As part of our commitment to making history more palatable and aiding in its retention in our community, History To You, Inc. plans to host a monthly book review series, consisting of an African-American authored book whose theme/message still has relevance in our community today. To help to make this a more interactive experience, History To You will also be bringing historical artifacts related to the selected book – from original 1st edition copies of the classic work selected, to artifacts related to the author or the subject matter of the book.  History To You, Inc., has identified the following books as those to be read and discussed over the course of 2018. Of course, this list is subject to change, as we will try to make sure that the books we discuss are relevant to our culture and community at the time they are being reviewed.

Back To The Classics Book List for 2018:

 

Jan 27, 2018: The Mis-Education of the Negro – Carter G. Woodson – One of the greatest educators the African-American community has ever seen, Woodson spent his entire life research, documenting and publishing the history of African-Americans. It was Carter, after extensive research into early African-American History, that establish first the “Negro History Week,” that would eventually evolve into “Black History Month” – selecting February because both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were born in that month. The classic work of the man considered “The Father of Black History,” the Mis-Education of the Negro is an unflinching look at the psychological and social impact negative imagery and mis-information have had on the African-American community. Though written in 1934, the message in this work continues to apply to the current state of our community – while providing ways in which we can heal ourselves and tools for better educating our children

Artifacts: First Edition Copies of: The Mis-Education of the Negro, The Negro in Our History, African Myths, Negro Makers of History, along with early copies of The Journal of Negro Education.

 

Feb. 24, 2018: Up From Slavery – Booker T. Washington – Both one of the most influential and, to a degree, polarizing African-American figures of the 20th Century, Washington emerged from childhood slavery to become a scholar, master fundraiser, and a leading voice in the African-American community, delivering a message stressing the need to build an economic and technological infrastructure within our communities before attempting to secure social and political equality. Loved by many, Washington embodied his message with his work as founder and first Principal of the Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University.  Up From Slavery is his classic autobiography, which laid the foundation for his philosophy is “Cast your bucket where you lay.” Today, the African-American community is struggling with the same issues of economics and equality – revisiting Washington’s works may provide insight into a better direction.

Artifacts: First Edition Copies of Up From Slavery, The Story of My Life and Work, Putting the Most into Life, The Man Farthest Down; signed letter(s) by Booker T. Washington, original artifacts from Tuskegee Institute from the early 1900s-1950s.

 

March 24, 2018: The Souls of Black Folk – W.E.B. DuBois – DuBois, a Harvard educated scholar from Massachusetts, experienced both the access to opportunities in the North rarely afford people of African descent, as well as the incredible poverty endured by his brothers and sisters in the South as a teacher and the world’s first Black Sociologist.  His classic work, The Souls of Black Folk,  is easily considered one of the most influential writings of the 20th Century for people of color, and spelled out a philosophy different from that of his counterpart Booker T. Washington.  Rather than focusing on economic infrastructure and growth through labor, DuBois instead urged political agitation and a persistent attack against those denying equality to the Black community.  Over time, DuBois would evolve from this early political agitator fighting for equality and enemy of Marcus Garvey to a Pan-Africanist fighting for the political and economic liberation of Africa.  Souls of Black Folks offers us an opportunity to revisit not only DuBois’ early philosophy, but also allows us to look at how his ideology was implemented over the 20th century – for better and for worse.

Artifacts: First Edition Copies of The Souls of Black Folks, The Gift of Black Folks, Negro, Color and Democracy, Dusk of Dawn, Dark Princess, and Worlds of Color (signed by DuBois)

 

April 28, 2018: The Roar of the Black Woman – The Poetry of Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and Sonia Sanchez – Maya Angelou – Performer, poet, activist, and mentor to countless African-American leaders over the past 60 years, Maya rose from poverty and immense abuse to become one of, if not the, greatest voices of Black culture ever.  She not only wrote of the beauty and the pain of our struggles, she lived them and embodied the resilience of the Black spirit. Her poems made an entire nation recognize the plight of our people, our beauty, and our ability to rise above all that is stacked against us.

Artifacts: First Edition Copies of  And Still I Rise (signed), I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings, Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing (signed), an original graduation shoal worn by Maya, and an award given to Maya from Project Homestead, Inc. in 1993. Signed copies of Works by Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni will also be on display.

  

May 26, 2018. The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Malcolm X, Alex Haley - While Malcolm X is known around the world for his rise from common criminal to leading spokesman for the Nation of Islam and principal voice of Black Nationalism, many know the story - but few have read his story.  There have been movies, but there is no replacement for the words of Malcolm and Alex directly from their pens. His story of resurrection and his untimely death are not only still relevant today, but the loss of Malcolm still affects our community to the present.

Artifacts: First Edition Copies of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Message to the Black Man, early copies of Muhammad Speaks, and an original vintage hat from the FOI (Fruit of Islam)

 

Jun.23, 2018: Behind the Scenes – Elizabeth Keckley – Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave from St. Louis, rose from a washerwoman in bondage to become a dressmaker for the most prominent women in Washington, D.C. and a personal confidant of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.  From her time as a slave, to overcoming an alcoholic and abusive former husband, Keckley’s store offers an example of persistence and perseverance.  The role she played as both a confidant for the First Lady and a spy for the Union is largely unnoticed by history – but we hope to uncover her contributions and recognize Elizabeth Keckley as the freedom fighting woman she was.

Artifacts: First Edition Copy of Behind the Scenes, 19th century washer board and iron, depiction(s) of washerwomen from the time period.

 

Jul. 28, 2018: Lyrics of A Lowly Life – Paul Laurence Dunbar - Paul Laurence Dunbar was undoubtedly the most popular Black poet of the late 19th and early 20th century.  His works of poetry and fiction gave voice to the lives of former slaves and their descendants and allowed the rest of the world to see both the beauty and complexity of our people.  With 17 of Dunbar's first edition books of poetry and fiction in one of the most complete collections of its kind, we can see the writings of Paul Laurence Dunbar come to life In particular, we are looking at his first large-scale publishing effort from 1895 which includes the classic poem, “We Wear The Mask”

Artifacts: Sixteen (16) of Dunbar's 1st Edition books of poetry and fiction, including Lyrics of a Lowly Life.

Aug. 25, 2018: The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass – Frederick Douglass - Frederick Douglass is by far the most influential and well-known African-American of the 19th Century.  Born a slave in Maryland, his escape to freedom as a young man and eventual rise to leader of the abolitionist movement often overshadows many of his later accomplishments.  After the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, Douglass continued to work tirelessly for the equality of all people.  He was a leading figure in the Woman’s Suffrage movement, and held several political appointments – including U.S. Ambassador and Washington D.C. Recorder of Deeds.  This work, the last of three (3) autobiographies, is the most encapsulating, covering Douglass’ life up through the post-Civil War years – offering a great example of how a leader evolved from one movement – abolition – to other movements – including the right to vote. 

Artifacts:  First Edition Copies of The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Signed Land Deed, Harper’s Weekly Obituary

 

Sept. 22, 2018: The Poetry of the Renaissance – Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes – The literary arm of the Harlem Renaissance saw novelists, scholars and poets emerge from obscurity into the national and international forefront as new voices for a people fighting for recognition and equality.  Theirs were voices of reason and rebellion; of anger and pain, love and joy, resilience and resistance. Before rap, before “The Last Poets”, there were the poets of the Harlem Renaissance – and there works are the subject of this book review.  From Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die” to Countee Cullen’s “Black Christ,” the cry for equality and self-reliance resonates with the social and political environment in which we live, nearly 100 years later.

Artifacts: First Edition Copies of Color, The Black Chris (signed by Countee Cullen)t, Caroling Duskk Golden Slippers, Harlem Metropolis, Home to Harlem, Banjo,  signed works by Langston Hughes, Arna Bontemps

 

Oct. 27, 2018: A Taste of Power – Elaine Brown – While Bobby Seale and Huey Newton are widely recognized as the founders and early leaders of the Black Panther Party, it was the presence and participation of women in the BPP that were the key to its growth and early success.  While Seale and Newton both faced multiple stints in prison for their role in the BPP, leading women like Kathleen Cleaver and Elaine Brown stepped to the forefront to stabilize and sustain the party and its ideals – with Elaine Brown serving as Chairman of the Black Panther Party from 1974-77.  This book, A Taste of Power, offers a glimpse into her rise in the Black Panther Party, and the chauvinism she had to overcome to earn respect as the leader of the party.  The struggles she endured demonstrated that women are more than capable of leading a movement – lessons we can learn from for today’s social and political environment.

Artifacts: First Edition Copy of A Taste of Power(signed), original copy of Seize The Time,  Elaine Brown’s recorded album, multiple copies of original Black Panther Party Newspapers

 

Nov. 24, 2018: Unbought and Unbossed – Shirley Chisholm - Before Hillary Clinton there was Shirley Chisholm. An intelligent, strong willed politician, Shirley went from day care provider to the first Black female member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1968 and, in 1972, became the first black candidate – male or female and the first female of any color to mount a serious major party campaign for the office of President of the United States.  Her efforts bucked traditions and raised expectations for what could be possible for women and minorities in the political process.  Her book, Unbought and Unbossed, is her story, in her own words, of how she overcome the chauvinism from both white and black men, and forced the nation to hear her voice and take her seriously.

Artifacts: First Edition Copy of Unbought and Unbossed, Signed photo, four (4) campaign buttons, presidential campaign top, cut signature of Shirley Chisholm, Jet magazines from 1968 and 1972.

 

Dec. 22, 2018: Soul on Ice Eldridge Cleaver – Aside from Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, no one was as prominent (and polarizing) as Eldridge Cleaver – a man that rose from ex-convict to respected writer to the Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party.  This book Soul on Ice , was written while Cleaver was serving time in Folsom State Penitentiary in 1965.  It was first published in 1968, and has gone on to sell millions of copies worldwide.  In it, Cleaver delivers essays that directly confront the ill-treatment of people of African descent in the United Sates, and offers radical approaches to dealing with that ill-treatment, while discussing his own individual evolution.  In a current time where 25-35% of African-American men from 18-40 are or have been incarcerated and have to deal with fighting for acceptance and opportunity, this book is more than relevant – it is necessary reading.

Artifacts: First Edition Copies of Soul on Ice, Fire on Ice, signed poetry of Eldridge, Black Panther Party Newspapers, other original Black Panther booklets, albums, additional artifacts.

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History To You's "Back To The Classics" Book Club

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