Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History

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9780028973456: Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History

The black experience in America has been one of pain, struggle, and perseverance, placed against a backdrop of cultural identity that would not be beaten down or eradicated in the face of adversity. Born of this combination of effort and identity and shaped by experience is the African-American, whose resultant cultural identity and history has for far too long remained only partly defined and incompletely documented. Filling this void, at last, is The Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History - an authoritative, five volume work dealing with all aspects of the African-American experience from 1619 to the present day. With over 2,300 entries, 2,500 pages, and more than 1,000 photographs, maps, and charts, the Encyclopedia encompasses a broad range of topics in an effort to fully define in one source both the cultural roots and the current condition of the African-American community.

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With coverage spanning the arrival in Virginia in 1619 of the first slaves from Africa to the election of Douglas Wilder as the first African American governor of that state, this set provides a fascinating survey of both the contributions to and the problems of blacks in American society. The 2,300 signed entries treat North America only. They range in length from a few paragraphs (Softball) to 30 pages (Education) in length. There are entries for all 50 states and major cities such as Chicago and Detroit, plus survey articles on Canada and Mexico. Articles treat individual black publications and each of the historically black colleges. There are entries highlighting the participation of blacks in all the major Christian denominations and Islam. Such entries as Black Business Community, Black Identity, Jim Crow, Kwanza, and Passing treat topics unique to African Americans. Entries on more general topics, such as Birth Control, Banking, Class and Society, Suburbanization, and Television, highlight black perspectives. The nine-page entry Advertising, for example, describes the history of advertising to African Americans and the use of African Americans in advertising aimed at whites. Entries are here for laws, court cases, and for labor unions. Coverage of the arts is extensive. Two-thirds of the entries are biographies treating such important historical figures as Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass and such contemporary people as Marian Wright Edelman and Colin Powell. Contributors to high culture such as Amiri Baraka and Jessye Norman are covered along with pop-culture icons like Bill Cosby and Chubby Checker. Only African Americans warrant biographies; other people important in the lives of African Americans, such as Abraham Lincoln, do not get separate entries.

Lead editor Salzman is professor of American culture at Columbia University. The other general editors are David Lionel Smith, from Williams College, and Cornel West, a noted author from Harvard. Many well-known scholars are contributors: James Cone, John Hope Franklin, David Levering Lewis, C. Eric Lincoln, and Eric Foner, for example. Arnold Rampersad, the biographer of Langston Hughes, authored the 12-page entry Literature. The biography of Marcus Garvey was written by Robert Hill, who is editing Garvey's papers. Bibliographies appear at the ends of even the briefest entries. More than 1,000 black-and-white photographs and charts are found throughout the set. Many of the pictures are portraits; charts include statistics on foreign-born blacks in the U.S. in Immigration. Appendixes include more than 130 pages of charts and tables, including "Pulitzer Prize Winners," "Chronology of African-American Voting Rights and Milestones," "Estimated Membership of Primarily Black Denominations," and "Black Towns, Listed by State." A list of biographical entries by profession is followed by an extensive index that also notes illustrations.

This work does not gloss over problems in the African American community, as shown by such entries as Drugs, Crime, and Urban Riots and Rebellion. But such entries as Indian Wars, Chess, Patents and Inventions, Psychology and Psychiatry, and Science Fiction show how widespread black participation is in American society, not just in the stereotypical areas of sports and music. This readable encyclopedia is an essential purchase for academic and medium-size and large public libraries. While the price may make it a stretch for high-school and small public libraries, if they buy any reference work on African Americans this year, this should be it. Sandy Whiteley

Review:

"This encyclopedia is of enduring value and destined to become a standard reference source."
-- "American Libraries" (May 1997)

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Published by MacMillan Reference Library (1995)
ISBN 10: 0028973453 ISBN 13: 9780028973456
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Book Description MacMillan Reference Library, 1995. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 28973453

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