Editor and Founder of ChickenBones: A Journal
Rudolph Lewis (born
1948 in Baltimore, Maryland) was raised by his grandparents
William and Ella Lewis
of Jarratt, Virginia—in the Village of Jerusalem. He attended
Creath, No. 5 and later graduated from Central High (Sussex). In
1965. He left Jarratt 1965to attend Morgan State College
(Baltimore). After hearing Stokely Carmichael, Walter Lively,
and Bob Moore speak on black responsibility in Fall 1967, he
left Morgan State “to join the Revolution” by working closely
with Bob Moore and Walter Lively from 1968 to about 1972.
He spent several years as
an organizer for Local 1199, married in 1972 Evelyn Duncan,
which was of a short duration (divorced 1976). Resigning from
1199 in 1974, he worked a number of temporary jobs, including
that of a porter and pot-washer at Maryland General Hospital.
Under the encouragement and
guidance of Dr. Max Wilson, he
registered for Morgan State University’s University Without
Walls and then the University of Maryland (College Park), from
which he graduated with a B.A (1978) and M.A. (1981) degrees in
English. After graduation, he taught writing and literature on
an adjunct basis at University of the District of Columbia and
the University of Maryland. In 1982, he spent ten weeks with the
Peace Corps in Zaire.
Returning to College Park,
he was encouraged by Drs. Lewis Lawson and Donna Hamilton to
take a teaching position in Louisiana. He taught for a year a
Northeast Louisiana University (NLU, 1983) and then the
University of New Orleans (UNO, 1984-1986). At a presentation at
UNO, Lewis made the acquaintance of
Lee Meitzen Grue and
Yusef and Rudy became fast friends, with Yusef serving as a
mentor in the writing of poetry. Komunyakaa and Lewis, along
with Ahmose Zu-Bolton, created and built the cultural center
Copacetic on Piety Street, which lasted tragically only six
encouragement, Lewis joined in 1984 the New Orleans Poetry
Forum, headed by Lee Grue. In this milieu he gained many valuable
friends and experiences. Gaining some poetic skills, Lewis wrote
poems that were published by
The New Laurel Review (NLR),
edited by Lee Meitzen Grue. He also began his own rag,
Crickets: Poems & Other Jazz, which lasted several issues.
As editor of Cricket, Lewis published poems of some of
his UNO colleagues, Yusef, and of the late Marcus Bruce
Christian. As a contributing editor of the NLR, Lewis accepted
several writing assignments, including pieces on the
socially-conscious Jessie Covington Dent and the poet
After leaving UNO, Lewis spent a year in an
English doctoral program at Louisiana State University. He
returned to his Village of Jerusalem for six months (the longest
extent since leaving in 1965) continuing to write and research.
During this period he wrote and corresponded with friends in
Louisiana and Baltimore. In 1987, he returned to Baltimore and
worked a couple of years for Local 1199 as editor and organizer.
From 1991-1997, Lewis taught writing and
other subjects in several
adult education programs. During this
period he spent a year in Morgan State’s doctoral program in
education (1991-1992), and completed from 1994-1997 a masters
program in library science. From 1997-1999, he worked as a
librarian for Enoch Pratt Free Library. After the publication of
his edited volume of I Am New Orleans & Other Poems By
Marcus Bruce Christian, Lewis again returned to the Village of
Jerusalem where he collected the letters and stories of his
grandmother Ella Lewis.
During this sojourn in Jerusalem, Lewis
also continued his research on the region, including the
development of Negro schools in Sussex and the history of the
Nathaniel Turner Rebellion. After six months, he again returned
to Baltimore and began work as a part-time librarian at St.
Mary’s Seminary, where he continues to work. In November 2001,
along with Kinya Kionygozi, he founded the website
ChickenBones: A Journal ,
which he continues to edit and which has become one of the most
popular African-American websites on the internet, enjoying over
a half-million visitors in 2003.
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(& Founder) ChickenBones:
A Journal (www.nathanielturner.com), an online educational web
site, 2001 to present.
I Am New Orleans & Other
Poems By Marcus Bruce Christian. New Orleans:
Xavier Review Press, 1999.
Heritage, Spring 1997.
Editor The New Laurel
Review, Spring/Fall 1984; Spring/Fall 1987
(& Founder) CRICKET: Poems and Other Jazz. New Orleans, 1985.
Baltimore City College High School, 2004 to
Librarian St. Mary’s Seminary & University, 2000--2004
Librarian Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, 1997-1999
Librarian Baltimore City Community College, Baltimore, 1997
Consultant George Meany Memorial Archives, Silver Spring,
1997 University of Maryland, College Park
George Meany Memorial Archives, 1997.
Activities included reference, accessioning and processing and
preserving AFL-CIO, records (paper and audiovisual), writing
finding aids, records management
activities, editing Labor's Heritage
Reference Librarian Internship
Eisenhower Library, Johns Hopkins
University, 1996. Activities included working at Reference Desk,
and assisting in setting up archival web page; developed an
alternative design for Milton's Web, the library's web page.
English, 1981, University of Maryland, College Park
Dr. Lewis A. Lawson, UM English, 1980-1981
University of Maryland, 1980-1981. Taught Freshman Composition,
under the supervision of Eugene Hammond, author of Teaching Writing
English, 1978 University of Maryland, College Park
Math, Philosophy. Independent Study with Dr. Max Wilson, former
Department of Philosophy, Howard University, 1974-1976
City Community College, 1993-1997
Reads, LPNW, 1990-1993
and Literature Instructor
State College, Fall 2000
of New Orleans, 1984-1986
Louisiana University, 1983-1984
of District of Columbia, 1981-1983
Skills Specialist, IED Program, University of
Maryland, 1983. Made assessments of incoming high school
OTHER TECHNICAL SKILLS
skills (including Internet, bibliographic searches, Web and
HyperCard design); records management and preservation skills,
editing, writing, visual arts layout, research, adult literacy
PUBLICATIONS & Other Writings
Records and Technology: Issues in Increasing Access and
Preservation.” (1997). Unpublished essay.
Department of Organization (1955-1973).” Finding Aid. The George
Meany Memorial Archives, Silver Spring, June 1997.
Appraisal and Disposition of the Negro Federal Writer’s Project
& Doctoring: A Modern Folk Tale.” The
New Laurel Review, Spring 2000.
Pratt Free Library and Adult Literacy Services.” Unpublished
Ethnologic Image of Americans in Black and White: An Exploration
of the Ethnic Writings of Martin R. Delany (1812-1885). Master’s
Thesis, April 1981.
in New Orleans.” The New
Laurel Review, Spring/Fall 1987
the Boundaries of Liberal Educational Discourse: A Review of C.A.
Bower’s Elements of a Post-Liberal Theory of Education.” 1990. Unpublished
I Am New Orleans & Other Poems By
Marcus Bruce Christian.
Edited by Rudolph Lewis and Amin Sharif. New Orleans: Xavier
Review Press, 1999.
Search of Books, Scholars, and Libraries in Sixteenth-Century
Timbuktu.” 1996. Unpublished essay and HyperCard project.
Materials Used By Baltimore Literacy Programs: An Evaluative
Report.” 1997. Unpublished report.
with Yusef Komunyakaa.” New Orleans: May 1985.
Am New Orleans and Other
Poems by Marcus Bruce Christian. Edited by Rudolph Lewis and
Amin Sharif. New Orleans: Xavier Review Press, 1999.
Covington Dent: Concert Artist & Humanist.” The
New Laurel Review, Spring/Fall 1984.
Letters of an Abiding Faith—1976-1994: Legacy of a Slave’s
GrandDaughter to Her Son. Baltimore: Tinka Enterprises, Publisher, 2001.
Pieced Together: Ella Lewis, Quilt Maker, The
New Laurel Review, Spring/Fall 1984.
Goddesses, & Black Male Identity in the Romantic Poetry of
Marcus Bruce Christian.” Paper presented at College Language
Association, April 2000, Baltimore, Maryland.
on a Mission: A Rhetorical Analysis of Frederick Douglass’
Oration on Abraham Lincoln.” 1980. Unpublished essay.
Bruce Christian (1900-1976): A Compilation of Christian's
Bio-Bibliographical Material on a New Orleans Poet and Louisiana
Historian. Copyright 2000. Baltimore.
“Marcus Bruce Christian and a Theory of a
Black Aesthetic.” Paper presented at the Zora Neale Hurston
Society Conference held June 1999 at University of Maryland
Eastern Shore. Published in The
Zora Neale Hurston Journal, Spring 2000.
Room Without You.” Poem. The
New Laurel Review, Spring/Fall 1987.
Preservation Report and Five-Year Plan for the Guy-Blache Moving
Image and Sound Archive (GBMISA).” 1997. Unpublished.
Priorities and Making Compromises: The Artful Management of
Materials in Electronic Formats.” 1996. Unpublished.
& Daughters of Sussex: A Family Memoir of Five Generations.”
1999. Unpublished manuscript.
of Real Estate.” Poem. Something
Good: An Anthology of Poetry, Rap, Memoirs, edited by Nancy
Travis. Newark, NJ: African American Word, Inc., 1987.
Buscemi Montana Collection, 1925-1987.” Finding Aid. The George
Meany Memorial Archives, Silver Spring, January 1996.
Marcus B. Christian Community Service Award. University of New
Orleans. Dr. Mackie Blanton, Dean
Business and Continuing Education Center, Baltimore City Community
College, Beverly Arah, Director of Literacy Programs
The Learning Place Northwest, Baltimore Reads, the Mayor's Adult
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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.—
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
According to the
author, this society has historically exerted
considerable pressure on black females to fit into one
of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the
Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless
Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to
white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of
those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the
relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable
temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as
an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the
characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television
shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
points out how the propagation of these harmful myths
have served the mainstream culture well. For instance,
the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for
black females to feel a maternal instinct towards
As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control
over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being
auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was
in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that
sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.
* * * * *
The Courage to Hope
How I Stood Up to the Politics of Fear
Sherrod sets the
record straight on her forced resignation from the Department of
Agriculture in 2010. The author. . .was director for the USDA's
Rural Development in Georgia when conservative political blogger
Andrew Breitbart attacked her for allegedly reverse racist comments
she made at an NAACP event. The threat of exposure on national TV
was enough to send the USDA running for cover, and she was
dismissed. Sherrod decided she had to fight back. She and her
husband have been directly involved in the struggles for political
and economic justice in Georgia and elsewhere since the 1960s, and
they were part of Martin Luther King's movement for civil rights.
She writes about growing up in segregated Georgia and the
circumstances surrounding her father’s murder and the arson of her
family home—at that time, “fear was the daily diet that kept the
status quo alive.” In the ’70s, Sherrod and her husband worked with
other farmers in Georgia on experimental projects. Denied drought
assistance funds by the USDA, they faced foreclosure and joined a
class-action suit to redress the discrimination.
Eventually, they won the settlement, a decision strongly opposed
by conservatives. Sherrod writes sharply about the continuing
legacy of racism and how economic policy, hidebound bureaucracy
and plain malice affect poor people everywhere, and why
pretending that we are in a post-racial world doesn’t help
anyone. An inspiring memoir about the real power of courage and
* * * * *
The Black Count
Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
By Tom Reiss
Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte
Cristo—a stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to
life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The
Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. The
real-life protagonist of The Black Count, General Alex
Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is
strikingly familiar, because his son, the novelist Alexandre
Dumas, used it to create some of the best loved heroes of
literature. Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures
was an even more incredible secret: the real hero was the son of
a black slave—who rose higher in the white world than any man of
his race would before our own time. Born in Saint-Domingue (now
Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but made his
way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of
the French aristocracy.
Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at
the height of the Revolution, in an audacious
campaign across Europe and the Middle East—until he
met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
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
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 8 March 2012