American Book Award Winners

Before Columbus Foundation Logo First presented in 1980, by the Before Columbus Foundation, “the American Book Awards Program respects and honors excellence in American literature without restriction or bias with regard to race, sex, creed, cultural origin, size of press or ad budget, or even genre. There would be no requirements, restrictions, limitations, or second places. There would be no categories. The winners would not selected by any set quota for diversity, because diversity happens naturally. Finally, there would be no losers, only winners. The only criteria would be outstanding contribution to American literature in the opinion of the judges.”

Here we present the American Book Award recipients of African descent.

2 Books Honored in 1992


Book Description: 

On Her Own Groundis the first full-scale, definitive biography of Madam C. J. Walker, thelegendary African American entrepreneur and philanthropist, by hergreat-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles.

The daughter of slaves, Madam C. J. Walker wasorphaned at seven, married at fourteen and widowed at twenty. She spent thebetter part of the next two decades laboring as a washerwoman for $1.50 a week.Then, with the discovery of a revolutionary hair care formula for black women, everything changed. By her death in 1919, Walker managed to overcomeastonishing odds: building a storied beauty empire from the ground up, amassingwealth unprecedented among black women and devoting her life to philanthropy andsocial activism. Along the way, she formed friendships with greatearly-twentieth-century politi-cal figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T.Washington.

On Her Own Ground is not only the first comprehensive biography of oneof recent history’s most amazing entrepreneurs and philanthropists, it is abouta woman who is truly an African American icon. Drawn from more than two decadesof exhaustive research, the book is enriched by the author’s exclusive access topersonal letters, records and never-before-seen photographs from the familycollection. Bundles also showcases Walker’s complex relationship with herdaughter, A’Lelia Walker, a celebrated hostess of the HarlemRenaissance and renowned friend to both LangstonHughes and Zora NealeHurston. In chapters such as "Freedom Baby," "MotherlessChild," "Bold Moves" and "Black Metropolis," Bundlestraces her ancestor’s improbable rise to the top of an international hair careempire that would be run by four generations of Walker women until its sale in1985. Along the way, On Her Own Ground reveals surprising insights, tellsfascinating stories and dispels many misconceptions.

On Her Own Ground was named a2002 BCALA Honor Book, a 2001 New York Times Notable Book and the 2001 LetitiaWoods Brown Book Prize winner for the Best Book on Black Women’s History by theAssociation of Black Women Historians. It has become a favorite of women’s bookclubs and was one of the Go On Girl! Book Club selections for 2001. It is beingtaught in high schools, colleges and even in the Bedford Hills CorrectionalFacility’s college course for women prisoners.


Voices Of The Self: A Study Of Language Competence (African American Life Series)
by Keith Gilyard

Publication Date: Jul 01, 1991
List Price: $25.95
Format: Paperback, 184 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780814322253
Imprint: Wayne State University Press
Publisher: Wayne State University Press
Parent Company: Wayne State University

Read a Description of Voices Of The Self: A Study Of Language Competence (African American Life Series)

Book Description: 
A unique blend of memoir and scholarship, Keith Gilyard’s Voices of the Self is a penetrating analysis of the linguistic and cultural "collision" experienced by African-American students in the public education system. Gilyard examines black students "negotiate" their way through school and discusses the tension between the use of Black English and Standard English, underlining how that tension is representative of the deeper conflict that exists between black culture and white expectations. Vivid descriptions-often humorous, sometimes disturbing, always moving-of Gilyard’s own childhood experiences in school and society are interlaced with chapters of solid sociolinguistic scholarship. Encompassing the perspectives of both the "street" and the "academy," Voices of the Self presents an eloquent argument for cultural and linguistic pluralism in American public schools.