Lucy Parsons: An American Revolutionary

Posted in Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Justice, United States on 2016-12-07 01:20Z by Steven

Lucy Parsons: An American Revolutionary

Haymarket Books
February 2013
282 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781608462131

Carolyn Ashbaugh

The life and times of Lucy Parsons, early American radical and labor organizer, told definitively here.

Lucy Parsons’ life energy was directed toward freeing the working class from capitalism. She attributed the inferior position of women and minority racial groups in American society to class inequalities and argued, as Eugene Debs later did, that blacks were oppressed because they were poor, not because they were black. Lucy favored the availability of birth control information and contraceptive devices. She believed that under socialism women would have the right to divorce and remarry without economic, political and religious constraints; that women would have the right to limit the number of children they would have; and that women would have the right to prevent “legalized” rape in marriage.

“Lucy Parsons’ life expressed the anger of the unemployed workers, women, and minorities against oppression and is exemplary of radicals’ efforts to organize the working class for social change.” —From the preface

Lucy Parsons, who the Chicago police considered “more dangerous than a thousand rioters,” was an early American radical who defied all the conventions of her turbulent era as an outspoken woman of color, writer, and labor organizer. Parsons’ life as activist spanned the era of the Robber Barons through the Great Depression, during which she actively campaigned and organized for the emancipation of the working class from wage slavery. Parsons courageously led the defense campaign for the “Haymarket martyrs,” including her husband Albert Parsons. Ashbaugh’s biography takes a giant leap toward reinterpreting the role of women in American history.

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Secrets and Lies

Posted in Articles, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-03 00:14Z by Steven

Secrets and Lies

Ms. Magazine blog
Ms. Magazine
2016-05-17

Gail Lukasik

The following is an excerpt from White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Identity.

In 1995 when I discovered my mother’s black heritage, she made me promise never to tell her secret until she died. I kept her secret for 17 years. Nine months after her death in 2015, I appeared on PBS’s Genealogy Roadshow and revealed to 1.5 million people that my mother had passed for white. Three days later the family she never knew found me. “Secrets and Lies” recounts the stories my mother told me about her life in New Orleans before she came north to marry my father. After I uncovered her racial secret, I realized her stories held clues to her racial identity and the hardships she endured as a mixed race woman in Jim Crow south.

Parma, Ohio

When I was a young girl my mother would tell me about her life in New Orleans before she came north to Ohio to marry my father. Each story so carefully fashioned, so artfully told I never questioned their validity. It was one of the rare times I’d be allowed to sit on my parents’ double bed in the cramped downstairs bedroom that faced the street, its north window inches from the neighbor’s driveway where a dog barked sometimes into the night.

The room was pristine with its satiny floral bedspread, crisscrossed white lacy curtains and fringed shades. Area rugs surrounded the bed like islands of color over the amber shag carpet. A large dresser held my mother’s perfumes neatly arranged on a mirrored tray. An assortment of tiny prayer books rested on a side table beside a rosary. Over the bed was a painting of a street scene that could be Paris or New Orleans, colorful and dreamy. A similar painting hung in the living room.

It wasn’t until I married and left home that my father was banished to the other first floor smaller bedroom, even then he was an interloper in this feminine domain. His clothes were exiled to the front hall closet where he kept his rifle. On story days the room was a mother-daughter cove of confidences where my mother came as close as she ever would to telling me who she was, dropping clues like breadcrumbs that would take me decades to decipher. As I grew older, she confided intimacies of her marital life best shared with a mother or a sister. I was the substitute for the family left behind in New Orleans…

Read the entire excerpt here.

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Review: “Krazy” by Michael Tisserand

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-12-02 23:44Z by Steven

Review: “Krazy” by Michael Tisserand

Know Louisiana: The Digital Encyclopedia of Louisiana and Home of Louisiana Cultural Vistas
2016-12-02 (Winter 2016)

Lydia Nichols

There is nothing more American than passing, the act of projecting a racial identity other than that assigned. At no other time and place in American history have necessity and opportunity so dramatically conspired to create the possibility for passing as in late 19th century New Orleans. Reconstruction had failed to establish equitable institutions for those whom the Constitution had denied 2/5 of their personhood; and by 1877, the Southern Democrats (former Confederates) had reclaimed political and social dominion over the state. As W.E.B Du Bois writes in Black Reconstruction, Louisiana’s government was to be “a government of white people, made and to be perpetuated for the exclusive political benefit of the white race.” Though identifying as neither white nor black, New Orleans’ Afro-Creoles, who had enjoyed relative mobility prior to the Civil War, were kicked out of schools and churches, cut off from quality education, and pushed to “colored cars.” It became clear that hybridity was no longer acknowledged or welcome. Well-educated, multilingual and able to pass for white, unknown numbers of Creoles left to seek whatever security their ambiguity would allow. Among them was George Joseph Herriman, a ten-year old boy who in time would become a white man and a pioneering cartoonist.

Michael Tisserand provides a painstakingly well-researched analysis of Herriman’s life and work in Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White (HarperCollins, 2016). Herriman, a man of diverse interests and experiences, created comics laden with allusions to classical literature and philosophy; written in immigrant, black and southern vernaculars; and often incorporating foreign languages. The most famous and longest-running of his comics was Krazy Kat, a gender non-conforming, color-changing cat in the southwestern desert who regularly drops philosophical gems in his own dialect of English…

Read the entire review here.

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Krazy racial rules: New biography of cartoonist George Herriman

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-11-25 23:08Z by Steven

Krazy racial rules: New biography of cartoonist George Herriman

The Times-Picayune
New Orleans, Louisiana
2016-11-25

Doug MacCash, Arts and Entertainment Writer


New Orleans-born Krazy Kat cartoonist George Herriman (Photo by Will Connell, courtesy Michael Tisserand)

Krazy: A Life in Black and White,” the biography of Crescent City-born newspaper cartoonist extraordinaire George Herriman (1880-1944) is an absorbing study of a genius with a secret.

Herriman’s equally compelling and confounding “Krazy Kat” cartoon is considered a milestone in modern art. As New Orleans author Michael Tisserand deftly points out in his 549-page volume, the illogic of Herriman’s ink-on-paper drawings mirror the absurdity of the racial divide in early 20th-century America.

After 10 years of scouring microfilm archives, yellowed newspapers and public records, Tisserand has pieced together Herriman’s journey from his humble birth in the Treme neighborhood to heights of fame in Jazz-era New York and Los Angeles. It wasn’t easy.

“I had to teach myself to be an historian,” Tisserand said. “I didn’t anticipate the amount of difficulty it would be finding Herman’s work.”

Like a snake handler, Tisserand uncoils the confusing racial politics of New Orleans in the Jim Crow era, where the descendants of slaves and the descendants of so-called free people of color suffered segregation, discrimination and violence at the hands of the white population.

As Tisserand explains, when Herriman was 10 years old, his parents fled the South for a new beginning in California, where personal reinvention was possible. As Tisserand wrote, “Herriman was a black man born in New Orleans.” But upon reaching the Pacific, Herriman’s parents “had obscured their identity and ‘passed’ for white.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A “Konversation” with George Herriman’s Biographer, Michael Tisserand (Part One)

Posted in Articles, Biography, Interviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2016-11-25 15:30Z by Steven

A “Konversation” with George Herriman’s Biographer, Michael Tisserand (Part One)

The Comics Journal
2016-11-14

Paul Tumey


Michael Tisserand in Krazy Kat territory (Photo credit: Cecilia Tisserand)

Herriman was talking about race and identity — as profoundly as anyone has, in my opinion — but I never see that as his big “Topic.” It was just part of his world, and the world he created, even if others were slow to recognize it.”Michael Tisserand

The first time I saw Michael Tisserand, he was walking up my doorstep, holding what appeared to be a red brick by his head, almost — but not quite– in a throwing pose. Turns out the red brick was the recently released Library of American Comics collection of Krazy Kat dailies for which he wrote the introduction, and it was a gift (aren’t all bricks gifts in [George] Herriman’s world?).

In early December 2016, HarperCollins will release Tisserand’s long-awaited book, Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White. The book, over 500 pages in length, offers the first detailed biography of the man many regard as the greatest cartoonist of the twentieth century. Chris Ware has spoken highly of the book, observing: “Michael Tisserand’s Krazy draws back the curtain on the one [Herriman] who’s been with us all along.” The book has drawn an early favorable review from Kirkus which states, in part: “Essential reading for comics fans and history buffs, Krazy is a roaring success, providing an indispensable new perspective on turn-of-the-century America.”…

Paul Tumey: Having that perspective from reading your biography on Herriman’s life massively expanded my understanding and appreciation of his work. I have to admit, I was a bit daunted at first when I realized there was a chunk of early family history to read before our man comes onto the scene. But you know what? After a page or two of pouty grumbling, I was totally captivated – the stories are great, and you did a nice job of telling them. And later, I realized how valuable that perspective is – it’s the foundation for understanding the deepest levels of Herriman’s work.

Michael Tisserand: When I learned more about his family, I understood a bit more not just the pressures he must have felt in passing for white, but also the strange, unsettling feeling it must have been to identify with a group of people historically known as Free People of Color, or Mulatto, or Creoles … a group that constantly was seeing its very identity being changed legally and linguistically and culturally. And then for Herriman to work in a genre so deeply influenced by the masks of minstrelsy! When I read a classic Krazy Kat line such as “lenguage is that we may mis-unda-stend each udda,” it seems pretty clear that Herriman had a deep understanding of what we now consider to be modern notions of the slipperiness of language and a sort of permeability of identity….

Read the entire interview here.

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Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Monographs, Passing, United States on 2016-11-25 01:56Z by Steven

Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White

HarperCollins
2016-12-06
560 pages
Trimsize: 6 in (w) x 9 in (h) x 1.679 in (d)
Hardcover ISBN: 9780061732997
E-book ISBN: 9780062098054

Michael Tisserand

In the tradition of Schulz and Peanuts, an epic and revelatory biography of Krazy Kat creator George Herriman that explores the turbulent time and place from which he emerged—and the deep secret he explored through his art.

The creator of the greatest comic strip in history finally gets his due—in an eye-opening biography that lays bare the truth about his art, his heritage, and his life on America’s color line. A native of nineteenth-century New Orleans, George Herriman came of age as an illustrator, journalist, and cartoonist in the boomtown of Los Angeles and the wild metropolis of New York. Appearing in the biggest newspapers of the early twentieth century—including those owned by William Randolph Hearst—Herriman’s Krazy Kat cartoons quickly propelled him to fame. Although fitfully popular with readers of the period, his work has been widely credited with elevating cartoons from daily amusements to anarchic art.

Herriman used his work to explore the human condition, creating a modernist fantasia that was inspired by the landscapes he discovered in his travels—from chaotic urban life to the Beckett-like desert vistas of the Southwest. Yet underlying his own life—and often emerging from the contours of his very public art—was a very private secret: known as “the Greek” for his swarthy complexion and curly hair, Herriman was actually African American, born to a prominent Creole family that hid its racial identity in the dangerous days of Reconstruction.

Drawing on exhaustive original research into Herriman’s family history, interviews with surviving friends and family, and deep analysis of the artist’s work and surviving written records, Michael Tisserand brings this little-understood figure to vivid life, paying homage to a visionary artist who helped shape modern culture.

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Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom

Posted in Africa, Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-11-24 02:56Z by Steven

Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom

gal-dem
2016-11-18

Grace Barber-Plentie


Image via Telegraph

The characters and scenarios in Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom are like ghosts – they’re long gone, long dead, and yet there is still a resonance and urgency to them that keeps pushing through to our subconscious, never letting us quite forget. Regardless of the merits of her films themselves, Asante is a clever filmmaker, a filmmaker with a plan. At the BFI’s recent Black Star symposium, she told the audience that she deliberately makes period films about old issues in order to show how they reflect on our own contemporary problems with race, gender, love and money. Gone is the period dress of Belle, but there are still hoards of mixed race girls out there trying to find their place in society. And while in 2016 one would hope that an interracial couple could walk down the street holding hands without a second glance, Asante’s true story of the heir to the throne of Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and his white wife still makes us think about those of us that must fight for what we want and who we love.

The love worth fighting for, in the case of A United Kingdom, is that of white shopkeeper’s daughter Ruth, in a modest turn by Rosamund Pike and African heir Seretze Khama, played by David Oyelowo; another strong performance to add to his list. Their love, as seen in the opening scenes of the film, is not a fierce, passionate one, but one where each are equal and share love deeply in their own restrained way….

Read the entire review here.

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Watch The Trailer For Barry, Netflix’s Barack Obama Biopic

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, United Kingdom, Videos on 2016-11-24 01:36Z by Steven

Watch The Trailer For Barry, Netflix’s Barack Obama Biopic

TIME
2016-11-22

Nash Jenkins

There are just under two months until Donald Trump is inaugurated, but a sentimental nostalgia for Barack Obama’s presidency has been building for quite some time. The new trailer for Barry, a biographical film about Obama’s days as a student at Columbia University in the early 1980s, might help stoke it.

Newcomer Devon Terrell will play the 44th President as a 20-year-old undergraduate, grappling with his identity as a mixed-race kid from Honolulu in a largely white scene. “You a whole different type of brother,” a peer tells him at one point. “You do realize that, don’t you?”…

Read the entire article here.

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“We Were Married on the Second Day of June, and the Police Came After Us the 14th of July.”

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Virginia on 2016-11-13 23:21Z by Steven

 

“We Were Married on the Second Day of June, and the Police Came After Us the 14th of July.”

The Washingtonian
2016-11-02

Hillary Kelly, Design & Style Editor


Richard and Mildred Loving. Photograph by Grey Villet.

An oral history, nearly 50 years later, of the landmark Virginia case that legalized interracial marriage—and is the subject of a talked-about movie out this month.

In June 1958, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving drove from their home in Central Point, Virginia, to Washington, DC, to be married. Twenty-four states, including Virginia, still outlawed interracial marriage at the time. Mildred was part Native American and part African-American; Richard was white. Their union would eventually result in their banishment from the state and a nine-year legal battle.

On November 4, almost 50 years after the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision that the Lovings’ marriage was valid—and that marriage is a universal right—Hollywood is set to release Loving, already on Oscar lists. As director Jeff Nichols explained when asked why he took on the project, “We have very painful wounds in this country, and they need to be brought out into the light. And it’s gonna be an awkward, uncomfortable, painful conversation that’s going to continue for a while.”

The movie focuses on Mildred and Richard’s romance. We looked behind the scenes of the struggle itself, talking to insiders including the couple’s attorneys—then just out of law school—to revisit the case. One remarkable aspect: Unlike other civil-rights champions of their era, the Lovings never set out to change the course of history. “What happened, we real­ly didn’t intend for it to happen,” Mildred said in 1992. “What we wanted, we wanted to come home.”

This is the story of how a quiet couple from rural Virginia brought about marriage equality for themselves, and for all…

Read the entire article here.

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How Trevor Noah went from biracial youth in S. Africa to leading light on U.S. TV

Posted in Africa, Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2016-11-13 22:20Z by Steven

How Trevor Noah went from biracial youth in S. Africa to leading light on U.S. TV

The Washington Post
2016-11-12

Karen Heller, National Features Writer


Daily Show” host Trevor Noah has a new memoir about growing up mixed race in apartheid South Africa. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

NEW YORK — Trump. Trump. Clinton. The Obamas dancing like dorks.

Such is the stuff of a recent pre-election morning meeting at “The Daily Show” headquarters. Trevor Noah enters, water bottle and orange in hand, and wedges himself in among the writers, his back never pressing against the sofa.

“Can we talk about Brexit?” he asks. “I find Brexit fascinating, because in the U.S., people see it as done and dusted.”

They talk of Brexit, how British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resembles a Muppet. But then the discussion swiftly returns to the steady drip of Trump, Trump, Trump.

You may hire a guy for his global perspective, but comedy comes back to the familiar fast.

Last year, after a 16-year reign, Jon Stewart was replaced by a young comedian who is nothing like him: foreign, biracial, cool, GQ-photogenic and utterly unknown to Americans, having appeared on the show only three times before being tapped as the successor….

Read the entire article here.

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