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Excellent Books, Authors, Events and More

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April’s eNewsletter is Sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
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Authors You Should Know

news-dwayneDwayne Alexander Smith on Winning the 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Debut Author

When I reached the podium, after the applause had faded, the first words out of my mouth were, “I did not expect to win.” Yet, there I was standing before a roomful of amazingly talented people accepting an NAACP Image Award for best debut author for my novel Forty Acres.

Not only was the win a surprise, the nomination was a surprise as well. Many people might not know this but in order to be nominated for an Image Award your material has to be submitted to the committee along with a submission fee. Pamela Samuels Young a friend and fellow author, and winner of the same award last year, kept urging me to submit my book, but I kept forgetting. When I finally did remember the submission deadline had passed. More ▶

henry-dumasHenry Dumas

Henry Dumas (July 20, 1934 – May 23, 1968) was shot and killed in 1968 in Harlem months before his thirty-fourth birthday by a white transit policeman under circumstances never fully explained. After his death he became a kind of literary legend, but one whose full story was unknown. A devoted cadre of friends and later admirers from the 1970s to the present pushed for the publication of his work. Toni Morrison championed him as “an absolute genius.” Amiri Baraka, a writer not quick to praise others, claimed that Dumas produced “actual art, real, man, and stunning.” Eugene Redmond and Quincy Troupe heralded Dumas’s poetry, short stories, and work as an editor of “little” magazines. #blacklivesmatter More ▶

news-gregory-pardloGregory Pardlo

Pardlo’s book of poems, Digest earns him the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, and Tin House, as well as anthologies including Angles of Ascent, the Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, and two editions of Best American Poetry. He is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a fellowship for translation from the National Endowment for the Arts. An Associate Editor of Callaloo, he is currently a Teaching Fellow in Undergraduate Writing at Columbia University. More ▶

news-gwynne-forsterGwynne Forster

AALBC.com mourns the loss of pioneering Author Gwynne Forster, who transitioned this past January. She was 7 years shy of 100.

Forster is considered one of the first authors to publish a romance novel featuring Black main characters. She published more than 20 books in the genre. She always had a kind word and was supportive of AALBC.com. Gwynne introduced me to her publisher, Walter Zacharias (Kensington Books), and AALBC.com interviewed them both back in 2007. More ▶

n ews-gary-hardwickGary Hardwick

Hardwick, pseudonymously known as a.a. clifford, is the author of several novels including his first, Cold Medina and City Wide. The Seattle Times called Hardwick “the Elmore Leonard of black mystery writers.”

The former attorney, is also an acclaimed screenwriter, director, and filmmaker whose hit films include; The Brothers and Deliver Us from Eva. He is also an executive producer for television as well.More ▶

news-shay-spiveyShay Spivey

Spivey is a professional social worker with an overwhelming passion for helping others and sharing resources. Writing, How to Submit a Winning Scholarship Application: Secret Techniques I Used to Win $100,000 in College Scholarships, fills a need in our community by unlocking the mystery of “scholarship applications” for high school and college students, families, teachers, and counselors.

Shay Spivey is a scholarship and financial aid advisor specializing in helping students understand and prepare to win scholarships for college. Shay earned her Bachelor and Master of Social Work from Indiana University. More ▶

Book Reviews

news-corruption-officerCorruption Officer: From Jail Guard to Perpetrator inside Rikers Island by Gary L. Heyward

Gary eventually escalated to pimping in an attempt to cater to his captive clienteles’ carnal needs, too. He referred to his whores as “copstitutes” since they were fellow corrections officers secretly supplementing their modest civil service salaries by fellating and fornicating with felons in Rikers’ utility closets.

All of the above is recounted in riveting fashion in Corruption Officer: From Jail Guard to Perpetrator inside Rikers Island (Atria Books, March 2015), a jaw-dropping memoir that’s as demoralizing as it is shocking. After finishing this eye-opening page-turner, one can’t help but wonder how much hope there can be for a country where the cops are just as crooked and as degenerate as the outlaws they’re supposed to be protecting society from. More ▶

news-my-grandfatherMy Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past by Jennifer Teege

If Gary L. Heyward’s book was not shocking enough for you, fasten your seat belts for Jennifer Teege’s bizaRre tale, recounted in My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me (The Experiment, April 2015).

How do you think you’d react if you were Black and you inadvertently uncovered evidence that the mother who callously left you at an orphanage at less than a month-old was the daughter of an infamous Nazi who ran a concentration camp? That’s precisely what happened to Jennifer Teege who learned at 38 that her grandfather was Amon Goeth, a monster who not only ordered the extermination of thousands of Jews, but took a certain sadistic pleasure in participating in all the torture, maiming and killing. More ▶

news-black-male-framesBlack Male Frames: African-Americans in a Century of Hollywood Cinema, 1903-2003 by Roland Leander Williams, Jr.

Professor Williams sets out to show how black male movie characters have basically been either submissive or subversive to suit the fluctuating needs of the dominant culture.

He sets about proving his thesis by closely examining the careers of five African-American acting icons, starting with Sam Lucas (1839-1916), the first black film star. He was not only the first black to play Uncle Tom onscreen, but he was also the first to portray the deferential character onstage. (Syracuse University Press, January, 2015) More ▶

news-let-us-prayPraedamus Let Us Prey Selling Heaven: It’s All An Illusion by Don Spears

Televangelist Creflo Dollar recently asked members of his congregation to tithe the $60 million he needs to buy himself a luxurious Gulfstream jet so he could travel in style while spreading the word of the Lord around the world. Is the popular prosperity preacher sincere or just another hustler in a collar?

Before you answer, you might want to read Praedamus: Let Us Prey (Spears Publishing, December 2014), a jaw dropping expose’ written by Don Spears, a brother who is not one to mince words while making a full frontal assault on organized religion. This very timely tome represents the culmination of 9 years of research in religious history stretching back centuries from the present. More ▶

Book Recommendations

news-emergeThe Best of Emerge Magazine

The 1990’s. African Americans achieved more influence–and faced more explosive issues–than ever before. One word captured those times. One magazine expressed them. Emerge.

In those ten years, with an impressive circulation of 170,000 and more than forty national awards to its credit, Then, after nearly a decade, Emerge magazine closed its doors. But a collection of the finest articles from Emerge is still available. These articles will resonate with you today just as they did 20 years ago. Today however, the issues are even more pressing, and you will truly be hurt by the tremendous void left when the magazine died. The Best of Emerge Magazine, edited by George Curry (One World/Ballantine, July 29, 2003) represents the best of American journalism. More ▶

the-jumbiesThe Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Tracey Baptiste was born in Trinidad, where she grew up on jumbie stories and fairy tales, and decided to be a writer at the wise old age of three. Her debut, a young adult novel titled Angel’s Grace, was named one of the 100 best books for reading and sharing by New York City librarians. The Jumbies (Algonquin Young Readers, 4/28/2015) is her second novel. Buy ▶

news-only-the-strongOnly the Strong: An American Novel by Jabari Asim

Jabari Asim’s debut novel, Only the Strong (Agate Bolden, May 12, 2015) explores the challenges and rewards of love in a quintessential American community where heartbreak and violence are seldom far away.

Moved by the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Lorenzo “Guts” Tolliver decides to abandon his career as a professional leg-breaker and pursue a life of quiet moments and generous helpings of banana pudding in the company of his new, sensuous lover. His erstwhile boss, local kingpin Ananias Goode, is also thinking about slowing down—but his tempestuous affair with Dr. Artinces Noel, a prominent pediatrician, complicates his retirement plans. Meanwhile, Charlotte Divine, the doctor’s headstrong protégée, struggles with trials of her own.Buy ▶

news-stuntStunt by Jet Black

CEO and ex-OSI agent Ricky Stunt must moonlight in the seedy adult film world to search for the truth after his fiancé Denise is murdered. To find her killer he will do whatever it takes, even if it means screwing his way to the top. But can Stunt find the murderer before the people at his day job discover what he’s been up to at night? It’s Kill Bill meets Boogie Nights in this erotic thrill ride full of sex, action, and revenge. (Jet Black Ink, December 18, 2014)Buy ▶

news-hbcuHBCU Experience – The Book: A Collection of Essays Celebrating the Black College Experience

Co-edited by Black college alumni Dr. Tia Tyree and Christopher D. Cathcart, HBCU Experience celebrates the rich legacy and experiences of those who attended HBCUs. Further, with the debate still raging over the relevance and need for HBCUs in the new millennium, this collection of more than 60 essays showcases the unique journey of HBCU graduates, highlights the important need for these institutions and accentuates the overall benefits of having an HBCU education.

The groundbreaking anthology chronicles undergraduate realities such as dating and relationships, dorm living, road trips, pledging fraternities and sororities, student activism and leadership, athletics and much, much more. Buy ▶

the-african-equationThe African Equation by Yasmina Khadra

A giant of francophone writing, Algerian author Yasmina Khadra takes current events as a starting point to explore opposing views and myths of Africa and the West, ultimately delivering a powerful message of friendship, resilience, and redemption.

Yasmina Khadra: Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of the Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul. He became director of the Algerian Cultural Center in Paris in November 2007 and in November 2013 announced his candidacy for the presidency of Algeria. (Gallic Books, March 17, 2015) Buy ▶

news-rich-womans-fetishRich Woman’s Fetish by Naleighna Kai

Gina escapes a hellacious life by doing the unthinkable—selling the use of her womb to the highest bidder among rich, childless couples from more affluent areas of Chicago. She even accommodates their “special” requests ranging from participating in forbidden fetishes to more complicated liaisons. Years later, Gina learns that one of her surrogate daughters has been forced into the illicit world of drugs and prostitution. When the police and FBI turn a blind eye, Gina risks the anger of her former sponsors and lovers to have their children search for the younger sister they know nothing about. The women soon learn how to depend on each other to do the impossible (Macro Publishing Group, April 2015). Buy ▶

Interviews

news-patricia-saundersQ&A with Poet, Patricia A. Saunders

When you talk about your books–and share reflections of your past—some parts are very painful and personal. How challenging was it to reveal the inner aspects of your life?

It was challenging because I talk about being almost homeless, raped, molested, and some baggage that my family didn’t want me to share. I prayed that my pain would be a testament to someone that I am still standing after going through it all. I took my family’s feelings into consideration and chose not to do some pieces in public settings rather allow readers to read it themselves.

Events

news-after-the-danceReading and Book Signing with Jan Gaye author of After the Dance: My Life with Marvin Gaye – May 20th 7PM – Harlem, NY

LeRoy Neiman Art Center in Harlem, 2485 Frederick Douglas Blvd. (at 148th St.), New York, NY 10039 – Refreshments will be served.Troy will be there with at least one free book to the first person who presents a print out of this page of our enewsletter.

Gay’s memoir, After the Dance (Amistad, May 19, 2015), reveals how she met Marvin in February 1973. Despite a seventeen-year age difference and Marvin’s marriage to the sister of Berry Gordy, Motown’s founder, the enchanted teenager and the emotionally volatile singer began a scorching relationship.

“With raw and penetrating honesty, this memoir reveals everything audiences ever wanted to know about Marvin Gaye’s life. Offering a holistic understanding of Gaye’s obsession with finding love, his addictions, and most especially the philosophy behind the music. Sympathetic, caring, this is a must read for anyone who wants to learn the traumatic backstory that shapes Gaye and all of his relationships. Most importantly, this is also a story of a woman courageously sharing her voice, her story.” –bell hooks, author of Ain’t I A Woman

BLACK PACK PARTY IX — Save the Date, Wednesday, May 27th. Details TBA on AALBC.com #BPPIX — Sponsored by Amistad Booksnews-final-black-pack-party

news-bea-logoBook Expo America

In Search of Diverse Book Buyers, 5/28, 12:30 – 1:00 p.m., Downtown Stage

Where are diverse book buyers? What are the best ways to reach African American book buyers? Where do African American book buyers shop for books? Join in the discussion with publishing experts as they share their insight and knowledge of successful strategies to reach African American book buyers. Speakers include Troy Johnson, Founder of AALBC.com, Marva Allen, Founder and CEO of Hueman Books and Wade Hudson, Founder of Just Us Books. Moderated by Lloyd-Sgambati, The African American Children’s Book Project & WURD-AM Radio.

Spotlight on African American Children’s Authors & Illustrators – 5/29, 2:30 – 3:00 p.m., Uptown Stage

Award winning authors and illustrators will open the pages of their book and share their inspiration and experiences to encourage the next generation of readers. The panel will feature Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney – The Grasshopper & the Ants, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; EB Lewis, illustrator – First Step: How One Little Girl Put Segregation On Trial – Bloombury, and Shane Evans – 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World, Roaring Brook Press. Moderated by Lloyd-Sgambati, The African American Children’s Book Project & WURD-AM Radio.

Film Reviews

news-brotherly-loveBrotherly Love – Very Good (★★★☆)

Twins Jackie (Keke Palmer) and Sergio Taylor (Eric D. Hill, Jr.) already had it tough enough growing up in the ghetto before the untimely demise of their dad a few years ago. But then their mother (Macy Gray) stopped functioning and started hitting the bottle.

That’s when their big brother, June (Cory Hardrict), became the family breadwinner, and it’s been a struggle for him to keep a roof over their heads ever since. So, he started dealing drugs hoping that his becoming an outlaw would at least enable his siblings to keep their noses clean and continue pursuing their dreams. After all, Sergio is one of the top high school basketball players in the nation, while Jackie is an aspiring singer in need of a big break. More ▶

news-supremacySupremacy – Fair (★½☆☆)

Directed by Deon Taylor (Chain Letter), Supremacy is a hostage thriller ostensibly inspired by actual events which transpired in Sonoma County, California on the night of March 29, 1995. At 11:30 that evening, Sheriff’s Deputy Frank Trejo was assassinated by a recently-paroled member of the Aryan Brotherhood and his gun moll, just before they forced their way into a nearby house and held the owners captive.

The resolution of this Hollywood version of the standoff relies on an empathetic Mr. Walker’s rising to the occasion. His philosophizing (“Prison does something to a man.”) miraculously manages to induce a couple of the most menacing and despicable screen characters in recent memory to have an 11th hour conversion. More ▶

Related Articles & News

ebooks8 Ways Bookstores Can Engage the eReading Community by Shawneda Marks

Embracing ebooks is important to the financial health of independent bookstores by helping store owners maximize exposure by offering all literary formats, creating relationships with a new generation of readers and writers as well as generating more revenue.

I’ll admit there are no absolutes so it is possible there are communities where eBooks and social media engagement aren’t detrimental to the bottomline of a bookstore. However from a financial standpoint any business owner hoping their store will outlive them must consider todays youth. More ▶

news-black-bloggersTracking Black Bloggers

Huria Search, the directory that tracks the “Best of the Black Web,” has just added a section for Black Blogs. Yes, there are still talented writers including authors, journalists and everyday people sharing ideas and opinions on subjects relevant to, and from the perspective of, Black people. Enter your Blog, the password is “bloggerweek,” (without the quotes).

Use Huria Search to share information about your blog, to learn about new ones and to share what you’ve discovered with others. Discover Great Blogs Here ▶

news-westdyson2011Dyson versus West

“IMO, West and Dyson are like a pair of divas ridiculing each other’s plastic surgery. Their feud has been reduced to a sideshow, and doesn’t even reach the level of rivals vying for the Alpha Male status because neither one of them wields any power other than an ability to polarize their black social media audience.

Meanwhile, President Obama is able to remain above the fray, probably amused by how 2 of his most relentless critics are neutralizing each other.” —Cynique Join the Conversation ▶

news-black-dollars-matter

Dear Reader,

news-troyWhen the Montgomery Bus Boycott was launched, many of the people involved did not have a TV or a telephone, let alone a Twitter account. How did they accomplish the amazing feat of forcing the end of racial segregation on the public transit system in Montgomery, Alabama and become a major factor in changing the United States’ Constitution making the practice illegal? Perhaps a better question would be; why did they have boycotts back then, and why don’t we now? What do you think? ▶

Remember to show your support for the writers and institutions we cover, with your paid subscription to our newsletter.

Peace & Love,

troy signature 1

Troy Johnson,
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com
Support AALBC.com, Support this eNewsletter

AALBC.com eNewsletter – April 28, 2015 – Issue #225

ankh

Black Women Lead the Way Promoting Black Culture through Books

“Where a woman rules, streams run uphill.” —Ethiopian proverb

AALBC.com’s Bestselling Books – January to February 2015

news-jan-feb-2015-bestsellerThe #1 selling book on AALBC.com, for January and February 2015, was Against All Odds: From The Projects to the Penthouse by Mahisha Dellinger (Brown Girls Publishing, February 2015). In fact, six of the top ten bestselling books, for this period, were published by Brown Girls Books. The Tithing Hoax: Exposing the Lies, Misinterpretations & False Teachings about Tithing (Lulu, March 2014), tops the nonfiction titles and has been a frequent AALBC.com bestseller since the original version was published in 2012.

Authors You Should Know

new-audre-lordeAudre Lorde

Lorde (1934-1992) was a recipient of many distinguished honors and awards, including honorary doctorates from Hunter, Oberlin, and Haverford Colleges. She was also named New York State Poet Laureate.

If you have not seen the video of Angela Davis speaking about Black-lesbian-feminist-mother-warrior-poet, Audre Lorde, during the “Audre Lorde: A Burst of Light Symposium” held at Medgar Evers College in March of 2014, please check it out. You will not be disappointed. More ▶

news-tiya-milesTiya Miles

Miles has published various personal essays on race, feminism and identity as well as academic articles on women’s history and black and Native interrelated experiences. In 2011, she was the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Miles latest novel The Cherokee Rose, is about about the importance of the past to three women’s lives in the present day. The main characters — a wealthy African American interior designer from Atlanta, A biracial (black-white) journalist from Minneapolis, and a Native American historian from Oklahoma — all take different paths to the same place: a nineteenth-century plantation home in the state of Georgia on land that once belonged to Cherokee slaveholders. More ▶

news-dorothy-koomsonDorothy Koomson

Koomson has degrees in psychology and journalism from Leeds University. She has written for a number of women’s magazines and newspapers, as well as having had seven successful novels published in the UK and US. Her books have been translated into more than 28 languages across the world.

She is also the 2014 winner of the Go On Girl! Book Club Author of the Year Award, which will be presented at the 2015 Award Ceremony in Seattle, WA. More ▶

news-valerieValerie J Lewis Coleman

The bestselling author of Blended Families An Anthology, Valerie J. Lewis Coleman has helped thousands of families navigate the challenges of child support, visitation, discipline and more. With over twenty years of experience in family and relationships, she has given advice on various issues including baby-momma drama, defiant children and disapproving in-laws.

Valerie has helped women find relational fulfillment by identifying the four types of male hunters, avoiding seventy percent of men who only want the goody box and winning the heart of Mr. Right-For-You. She explains how in her novel The Forbidden Secrets of the Goody Box! More ▶

news-casey-curryCasey Curry

Casey Curry is the Director of Creative Writing at a fine arts magnet school in Tampa, Florida. She teaches poetry and fiction five days a week. The mother of four daughters, Casey spends her time writing, cooking with her retired husband.

Her first novel, Promises (Ellarose Publishing, July 2014), tells the story of Pamela Sloane who meets a young Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, and embarks on a thirty year journey of desire, death, determination and deliverance. More ▶

news-fannie-louFannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer was an voting rights activist, civil rights leader, and philanthropist. She was instrumental in organizing Mississippi’s Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later became the vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Hamer did not write any books, but many have been written about her. Most of us are aware of the impassioned testimony Hamer gave at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. But Hamer also gave speeches at the 1968 and 1972 conventions, and even spoke with Malcolm X in Harlem. Learn more about this powerful activist ▶

Book Reviews

loving-donovan_1_Loving Donovan by Bernice L. McFadden

McFadden continues to embellish her literary reputation and mastery of storytelling with her novel, Loving Donovan. In this tale McFadden focuses on the participants of a romantic relationship rather than the relationship itself—a refreshingly different perspective from what is displayed in most commercial fiction targeted toward African-American readers. Rather than the play-by-play Loving Donovan features the color and analysis part of the relationship. This is an insightful and engaging novel.

Loving Donovan (Akashic Books, February 2015, 2nd ed.) features a new introduction by Terry McMillan. More ▶

news-loneliness-black-republicanThe Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power

The author’s cites the “Paradox of the Black Republican,” as contributing factors to the “confusion and chaos” and “colossal failures” of a group not only ostracized by their own race, but never fully embraced by white Republicans either. The problem ostensibly emanates from the fact that the present-day GOP “bears little resemblance to the Party of Lincoln” that freed slaves flocked to in droves in the 1860s.

Yet, some black families have stubbornly remained Republicans for generations, despite the party’s ideological shift to the far right. Thus, this insightful opus poses the probing question, what does it mean to be conservative and black? More ▶

news-risingRising Up From the Blood: A Legacy Reclaimed A Bridge Forward: The Autobiography of Sarah Washington O’Neal Rush, The Great-Granddaughter of Booker T. Washington

Despite being a direct descendant of Booker T. Washington, Sarah Washington O’Neal wasn’t born with a silver spoon in her mouth. Quite the contrary, she and her big brother James were raised on a rough side of Oakland, California by a single-mother who never mentioned their famous forebear. Perhaps she was ashamed by her relatively-lowly station and having to hold two jobs just to keep a roof over their heads after being abandoned by her husband. More ▶

Book Recommendations

news-bcala-2015First presented in 1994, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s Literary Awards acknowledge outstanding works of fiction and nonfiction for adult audiences by African American authors. Recipients of this award offer outstanding depictions of the cultural, historical or sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora and embody the highest quality of writing style and research methodology. The Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc. (BCALA) will announce the awards will be presented in San Francisco, CA during ALA’s Annual Conference in June 2015. Discover all the award winning titles ▶

pleasantville_1_Pleasantville by Attica Locke

Attica Locke is a screenwriter who has written movie and television scripts for Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, HBO, Dreamworks and most recently the new Fox TV show, Empire.

Her next novel Pleasantville (Harper, April 2015), is a sophisticated thriller which catches up with, lawyer Jay Porter, hero of Locke’s bestseller Black Water Rising. Porter returns to fight one last case, only to become embroiled once again in a dangerous game of shadowy politics and a witness to how far those in power are willing to go to win. More ▶

balm_1_Balm by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life.

The New York Times bestselling author of Wench returns to the Civil War era to explore the next chapter of history—the trauma of the War and the end of slavery—in Balm (Amistad, May 2015) a powerful story of love and healing about three people who struggle to overcome the pain of the past and define their own future. More ▶

news-toward-anToward an Intellectual History of Black Women

Despite recent advances in the study of black thought, black women intellectuals remain often neglected. This collection of essays by fifteen scholars of history and literature establishes black women’s places in intellectual history by engaging the work of writers, educators, activists, religious leaders, and social reformers in the United States, Africa, and the Caribbean. Dedicated to recovering the contributions of thinkers marginalized by both their race and their gender, these essays uncover the work of unconventional intellectuals, both formally educated and self-taught, and explore the broad community of ideas in which their work participated.

Contributors are Jon Sensbach, Arlette Frund, Natasha Lightfoot, Mia E. Bay, Alexandra Cornelius, Corinne T. Field, Farah J. Griffin, Kaiama L. Glover, Thadious Davis, Maboula Soumahoro, Judith Byfield, Cheryl Wall, Sherie Randolph, Barbara D. Savage, and Martha S. Jones. (The University of North Carolina Press, April 2015) More ▶

spectacle_1_Spectacle by Pamela Newkirk

Newkirk, an award-winning journalist, reveals a little-known and shameful episode in American history, when an African man was used as a human zoo exhibit—a shocking story of racial prejudice, science, and tragedy in the early years of the twentieth century in the tradition of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Medical Apartheid.

In 1904, Ota Benga, a young Congolese “pygmy”—a person of petite stature—arrived from central Africa and was featured in an anthropology exhibit at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Two years later, the New York Zoological Gardens displayed him in its Monkey House, caging the slight 103-pound, 4-foot 11-inch tall man with an orangutan. The attraction became an international sensation, drawing thousands of New Yorkers and commanding headlines from across the nation and Europe. More ▶

news-octavia-broodThe visionary tales of Octavia’s Brood

Whenever we envision a world without war, without prisons, without capitalism, we are producing speculative fiction. Organizers and activists envision, and try to create, such worlds all the time. Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown have brought twenty of them together in the first anthology of short stories to explore the connections between radical speculative fiction and movements for social change. The visionary tales of Octavia’s Brood (AK Press, April 2015) span genres—sci-fi, fantasy, horror, magical realism—but all are united by an attempt to inject a healthy dose of imagination and innovation into our political practice and to try on new ways of understanding ourselves, the world around us, and all the selves and worlds that could be. The collection is rounded off with essays by Tananarive Due and Mumia Abu-Jamal, and a preface by Sheree Renée Thomas. More ▶

ordinary-light_1_Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith

From the dazzlingly original Pulitzer Prize-winning poet hailed for her “extraordinary range and ambition” (The New York Times Book Review): a quietly potent memoir that explores coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter.

The youngest of five children, Tracy K. Smith was raised with limitless affection and a firm belief in God by a stay-at-home mother and an engineer father. But just as Tracy is about to leave home for college, her mother is diagnosed with cancer, a condition she accepts as part of God’s plan. Ordinary Light is the story of a young woman struggling to fashion her own understanding of belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America. More ▶

news-vintage-black-glamourVintage Black Glamour

Using rarely accessed photographic archives and private collections, inspired by her family history, Nichelle Gainer has unearthed a revealing treasure trove of historic photographs of famous actors, dancers, writers, and entertainers who worked in the 20th-century entertainment business, but who rarely appeared in the same publications as their white counterparts.

Alongside the familiar images and stories of renowned performers such as Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne and Aretha Franklin are photos of literary legends such as Lorraine Hansberry and Maya Angelou as well as images of less well-remembered figures such as Bricktop, Pearl Primus, Diana Sands. Vintage Black Glamour (Rocket 88 Books, February 2015) is a unique, sumptuous and revealing celebration of the lives and indomitable spirit of Black women of a previous era. More ▶

news-children-of-sabaChildren of Saba: Epic of Aphrike Book 1 by N.K. Read

Born in Kenya, and now living between Nairobi and Sydney, Australia, N.K Read is a storyteller and journalist who has written for several publications and news outlets in Kenya, Sydney and the UK. She has also directed three documentary films.

“I discovered the link between the tribe of my birth, the Meru of Kenya, with the enigmatic Meroë who once ruled Nubia, were integral in the ancient Kingdom of Sheba and are connected further back in time with the ancient and mysterious ‘First Race’, I sought to bring their story to life. Thus Children of Saba was born.” (Afrikkana Books, March 2014, 2nd ed.) More ▶

Interviews

news-april-obamaApril D. Ryan Veteran Journalist and White House correspondent

Ryan, as a White House correspondent for the past 18 years, has covered the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. She is also the authors of The Presidency in Black and White: My Up-Close View of Three Presidents and Race in America.

Here she answers, quite candidly, several questions, posed by AALBC.com Founder, Troy Johnson, about the Obama Presidency including, “What has been your biggest disappointment?” Read the Full Interview ▶

news-gloria-rolandoAfro-Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando

Afro-Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando is best known for her documentaries on the African diaspora in the Caribbean, and her latest film, Reshipment (2014) continues this theme.

It reveals the complex story of Haitians lured by the tens of thousands to work in Cuba’s sugarcane fields during World War I. These early 20th century immigrants were enticed to leave their island nation—home of the only successful slave revolt in the Americas—for the promise of a better life. Some of them were fleeing the oppressive U.S. occupation. Others were seeking better economic conditions. But what awaited most of them in Cuba was racism and strife. Read Rolando’s the full interview with cultural journalist Nicole Crawford-Tichawonna ▶

Events

Blogger Week 2015 Networking Mixer & Unconference – May 1-2, 2015 – Washington, DC

news-black-blogger-weekBlogger Week, the brain-child of Jessica Ann Mitchell, is a multicultural festival of bloggers, journalists & social media mavens. In-person events take place May 1st & 2nd at the University of the District of Columbia & Impact Hub in Washington, DC.

AALBC.com’s Troy Johnson will co-host an Unpanel: “How Bloggers Can Help Each Other Drive Traffic,” with Candice VanWye, the founder and editor of Brown Girl Bloggers. Also, check out Jessica’s interview with Troy held Thursday, April 2 on Twitter #BloggerWeek.

Go On Girl! Book Club 23rd Annual Awards Weekend – May 29-31, 2015 – Seattle, WA

news-advertise-go-on-girlWith over 30 chapters in 14 states, Go On Girl! Book Club is the largest national reading organization in the U.S. for black women. Founded in 1991, members meet face to face in their respective cities to discuss the club’s monthly reading selection. Feedback on each book is shared with the authors and publishers. Each year GOG hosts an Author Awards event to honor established writers and provide writing awards and scholarships to new talent.

Check out the print advertising opportunities in the Go On Girl! Book Club Magajournal which is given to all members of Go On Girl! Book Club and attendees of the Annual Author Awards Weekend. The Magajournal is also distributed at book fairs, GOG membership drives, street fairs, church gatherings, and more. Deadline for ads is April 10th. Learn more ▶

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Related Articles & News

news-are-negro-girls-getting-prettierAre Negro Girls Getting Prettier?

“Gone, …are the spindly legs, sagging bosoms, unruly rumps and ungroomed heads that marred many a potential lovely of yesteryear.”

This article appeared in the April 1966 issue of Ebony magazine, Ebony shared several letters to the editor in reaction to “Are Negro Girls Getting Prettier?” article. Some of the letters published, to Ebony’s credit, were quite scathing. The reaction, from some, 49 years ago was completely inline with the reaction one would expect if the article were published today. more ▶

Get Your “Mug Shot” on AALBC.comnews-aalbc-mug-shots
If you are one of the first five people to send us a photo with your AALBC.com mug, we’ll put your photo in our next eNewsletter. If you are an author feel free to include your book in the photo too!

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Women lead the way, as we close Women’s History Month by highlighting some of the many ways women nourish our minds, as publishers, novelists, journalists, critics, filmmakers, and supporters of literature.

This issue is also dedicated all of the women, too numerous to name individually, who have joined hands with AALBC.com in support of Black culture, in all of its diversity, through the written word. Without your financial support, your moral support, and all you do to share information about AALBC.com’s efforts, this site could not survive.

Peace & Love,
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Troy Johnson
Founder & Webmaster, AALBC.com

AALBC.com eNewsletter – March 31, 2015 – Issue #224
Read our eNewsletter Archives

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AALBC.com’s eNewsletter – October 28, 2014

You may receive this eNewsletter 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 our previous eNewsletters. Consider sponsoring our eNewsletter or a dedicated mailing.

This month’s eNewsletter is sponsored by

Martha Kennerson

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Kristine is beautiful, smart, driven, and all set to have everything she wants in life. That is, until an ill-fated encounter alters the path she’s chosen in such a way that she’s forced to make the kind of life-altering decisions no woman should ever have to face. While waking up naked in a strange bed with a couple she barely knew wasn’t Kristine’s choice, how she deals with the consequences of that night creates a series of shocking choices that have a domino effect of turmoil to those close to her. Not everyone agrees with the direction Kristine’s life takes, but ultimately, she learns that strength and forgiveness can come from the most unfortunate of circumstances.

Visit www.marthakennerson.com to buy Consequences, and to find out more about Martha and her journey.

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Top Cities for Readers of African American Literature

news-top-cities-for-african-american-readersAALBC.com assessed the relative strengths of almost 300 American cities, to determine which ones are best able to provide environments that are supportive of, and conducive to, the enjoyment of African American Literature.

The result is a list of 26 cities we think are doing a great job. Let us know what you think ▶

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Authors You Should Know

news-marlon0jamesMarlon James

James was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1970. He graduated from the University of the West Indies in 1991 with a degree in literature. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. James lives in Kingston.

His most recent novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings,
Selected as one of the Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014. More ▶

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new-laurenLauren Francis-Sharma

Lauren is the daughter of Trinidadian-born parents, was raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan Law School and practiced as a corporate lawyer before writing ’Til the Well Runs Dry, her first novel.

“Women’s magazines from Elle to Oprah Winfrey’s O have praised Francis-Sharma’s novel, and it was recently the centerpiece of a small book festival in Washington during Caribbean Heritage Month …”—Krissah Thompson, The Washington Post More ▶

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news-michael-brownMichael B. Jackson

Jackson was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He recently retired after working for 26 years with New Jersey Juvenile Corrections and Parole. His recently (October 2014) released novel, FatherHoodlum: Chronicles of a Prison Dad, is his first venture into fiction writing.

Jackson, founder of the Internet based radio station, Prison Nation Radio, is a passionate advocate for the rights, protections and success of formerly incarcerated people and their families and those without a voice. He lives by the philosophy that “Doing good is the best revenge” and encourages those leaving prison to take control of their own success and “Do good, with a vengeance.” More ▶

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Book Reviews

Rainbow in the Cloud: The Wisdom and Spirit of Maya Angelou

news-rainbow-in-the-cloudOver the course of an enviable career that spanned a half-century, she would write 7 autobiographies, 5 collections of essays, 18 books of poetry, 2 cookbooks, 7 children’s books, and 7 plays. She also received innumerable awards and accolades, including 60 honorary doctorates.

Rainbow in the Cloud is a collection of 200 of the late icon’s most memorable quotes borrowed not only from previously published works but from social media posts and pearls of wisdom shared over the years with her only son, Guy Johnson, and other family members. More ▶

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news-culture-worrierCulture Worrier: Selected Columns 1984—2014: Reflections on Race, Politics and Social Change

Clarence Page takes pride in the fact that his articles enjoy a broad appeal, a reflection of his sterling reputation as an impartial pundit willing to criticize folks on either side of the aisle as he sees fit. On the one hand, he might indict Ronald Reagan for playing the race card by invoking the image of “welfare queens” to curry the favor of rednecks during the 1980 presidential campaign. On the other, he’ll point out how, during the 2008 campaign, Obama declared, “Race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore,” only to proceed to do just that once he got into office. More ▶

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AALBC.com Videos

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An avid reader, Gail Newell of the Go On Girl! Book Club’s Maryland 2 chapter; a young writer, Taheerah Abdul-Rahmaan; a library CEO, Dr. Carla Dean; and two accomplished authors, Leonard Pitts, Jr., and Jason Mott; take the time to explain the importance of literacy.  If literacy, in the Black community is important to you, please share their message. Watch ▶

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Cornel West: Video – Strand bookstore October 22, 2014

news-cornel-west-10-22-2014Cornel West and Darryl Pinckney discussed the financialization, militarization, and privatization of the United States government. West also provided an update on the protests in Ferguson, MO where he and 49 other people were arrested for disturbing the peace.

This conversation took place the Strand bookstore’s rare book room, on October 22, 2014 in New York City. Watch ▶

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Go On Girl! Book Club’s 22nd Annual Author Awards

news-tracey-smithTracey Y. Smith, National Media & Author Relations Chairperson for Go On Girl! Book Club, highlights their 22nd Annual Author Awards celebration at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Author Awards dinner was held on Saturday, June 7, 2014 and honored the 2013 winning authors including Author of the Year, Leonard Pitts, Jr.; Life Achievement Awardee, Marita Golden; Jr. GOG Reader’s Choice Awardee, Kwame Alexander and Unpublished Writer Winner, Taheerah Abdul-Raheem. Watch ▶

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Book Recommendations

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National Book Awards Finalists Announced

AALBC.com congratuates Jacqueline Woodson for her novel, Brown Girl Dreaming, which was nominated in the Young People’s Literature category. We also congratuate, Fred Moten and Claudia Rankine, who were honored in the Poetry category for The Feel Trio and Citizen: An American Lyric respectively, and all of the other nominees. More ▶

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news-citzens-creekCitizens Creek: A Novel by Lalita Tademy

“Lalita Tademy has done it again—Citizen’s Creek is a deep, touching novel of great historical import and lyrical beauty. At the heart of this book is a headstrong family living both as free blacks as well as Muscogee-speaking Creek. We learn the history of a people: one in constant battle to protect both their lands and freedoms, their loves and loved ones–and ultimately, the quest for their inheritance and birthright as Americans–in the greatest, truest sense of the word.”—ZZ Packer More ▶

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Mad at Miles by Pearl Cleage

news-mad-at-miles“The title came about because she stumbled across a Miles Davis interview where he bragged about slapping Cicely Tyson in the mouth and how she was afraid of him when they were married. Wasn’t the first time I heard it, but I was shocked when I did. Miles has always been touted in the black community and among jazz fans as if he was some “musical genius/hero.” I was shocked and offended that he found it comical to abuse a woman, and that his behavior seemed to be a well kept secret. My feel is if Miles doesn’t respect women, he gets no loyalty from me as a fan…I give credit where it’s due in him being a musician, but you will not hear me giving him accolades.” —Dee (from the AALBC.com Discussion Forum)

With directness, Pearl Cleage takes an unblinking look at the current state of abusive relationships and battered women. This is a funny, angry, lyric piece of theatre that all should see, in order to better understand the realities women have dealt with for decades. More ▶

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Related Articles & News

Black Expressions Book Club is no More

news-black-expressionsBlack Expressions Book Club (BE), the first African American direct mail book club, has officially rejoined Doubleday Book Club, effectively ending its existence. BE was a significant part of the increased attention paid to Black books during the 10 year period beginning in the late nineties and was a big part of the Black book landscape.

Carol Mackey was the editor and public face of BE for most of the club’s life. Through Carol’s leadership the club helped bolster the careers of many authors and supported entities like AALBC.com, by co-sponsoring our 2nd annual Black Pack Party in Los Angeles. BE’s founding editor was Monica Harris (RIP), their final editor was Danielle Jackson.

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news-addictedAddicted ★★☆☆ — Film Review

I polled about a dozen sisters to see what they thought of the picture. They all loved it. But we men had found it sheer torture, from the tame sex scenes showing precious little skin, to the Puritanical moralizing, to the over-the-top melodrama.

That being said, since the estrogen-laden ladies uniformly enjoyed the film, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that testosterone heavily influenced my viewing experience. Therefore, fellow males might want to take anything positive I have to say here with a ton of salt. More ▶

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news-guguGugu Mbatha-Raw The “Beyond the Lights” Interview

Belle and Noni are almost polar opposites.
“Noni’s not a bad girl. She’s more of a victim. What interested me in this film, after doing Belle, which was a period drama set in a very repressed society, was the idea of exploring something much more contemporary: the sexualization of women and girls by the music and entertainment industries, how that has become the norm, and what is the cost of using sex to sell music, psychologically and emotionally. Gina [director Gina Prince-Bythewood] often talks about changing the conversation and steering the culture in a different direction, and about providing some inspiration to become your authentic self. Noni has become trapped by her public persona, so there was a lot to sink my teeth into.” —Gugu Mbatha-Raw More ▶

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news-ginaGina Prince-Bythewood The “Beyond the Lights” Interview

Born on June 10, 1969, Gina Maria Prince-Bythewood studied film at UCLA before beginning her career as a writer for the TV sitcom, A Different World. In 2000, she made a noteworthy directorial debut with the critically-acclaimed Love & Basketball, which netted a dozen accolades during awards season, including a couple of NAACP Image Awards, a BET Award and several Black Reel Awards.

Gina’s next feature was The Secret Life of Bees (2008), which also earned its share of trophies, including Image Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. Here, she talks about making her third movie, Beyond the Lights, a romance drama co-starring Gugu Mbata-Raw and Nate Parker. More ▶

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news-bruce-lee-ping-pongBelieve none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.

On a daily basis I see things on social media that demonstrates how easily we can be manipulated into believing that something is true, when it should be obvious that it is not. Facebook, for example, has been putting a lot more video on my newsfeed lately. I’ve started to notice a lot of videos that are clearly fake. However, based upon the comments posted, people believe these fake videos to be true. It is very scary how easily we can be fooled.

For example, I saw a video posted by someone I thought was pretty sharp. They used this video to prove how skilled the martial artist Bruce Lee was with nunchucks, which is a weapon made of two, foot-long sticks, connected by a short chain. Here we see Lee playing ping pong using these sticks This is not to say Bruce Lee was not a skilled martial artist, but the very idea that some people would actually believe this feat to be humanly possible is, itself, unbelievable. Join the Conversation ▶

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Download the AALBC.com Mobile App

news-aalbc-mobile-appThe AALBC.com Mobile Application is available for the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms.

With our free application you can stay up t0 date with our latest book and film reviews, interviews, articles, videos and more. You’ll find content not mentioned in our eNewsletter, as our eNewsletter primarily focuses on more recent information. Get the App ▶

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A Note to Authors

This Month’s Note: The “Old Fashioned” eNewsletter Still Works Great!

news-october-2014Social media is excellent for engaging with readers, but the majority of that engagement remains on the social media’s platform which does little to bring visitors to your website where a richer experience, that you manage, is possible.

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of an “old fashioned” eNewsletter (like the one you are reading now) to bring visitors to your website. With a newsletter, you can reach all of your readers without having to worry about a social media algorithms deciding which readers see your message. Today, I use Mad Mimi to manage AALBC.com’s eNewsletter. Mad Mimi is free for up to 2,500 subscribers. Mail Chimp is also a good option and is free for up to 2,000 subscribers. Constant Contact is popular (I used it for years in the past), but they do not offer a free option and the service is relatively expensive.

Reaction to last month’s recommendation: Authors add a link on your website to an independent website (Follow this link to learn why), resulted in a number of authors linking back to AALBC.com including Jewell Parker Rhodes and Frankie Lemon. Thanks y’all!

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The Baltimore African American Book Festival Please consider purchasing, or renewing, your subscription to AALBC.com’s eNewsletter—less than 50 cents an issue.

If you’ve read something in our eNewsletter that you enjoyed, or felt was important, please share it. We are responsible for ensuring our stories are told, shared, and preserved. As the number of platforms promoting our work continue to decrease in number, and reach, your active participation is needed.

news-thanks-for-sharingFinally, if you are interested in sponsoring our eNewsletter, November and December are still available.

Peace,
Troy Johnson,
Founder and Webmaster

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