More in autobiography

The earliest known prison memoir by an African American writer—recently discovered and authenticated by a team of Yale scholars—sheds light on the longstanding connection between race and incarceration in America.

“[A] harrowing [portrait] of life behind bars . . . part confession, part jeremiad, part lamentation, part picaresque novel (reminiscent, at times, of Dickens and Defoe).”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

In 2009, scholars at Yale University came across a startling manuscript: the memoir of Austin Reed, a free black man born in the 1820s who spent most of his early life ricocheting between forced labor in prison and forced labor as an indentured servant. Lost for more than one hundred and fifty years, the handwritten document is the first known prison memoir written by an African American. Corroborated by prison records and other documentary sources, Reed’s text gives a gripping first-person account of an antebellum Northern life lived outside slavery that nonetheless bore, in its day-to-day details, unsettling resemblances to that very institution.

Now, for the first time, we can hear Austin Reed’s story as he meant to tell it. He was born to a middle-class black family in the boomtown of Rochester, New York, but when his father died, his mother struggled to make ends meet. Still a child, Reed was placed as an indentured servant to a nearby family of white farmers near Rochester. He was caught attempting to set fire to a building and sentenced to ten years at Manhattan’s brutal House of Refuge, an early juvenile reformatory that would soon become known for beatings and forced labor.

Seven years later, Reed found himself at New York’s infamous Auburn State Prison. It was there that he finished writing this memoir, which explores America’s first reformatory and first industrial prison from an inmate’s point of view, recalling the great cruelties and kindnesses he experienced in those places and excavating patterns of racial segregation, exploitation, and bondage that extended beyond the boundaries of the slaveholding South, into free New York.

Accompanied by fascinating historical documents (including a series of poignant letters written by Reed near the end of his life), The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict is a work of uncommon beauty that tells a story of nineteenth-century racism, violence, labor, and captivity in a proud, defiant voice. Reed’s memoir illuminates his own life and times—as well as ours today.

Praise for The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict

“One of the most fascinating and important memoirs ever produced in the United States.”—Annette Gordon-Reed, The Washington Post

“Remarkable . . . triumphantly defiant . . . The book’s greatest value lies in the gap it fills.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Reed displays virtuosic gifts for narrative that, a century and a half later, earn and hold the reader’s ear.”—Thomas Chatterton Williams, San Francisco Chronicle

“[The book’s] urgency and relevance remain undiminished. . . . This exemplary edition recovers history without permanently trapping it in one interpretation.”—The Guardian

“A sensational, novelistic telling of an eventful life.”—The Paris Review

“Vivid and painful.”—NPR

“Lyrical and graceful in one sentence, burning with fury and hellfire in the next.”—Columbus Free Press
In the middle decades of the nineteenth century Jeremiah G. Hamilton was a well-known figure on Wall Street. Cornelius Vanderbilt, America's first tycoon, came to respect, grudgingly, his one-time opponent. The day after Vanderbilt's death on January 4, 1877, an almost full-page obituary on the front of the National Republican acknowledged that, in the context of his Wall Street share transactions, "There was only one man who ever fought the Commodore to the end, and that was Jeremiah Hamilton."

What Vanderbilt's obituary failed to mention, perhaps as contemporaries already knew it well, was that Hamilton was African American. Hamilton, although his origins were lowly, possibly slave, was reportedly the richest colored man in the United States, possessing a fortune of $2 million, or in excess of two hundred and $50 million in today's currency.

In Prince of Darkness, a groundbreaking and vivid account, eminent historian Shane White reveals the larger than life story of a man who defied every convention of his time. He wheeled and dealed in the lily white business world, he married a white woman, he bought a mansion in rural New Jersey, he owned railroad stock on trains he was not legally allowed to ride, and generally set his white contemporaries teeth on edge when he wasn't just plain outsmarting them. An important contribution to American history, Hamilton's life offers a way into considering, from the unusual perspective of a black man, subjects that are usually seen as being quintessentially white, totally segregated from the African American past.

In 1976, Kentucky state legislator Mae Street Kidd successfully sponsored a resolution ratifying the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It was fitting that a black woman should initiate the state's formal repudiation of slavery; that it was Mrs. Kidd was all the more appropriate. Born in Millersburg, Kentucky, in 1904 to a black mother and a white father, Kidd grew up to be a striking woman with fair skin and light hair. Sometimes accused of trying to pass for white in a segregated society, Kidd felt that she was doing the opposite -- choosing to assert her black identity. Passing for Black is her story, in her own words, of how she lived in this racial limbo and the obstacles it presented. As a Kentucky woman of color during a pioneering period of minority and women's rights, Kidd seized every opportunity to get ahead. She attended a black boarding academy after high school and went on to become a successful businesswoman in the insurance and cosmetic industries in a time when few women, black or white, were able to compete in a male-dominated society. She also served with the American Red Cross in England during World War II. It was not until she was in her sixties that she turned to politics, sitting for seventeen years in the Kentucky General Assembly -- one of the few black women ever to do so -- where she crusaded vigorously for housing rights. Her story -- presented as oral history elicited and edited by Wade Hall -- provides an important benchmark in African American and women's studies and endures as a vital document in Kentucky history.
John Hope Franklin lived through America's most defining twentieth-century transformation, the dismantling of legally protected racial segregation. A renowned scholar, he has explored that transformation in its myriad aspects, notably in his 3.5-million-copy bestseller, From Slavery to Freedom. Born in 1915, he, like every other African American, could not help but participate: he was evicted from whites-only train cars, confined to segregated schools, threatened—once with lynching—and consistently subjected to racism's denigration of his humanity. Yet he managed to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard; become the first black historian to assume a full professorship at a white institution, Brooklyn College; and be appointed chair of the University of Chicago's history department and, later, John B. Duke Professor at Duke University. He has reshaped the way African American history is understood and taught and become one of the world's most celebrated historians, garnering over 130 honorary degrees. But Franklin's participation was much more fundamental than that.

From his effort in 1934 to hand President Franklin Roosevelt a petition calling for action in response to the Cordie Cheek lynching, to his 1997 appointment by President Clinton to head the President's Initiative on Race, and continuing to the present, Franklin has influenced with determination and dignity the nation's racial conscience. Whether aiding Thurgood Marshall's preparation for arguing Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, marching to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965, or testifying against Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987, Franklin has pushed the national conversation on race toward humanity and equality, a life long effort that earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, in 1995. Intimate, at times revelatory, Mirror to America chronicles Franklin's life and this nation's racial transformation in the twentieth century, and is a powerful reminder of the extent to which the problem of America remains the problem of color.

Winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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At once incendiary and icy, mischievous and provocative, celebratory and elegiac—here is a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, and American culture through the prism of the author’s rarefied upbringing and education among a black elite concerned with distancing itself from whites and the black generality while tirelessly measuring itself against both.
 
Born in upper-crust black Chicago—her father was for years head of pediatrics at Provident, at the time the nation’s oldest black hospital; her mother was a socialite—Margo Jefferson has spent most of her life among (call them what you will) the colored aristocracy, the colored elite, the blue-vein society. Since the nineteenth century they have stood apart, these inhabitants of Negroland, “a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty.”
 
Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments—the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of postracial America—Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions. Aware as it is of heart-wrenching despair and depression, this book is a triumphant paean to the grace of perseverance.

(With 8 pages of black-and-white photographs.)
Dolly Sumner Lunt begins her diary, A Woman's Wartime Journal, published in 1918, by recalling her anxiety about the approach of General Sherman's Union army on January 1, 1864. While she worries about the arrival of Sherman's troops and their habit of pillaging and burning everything in their path, she records stories of visits by local raiders posing as U.S. soldiers and the sleepless nights she has spent watching fires on the horizon. Despite Lunt's efforts to hide her valuable possessions, which include sending her mules into the woods, dividing her stores of meat among the slaves, and burying the silver, the passing Union troops raid her house and plantation and take her slaves with them. They also set fire to cotton bales in her barn, but the blaze burns out before spreading, largely sparing Lunt's property the widespread destruction suffered by neighboring plantations. In her last entries, dated December 1865, Lunt writes optimistically about the recovery of her farm, her new sharecropping system, and the first cheerful Christmas in years.

A DOCSOUTH BOOK. This collaboration between UNC Press and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library brings classic works from the digital library of Documenting the American South back into print. DocSouth Books uses the latest digital technologies to make these works available in paperback and e-book formats. Selected and edited by Bryan Giemza, Director of the Southern Historical Collection, each book contains a short summary and is otherwise unaltered from the original publication. DocSouth Books provide affordable and easily accessible editions to a new generation of scholars, students, and general readers.

Armed with only early boyhood memories, Lawrence P. Jackson begins his quest by setting out from his home in Baltimore for Pittsylvania County, Virginia, to try to find his late grandfather’s old home by the railroad tracks in Blairs. My Father’s Name tells the tale of the ensuing journey, at once a detective story and a moving historical memoir, uncovering the mixture of anguish and fulfillment that accompanies a venture into the ancestral past, specifically one tied to the history of slavery. After asking around in Pittsylvania County and carefully putting the pieces together, Jackson finds himself in the house of distant relations. In the pages that follow, he becomes increasingly absorbed by the search for his ancestors and increasingly aware of how few generations an African American needs to map back in order to arrive at slavery, “a door of no return.” Ultimately, Jackson’s dogged research in libraries, census records, and courthouse registries enables him to trace his family to his grandfather’s grandfather, a man who was born or sold into slavery but who, when Federal troops abandoned the South in 1877, was able to buy forty acres of land. In this intimate study of a black Virginia family and neighborhood, Jackson vividly reconstructs moments in the lives of his father’s grandfather, Edward Jackson, and great-grandfather, Granville Hundley, and gives life to revealing narratives of Pittsylvania County, recalling both the horror of slavery and the later struggles of postbellum freedom.
My Father’s Name is a family story full of twists and turns—and one of haunting familiarity to many Americans, who may question whether the promises of emancipation have ever truly been fulfilled. It is also a resolute look at the duties that come with reclaiming and honoring Americans who survived slavery and a thoughtful meditation on its painful and enduring history.
Updated With The Latest Facts And Photos

"A Black history buff's dream." --Ebony

From ground-breaking achievements to awe-inspiring feats of excellence, this definitive resource reveals over 450 "firsts" by African Americans in fields as diverse as government, entertainment, education, science, medicine, law, the military, and the business world. Discover the first doctor to perform open heart surgery and the youngest person to fly solo around the world. Learn about the first African Americans to walk in space, to serve two terms as President of the United States, and many other wonderful and important contributions often accomplished despite poverty, discrimination, and racism. Did you know that. . .

At her first Olympics, Gabrielle Douglas became the first African American woman to win gold in both the team and individual all-around Olympic competitions.

Sophia Danenberg scaled new heights as the first African American to reach the top of Mount Everest.

Dr. Patricia E. Bath revolutionized laser eye surgery as the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent.

Shonda Rhimes was the first African American woman to create and produce a top television series.

Ursula Burns was the first African American woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Spanning colonial days to the present, African American Firsts is a clear reflection of a prideful legacy, a celebration of our changing times, and a signpost to an even greater future.

Over 100 Pages of Photographs Fully Revised and Updated

"Fascinating. . .an excellent source for browsing and for locating facts that are hard to find elsewhere." --School Library Journal

"I recommend this book, a tool with innumerable possibilities which will help individuals understand. . .the contributions and inventions of African Americans." --The late Dr. Betty Shabazz

"For browsing or serious queries on great achievements by blacks in America." --Booklist
*Named a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics*

In this powerful, provocative, and universally lauded memoir—winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and finalist for the Kirkus Prize—genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon “provocatively meditates on his trauma growing up as a black man, and in turn crafts an essential polemic against American moral rot” (Entertainment Weekly).

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to time in New York as a college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. Heavy is a “gorgeous, gutting…generous” (The New York Times) memoir that combines personal stories with piercing intellect to reflect both on the strife of American society and on Laymon’s experiences with abuse. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, he asks us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.

“A book for people who appreciated Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family through years of haunting implosions and long reverberations. “You won’t be able to put [this memoir] down…It is packed with reminders of how black dreams get skewed and deferred, yet are also pregnant with the possibility that a kind of redemption may lie in intimate grappling with black realities” (The Atlantic).
A New York Times Best Seller!

Tomlinson Hill is the stunning story of two families—one white, one black—who trace their roots to a slave plantation that bears their name.

Internationally recognized for his work as a fearless war correspondent, award-winning journalist Chris Tomlinson grew up hearing stories about his family's abandoned cotton plantation in Falls County, Texas. Most of the tales lionized his white ancestors for pioneering along the Brazos River. His grandfather often said the family's slaves loved them so much that they also took Tomlinson as their last name.

LaDainian Tomlinson, football great and former running back for the San Diego Chargers, spent part of his childhood playing on the same land that his black ancestors had worked as slaves. As a child, LaDainian believed the Hill was named after his family. Not until he was old enough to read an historical plaque did he realize that the Hill was named for his ancestor's slaveholders.

A masterpiece of authentic American history, Tomlinson Hill traces the true and very revealing story of these two families. From the beginning in 1854— when the first Tomlinson, a white woman, arrived—to 2007, when the last Tomlinson, LaDainian's father, left, the book unflinchingly explores the history of race and bigotry in Texas. Along the way it also manages to disclose a great many untruths that are latent in the unsettling and complex story of America.

Tomlinson Hill is also the basis for a film and an interactive web project. The award-winning film, which airs on PBS, concentrates on present-day Marlin, Texas and how the community struggles with poverty and the legacy of race today, and is accompanied by an interactive web site called Voice of Marlin, which stores the oral histories collected along the way.

Chris Tomlinson has used the reporting skills he honed as a highly respected reporter covering ethnic violence in Africa and the Middle East to fashion a perfect microcosm of America's own ethnic strife. The economic inequality, political shenanigans, cruelty and racism—both subtle and overt—that informs the history of Tomlinson Hill also live on in many ways to this very day in our country as a whole. The author has used his impressive credentials and honest humanity to create a classic work of American history that will take its place alongside the timeless work of our finest historians

Finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction

A startling and eye-opening look into America’s First Family, Never Caught is the powerful story about a daring woman of “extraordinary grit” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

When George Washington was elected president, he reluctantly left behind his beloved Mount Vernon to serve in Philadelphia, the temporary seat of the nation’s capital. In setting up his household he brought along nine slaves, including Ona Judge. As the President grew accustomed to Northern ways, there was one change he couldn’t abide: Pennsylvania law required enslaved people be set free after six months of residency in the state. Rather than comply, Washington decided to circumvent the law. Every six months he sent the slaves back down south just as the clock was about to expire.

Though Ona Judge lived a life of relative comfort, she was denied freedom. So, when the opportunity presented itself one clear and pleasant spring day in Philadelphia, Judge left everything she knew to escape to New England. Yet freedom would not come without its costs. At just twenty-two-years-old, Ona became the subject of an intense manhunt led by George Washington, who used his political and personal contacts to recapture his property.

“A crisp and compulsively readable feat of research and storytelling” (USA TODAY), historian Erica Armstrong Dunbar weaves a powerful tale and offers fascinating new scholarship on how one young woman risked everything to gain freedom from the famous founding father.
In Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles, professor and author Bert Ashe delivers a witty, fascinating, and unprecedented account of black male identity as seen through our culture's perceptions of hair. It is a deeply personal story that weaves together the cultural and political history of dreadlocks with Ashe's own mid-life journey to lock his hair. Ashe is a fresh, new voice that addresses the importance of black hair in the 20th and 21st centuries through an accessible, humorous, and literary style sure to engage a wide variety of readers.

After leading a far-too-conventional life for forty years, Ashe began a long, arduous, uncertain process of locking his own hair in an attempt to step out of American convention. Black hair, after all, matters. Few Americans are subject to snap judgements like those in the African-American community, and fewer communities face such loaded criticism about their appearances, in particular their hair. Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles makes the argument that the story of dreadlocks in America can’t be told except in front of the backdrop of black hair in America.

Ask most Americans about dreadlocks and they immediately conjure a picture of Bob Marley: on stage, mid-song, dreads splayed. When most Americans see dreadlocks, a range of assumptions quickly follow: he's Jamaican, he's Rasta, he plays reggae; he stinks, he smokes, he deals; he's bohemian, he's creative, he's counter-cultural. Few styles in America have more symbolism and generate more conflicting views than dreadlocks. To "read" dreadlocks is to take the cultural pulse of America. To read Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles is to understand a larger story about the truths and biases present in how we perceive ourselves and others. Ashe's riveting and intimate work, a genuine first of its kind, will be a seminal work for years to come.
This captivating and illuminating book is a memoir of a young black man moving from rural Georgia to life as a student and teacher in the Ivy League as well as a history of the changes in American education that developed in response to the civil rights movement, the war in Vietnam, and affirmative action. Born in 1950, Horace Porter starts out in rural Georgia in a house that has neither electricity nor running water. In 1968, he leaves his home in Columbus, Georgia—thanks to an academic scholarship to Amherst College—and lands in an upper-class, mainly white world. Focusing on such experiences in his American education, Porter's story is both unique and representative of his time.

The Making of a Black Scholar is structured around schools. Porter attends Georgia's segregated black schools until he enters the privileged world of Amherst College. He graduates (spending one semester at Morehouse College) and moves on to graduate study at Yale. He starts his teaching career at Detroit's Wayne State University and spends the 1980s at Dartmouth College and the 1990s at Stanford University. Porter writes about working to establish the first black studies program at Amherst, the challenges of graduate study at Yale, the infamous Dartmouth Review, and his meetings with such writers and scholars as Ralph Ellison, Tillie Olsen, James Baldwin, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. He ends by reflecting on an unforeseen move to the University of Iowa, which he ties into a return to the values of his childhood on a Georgia farm. In his success and the fulfillment of his academic aspirations, Porter represents an era, a generation, of possibility and achievement.
In this cutting-edge work, Rosetta R. Haynes explores the spiritual autobiographies of five nineteenth-century female African American itinerant preachers to discover the ways in which they drew upon religion and the material conditions of their lives to fashion powerful personas that enabled them to pursue their missions as divinely appointed religious leaders. Haynes examines the lives and narratives of Jarena Lee (1783--?), Zilpha Elaw (c. 1790--?), Julia Foote (1823--1900), Amanda Berry Smith (1837--1915), and Rebecca Cox Jackson (1795--1871) through an innovative conceptual framework Haynes terms "radical spiritual motherhood" -- an empowering identity deriving from the experience of "sanctification," a kind of spiritual perfection following conversion.
Drawing upon conventional nineteenth-century standards for motherhood, radical spiritual motherhood also challenges traditional standards: These were women whose religious missions authorized them to preach in public, to assume an activist role, and to declare sexual autonomy through celibacy. They redefined their relationships to the powers that be by becoming instruments of God in a kind of protofeminist gesture. Haynes uses historical methods, feminist literary theory, and liberation theology to investigate the ways these women, as reflected especially in their autobiographies, employed the idea of motherhood to fashion strong, authentic identities as women called to preach the gospel.
Though radical spiritual motherhood is an identity specifically adopted by free black women, the lives and texts of these itinerant preachers retain close ties to those of enslaved black women through the negative cultural stereotypes assigned to both groups. To illustrate this connection, Haynes analyzes the writings of the preachers within the context of the narratives of former slaves Harriet Jacobs, Mary Prince, and Sojourner Truth.
Haynes also links the lineage of radical spiritual motherhood to a modern woman by considering Pauli Murray (1910--1985), the first African American woman (and the second African American) to be ordained as an Episcopal priest. By looking at Murray's intellectual and spiritual development, especially her feminist ideologies, social activism, and espousal of liberation theology, Haynes shows that Murray was in fact a modern-day radical spiritual mother.
Pioneering and accessible, Radical Spiritual Motherhood marks a turning point in the study of both African American literature and women's studies.
Amid the social turmoil of the 1960s and ,70s, a young man in California found his purpose in the rise of the Black Panther Party, made a deadly mistake that cost him his freedom, and ultimately got his life back, having learned the true lessons of the Buddha Samurai.

By the time Flores Forbes was twenty-five years old, he had just a GED and sixty college credits to his name. But he had gone far in his chosen profession as a revolutionary. In 1977, Forbes had been in the Black Panther Party for almost a decade and had become the youngest member of the organization's central committee. In this remarkable memoir, Forbes vividly describes his transformation from an angry youth into a powerful partisan in the ranks of the black liberation movement. Disillusioned in high school by the racism in his native San Diego, he began reading Black Panther literature. Drawn to the Panthers' mission of organizing resistance to police brutality, he eagerly joined and soon found himself immersed in a culture of Mao-inspired rigor. His dedication ultimately earned him a place in the Party's elite inner circle as assistant chief of staff, charged with heading up the "fold" -- the heavily armed military branch dubbed by Huey P. Newton the "Buddha Samurai." "My job was one of the most secretive in the party," writes Forbes, "and to this day most of the people who were in the Party over the years had not a clue as to what I really did..."

With intimate portraits of such BPP leaders as Elaine Brown, Eldridge Cleaver, and Huey P. Newton, Will You Die with Me? is a riveting firsthand look at some of the most dramatic events of the last century and a brutally honest tale of one man's journey from rage to redemption.
In this “beautiful, evocative” (Booklist, starred review) memoir, Yvette Johnson travels to the Mississippi Delta to uncover the moving, true story of her late grandfather Booker Wright, whose extraordinary act of courage would change his and, later, her life forever.

“Have to keep that smile,” Booker Wright said in the 1966 NBC documentary Mississippi: A Self-Portrait. At the time, Wright was a waiter in a “whites only” restaurant and a local business owner who would become an unwitting icon of the Civil Rights Movement. For he did the unthinkable: speaking in front of a national audience, he described what daily life was truly like for black people of Greenwood, Mississippi.

Four decades later, Yvette Johnson, Wright’s granddaughter, found footage of the controversial documentary. No one in her family knew of his television appearance. Even more curious for Johnson was that for most of her life she’d barely heard mention of her grandfather’s name.

Born a year after Wright’s death and raised in a wealthy San Diego neighborhood, Johnson admits she never had to confront race in the way Southern blacks did in the 1960s. Compelled to learn more about her roots, she travels back to Greenwood, Mississippi, a beautiful Delta town steeped in secrets and a scarred past, to interview family members about the real Booker Wright. As she uncovers her grandfather’s compelling and ultimately tragic story, she also confronts her own conflicted feelings surrounding race, family, and forgiveness.

“With profound insight and unwavering compassion, Johnson weaves an unforgettable story” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) about her journey in pursuit of her family’s past—and ultimately finding a hopeful vision of the future for us all.
In Shelby Steele's beautifully wrought and thoughtprovoking new book, A Bound Man, the award-winning and bestselling author of The Content of Our Character attests that Senator Barack Obama's groundbreaking quest for the highest office in the land is fast becoming a galvanizing occasion beyond mere presidential politics, one that is forcing a national dialogue on the current state of race relations in America. Says Steele, poverty and inequality usually are the focus of such dialogues, but Obama's bid for so high an office pushes the conversation to a more abstract level where race is a politics of guilt and innocence generated by our painful racial history -- a kind of morality play between (and within) the races in which innocence is power and guilt is impotence.

Steele writes of how Obama is caught between the two classic postures that blacks have always used to make their way in the white American mainstream: bargaining and challenging. Bargainers strike a "bargain" with white America in which they say, I will not rub America's ugly history of racism in your face if you will not hold my race against me. Challengers do the opposite of bargainers. They charge whites with inherent racism and then demand that they prove themselves innocent by supporting black-friendly policies like affirmative action and diversity.

Steele maintains that Senator Obama is too constrained by these elaborate politics to find his own true political voice. Obama has the temperament, intelligence, and background -- an interracial family, a sterling education -- to guide America beyond the exhausted racial politics that now prevail. And yet he is a Promethean figure, a bound man.

Says Steele, Americans are constrained by a racial correctness so totalitarian that we are afraid even to privately ask ourselves what we think about racial matters. Like Obama, most of us find it easier to program ourselves for correctness rather than risk knowing and expressing what we truly feel. Obama emerges as a kind of Everyman in whom we can see our own struggle to accept and honor what we honestly feel about race. In A Bound Man, Steele makes clear the precise constellation of forces that bind Senator Obama, and proposes a way for him to break these bonds and find his own voice.The courage to trust in one's own careful judgment is the new racial progress, the "way out" from the forces that now bind us all.
President-elect Barack Obama reflected on the life of Ann Nixon Cooper on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, singling her out of millions of voters, he said, because she was “born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky, when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons—because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.”

Energized by this history-making presidential campaign, Mrs. Cooper now shares her story, her life before the president called her name, in her own voice, with the assistance of bestselling author Karen Grigsby Bates.

Mrs. Cooper is the beloved matriarch of a large and accomplished family who live throughout the country, and a long-celebrated elder in the city of Atlanta, Georgia, where she raised her children and has lived most of her long and extraordinary life. She was born and raised in Bedford County, Tennessee, near Nashville, on January 9, 1902. Her father was a tenant farmer, and her mother worked at home, taking care of the children.

She met her husband, Dr. Albert Berry Cooper II, while he attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville. They settled in his hometown of Atlanta, where he established a successful practice in dentistry.

When president-elect Obama referred to her in his speech, she became a celebrity, sought after by media from all over the world. In Mrs. Cooper’swords, “All of a sudden, everyone wanted to talkto me. . . . It was nice they were interested, I guess,but I wasn’t so thrilled that media and ordinaryfolk were acting as if the only exciting thing I’d everdone was vote for a black man for president. . . .I’d had a life before CNN and the rest ‘discovered’me.” And she is going to tell you about it.
This powerful debut tells the story of Paula Williams Madison's Chinese grandfather, Samuel Lowe. He became romantically involved with a Jamaican woman, Paula's grandmother, and they lived together modestly with their daughter in his Kingston dry goods store, Chiney Shop. In 1920 his Chinese soon-to-be wife arrived to set up a "proper" family. When he requested to take his three-year-old daughter with him, Paula's jealous grandmother made sure that Lowe never saw his child again. That began an almost one-hundred-year break in their family.

Years later, the arrival of her only grandchild raising questions about family and legacy, Paula decided to search for Samuel Lowe's descendants in China. With the support of her brothers and the help of encouraging strangers, a determined Paula eventually pieced together her grandfather's life, following his story from China to Jamaica and back.

Her amazing search is vividly rendered. Paula has produced an emotional memoir that travels from Toronto to Jamaica to China. Using old documents, digital records, and referrals from the insular and interrelated Chinese-Jamaican community, she found three hundred long-lost relatives in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, China. She even located documented family lineage that traces back three thousand years to 1006 BC. Her wonderfully warm elders, all born in Jamaica and raised in China, shared the history and accomplishments of the Lowes in the East and the West, as well as the hardships and persecution suffered by her capitalist grandfather during the Communist era and the Cultural Revolution.

Finding Samuel Lowe is a remarkable journey about one woman's path to self-discovery. It is a story about love and devotion that transcends time and race, and a beautiful reflection of the power of family and the interconnectedness of our world.

Originally published in order to raise money to purchase his son's freedom, Thomas Jones's autobiography first appeared in the 1850s. This version, published in 1885, includes not only Jones's account of his childhood and young adult life as a slave in North Carolina, but also a long additional section in which Jones describes his experiences as a minister in North Carolina, while still enslaved, and then on the abolitionist lecture circuit in Massachusetts and the Maritime Provinces of Canada after he stowed away on a ship bound for New York in 1849. The narrative's most prominent focus is on Jones's ministry in and around Wilmington, North Carolina, before he escaped. The narrative puts a characteristically postbellum emphasis on shared religious devotion and even fondness between African Americans and whites. Perhaps the most compelling scene, however, is Jones's account of his forcible separation from his first wife and their three children, whom he never saw again.

A DOCSOUTH BOOK. This collaboration between UNC Press and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library brings classic works from the digital library of Documenting the American South back into print. DocSouth Books uses the latest digital technologies to make these works available in paperback and e-book formats. Selected and edited by Bryan Giemza, Director of the Southern Historical Collection, each book contains a short summary and is otherwise unaltered from the original publication. DocSouth Books provide affordable and easily accessible editions to a new generation of scholars, students, and general readers.

“Tell anyone who asks that you’re half-black and half-white, just like David Hasselhoff from Knight Rider.”–Angela’s mother

“Love has no color,” insist Angela Nissel’s parents, but does it have a clue? In this candid, funny, and poignant memoir, Angela recounts growing up biracial in Philadelphia–moving back and forth between black inner-city schools and white prep schools–where her racial ambiguity and doomed attempts to blend in dog her teen years. Once in college, Angela experiments with black activism (hoping to find clarity in extremism), capitalizes on her “exotic” look at a strip club, and ends up with a major case of the blues (aka, a racial identity problem). Yet Angela is never down for the count. After moving to Los Angeles, she discovers that being multiracial is anything but simple, especially in terms of dating and romance.
By turns a comedy of errors and a moving coming-of-age chronicle, Mixed traces one woman’s unforgettable journey to self-acceptance and belonging.

Praise for Mixed

“I love Angela Nissel's writing. Reading Mixed was like getting a letter from a best friend I forgot I had. How ironic that a book written by someone who felt like no one "got" her will surely be one of those rare books everyone gets- black, white, both, neither. Hilarious, sweet, and honest, Mixed is the perfect read if you've ever felt like the one standing on the outside-- and let's face it, who hasn't? - -Jill Soloway, author of Tiny Ladies in Shiny Pants

“Nissel is humorous, poignant, and proud yet also empathetic and generous as she recounts her constant struggle to answer the perennial question persons of mixed race seem required to ask of themselves in our society–where do I fit in?.... All readers stand to learn from her account.” — Booklist

“Colorful anecdotes, marvelous dialogue and a thoughtful narrative make this memoir a delight.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"If David Sedaris was a straight biracial female, this is the book he'd write. This book is so funny I've already started telling people I helped Angela write it." -- Bill Lawrence, creator of Scrubs

"Growing up black and white, I always felt I had the best of both worlds. I feel the same way about Mixed. It's the perfect blend of hilarious comedy and sometimes tragic reality." -- Yvette Lee Bowser, creator of Living Single and executive producer of Half and Half
"Mixed is a hilarious must-read for anyone searching for the enchanting path to self-discovery. Angela Nissel's precise account of living the mixed race experience not only hit home with me, but the journey is deliciously enlightening and heart-rending at the same time. It's a journey well worth taking." --Halle Berry
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