Sunday, November 22, 2015

Black Colleges, Black Panthers and Black Broadway

Great discussion of The Turner House Tuesday night! Sadly, Angela Flournoy did not win the National Book Award for fiction Wednesday, although Ta Nehisi Coates did win for nonfiction!

Some news...

Our next meeting won't be until January 19th, when we'll be discussing E. Lynn Harris' I Say a Little Prayer. Copies have already begun arriving, (sadly, they did not get here in time for our discussion Tuesday.) We have copies on hold for AAL at the 2nd floor desk; call us at 847-448-8620 or just stop by.

I often run across books which would make great discussions, but there just aren't enough copies in the library system to do it. Here are a few recent titles I highly recommend...

Where everybody looks like me : at the crossroads of America's Black colleges and culture
Historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, have long been the bedrock of black culture, graduating heroes like Toni Morrison, Thurgood Marshall,  Oprah Winfrey, and Martin Luther King Jr. But the 104 HBCUs are under siege: funding cuts have forced universities to send home thousands of students, dozens of college presidents have been ousted from their jobs, criminal investigations have been launched, conservative legislators have schemed to shut down schools, and overworked faculty have feuded with bureaucrats. Chronicling this near breaking point for black colleges, Where everybody looks like me presents a compelling, tightly woven story of the challenges faced by HBCUs.

In this comprehensive history of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (ILBPP), Chicago native Jakobi Williams demonstrates that the city's Black Power movement was both a response to and an extension of the city's civil rights movement. Williams focuses on the life and violent death of charismatic leader Fred Hampton,  who served as president of the NAACP Youth Council and continued to pursue a civil rights agenda when he became chairman of the revolutionary Chicago-based Black Panther Party. Framing the story of Hampton and the ILBPP as a social and political history and using, for the first time, sealed secret police files in Chicago and interviews conducted with often reticent former members of the ILBPP, Williams explores how Hampton helped develop racial coalitions between the ILBPP and other local activists and organizations.Williams also recounts the history of the original Rainbow Coalition, an alliance of working class blacks, Latinos, and white Southerners, to show how the Panthers worked to create an anti-racist, anti-class coalition to fight urban renewal, political corruption, and police brutality.
In this timely new book, Tim Wise explores how Barack Obama's emergence as a political force is taking the race debate to new levels. According to Wise, for many white people, Obama's rise signifies the end of racism as a pervasive social force; they point to Obama not only as a validation of the American ideology that anyone can make it if they work hard, but also as an example of how institutional barriers against people of color have all but vanished. But is this true? And does a reinforced white belief in color-blind meritocracy potentially make it harder to address ongoing institutional racism? After all, in housing, employment, the justice system, and education, the evidence is clear: white privilege and discrimination against people of color are still operative and actively thwarting opportunities, despite the success of individuals like Obama. Is black success making it harder for whites to see the problem of racism, thereby further straining race relations, or will it challenge anti-black stereotypes to such an extent that racism will diminish and race relations improve?

 Broadway musicals are one of America's most beloved art forms and play to millions of people each year. But what do these shows, which are often thought to be just frothy entertainment, really have to say about our country and who we are as a nation? The Great White Way reveals the racial politics, content, and subtexts that have haunted musicals from Show Boat (1927) to The Scottsboro Boys (2011).   Presented chronologically, The Great White Way shows how perceptions of race altered over time and how musicals dealt with those changes.  New archival research on the creators who produced and wrote these shows, including Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, and Edward Kleban, will have theater fans rethinking  how they view this popular American entertainment.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Does a Home Make A Family?

A family home is more than just a building; it can represent the hopes, fears, and memories that make a family a family. In The Turner House, Angela Flournoy skillfully traces the web of love affairs, betrayals, accidents, crimes and disappointments that have molded the Turner family, the 13 children of Francis and Viola Turner of Detroit. Francis has died, and a bedridden Viola does not realize that the family home has lost much of its value. Each sibling deals with this crisis differently, and each must come to terms with a problematic family legacy.

In this video for Well Read Black Girl , Flournoy reminds us that everyone needs to forgive their parents at some point to become a full fledged adult. Please join us this coming Tuesday November 17th, (the day before the National Book Award ceremony!) at 7 pm at Evanston Public Library as we discuss this beautifully layered novel. Call 847-448-8620 or stop by the 2nd floor desk to get a copy.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Isabel Wilkerson speaks next Monday at Evanston Township High School

if you're a fan of The Warmth of Other Suns, I have very exciting news: author Isabel Wilkerson will be speaking at ETHS next Monday night November 16th, 7:00 pm! The event is free and no tickets are required. (Although I would suggest arriving early).