu is a cry from the heart – with all the more moral authority for being expressed with such elegance and such consideration. It is a portrait of the country of his youth, the state of Mali, in West Africa, and in particular the mythic city of Timbuktu, whose opulent and humane traditions are being crushed, as Sissako perceives it, by fanatical jihadis, very often from outside the country. The story revolves around the death of a cow, caringly named “GPS” – a most suitable emblem for a country that has lost its path.
These Islamist zealots are banning innocent pleasures such as music and football, and throwing themselves with cold relish into lashings and stoning for adultery. The new puritans horrify the local imam, who has long upheld the existing traditions of a benevolent and tolerant Islam; they march into the…
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PUBLISHER’S DESCRIPTION: Max wants to visit a beautiful boutique that sells handmade dolls, but he worries that other children will tease him. When he finally finds the courage to enter the store, Max meets Señor Pepe who has been making dolls since he was a boy in Honduras. Señor Pepe shares his story with Max and reminds him that, “There is no shame in making something beautiful with your hands. Sewing is a skill—just like hitting a baseball or fixing a car.”
MY TWO CENTS:Max Loves Muñecas interweaves a number of topics: resisting the constraints of traditional gender roles, child homelessness, resourcefulness and resilience, and the value of cooperation and generosity. In the hands of a lesser writer, these many focal points might overpower a slim chapter book of 72 pages, but Zetta Elliott creates a richly textured narrative world and situations that…
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Edited on May 24, 2015 to add contributor biographies, Tumblr and Pinterest links, which you will find at the end of this post. Most book titles link to Teaching for Change online bookstore, except for A is for Activist, The Phoenix on Barkley Street and I Love Ugali and Sukuma Wiki.
May 25, 2015: Important tweet from Cynthia Leitich Smith: @CynLeitichSmith books not on shelves can be ordered. B/c some bookstores/libraries don’t carry inclusive books. Readers ordering/inter-library-loaning prompt change, too.
Are you looking for books to add to your summer reading list? Ones written or illustrated by Native Americans or people of color? Ones that include characters that are Native? People of color? Disabilities? LGBTQ? Take a look at these! Note: I hope you enjoy several of these book covers as much as I did.
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From the very start there was something eerie about the cancer cells on Henrietta Lacks’s cervix. Even before killing Lacks in 1951, they took on a life of their own. Removed during a biopsy and cultured without her permission, the HeLa cells (named from the first two letters of her first and last names) reproduced exuberantly in a lab at Johns Hopkins — the first human cells ever to do so. HeLa became an instant biological superstar, traveling to research labs all over the world. Meanwhile Lacks, a vibrant 31-year-old African-American who had once been a tobacco farmer, tended her five children and endured scarring radiation treatments in the hospital’s “colored” quarter.
After Henrietta Lacks’s death, HeLa went viral, so to speak, becoming the godmother of virology and then biotech, benefiting practically anyone of us who ever taken a pill stronger than aspirin. Scientists have grown some 50 million metric…
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Reviewed by Lila Quintero Weaver
FROM THE PUBLISHER:
The term “cognitive disorder” implies there is something wrong with the way I think or the way I perceive reality. I perceive reality just fine. Sometimes I perceive more of reality than others.
Marcelo Sandoval hears music that nobody else can hear — part of an autism-like condition that no doctor has been able to identify. But his father has never fully believed in the music or Marcelo’s differences, and he challenges Marcelo to work in the mailroom of his law firm for the summer . . . to join “the real world.”
There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it’s a picture he finds in a file — a picture of a girl with half a face — that…
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* Today in Black History – May 12 *
1896 – Juan Morel Campos joins the ancestors in Ponce, Puerto
Rico. He was a musician and composer who was one of the
first to integrate Afro-Caribbean styles and folk rhythms
into the classical European musical model. He was
considered the father of the “danza.”
1898 – Louisiana adopts a new constitution with a “grandfather
clause” designed to eliminate African American voters.
1902 – Joe Gans (born Joseph Gaines) becomes the first native-
born African American to win a world boxing championship,
when he defeats Frank Erne in one round for the World
Lightweight Crown. He will be elected to the Boxing Hall
of Fame in 1954.
1910 – The Second NAACP conference opens in New York City. The
three day conference will create a permanent national
structure for the organization.
1916 – Albert L. Murray is born in Nokomis, Alabama. He will
become an author of several works of nonfiction, among
them the influential collection of essays, “The Omni
Americans: New Perspectives on Black Experience and
American Culture.” His other works will include “South
to a Very Old Place,” “The Hero and The Blues,” “Train
Whistle Guitar,” “The Spyglass Tree,” “Stomping The
Blues,” “Good Morning Blues,” and “The Blue Devils of
Nada.” He will join the ancestors on August 18, 2013.
1926 – Paulette Poujol-Oriol is born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
She will become a well-known literary personality in
Haiti. She will be best known for her innovative creative
expression. Her works will include “Prayers for Two
Vanished Angels” and “The Crucible.” She will join the
ancestors on March 12, 2011, after succumbing to a
1926 – Mervyn Malcom Dymally is born in Cedros, Trinidad. He will
become the first African American elected as lieutenant
governor of California and will be elected to Congress in
1980, where he will serve for 12 years. He will join the
ancestors on October 7, 2012.
1929 – Samuel Daniel Shafiishuna Nujoma is born in Etunda, South
West Africa (now Namibia). He will become a nationalist
politician and the first president of Namibia. He will
remain in exile for thirty years from 1959 to 1989 when he
will return to Namibia and win a seat in the National
Assembly. He will vacate this seat in 1990 when he is
elected the first president of Namibia. He will serve in
this office from March 21, 1990 until March 21, 2005.
1933 – Henry Hugh Proctor joins the ancestors in Brooklyn, New
York at the age of 64. He had been the pastor of Nazarene
Congregational Church for thirteen years. Prior to coming
to New York, he had been pastor of the First Congregational
Church in Atlanta, Georgia for twenty four years, where he
had been instrumental in working with local whites in order
to reduce racial conflicts in the city.
1934 – Elechi Amadi is born in Aluu, Nigeria. He will become a
novelist whose works will illustrate the tradition and
inner feelings of traditional tribal life of his people.
He will be known for his works “The Concubine,” “Sunset
in Biafra: A Civil War Diary,” “The Great Ponds,” “The
Slave,” “Estrangement,” “Isiburu,” “Peppersoup,” “The
Road to Ibadan,” “Dancer of Johannesburg,” and “Ethics
in Nigerian Culture.” His writings will reflect his
upbringing as a member of the Igbo ethnic group in
1951 – Former U.S. Congressman Oscar Stanton DePriest joins the
ancestors at the age of 80 in Chicago, Illinois. He had
been the first African American elected to the U.S.
Congress since Reconstruction and the first-ever African
American congressman from the North.
1955 – Samuel (“Toothpick Sam”) Jones, of the Chicago Cubs,
becomes the first African American to pitch a major
league no-hitter, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
1958 – At a summit meeting of national African American leaders,
President Dwight D. Eisenhower is sharply criticized for
a speech which, in effect, urges them to “be patient” in
their demands for full civil and voting rights.
1967 – H. Rap Brown replaces Stokely Carmichael as chairman of
the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.
1969 – Kim Victoria Fields (later Freeman) is born in Los Angeles,
California. She will become an actress as a child,
starring in the sit-com, “The Facts of Life” (1979-1988).
She will continue her television career on the “Living
Single” show, which will premier in 1993.
1970 – Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs hits his 500th home run.
1970 – A racially motivated civil disturbance occurs in Augusta,
Georgia. Six African Americans are killed. Authorities
say five of the victims were shot by police.
1976 – Wynona Carr joins the ancestors. She had been a gospel
singer who was best known for her rendition of “The Ball
Game.” Her other recordings were “Each Day,” “Lord
Jesus,” “Dragnet for Jesus,” “Fifteen Rounds for Jesus,”
“Operator, Operator,” “Should I Ever Love Again,” and
1991 – Hampton University students stage a silent protest against
President George Bush’s commencement address to highlight
their opposition to his civil rights policies.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.
* Today in Black History – May 11 *
1885 – Joseph Nathan Oliver is born in Aben, Louisiana near
Donaldsville. He will become a professional musician after
learning his craft playing with local street musicians in
New Orleans. After playing in the band of Edward “Kid” Ory,
he will be dubbed “King” Oliver. After being recruited to
Chicago, Illinois to play in the band of Bill Johnson, King
Oliver will assume leadership of the Creole Jazz Band. He
will recruit some of best available jazz talent of the time
including Louis Armstrong. The Creole Jazz Band will disband
after the exit of Louis Armstrong. King Oliver will lead
various other bands until 1937 when he retires from music.
Due to severe gum problems, he will stop playing the cornet
in 1931. He will join the ancestors on April 10, 1938. King
Oliver will be considered one of the pioneering musicians in
New Orleans and Chicago style jazz.
1895 – William Grant Still is born in Woodville, Mississippi.
Considered one of the nation’s greatest composers, he will
begin his career by writing arrangements for W.C. Handy and
as musical director for Harry Pace’s Phonograph Corporation.
One of his most famous compositions, Afro-American Symphony,
will be the first symphonic work by an African American to
be performed by a major symphony orchestra, the Rochester
Philharmonic Symphony, in 1931. He will also be the first
African American to conduct a major U.S. symphony, the Los
Angeles Philharmonic, in 1936. He will create over 150
musical works including a series of five symphonies, four
ballets, and nine operas. Two of his best known compositions
will be “Afro-American Symphony” (1930) and “A Bayou Legend”
(1941). He will join the ancestors on December 3, 1978.
1899 – Clifton Reginald Wharton is born in Baltimore, Maryland. He
will receive his law degree in 1920 and his master’s of laws
degree both from the Boston University School of Law. He
will be the first African American to enter the Foreign
Service and the first African American to become the U.S.
ambassador to an European country. He will begin his career
in the Foreign Service in 1925. He will become the first
African American to pass the foriegn service’s written and
oral examinations. He will serve in a variety of diplomatic
positions in Liberia, Spain, Madagascar, Portugal, and
France before becoming minister to Romania in 1958 and the
Ambassador to Norway in 1961. He will be the first African
American to attain the rank of minister and ambassador
before retiring from the State Department in 1964. He will
join the ancestors on April 23, 1990 after succumbing to a
1930 – Lawson Edward Brathwaite is born in Bridgetown, Barbados. He
will become a poet, critic, historian and editor better
known as Edward Kamau Brathwaite. He will be considered by
most literary critics in the English speaking Caribbean to
be the most important West Indian Poet. He will be best
known for his works “Rights of Passage,” “Masks,” and
“Islands” which will later be combined in a trilogy “The
Arrivants.” His other works will be “Other Exiles,”
“Mother Poem, Sun Poem,” “X/Self,” “Middles Passages,” and
“Roots.” He will be the recipient of a Guggenheim
Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, the Casa de las
Americas prize, and the Neustadt International Prize for
Literature. After teaching at the University of the West
Indies for twenty years, he will join the faculty of New
1933 – Louis Eugene Walcott is born in Roxbury, Massachusetts. In
1955 he will convert to Islam and join The Nation of Islam
after attending the Saviour’s Day Convention in Chicago,
Illinois. He will be known as Louis X and will later adopt
the name Louis Farrakhan. Within three months of joining
the Nation, he will have to choose between his life in show
business or life in the Nation of Islam. He chooses to
leave his life as an entertainer and dedicates his life to
the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. After moving
to Boston at the request of Malcolm X, he will rise to the
rank of Minister and will head the Boston Temple from 1956
until 1965 when he was asked by Elijah Muhammad to take over
Temple # 7 in New York City. After the death of Elijah
Muhammad and three years of subsequent changes in the Nation
from his teachings, Minister Farrakhan decided to return to
the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and since then, has
continued programs to uplift and reform Blacks. In 1995, he
will exhibit his influence as a Black leader when he
successfully organizes and speaks at the Million Man March
in Washington, DC.
1963 – One day after Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth announces agreement
on a limited integration plan in Birmingham, Alabama, his
home is bombed and a civil disturbance ensues.
1965 – African Americans hold a mass meeting in Norfolk, Virginia
and demand equal rights and ballots.
1968 – Nine Caravans of poor people arrive in Washington, DC for
first phase of Poor People’s Campaign. Caravans started
from different sections of the country on May 2 and picked
up demonstrators along the way. In Washington,
demonstrators erect a camp called Resurrection City on a
sixteen-acre site near the Lincoln Monument.
1970 – Johnny Hodges joins the ancestors in New York City at the age
of 63. He had been a well known saxophone player and played
with the band of Duke Ellington for almost forty years. He
was Duke Ellington’s favorite soloist. Over his career, he
will be chosen as the best reed player by DownBeat Magazine
1972 – The San Francisco Giants announce that they are trading
Willie Mays to the New York Mets.
1981 – Hoyt J. Fuller joins the ancestors in Atlanta at the age of
57. He was a literary critic and editor of “First World”
and “Black World” (formerly Negro Digest) magazines.
1981 – Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley, Jamaican-born singer who
popularized reggae with his group The Wailers, joins the
ancestors after succumbing to cancer in a Miami hospital at
the age of 36. He will enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame in 1994.
1981 – Ken Norton, former heavyweight boxing champion, is left on
the ropes and unconscious after 54 seconds of the first
round at Madison Square Garden in New York City, by Gerry
1986 – Frederick Douglass ‘Fritz’ Pollard joins the ancestors in
Silver Spring, Maryland at the age of 92. Pollard had been
the first African American to play in the Rose Bowl and the
second African American to be named All-American in college
football. After college he played professional football and
later became the coach of his team. When the league in
which he coached became the NFL in 1922, he became the
first African American coach in NFL history. No other
African American will coach in the NFL until the 1990s.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.
* Today in Black History – May 10 *
1652 – John Johnson, a free African American, is granted 550 acres
in Northampton County, Virginia, for importing eleven
persons to work as indentured servants.
1775 – Lemuel Haynes, Epheram Blackman, and Primas Black, in the
first aggressive action of American forces against the
British, help capture Fort Ticonderoga as members of
Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys.
1815 – Henry Walton Bibb is born a slave in Shelby County,
Kentucky. He will escape to Canada, return to get his
first wife, be recaptured in Cincinnati, escape again, be
recaptured again and sold into slavery in New Orleans. He
will be removed to Arkansas, where he will escape yet
again, this time for good in 1842. He will make his way
to Detroit, Michigan and will become an active
abolitionist. He will publish his autobiography, “Narrative
of The Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, an American
Slave” in 1849. This narrative of his life will be so
suspenseful that an investigation is conducted that will
substantiate Bibb’s account. In 1850, the U.S. Congress
will pass the Fugitive Slave Act which will force his
immigration to Canada with his second wife. In 1851, he
will found the “Voice of the Fugitive”, the first Black
newspaper in Canada. He will join the ancestors in 1854 at
the age of 39.
1837 – Pinckney Benton Steward (P.B.S.) Pinchback is born near
Macon, Georgia. During the Civil War, he will recruit and
command a company of the “Corps d’Afrique,” a calvary unit
from Louisiana. He will resign his commission in 1863 after
unsuccessful demands that African American officers and
enlisted men be treated the same as white military
personnel. In 1868, he will be elected to the Louisiana
legislature as a Senator. In 1871, he will be elected
President Pro Temp of the Louisiana Senate, and will become
Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana in 1872 after the death of
Oscar Dunn. He will serve briefly (two months) as the
appointed Governor. He will be elected to the U.S. Senate
in 1873, but never be seated by that body, due to supposed
election irregularities. After the end of Reconstruction
and his political career, Pinchback will use his resources
to work as an advocate for African Americans as Southern
Democrats endeavor to take away the civil rights gained by
Blacks after the Civil War. He will publish the newspaper
“The Louisianan,” using it as a venue to help influence
public opinion. He will also become the leader of the
precursor to the Associated Negro Press, the Convention of
Colored Newspaper Men. At the age of sixty, he will
relocate to Washington, DC where he will live until he
joins the ancestors on December 21, 1921.
1876 – The American Centennial Exposition opens in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. Included are works by four African American
artists, among them Edmonia Lewis’ “The Dying Cleopatra”
and Edward Bannister’s “Under the Oaks.” Bannister’s
painting will win the bronze medal, a distinct and
controversial achievement for the renowned painter.
1919 – A race riot occurs in Charleston, South Carolina. Two
African Americans are killed.
1934 – Sallie Jayne Richardson is born in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
She will be better known as Jayne Cortez and will be a poet,
activist, small press publisher and spoken-word performance
artist whose voice will be celebrated for its political,
surrealistic and dynamic innovations in lyricism and visceral
sound. Her writing will be part of the canon of the Black
Arts Movement. She will marry jazz saxophonist Ornette
Coleman in 1954. After divorcing him in 1960, she will study
drama and poetry. She will become active in the civil rights
movement, registering African Americans to vote in Mississippi
as a worker for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
She will marry sculptor Melvin Edwards in 1975. She will be
the author of 12 books of poems and will perform her poetry
with music on nine recordings. She will present her work and
ideas at universities, museums, and festivals in Africa, Asia,
Europe, South America, the Caribbean and the United States.
Her poems will be translated into 28 languages and widely
published in anthologies, journals and magazines, including
“Postmodern American Poetry,” “Daughters of Africa,” “Poems
for the Millennium,” “Mother Jones,” and “The Jazz Poetry
Anthology.” In 1991, along with Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo,
she will found the Organization of Women Writers of Africa
(OWWA), of which she will be president. She will be the
organizer of “Slave Routes: The Long Memory” (2000) and “Yari
Yari Pamberi: Black Women Writers Dissecting Globalization”
(2004), both international conferences held at New York
University. She will appear on screen in the films “Women in
Jazz” and “Poetry in Motion.” She will also direct Yari Yari:
Black Women Writers and the Future (1999), which will document
panels, readings and performances held during the first major
international literary conference on women of African descent.
She will join the ancestors on December 28, 2012.
1935 – Larry Williams is born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He will
become a rhythm and blues singer and will be known for
his record hits “Short Fat Fannie,” “Bony Maronie,” and
“Dizzy Miss Lizzie.” He will join the ancestors on
January 7, 1980 after succumbing to a gunshot to the head.
1944 – Judith Jamison is born in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania. She
will begin her dancing career at the age of six. She
will complete her dance training at the Philadelphia
Dance Company (later the University of Arts). She will
make her debut with the Alvin Ailey American Dance
Theatre in Chicago, dancing in Talley Beaty’s Congo
Tango Palace. She will become the troupe’s premier dancer
in 1967 and will tour the world exhibiting her signature
dance “Cry.” She will win a Dance Magazine award for her
performances in 1972. She will leave the Ailey
troupe in 1980 to perform on Broadway and will choreograph
many of her own works such as “Divining,” Ancestral Rites”
and “Hymn.” She will form the twelve member group, The
Jamison Project, in 1987. After Alvin Ailey’s health
declines in 1988, she will rejoin the Ailey troupe as
artistic associate and will become artistic director upon
his death in 1989. She will continue the company’s
tradition of performing early works choreographed by
African Americans for many years.
1950 – Jackie Robinson appears on the cover of Life magazine. It
is the first time an African American has been featured on
the magazine’s cover in its 13-year history.
1951 – Z. Alexander Looby is the first African American elected to
the Nashville City Council.
1952 – Canada Lee joins the ancestors in England at the age of 45.
He had become an actor in 1933 after a professional boxing
match left him blind in one eye. He was able to be cast in
non-traditional roles for African Americans at a time when
most were cast in stereotypical parts. He was best known
for his portrayal of “Bigger Thomas” in the play “Native
Son” in 1940 and 1941. He was blacklisted by the House
Committee on Un-American Activities and the FBI for his
outspoken views on the stereotyping of African Americans
in Hollywood and Broadway.
1962 – Southern School News reports that 246,988 or 7.6 per cent of
the African American pupils in public schools in seventeen
Southern and Border States and the District of Columbia
attended integrated classes in 1962.
1963 – Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth announces agreement on a limited
integration plan which will end the Birmingham
1974 – “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely” earns a gold record for the
group, The Main Ingredient. The trio began as the Poets
in 1964. Cuba Gooding is the lead singer. (Gooding’s
son, Cuba Jr., will star in the 1991 film “Boyz N The Hood”
and will win an Academy award for his role in the movie
“Jerry Maguire in 1997.) The Main Ingredient’s biggest
hit, “Everybody Plays The Fool,” will make it to number
three on the pop charts in 1972.
1986 – Navy Lt. Commander Donnie Cochran becomes the first African
American pilot to fly with the celebrated Blue Angels
precision aerial demonstration team.
1994 – Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as president of South Africa.
In an historic exchange of power, former political
prisoner Nelson Mandela becomes the first Black president
of South Africa. In his acceptance speech, he says, “We
enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in
which all South Africans, both black and white, will be
able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts–a
rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.”
1998 – Jose’ Francisco Pena Gomez joins the ancestors at the age
of 61 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic after succumbing
to pancreatic cancer. He had risen from a childhood of
extreme poverty to become one of the most prominent black
political figures in Latin America. He had led a successful
civil-military revolt in 1965 which was curtailed by the
interference of United States Marines sent to the Dominican
Republic to put down the rebellion. He was later forced
into exile. He later returned to the Dominican Republic and
became heavily involved in politics as leader of the Partido
Revolucionario Dominicano. He ran for president
unsuccessfully three times.
Information retrieved from the Munirah Chronicle and is edited by Mr. Rene’ A. Perry.