Black History Month: “Autobiography of Malcolm X”

I first read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley, while in high school. At that time, what stood out were his experiences as a young man putting lye on his hair to straighten it out (which, he points out, is the kind of self-inflicted pain some blacks put on themselves toContinue reading “Black History Month: “Autobiography of Malcolm X””

Black History Month: “A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave”

One of the most powerful books I have ever read, and re-read, is Frederick Douglass’s autobiography from 1845. The passages that still stand out to me include his learning to read and his yearning for freedom, looking at the ships on Chesapeake Bay. This book should be required reading not just for Americans, but forContinue reading “Black History Month: “A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave””

Black History Month: “Passing”

Nella Larsen’s “Passing,” first published in 1929. Larsen, who lived from April 13,1893 to March 30, 1964, was a member of the Harlem Renaissance of writers, credited with writing two novels (the earlier books is Quicksand) and short stories. She later became a nurse. Her writing is credited for delving not only into issues ofContinue reading “Black History Month: “Passing””

Black History Month: “The Great Negro Plot”

This is a new book, probably the newest one that will be highlighted this month as part of Black History Month, but the book by Mat Johnson, who teaches at Bard College, fits in well with the African-American literary tradition, namely in that it, according to Publishers Weekly: convincingly re-creates New York City’s stratified colonialContinue reading “Black History Month: “The Great Negro Plot””

Black History Month: “Cane”

From the publisher, Norton: A literary masterpiece of the Harlem Renaissance, Cane is a powerful work of innovative fiction evoking black life in the South. The sketches, poems, and stories of black rural and urban life that make up Cane are rich in imagery. Visions of smoke, sugarcane, dusk, and flame permeate the Southern landscape:Continue reading “Black History Month: “Cane””

Black History Month: Langston Hughes

This image of Langston Hughes (1902 to 1967) was taken by Gordon Parks in 1943 and copied from the Library of Congress. Langston Hughes was one of the major figures of the Harlem Renaissance. He was a poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer and newspaper columnist. This is one of his most famous poems (fromContinue reading “Black History Month: Langston Hughes”

Black History Month: “The Souls of Black Folks”

W.E.B. Du Bois The Souls of Black Folks, 1903. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in 1868 in Great Barrington, Mass., and by the time he died in 1963 had become one of the most influential black writers ever in America, due largely to the work he is known best for, The Souls ofContinue reading “Black History Month: “The Souls of Black Folks””

Black History Month: “Twelve Years A Slave”

Solomon Northup’s 1853 autobiography, “Twelve Years A Slave.” In Saratoga Springs, a plaque near the corner of Congress Street and Broadway memorializes the kidnapping of Solomon Northup. In 1841, the Saratoga County man was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana. A delegation from New York some of them affiliated with Union College in SchenectadyContinue reading “Black History Month: “Twelve Years A Slave””

Black History Month: “Our Nig”

Our Nig; Or, Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, In A Two-Story White House, North. Showing That Slavery’s Shadows Fall Even There By “Our Nig.” This autobiographical novel was published in 1859 and was written by Harriet E. Wilson. Though published in the 19th century, the novel didn’t gain wide recognition until itContinue reading “Black History Month: “Our Nig””