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MANY CULTURES · ONE WORLD
“Reading is knowledge and knowledge is power.”
–DOROTHY L. FEREBEE
Here is the first book ever written to help African Americans build a home library that celebrates the diversity of their culture and heritage. How to Create Your Own African American Library truly does unlock the door to knowledge and power.
With warm and expert commentary, experienced book reviewer and avid reader Dorothy Ferebee reviews and recommends books that will help you to build your own home library. Inside you’ll discover:
Nonfiction: From autobiography to history, including Resistance and Rebellion Against Slavery and the Civil Right Movement.
Fiction: Literature that explores the many facets of the African American life.
Culture and Anthropology: Books that will open doors to new insights on the African American experience.
Children’s books: From picture books to teenage fiction–books that empower children and make them proud of who they are.
Health: Guides that teach you how to take the very best care of yourself, with attention to health issues that affect African Americans.
Plus books on Travel, Music, Poetry, and Special Collections!
Here’s all you need to know to create a mini-university in your own home, one that is open every day to support the highest aspirations of yourself, your children, and their children.
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Praise for How to Create Your Own African American Library
“Like a farmer sowing seed, Dorothy Ferebee’s carefully chosen selections for an African American library supply both essential guidance for newcomers to a literature more discussed than read, and the groundwork for delicious debate among avid readers of this genre over the author’s choices.”
Author of Ethical Ambition:
Living a Life of Meaning and Worth
and Faces at the Bottom of the Well:
The Permanence of Racism
“Dorothy Ferebee has done the hard work of amassing and categorizing an impressive body of African American works, historical and contemporary, fiction and nonfiction, and made them easy to navigate for the reader and collector. Thank goodness someone’s organized this at last.”
Author of Cane River
The first writings in African American literature were narratives written by slaves and offer a firsthand look at America through the "peculiar institution" of slavery. These narratives were some of the first attacks on slavery that lead to the abolitionist movement and the emancipation of slaves. They contain graphic depictions of life in bondage, including physical and emotional abuse, separation from family members, and backbreaking labor from sunrise to sunset.
These stories provide a look at African American lives in slavery from every angle. There are narratives of household slaves, field slaves and slaves of mixed parentage. Their voices are filled with dignity and the quest for freedom and equal opportunities. While some of these books have duplicate narratives, I have chosen to include them because of other narratives they contain. These stories are the foundation of the African American literary tradition.
Andrews, William L., and Henry Louis Gates Jr., eds.
Library of America, 1,025 pgs., 2000, $40.00
Included in this volume: Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw; Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; The Confessions of Nat Turner; Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; Narrative of William W. Brown; Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb; Narrative of Sojourner Truth; Ellen and William Craft's Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Narrative of the Life of J. D. Green.
Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation
Berlin, Ira, et al., eds.
W. W. Norton, 408 pgs., 1998, $49.95 with 2 companion CDs
Free Press, 352 pgs., 2000, Paperback, $16.95
Remembering Slavery is not a fictional account of life in bondage. These are real voices and real people telling their stories. In addition to the book, there is a companion audiocassette of the actual recorded interviews done by historians through the Federal Writers Project in the 1930s. The interviewers include Zora Neale Hurston and John Lomax.
Great Slave Narratives
Beacon Press, 331 pgs., 1971, $20.50
During much of the nineteenth century, slave narratives were best-sellers for American publishers. Arna Bontemps chose for this book three outstanding examples of the genre: The Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself, the first of the slave narratives to gain wide attention; The Fugitive Blacksmith, by the first African American to write a history of his people in America; and Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, an exciting story of a courageous slave couple's escape.
William Styron's Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond
Clark, John Henrik, ed.
Greenwood Publishing, 130 pgs., 1987, $59.95
William Styron's Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond is a rebuttal to The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron. Styron's fictionalized autobiography of rebellion leader Nat Turner met with critical acclaim when it was released in 1968. The novel also met with fierce opposition from John Henrik Clark and other black writers, including Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, Vincent Harding, John A. Williams and Charles V. Hamilton who accused Styron of racism and revisionism.
Classic Slave Narratives
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., ed.
Signet Classic, 688 pgs., 2002, $6.95
Henry Louis Gates Jr., chairman of Harvard University's Afro-American Studies department, brings four of the most recognized slave narratives together in one volume. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, The History of Mary Prince, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl all have two things in common: the triumph of the spirit over insurmountable odds and some of the earliest written accounts of life under slavery.
Pioneers of the Black Atlantic: Five Slave Narratives from the Enlightenment, 1772-1815
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., and William L. Andrews, eds.
Basic Civitas Books, 352 pgs., 1998, $25.00
In the eighteenth century a small group of black men met the challenge of the Enlightenment by mastering the arts and sciences and writing themselves into history. The battle lines were clear: literacy stood as the ultimate measure of humanity to the white arbiters of Western culture. If blacks could succeed in this sphere, they would prove that African and European humanity were inseparable. Without a literary record, blacks seemed predestined for slavery.
The Confessions of Nat Turner
Vintage, 455 pgs., 1993, $14.00
In 1831 a slave preacher named Nat Turner led the only successful insurrection in the history of American slavery. Turner and his followers succeeded in killing at least sixty whites of Southampton County, Virginia, before he and his followers were captured, imprisoned and executed.
Turner's confessions to Thomas R. Gray, a southern physician, were the basis for Styron's fictionalized account. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for The Confessions of Nat Turner, but his triumph was short-lived when ten black writers responded negatively to his characterization of Nat Turner.
I Was Born a Slave, an Anthology of Classic Slave Narratives
Vol. 1, 1770-1849: Lawrence Hill Books, 832 pgs., 1999, $24.95
Vol. 2, 1849-1866: Lawrence Hill Books, 832 pgs., 1999, $24.95
I Was Born a Slave collects the twenty most significant slave narratives and arranges them chronologically in two volumes to form a minilibrary of essential black writing.
Voices from Slavery: 100 Authentic Slave Narratives
Yetman, Norman R., ed.
Dover Publications, 448 pgs., 2000, $14.95
In candid, often blunt narrative, elderly former slaves recall what it was like to wake before sunrise and work until dark; endure whippings, brandings and separation from one's spouse and children; suffer the horrors of slave auctions and countless other indignities; and finally witness the arrival of northern troops and experience the first days of ambiguous freedom.
Autobiographies offer the reader an opportunity to visit another person's life through his or her own words and thoughts, though sometimes with the aid of a professional writer. Some autobiographies are memoirs written at specific points in a person's life, while others tell an entire life story. Some authors are honest and forthright, but others embellish their lives or sanitize them. Autobiographies reflect how people see their lives, but most of all, they reflect how people want the world to see them. There are hundreds of autobiographies of African Americans. These are just a few of their stories.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Bantam, 289 pgs., 1983, $5.99
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first of five autobiographical works that span seven decades. This is a story of struggle, loss of innocence, and survival. It reads like fiction and one has to remember that it is Maya Angelou's coming-of-age story. When this book was first published, critics charged that the descriptions of child molestation and rape were too graphic, and felt that the book should be banned from schools. Angelou's honest telling of the story sheds a spotlight on how child molestation occurs and the effects it has on the child.
A Song Flung Up to Heaven
Bantam, 289 pgs., 2003, $13.00
A Song Flung Up to Heaven opens as Maya Angelou returns to the United States from Africa to work with Malcolm X. But first she journeys to California to be reunited with her mother and brother. No sooner does she arrive than she learns that Malcolm X has been assassinated. Later, on a trip to New York, she meets Martin Luther King Jr., who asks her to become his coordinator in the North. King is assassinated, and Angelou completely withdraws from the world. Finally, James Baldwin insists that she accompany him to a dinner party, where the idea for writing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is born. A Song Flung Up to Heaven ends as Maya Angelou writes the first sentences of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Days of Grace: A Memoir
Ashe, Arthur, with Arnold Rampersad
Random House, 352 pgs., 1994, $6.99
In 1992, tennis great Arthur Ashe announced that he was stricken with AIDS. This book was finished only forty-eight hours before he died in 1993. Along with telling his life story, in his quiet, elegant way, Ashe points out the flaws in society's attitude toward people with AIDS. He recounts his days on the tennis circuit and closes with a letter of hope and promise to his daughter, Camera.
Go Tell It on the Mountain
Laureleaf, 224 pgs., 1985, $6.99
Go Tell It on the Mountain, first published in 1953, when he was nearly thirty, is Baldwin's first major work. Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy's discovery, in the course of one day, the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem.
Manchild in the Promised Land
Touchstone Books, 415 pgs., 1999, $13.00
Claude "Sonny" Brown's fictionalized autobiography begins with him lying on a...
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Book Description One World/Ballantine, 2003. Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110345452283
Book Description One World/Ballantine, 2003. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0345452283