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The black people, the Bantu, began migrating to the Congo some 2500 years ago.

No one knows just why, though there is a theory that they left the Sahara

region as it turned into a desert. Among them were Lumumba's ancestors.

 

 

Books on  and by Patrice Lumumba

Lumumba (Panaf, 1973) / The Assassination of Lumumba (De Witte, 2001) / Lumumba Speaks: Speeches and Writings, 1958-1961 

Congo, My Country (1966)  / The Martyrdom of Patrice Lumumba (1971)  / Lumumba: A Biography (McKown, 1969)

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Lumumba: A Biography

By Robin McKown

 

This is the story of an extraordinary man--a driving, dynamo of a man who needed only a few hours a night of sleep, who made friends easily and remained fiercely loyal to them, a man who was able to hold large crowds captive with his oratory, a man who evoked both worship and loathing. It is the story of an illiterate peasant's son, largely self-educated, who became a powerful force in the Congo's struggle for independence from Belgium, who was chosen his country's first Prime Minister, and whose eloquence and courage made him a figure of world renown.

It is the story of a man who was martyred by the many forces at war in his new nation, a man who at the age of 35 was brutally murdered by political rivals but whose name has become a symbol of liberty throughout Africa. A man who dreamed that someday the Congo would be ruled "not by the peace of guns and bayonets but by a peace of the heart and of the will."Publisher, Doubleday & Company, Inc. 

 

Introduction

Patrice Lumumba's place in African history is in several ways unique. Few leaders rose to international prominence so rapidly and so dramatically. The passions he aroused--among both his supporters and his detractors--were probably unrivaled by any other leader. To some he was the ideal of a nationalist hero; to others he was a cruel, unprincipled opportunist. The crisis through which the Democratic Republic of the Congo passed when he was its Prime Minister not only changed the course of its history, but also that of all Africa and even the whole world.

Lumumba first achieved prominence by leading the largest Congolese nationalist political party and then, in June 1960, becoming the country's first Prime Minister. Unlike many other African leaders who took up the reigns of government after their countries achieved independence, Lumumba had not been able to forge a single and united nationalist movement.

There were over fifteen significant political parties in the Congo, and their leaders were naturally in competition with one another. Thus, in order to obtain a vote of confidence from the newly elected parliament Lumumba had to make many compromises and to take leaders of many other parties into his cabinet. All this meant, that, although he was the outstanding leader, he did not have, nor could he expect to have, complete authority or tight control over political affairs during the difficult early days of independence.

But the problems Lumumba faced in parliament and in the cabinet were small when compared with the mutiny which broke out among the soldiers of the Congolese army only a few days after independence was proclaimed. In quick succession, this was followed by a complete breakdown of public security, the rapid departure of most of the white residents of the Congo, the return of the Belgian troops, serious attempts of secession by some of the most wealthy regions of the country, massive interference in the Congo's internal affairs by foreign powers, and finally the arrival of the United Nations "police force."

In the countryside the mutinous troops molested the civilian population (both black and white), looted and destroyed property, and threatened to reduce the country to a state of total chaos. In many places civil administration broke down, and in some, rival ethnic or political factions fought each other, resulting in considerable casualties.

Looking back, it seems absurd that anyone expected Lumumba and the other leaders of the Congo Government to find a way which would rapidly put the whole situation right. he was caught between forces he could not control. At first he tried to order the soldiers to return to discipline. When this not did not work but caused many of them to look upon him as an opponent, he tried to appease them by giving promotions and sending white officers home.

When the Belgian troops returned, he tried to rally nationalistic discipline, but at the same time he entered into negotiations with Belgian representatives for a temporary presence of Belgian troops so that order could be restored. The Congo Government also invited the United Nations to send troops to the Congo so that order could be reestablished and so that the national unity could be preserved.

But in the summer of 1960 the UN did little to counteract the secession of Katanga and other regions. When his appeals to the West and to the UN for effective help to end secession went unheard, Lumumba tried to obtain help from other African states and from the Soviet Union. But this in turn gained him little more than the distrust and opposition of Western states who throughout this period maintained a great deal of influence in the Congo.

On another level, one of Lumumba's greatest handicaps was the fact that even in the face of all these problems the Congolese were not really united. Personality conflicts and ideological conflicts among the leaders, ethnic and regional divisions, meant that Lumumba had to worry as much about patching up the unity of his government as about mutiny, order, secession, and foreign interference.

These stresses soon created a rift between Lumumba and President Kasavubu, and the result was that he was dismissed as Prime Minister in September, a little over two months after he had attained that position. For a while he contested this decision, but the political situation both inside the Congo and internationally turned more and more against him.

In the end his personal safety was increasingly threatened in Leopoldville (today Kinshasha) and he, therefore, tried to escape to the northeast of the country where his strongest support has always been located. In a sequence of events full of drama and pathos he was caught and imprisoned by the Congolese army and later turned over to his worst enemies and put to death.

One of the strange things about Lumumba's career is how he has been pictured in different parts of the world. In the West, he has the reputation of having been something of a "devil." There are probably two reasons for this. First, he was, as he said himself, willing to deal with anyone, and when this included the Soviet Union it gained him the usual antagonism. But this alone does not go anywhere near enough to explaining the really passionate anger he aroused.

The second reason may be more important. Up to 1960, up to the Congo's achievement of independence, the African nationalist movement had developed and gained its objectives, with few exceptions, in a generally orderly and peaceful manner. Then came the Congo with its chaos and a Prime Minister who, despite his frequent powerlessness, was unwilling to let the UN or other outside forces take over the leadership of the country. He was blamed for the chaos and for not taking "good advice."

Later, the world began to understand that when a society goes through a crisis like the one which had occurred in the Congo it takes more than the proper orders by its leaders to put things right again. Some of Lumumba's successors took a lot of advice, and some of them were positively pro-Western, but conditions in the Congo were often worse than they were under Lumumba.

There were times when the army harassed more civilians, there was more chaos and fighting, and there was more bloodshed. Furthermore, in other parts of Africa many of the problems which the Congo faced in its first days of independence later made their appearance and it was seen that other leaders were also had put to deal with them.

Thus, those who followed Lumumba received a far more sympathetic hearing, were treated with more sympathy, than he had been.

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Robin McKown's biography of Lumumba has performed a double service. first, here is a comprehensive Western study which is sympathetic to Lumumba. This is something which needed to be done. Second, it is the only complete biography of Lumumba presently in existence. The latter part of his life has of course been discussed in many places, but Robin McKown has also researched the early period, which is important if one is to start understanding this extraordinary man. No doubt Lumumba will remain a controversial figure, but his book will hopefully help to balance what is known and thought about him.

--Herbert F. Weiss, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Brooklyn College

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is more than three times the size of Texas and nearly eighty times the size of Belgium, which controlled its destiny for over seventy-five years.

Within its boundaries are jungles, snowy peaks, volcanic mountains, enormous lakes, deep grottoes, and weird savanna landscapes of anthills and baobab trees. The Congo River, with its tributaries, lays a mesh of waterways across the land. The river of fiction and legend, 2700 miles long and shaped like a giant question mark, begins as a tiny stream in the south-central African highlands, flows north over rapids and waterfalls and through grassy savannas and woodlands, arcs westward, moves with a wide and majestic flow through green equatorial forests, and turns into a wild and raging torrent as it cuts into the Crystal Mountains on the last lap of its journey to the Atlantic Ocean.

In the fertile Congolese soil flourish fruit trees and plants from far parts of the world--coconut palms and breadfruit trees from Oceania; potatoes, corn, peanuts, red peppers, pineapples from South America; rice, bananas, sugar cane, oranges and lemons from Asia; juicy papayas from Mexico.

It has been estimated that, with proper cultivation, enough foodstuff could be raised on the Congo's arable land to feed all of Africa.

The underground wealth of the Congo is fabulous: gold in the mountains of Kivu; industrial diamonds in southern Kasai (more than 75 percent of the world's supply); bauxite, a basic element in aluminum production, in the Lower Congo; and in Katanga in the savanna country, copper, cobalt, uranium, tin, zinc, silver, tungsten, radium, along with lesser-known elements invaluable in modern technology: bismuth, manganese, beryllium, germanium.

For untold millenniums these vast treasures lay hidden awaiting the skills needed to exploit them. They could have served to build a civilizations of unrivaled splendor; instead, they would prove the Congo's curse.

Patrice Lumumba was born in the Congo and grew up in it. Its tragic history was his heritage. To understand Lumumba, what he was and what he became, a glimpse at this history is a prerequisite.

There was a time when the Congo belonged wholly to the animal kingdom. Vast herds of elephants roamed across it. Thousands of ungainly hippopotami bathed in the river waters. Leopards, lions, antelope, will boars, giraffes, cheetahs, zebras, the shy okapi, the white rhinoceros and the black rhinoceros, lived tranquilly or ferociously, in accord with their natures.

Gorillas chose haunts in the mountain forest. Monkeys chattered noisily in the trees at the brilliant feathered birds overhead. Butterflies fluttered in clouds of color, their hues matching the pastel shades of marshland flowers. the animals are still in the Congo, though in far lesser numbers; it is definitely no longer their country.

The first known human habitants were the Pygmies--tiny, industrious, cheerful people who dwelt in the rain forests and lived on roots and grubs and whatever else they could find to eat. They shot game with bows and arrows dipped in poison for which they alone knew the antidote. When the food supply gave out in one place, they moved somewhere else, cleared ground and built new homes from pliable branches and leaves. The Pygmies are still in the Congo too; they have steadfastly resisted all attempts to make them conform to modernity.

The black people, the Bantu, began migrating to the Congo some 2500 years ago. No one knows just why, though there is a theory that they left the Sahara region as it turned into a desert. Among them were Lumumba's ancestors. These black people, who are actually dark brown, make up the majority of the modern Congolese. The Hamites, also dark-skinned, arrived later from the neighborhood of Ethiopia. They include the Batutsi, the tallest people in the world, who settled down on the high eastern rim of the Congo basin.

The immigrants developed the art of forging iron axes, spears, and hoes. They built homes of strong vines or mud bricks, which they sometimes decorated with handsome geometric patterns. They became farmers, fishermen, and hunters. From the leaves of the raffia palm they wove finely textured cloth, and they made lovely pottery and baskets, purely for utility.

They devised musical instruments and created an incredible variety of dances for religious ceremonials, for war preparations, or for celebrations and pleasure. They carved sculpture which Western experts would one day rank among the world's masterpieces. (Congolese masks and statuettes inspired Picasso and other modern artists.) They invented a drum carved out of a log, called a tom-tom, by which they could talk to neighboring villages. It was their telegraph.

They wore few clothes, for the Congo is a tropical country, but, like Europeans and Americans, they loved personal adornment. This took the form of fine tattoo markings on face and torso, and of war paint. they created an infinite number of elaborate headdresses and headgear, and forged brass necklaces and leg bands, also for beauty.

Their  way of living was communal. they divided into tribes; there are some two hundred major ones. Lands were held in common for the benefit if all. private property was unknown. When disputes between tribes could not be settled by discussion, they fought wars, like people everywhere since time immemorial.

Customs and legends varied from tribe to tribe, with certain similarities. the belief in a supreme being, a life force, was widespread. Men were expected to pay a "bride price" to the parents of their future wives, the opposite of the European dowry. In most tribes it was normal for a man to have several wives. Strict obedience was expected of children. A few tribes were not averse to eating their enemies; indeed; they would denounce as barbarous the European wars where men killed even when they were not hungry.

In time, tribes grouped together to form kingdoms. one of these was the Kingdom of the Kongo, which stretched along Africa's western coast on both sides of the mouth of the Congo River. late in the fifteenth century, the King of the Kongo received a delegation of the oldest people any Congolese had ever seen. these strangers had light skins and black beards. They wore an astonishing amount of clothing.

The visitors came from Portugal. one of them was Diego Cão, a navigator who is credited with having discovered the Congo River in 1482. . . .

---Robin McKown "Congo Backdrop" (excerpt chapter 1)

Source: Robin McKown, Lumumba: A Biography. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1969.

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Lumumba: A Film by Raoul Peck

Raoul Peck tells the story of the African freedom fighter Patrice Lumumba with fire and grace. The opening scene sets the vérité tone with the sound of a saw cutting through bone; two Belgian soldiers are breaking down Lumumba's body and incinerating it in a ten-gallon drum. From there, the film backtracks to the origins of the Congolese independence movement and proceeds to explain how a man's legacy could be considered so threatening. Peck handles all of this, including the atrocities, with refinement, and lets the drama of Lumumba's story run smoothly, free of heavy historical detail. Eriq Ebouaney is extraordinary in the lead role, the production feels emotionally true, and the speeches generate spontaneous applause. Only the ending comes off as too hopeful, as we know that with Lumumba's death, the regime of Mobuto began. In French and Lingala.—Michael Agger, The New Yorker

Made in the tradition of such true-life political thrillers as MALCOLM X and JFK, Raoul Peck's award-winning LUMUMBA is a gripping epic that dramatizes for the first time the rise and fall of legendary African leader Patrice Lumumba. When the Congo declared its independence from Belgium in 1960, the 36-year-old, self-educated Lumumba became the first Prime Minister of the newly independent state. Called "the politico of the bush" by journalists of the day, he became a lightning rod of Cold War politics as his vision of a united Africa gained him powerful enemies in Belgium and the U.S. Lumumba would last just months in office before being brutally assassinated. Strikingly photographed in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Belgium as civil war once again raged in the Congo, the film vividly re-creates the shocking events behind the birth of the country that became Zaire during the reign of Lumumba's former friend and eventual nemesis, Joseph Mobutu. This is the English-dubbed version of the film.Amazon.com

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Cuba An African Odyssey is the previously untold story of Cuba's support for African revolutions.

Cuba: An African Odyssey is the story of the Cold War told through the prism of its least known arena: Africa. It is the untold story of Cuba’s support for African revolutions.  It is the story of men like Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Agosthino Neto and of course Che Guevara who have become icons, mythical figures whose names are now synonymous with the word revolution. This is the story of how these men, caught between capitalism and communism, strove to create a third bloc that would assert the simple principle of national independence.  It is the story of a whole dimension of world politics during the last half of the 20th century, which has been hidden behind the facade of a simplistic understanding of superpower conflict.

Cuba: An African Odyssey will tell the inside story of only three of these Cuban escapades. We will start with the Congo where Che Guevara personally spent seven months fighting with the Pro-Lumumbist rebellion in the jungle of Eastern Congo. Then to Guinea Bissau where Amilcar Cabral used the technical support of Cuban advisors to bleed the Portuguese colonial war machine thus toppling the regime in Europe. Finally, Angola where in total 380,000 Cuban soldiers fought during the 27 years of civil war. The Cuban withdrawal from Angola was finally bartered against Namibia’s independence. With Namibia’s independence came the fall of Apartheid… the last vestige of colonialism on the African continent.

Cuba: An African Odyssey unravels episodes of the Cold War long believed to be nothing but proxy wars. From the tragicomic epic of Che Guevara in Congo to the triumph at the battle of Cuito Carnavale in Angola, this film attempts to understand the world today through the saga of these internationalists who won every battle but finally lost the war.

Credits: Written, directed and narrated by Jihan El-Tahri / Edited by Gilles Bovon / Photography by Frank-Peter Lehmann

Sound Recordists: James Baker, Graciela Barrault / Produced by Tancrède Ramonet, Benoît Juster, Jihan El-Tahri

Source: Snagfilms

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Heart of Darkness

By Joseph Conrad

Missing words have been restored and the entire novel has been repunctuated in accordance with Conrad’s style. The result is the first published version of Heart of Darkness that allows readers to hear Marlow’s voice as Conrad heard it when he wrote the story. "Backgrounds and Contexts" provides readers with a generous collection of maps and photographs that bring the Belgian Congo to life. Textual materials, topically arranged, address nineteenth-century views of imperialism and racism and include autobiographical writings by Conrad on his life in the Congo.

New to the Fourth Edition is an excerpt from Adam Hochschild’s recent book, King Leopold’s Ghost, as well as writings on race by Hegel, Darwin, and Galton. "Criticism" includes a wealth of new materials, including nine contemporary reviews and assessments of Conrad and Heart of Darkness [Contents] and twelve recent essays by Chinua Achebe, Peter Brooks, Daphne Erdinast-Vulcan, Edward Said, and Paul B. Armstrong, among others. Also new to this edition is a section of writings on the connections between Heart of Darkness and the film Apocalypse Now by Louis K. Greiff, Margot Norris, and Lynda J. Dryden. A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.

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King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

By Adam Hochschild

King Leopold of Belgium, writes historian Adam Hochschild in this grim history, did not much care for his native land or his subjects, all of which he dismissed as "small country, small people." Even so, he searched the globe to find a colony for Belgium, frantic that the scramble of other European powers for overseas dominions in Africa and Asia would leave nothing for himself or his people. When he eventually found a suitable location in what would become the Belgian Congo, later known as Zaire and now simply as Congo, Leopold set about establishing a rule of terror that would culminate in the deaths of 4 to 8 million indigenous people, "a death toll," Hochschild writes, "of Holocaust dimensions."

Those who survived went to work mining ore or harvesting rubber, yielding a fortune for the Belgian king, who salted away billions of dollars in hidden bank accounts throughout the world. Hochschild's fine book of historical inquiry, which draws heavily on eyewitness accounts of the colonialists' savagery, brings this little-studied episode in European and African history into new light.—Gregory McNamee

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John Coltrane, "Alabama"  /  Kalamu ya Salaam, "Alabama"  / A Love Supreme

A Blues for the Birmingham Four  /  Eulogy for the Young Victims   / Six Dead After Church Bombing 

Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

By Walter Rodney

The late Guyanese writer, Walter Rodney had left us his great insights regarding the reasons for the underdevelopment of the African continent. His work finds equal footing with those of Frantz Fanon and to an extent that of the late Brazilian author and social activist, Paulo Freire in attempting to provide a critical insight, and a gainful analysis to the situation and reasons for the poverty on the African continent. This analysis, whether one agrees with its conclusions or not provides a means towards looking at the stalk realities of African underdevelopment. Rodney thesis that the trans-atlantic slave trade diminished the African manpower to attain development cannot be easily pushed under the carpet. Development is how a people within the means available to them, within their eco-context utilize their knowledge for the good of the totality. When their people is afflicted with disease or mass uprooting there is bound to be both biological and social ripple effects that would affect both the pace and nature of development. It is here that we realize that Rodney's proposition underlines a crucial factor in explaining the reasons for the African state.

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Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007

By Matthew Wasniewski

Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007 beautifully prepared volume—is a comprehensive history of the more than 120 African Americans who have served in the United States Congress. Written for a general audience, this book contains a profile of each African-American Member, including notables such as Hiram Revels, Joseph Rainey, Oscar De Priest, Adam Clayton Powell, Shirley Chisholm, Gus Hawkins, and Barbara Jordan. Individual profiles are introduced by contextual essays that explain major events in congressional and U.S. history. Part I provides four chronologically organized chapters under the heading "Former Black Members of Congress." Each chapter provides a lengthy biographical sketch of the members who served during the period addressed, along with a narrative historical account of the era and tables of information about the Congress during that time. Part II provides similar information about current African-American members. There are 10 appendixes providing tabular information of a variety of sorts about the service of Black members, including such things as a summary list, service on committees and in party leadership posts, familial connections, and so forth.

The entire volume is 803 large folio pages in length and there are many illustrations. The book should be part of every library and research collection, and congressional scholars may well wish to obtain it for their personal libraries.Pictures—including rarely seen historical images—of each African American who has served in Congress—Bibliographies and references to manuscript collections for each Member—Statistical graphs and charts

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Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

By Derrick Bell

In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school's hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell's fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard's president and all of the school's black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination. Civil rights lawyer Geneva Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell's And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. Bell now teaches at New York University Law School.Publishers Weekly

  Derrick Bell Law Rights Advocate  Dies at 80

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The Looting of America: How Wall Street's Game of Fantasy Finance

Destroyed Our Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity—and What We Can Do About It

By Les Leopold

How could the best and brightest (and most highly paid) in finance crash the global economy and then get us to bail them out as well? What caused this mess in the first place? Housing? Greed? Dumb politicians? What can Main Street do about it? In The Looting of America, Leopold debunks the prevailing media myths that blame low-income home buyers who got in over their heads, people who ran up too much credit-card debt, and government interference with free markets. Instead, readers will discover how Wall Street undermined itself and the rest of the economy by playing and losing at a highly lucrative and dangerous game of fantasy finance. He also asks some tough questions:  Why did Americans let the gap between workers' wages and executive compensation grow so large? Why did we fail to realize that the excess money in those executives' pockets was fueling casino-style investment schemes? Why did we buy the notion that too-good-to-be-true financial products that no one could even understand would somehow form the backbone of America's new, postindustrial economy?

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

Manning Marable's new biography of Malcolm is a stunning achievement. Filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the Autobiography, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.

Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Malcolm X will stand as the definitive work on one of the most singular forces for social change, capturing with revelatory clarity a man who constantly strove, in the great American tradition, to remake himself anew.

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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Natives of My Person

By George Lamming

Natives of My Person focuses on slave traders of the sixteenth century. The novel reconstructs the voyage of the ship Reconnaissance, which is led by a character known as the Commandant. To atone for his past cruelties and barbarism, the Commandant plans to establish a Utopian society on the island of San Cristobal. The enterprise fails for many reasons: fighting amongst the crew, loss of interest, greed, and an inability to erase the past. The novel argues that an ideal society cannot be built by those who have committed moral atrocities and unnecessary bloodshed in their past. . . . Although Natives of My Person has a historical setting and deals with the voyage of the Reconnaissance, a vessel ostensibly engaged in the slave trade, a specific historical phenomenon, it is only partly accurate to describe it as a work of historical realism. Its realist component is not to be found in its fidelity to period costume, living conditions, or similar revealing detail. Instead of the veneer of verisimilitude that such usages provide, the novel locates its realism in the way in which it elaborately recapitulates an outlook.

George Lamming: Contemporary Criticism

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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