Category Archives: Culture

June 2016 Newsletter Celebrating the Best in Black Literature

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Carter G. Woodson Award Winning Books

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The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) established the Carter G. Woodson Book Awards for the most distinguished books appropriate for young readers that depict ethnicity in the United States. First presented in 1974, this award is intended to “encourage the writing, publishing, and dissemination of outstanding social studies books for young readers that treat topics related to ethnic minorities and race relations sensitively and accurately.”

The awards are given in the following categories, Elementary (K-6), Middle (5-8), and Secondary (7-12) grade levels. This is arguably the most diverse list of children’s books you will encounter. Check out our book cover mosaic for these award winning titles.

New Books Coming in July

Jewell Parker Rhodes, Towers Falling, is a novel for younger readers, which helps them understand how a tragic event, that took place before they were born, impacts them today. Learning in Womanist Ways: Narratives of First Generation African Caribbean Women by Jan Etienne is a fascinating study of Black Caribbean women who went to Britain in the 1950s and 1960s in search of a better life. New York Times bestselling authors, Ashley & JaQuavis are back with installment #6 of The Cartel series, and celebrity insider, Flo Anthony keeps the drama going with One Last Deadly Play. You’ll also find a new book of poetry featuring the work of Kwame Dawes, as well a highly touted debut novel, Here Comes the Sun, from critically acclaimed writer, Nicole Dennis-Benn, and more.

Book Club Selection for July 2016

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Folktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society from Austin, TX is reading Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine. The author, Dr. Damon Tweedy, explores the challenges confronting black doctors, and the disproportionate health burdens faced by black patients.

All the chapters of the national book club, Go On Girl! Book Club, Inc., are reading Loving Day by Mat Johnson. Loving Day was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR and others.

Girl Fridayz Book Club out of Buffalo, NY are reading Victoria Christopher Murray’s bestselling novel, Stand Your Ground, and the San Francisco Bay Area’s, Turning Pages book club is reading Langston Hughes’ classic, The Ways of White Folks.

“I’ve heard black books are dead…”

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“I’ve heard black books are dead, and it’s not true. There’s a thriving market; it just has to be nurtured. I am carrying the banner and banging the drum.”—Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, CEO of the Literary Media and Publishing Consultants. To help beat the drum, Vanesse was joined by; Regina Brooks, CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency; Ken Smikle, president, Target Market News, and former publisher of Black Issues Book Review; and Troy Johnson, president, You may read about this panel discussion in the Chicago Defender and Publishers Weekly.

Report from the Journalists Roundtable by Richard Prince

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Much of the discussion was about how to get companies to recognize their obligation to advertise in the Black press, given the number of dollars African Americans spend with those companies. A. Peter Bailey, an author, speaker, journalist and former Malcolm X associate, suggested that publishers make public the number of dollars Black consumers spend with certain business sectors. “Let these people see that you’re not doing us a favor,” he said. Peter added that Black publishers should require organizations whose leaders want columns in the Black press to make sure their members are reading Black newspapers.

On a note related to leaders not supporting the Black Press; George Curry said, back in 2014, “There is a disrespect for the black press that we have not seen in recent years. For example, we have requested — every year — an interview with the president. He can ignore 200 black newspapers and 19 million viewers but he can give one to every stupid white comedian there is on TV, the black ones and the white ones, and has time for all types of buffoonery but they will not respect the black press enough to give us an interview…” As far as I can tell, the Black press has still not been granted an interview with President Obama (If he has please share the links).

Literary Triumph Despite Adversity…

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Mazaradi Fox (center) is the author of The Game Don’t Change The Players Do… (Infamous Books, November 2016). Fox wrote this novel in 2013 during his incarceration at the Orleans Correctional Facility. Excited to learn about this upcoming book from a new author, I ran a quick search and learned, not only was Fox (born Jamal Green) a novelist, he was rap artist signed to 50 Cent’s G-Unit label. I was stunned to discover that Fox was murdered on the streets of Queens, NY in 2014. His tragic end, though it happened two years ago, hit me harder than I would have expected; simply because it could have been any of us. Mazaradi’s story prompted me to post these stories so that we can celebrate the Brothers that achieved literary success despite the odds.

D. Watkins an East Baltimore native, once a teenaged crack dealer, is now a college professor at the University of Baltimore. When he was 16 years old, Dwayne Betts carjacked a man and spent a nine years in the toughest adult prisons in Virginia. Today he is a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow, and a 2016 graduate of the Yale Law School. Antwone Fisher was born in an Ohio prison to a teenage mother and became a ward of the state. Today he is a screenwriter, poet, and a New York Times best-selling author. Mitchell S. Jackson spent 16 months in prison for selling drugs. Today he is an awarding author and serves on the faculty of Columbia University.

Use Facebook, Don’t Let Facebook Use You.”

news-facebook-debugger (1)Have you ever shared a link from a page on your website to Facebook, and have you wondered how Facebook chose the image used? You can control the image used when anyone shares a link from your site onto Facebook. You can even use an image specifically designed for Facebook—even one not used on the web page itself.

The links I share on Facebook are selected with thought or are crafted in such in a way to increase the likelihood a reader will click the link and visit our web site. In order to help accomplish this I take advantage of Facebook’s Open Graph Debugger Tool. Learn more about this valuable tool.

Books Published by Theatre Communications Group

Are you a fan of playwrights August Wilson, Lynn Nottage, Suzan-Lori Parks, or John O’Neal? Then check out the books published by Theatre Communications Group.

Events Coming in July

news-soulful-chicago-book-fairHarlem Book Fair, July 16 – Harlem, NY
▪ The Soulful Chicago Book Fair, July 16 – Chicago, IL
▪ Phillis Wheatley Book Awards, July 17 – New York, NY
▪ National Book Club Conference, July 29 to 31 – Atlanta, GA

Promote Your Book for $75 for the Entire Summer!

news-75-for-the-summer-dealYour book will appear on’s Homepage and our Book’s Main Page for the the entire summer! As of June 29th that is 84 days. The sooner you start the better the deal. Your book will be seen by tens of thousands of readers of Black literature, for less than $1 per day. Click here to get started.

news-aalbc-18 (1)Dear Reader,

As I continue working through’s website upgrade, I just can’t helped but be moved by the wealth of talented writers we have available to us. I created a page to which lists all the authors that are profiled on; currently there are 2,417 are on the list, and this is the tip of the iceberg.

Some suggest men don’t read because nothing has been published which speaks to their experience. In reality a great deal has been published that they can relate to; we just have to actively ensure these stories are shared. Do not take it for granted that everyone knows about these books. We have to spread the word.

If you discover a book on our site or newsletter, please share it with others. This is the only way our literature, our stories, indeed our humanity will rise above the sensationalism and dysfunction favored by mainstream media.

As always, thanks for reading!
Peace & Love,

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Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster,

You may receive messages like this directly in your email-box by subscribing. It may also be read on your Kindle ebook reader, or any device by downloading a PDF version.  Enjoy all of our previous eNewsletters and consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing. eNewsletter – Originally Emailed June 29, 2016 – Issue #235


Terrific Books Coming in May, Beyond Adichie, and More!

Terrific New Books Coming in May

news-may-bookFormer U.S. Poet Laureate, Rita Dove will publish a collection of her poetry from the 30 year period, 1974 to 2004. There are also new novels from bestselling authors, Bernice McFadden and J.D. Mason, and from critically acclaimed authors Kalisha Buckhanon and Yvvette Edwards.

On the nonfiction side, look for Murray Talks Music: Albert Murray on Jazz and Blues by Albert Murray, and The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir by D. Watkins. What a great year it has been so far in the world of Black literature; the variety and depth of what is available should keep you quite busy.

Beyond Adichie: Nigerian Writers Produce Great Literature

news-nigeriansChigozie Obioma has been called “…the heir to Chinua Achebe.” His novel The Fishermen won the NAACP Image Award for Debut Author, and was selected by the Go On Girl! Book Club for their 2016 reading list. Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s new novel, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, from Cassava Republic Press has already received a great deal of critical acclaim. As a novelist, Teju Cole has won many awards including the PEN/Hemingway Award and the New York City Book Award. His first book of essays, Known and Strange Things is eagerly anticipated. Nnedi Okorafor is a novelist of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism, and winner of the World Fantasy Award and Wole Soyinka prize.

Learn about these brilliant writers and many others of Nigerian descent including Ben Okri, Helen Oyeyemi, Chinelo Okparanta, Uzodinma Iweala, Uwem Akpan, and Chris Abani.

Folktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society — Reading List

news-folk-talesFolktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society has shared their reading list with Shonda Rhimes book, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person, makes their list and is a popular read among book clubs this year. Mat Johnson, Darryl Pinckney, Dr. Damon Tweedy, and Sister Souljah also made the cut and round out a nice selection of titles across genres. Let Folktales’ Black Women’s Literary Society and the other book clubs we follow help you discover your next great read.

NAACP Image Awards for Literature — Winners and Nominees

news-naacp-imageEach year 40 titles are nominated for NAACP Image Award in 8 different categories, Biography/Auto Biography, Children, Debut Author, Fiction, Instructional, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Youth/Teens. The 2016 Image Awards were presented on Feb. 5th. is working to compile a list of all the nominees and winners since the award’s inception. We’ve already updated our website with the titles from the last 5 years and have information going back to 2005. If anyone knows when the NAACP Awards for Literature started please email me;

New Videos

Is Michael Eric Dyson Right? (Or Have Black Intellectuals Lost Their Minds?)

news-mike-on-obamaDr. Michael Eric Dyson was recorded in conversation with Dr. Khalil Muhammad on April 3, 2016, during the 13th National Black Writers Conference, which is run by the center for Black literature at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. Dyson discussed the Obama Presidency which is also the subject of his latest book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America. Dyson pulled no punches, as he took President Obama to task during this 90 minute conversation. captured just a small portion of this biannual conference. In addition the conversation with Dr. Dyson, we videoed poetry readings by Rita Dove, Afaa Michael Weaver, and Rowan Ricardo Phillips.

If you enjoy any of these videos please support by sharing them with others and subscribing to our YouTube channel.

Zane is a 213 Time Bestselling Author!

news-zaneWith 34 different titles, Zane has made’s bestsellers list an astounding 213 times—no other author comes close.

Here are the top 30 bestselling authors (89 counting ties) on over the past 18 years with links to those very popular books.

While Zane is our most prolific author, she did not write our all time bestselling book. That honor goes to another title… and you’ll probably never guess which one it is; click here to find out.

Shirley Gale Thinks Outside the Box to Promote Literacy

news-shirley“Literacy on the Go! If you spot my Armada (you really can’t miss it) and you can tell me the day, time, and location where I’m driving, you can be entered to win one of my awesome books for FREE! Just enter your email contact information on my website. It’s that easy! I will contact you when you win.

I’m going to be driving from Texas to Virginia to Washington D. C. starting late June 2016. I am also planning a road trip to Chicago to visit libraries, schools, and community centers in the Fall of 2016. Look for me. I’m coming to talk about literacy and the lack thereof (read more).”

Events Coming in May


There are several book festivals taking place this weekend including the; PEN World Voices Festival in New York City; Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad & Tobago; Greater St. Louis Book Fair in St. Louis, Missouri; Dallas Book Festival in Dallas, Texas; Yallwest Santa Monica Book Festival in Santa Monica, California; and Dayton Book Expo in Dayton, Ohio. Discover these and other great book festivals coming up the rest of the year.

Also, learn how easy it is to add our automatically updated, book festival calendar to your website or blog. Help promote and support these book festivals and provide great information for your website too.

A Great Deals to Promote Your Book on

news-large-coverOur Large Book Cover Advertisement (or ad banner) appears on virtually every webpage. Each author whose book is promoted also receives a free Author Profile.

Also consider Sponsoring our Monthly Newsletter. This is a great way to reach readers of Black literature. All of our mailings are permanently archived on our website.

Dear Reader,

news-aalbc-18In addition to hand picking all of the books that are placed on the site, we are collect, share, and archive information that even major corporations, with vastly greater resources choose not to. There simply is not enough revenue to justify the activity for these entities.

Fortunately revenue is not our sole motivator; we are a mission driven website and are motivated by sharing the wealth of stories by people of African descent. Will you help us do this? Please click this link to purchase your subscription to our newsletter. Your financial support is needed to help grow and become an even better source for information on these important books.

I also hope to see some of you at the 10th anniversary celebration of our Black Pack Party in Chicago #blackpackparty

As always, thanks for reading!

Peace & Love,
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Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, eNewsletter – April 29, 2016 – Issue #233

2015 Year End Thank You!

Coming in the New Year

newbookscreenshotThe biggest news for the new year is our website upgrade. We are redesigning from scratch, and we have the benefit of 18 years of content and experience, to bring you a world class website, celebrating Black culture through literature.

Without getting too technical, we are developing a customized CMS, which will allow us to present information about books and authors in a way that no other website can. Our new website is, mobile first, faster, more easily navigated, and less cluttered.

We now offer more flexible book buying options, including links to publishers (as with Just Us Books) and other independent booksellers, to bring you the best deals while offering publishers better opportunities to profit from their books. In some cases, as with the Go On Girl! Book Club’s reading list, commissions from book sales are donated to charity.

Speaking about book clubs, we are greatly increasing our coverage of book clubs, not only to help book clubs attract new members and share ideas without other clubs, but to help readers discover the great reads book clubs have researched and uncovered.

This is just the beginning; we still have a lot content to migrate and have not settled on a layout for our homepage, but you can review our progress, in real time, on our development website

Our upgrade is a massive project, which we plan to complete in the spring 2016. Your ongoing support is crucial to the success of this effort, indeed to the survival of Here are 5 things you can do to help:

  1. Share our content.
  2. Purchase your eNewsletter subscription.
  3. Buy books through our website.
  4. Share your thoughts in the comments on each page and join our discussion forums
  5. Keep reading!

The Power List & Huria Search Will Be Decommissioned

Decommissioned websitesHuria Search’s goal was to support and showcase independent Black owned content producers and book websites by making them more discoverable. The spirit of Huria Search will continue on We have already migrated most of Huria Search’s content to, including our information on Black Bloggers, Black Newspapers, Black Magazines, Black Bookstores, Black Book Websites, with more to come.

The Power List was a collaborative effort to fill the void, left by Essence Magazine and Blackboard, for a bestsellers list covering African American literature. However,’s best selling books list, with our newly increased focus will be a suitable alternative next year. The new website design has made it possible to add a children’s bestselling books list and we will be able to produce a new list every month.

The freeing up of resources, previously dedicated to the Power List and Huria Search, will allow me to focus more intently on improving

A Very Special Thanks to These Supporters

news-troyWhen one compiles a list like this, important people are invariably left off. To you I truly apologize. However I feel compelled to acknowledge a few people and institutions, who in 2015 lifted me spiritually, financially or through deed. Without your support would simply be impossible. In no particular order:

Dr. Elizabeth Nunez, Christopher D. Burns, Akashic Books, Kimberla Lawson Roby, SmileyBooks, Wade and Cheryl Hudson, The Center for Black Literature, Dr. David Colvin, Good2Go Publishing, Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, Robin Johnson, Connie Divers Bradley, Victoria Christopher Murray, Sherrie Young, Mike Cherichetti, Fertari Netsuziy, W. Paul Coates, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Lynda Johnson, Pamela Samuels Young, Gwen Richardson, Charisse Carney-Nunes, Queens Public Library, Baruch College, Kam Williams, Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Carol Taylor, HICKSON, Google, Martha Kennerson, M. D. Williams, Robert Fleming, Rita Williams-Garcia, Tony & Yvonne Rose, Ramunda & Derrick Young, Jamie Blatman, Kalamu ya Salaam, HICKSON, Mike D’nero, Bernard Timberlake II, Cordenia Paige, HARRY BROWN, my “Bookends NYC” crew, anyone else I failed to recognize.

Finally to my wife and daughters who bear, involuntarily, the struggle I have taken on without complaint and with love. They support my effort, of celebrating Black culture through literature, simply because it is my dream.

I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year!

Peace & Love,
Troy Johnson Founder and Webmaster

news-black-pack-party-2013 Co-Hosts the Annual Black Pack Party Which will be Held in Chicago in 2016