Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition (with CD ROM)

Dr. Patricia Liggings Hill, General Editor


Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition counts the rings in the family tree of Black people. Like a sequence of echoes, the rings of the tree are the responses of Africans adapting to the call of America. The technique of a concentric reverberating history adds cohesion and rhythm to the information.

The core beginning of Call and Response compares African and African American slave proverbs, work songs, spirituals, praise poems, sermons, prayers, song structure and folktales. The central ring echoes Africanisms into the printed works of poetry, slave narratives, letters, essays and oratory with the chapter Response: Black Literary Declarations of Independence. The spirituals and secular songs of slavery in the South are followed by the abolition voices in the North and include writings by Fred Douglass and Frances Harper. The Social Protest in Prose chapter includes words of Nat Turner, Harriet Jacobs, Martin Delaney, Charlotte Grimke and William Wells Brown. The Call for the Ideal of Freedom chapter includes spirituals Git on Board Little Children and Go Tell It on the Mountain; Work, Badman and Prison Songs like John Henry and Stagolee are followed with rural blues, ragtime, folk sermons and preacher tales.

The tree of the Black aesthetic is then extended with great stories by Charles Chesnutt and Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the politics of Booker T. Washington and Julia Foote, the activism of Ida B. Wells and W. E. B. Du Bois, the lyrics of classical blues of W. C. Handy, Mamie Smith, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Billie Holiday and Robert Johnson. Call and Response includes gospel, jazz, swing, boogie woogie, more “bad man” and prison songs, and toasts (including Shine and the Sinking of the Titanic and The Signifying Monkey).

That outlines only the first 800 pages! The span of the remaining 1200 pages includes writings by (to name a few) Marcus Garvey, Alain Locke, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullin, Zora Neal Hurston, Jean Toomer, Sterling Brown, Richard Wright and Chester Himes. The musical response to that layer of time includes The Twist and Charlie Parker, the poetic: Melvin Tolson, Robert Hayden, Dudley Randal, Margaret Walker and Gwendolyn Brooks, theater: Alice Childress and Lorraine Hansberry, and novelists: Ralph Ellison, John O. Killens, and James Baldwin. Response to the 60′s and 70′s call were lyrics sung by B. B. King, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin’s Respect, Howling Wolf, Ray Charles, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and, of course, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? The spirituals rocked steady with Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around and Keep Your Eyes on the Prize. The hood variations of the songs were sung by Queen Latifah, Ice T, Gil Scott Heron, Eric B. and Public Enemy who were responding to the conscience called from Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokley Carmichael and Angela Davis.

Poetry rings true with Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Haki Madhubuti, Nikki Givanni, Mari Evans, Maya Angelou, June Jordan, Ishmael Reed and Al Young. Toni Morrison, Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Terry McMillan, Askia Toure, August Wilson, Ana Deavere Smith, Rita Dove respond to our needs and close out this volume which ends with Randall Kenan’s The Foundations of the Earth.

This is a great study of Black history. In addition to being the best anthology of Black writing, Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American Literary Tradition is the legacy of artful living.

Paper 117.40

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The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson, who spent most of her career as a national correspondent and bureau chief at The New York Times, is the first Black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. Inspired by her own parents’ migration, she devoted fifteen years to the research and writing of this book. She interviewed more than 1,200 people, unearthed archival works and gathered the voices of the famous and the unknown to tell the epic story of the relocation of an entire people in The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration.

   In a beautifully told story of hope and longing, three young people set out from the American South during different decades of the 20th Century en route to the North and West. Their stories are interwoven with those of six million African-Americans who fled the South during what would become known as the Great Migration.

It is the story of how the northern cities came to be, of the music and culture that might not have existed had the people not migrated, and about the consequences of their migration and the courage necessary to make those moves.

From an interview on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman interviews Isabel Wilkerson:

AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to a pivotal but largely overlooked event in American history: the mass migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West of the country. Some six million Black citizens left the South during the period of the Great Migration, which began around 1915 and continued into the 1970s . . . Why did they leave?

ISABEL WILKERSON: They left because they wanted to be able to have better opportunities. They left because they were living under a caste system, which dictated and controlled every aspect of the lives of African Americans. In some ways I describe it as a defection as much as it was a migration. In many ways, they were seeking political asylum from a caste system that determined, for example, that in Birmingham, for example, a Black person and a White person couldn’t play checkers together. Someone actually sat down and wrote that out as a law. There were places—there were courtrooms in the South where there was actually a black Bible and a white Bible to swear to tell the truth on.

AMY GOODMAN: You begin your book with the words of Richard Wright. Can you read them?

ISABEL WILKERSON: Yes, and I preface it by saying that, in some ways, it speaks to anyone who’s ever left one place that . . .  they’ve known all their lives for a place they’ve never seen. It speaks to the immigrant heart, and it reads, ‘I was leaving the South to fling myself into the unknown. I was taking a part of the South to transplant in alien soil, to see if it could grow differently, if it could drink of new and cool rains, bend in strange winds, respond to the warmth of other suns, and, perhaps, to bloom.’

Paper 16.95
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Cloth 30.00
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CD 89.97
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