“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his “proper place” and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His question of education makes it necessary.”
“The race will free itself from exploiters just as soon as it decides to do so. No one else can accomplish this task for the race. It must plan and do for itself.” — Carter G. Woodson
The Miseducation of the Negro describes the plight of our schools like no other book. He makes it plain. Woodson says that either you are taught to value yourself primarily, or are taught to value someone else primarily. You are taught to be concerned with satisfying the needs of your community or trained to satisfy another’s. Education gives you backbone or teaches you to lean. Carter G. Woodson is the Father of Black History and “Black history is your history.” — James Baldwin
From the age of four, Sally has worked as a slave in the cotton fields on a Georgia plantation. She is 11 in 1801 when her parents hear that she and her older brother are to be sold. The family runs away and finds shelter with the Seminole Indians in Florida. Mama dies on the journey. Along with their grief is the terrifying threat from the vicious slave hunters, but the runaways ultimately find kindness and community. Bt it’s way better than the backbreaking labor and cruelty of plantation life. They the fly to freedom, the sadness, and the hope. The action is fast, the journey fraught with danger; the details bring it home. Remembering her own childhood, Sally finds it difficult to believe that the Seminole children are free to play all day (“Ain’t them little ones got no work to do?”).
In his first book for young adults, the bestselling author and master of mystery, the great Walter Mosley, weaves a powerful narrative about the nature of freedom. The life of a young slave named 47 seems doomed until he meets a mysterious runaway slave and finds himself swept up in a struggle for his own liberation.
Fearing a death sentence, Octavian and his tutor, Dr. Trefusis, escape through rising tides and pouring rain to find shelter in British-occupied Boston. Sundered from all he knows — the College of Lucidity, the rebel cause — Octavian hopes to find safe harbor. Instead, he is soon to learn of Lord Dunmore’s proclamation offering freedom to slaves who join the counterrevolutionary forces.
In Volume II of his unparalleled masterwork, M. T. Anderson recounts Octavian’s experiences as the Revolutionary War explodes around him, thrusting him into intense battles and tantalizing him with elusive visions of liberty. Ultimately, this astonishing narrative escalates to a startling, deeply satisfying climax, while reexamining our national origins in a singularly provocative light.
(Sequel to the National Book Award Winner)
“A novel of the first rank, the kind of monumental work Italo Calvino called ‘encyclopedic’ in the way it sweeps up history into a comprehensible and deeply textured pattern.” — THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
It sounds like a fairy tale. He is a boy dressed in silks and white wigs and given the finest of classical educations. Raised by a group of rational philosophers known only by numbers, the boy and his mother — a princess in exile from a faraway land — are the only persons in their household assigned names. As the boy’s regal mother, Cassiopeia, entertains the house scholars with her beauty and wit, young Octavian begins to question the purpose behind his guardians’ fanatical studies. Only after he dares to open a forbidden door does he learn the hideous nature of their experiments — and his own chilling role in them.
Set against the disquiet of Revolutionary Boston, M. T. Anderson’s extraordinary novel takes place at a time when American Patriots rioted and battled to win liberty while African slaves were entreated to risk their lives for a freedom they would never claim. The first of two parts, this deeply provocative novel reimagines the past as an eerie place that has startling resonance for readers today.
It’s near the end of The Civil War, and rumors of emancipation are swirling. Eleven-year-old Luke decides to run away to freedom and join the Union Army. But he doesn’t find the Yankee troops he was hoping for. Instead, he finds nine-year-old Daylily, lost in the woods after suffering an unspeakable tragedy. Her master set her free, but freedom so far has her scared and alone.
Also lost in the woods is seven-year-old Caswell, the son of a plantation owner. He was only trying to find his Mamadear after the Yankees burned their house with all their fine things. He wanted to be brave. But alone in the woods with two slave children, he quickly loses all his courage, and comes to greatly depend upon his new friends. In the chaos and violence that follows, the three unrelated children discover a bond in each other stronger than family.
A touching, beautifully written narrative, Black Angels is a riveting, special read.
When pale strangers enter fifteen-year-old Amari’s village, her entire tribe welcomes them; for in her remote part of Africa, visitors are always a cause for celebration. But these strangers are not here to celebrate. They are here to capture the strongest, healthiest villagers and to murder the rest. They are slave traders. And in the time it takes a gun to fire, Amari’s life as she’s known it is destroyed, along with her family and village.
Beaten, branded, and dragged onto a slave ship, Amari is forced to witness horrors worse than any nightmare and endure humiliations she had never thought possible — including being sold to a plantation owner in the Carolinas who gives her to his sixteen-year-old son, Clay, as his birthday present.
Now, survival and escape are all Amari dreams about. As she struggles to hold on to her memories in the face of backbreaking plantation work and daily degradation at the hands of Clay, she finds friendship in unexpected places. Polly, an outspoken indentured white girl, proves not to be as hateful as she’d first seemed upon Amari’s arrival, and the plantation owner’s wife, despite her trappings of luxury and demons of her own, is kind to Amari. But these small comforts can’t relieve Amari’s feelings of hopelessness and despair, and when an opportunity to escape presents itself, Amari and Polly decide to work together to find the thing they both want most . . . freedom.
Grand and sweeping in scope, detailed and penetrating in its look at the complicated interrelationships of those who live together on a plantation, Copper Sun is an unflinching and unforgettable look at the African slave trade and slavery in America.
Born into slavery, Bass Reeves became the most successful US Marshal of the Wild West.
Many “heroic lawmen” of the Wild West, familiar to us through television and film, were actually violent scoundrels and outlaws themselves. But of all the sheriffs of the frontier, one man stands out as a true hero: Bass Reeves.
He was the most successful Federal Marshal in the US in his day. True to the mythical code of the West, he never drew his gun first. He brought hundreds of fugitives to justice, was shot at countless times, and never hit.
Bass Reeves was a Black man, born into slavery. And though the laws of his country enslaved him and his mother, when he became a free man he served the law, with such courage and honor that he became a legend.
“To know things, for us to know things, is bad for them. We get to wanting and when we get to wanting it’s bad for them. They thinks we want what they got . . . That’s why they don’t want us reading.”
“I didn’t know what letters was, not what they meant, but I thought it might be something I wanted to know. To learn.” –Sarny
Sarny, a female slave at the Waller plantation, first sees Nightjohn when he is brought there with a rope around his neck, his body covered in scars. He had escaped north to freedom, but he came back–came back to teach reading. Knowing that the penalty for reading is dismemberment Nightjohn still retumed to slavery to teach others how to read. And twelve-year-old Sarny is willing to take the risk to learn.
Dana, a modern Black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the White son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.
Kindred is that rare a magical artifact that walks through doors of time and skins of different color. This story, set in and out of slavery’s vice, Ms Butler implants the notion that we may be those ex-slaves who escape to a future time. Octavia is an incredibly creative writer of detailed, highly conscientious, social criticism.
“In Kindred, Octavia Butler creates a road for the impossible, and a balm for the unbearable. It is everything the literature of science fiction can be.” –Walter Mosley
“Butler”s books are exceptional . . . She is a realist, writing the most detailed social criticism and creating some of the most fascinating female characters in the genre . . . real women caught in impossible situations.” –The Village Voice