Charles Chesnutt Racial Relation Progression Throughout Career

Posted in Biography, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-05-24 21:09Z by Steven

Charles Chesnutt Racial Relation Progression Throughout Career

Cleveland State University
May 2011
60 pages

Lindy R. Birney

Submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree Master of English

Charles Chesnutt began his career with an ideology that race should not be a category in which to judge others. He felt that through literature he could help influence society and help create a less racial centric civilization. His career began with positive reviews from short story publications in multiple magazines. However, most critics and readers at the time did not know of Chesnutt’s racial background. It was not until his second collection of short stories that Chesnutt revealed the truth about his heritage. After his success with The Conjure Woman and The Wife of His Youth (both published in 1899), Chesnutt began to assert his political agenda more aggressively into his writing. His second novel The Marrow of Tradition (1901) received very poor reviews; critics were repulsed by Chesnutt’s revolutionary philosophies concerning the racial caste system. The poor reception of Chesnutt’s three novels forced him to retire from a literary career. Years later, during the Harlem Renaissance, a time of prolific African American writers, Chesnutt was disappointed in the baseness of black characters in literature. He scolded Harlem Renaissance writers for their lack of strong black characters, but Chesnutt’s short stories that were published in The Crisis also lacked the racial uplift that he so desperately sought. Chesnutt’s intensity of racial relation literature had dwindled over time and he left it to the next generation of writers to fulfill the social agenda that his literature was never able to achieve.

Read the entire thesis here.

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The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, Forthcoming Media, Monographs on 2016-05-14 22:26Z by Steven

The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de’ Medici

Oxford University Press
2016-09-01
336 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9780190612726

Catherine Fletcher, Historian, Author, AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker 2015

  • The first-ever biography of Alessandro de’ Medici, arguably the first black head of state
  • Draws on extensive archival research of first-hand sources
  • An accessible and dramatic retelling of Renaissance politics and rivalry

Ruler of Florence for seven bloody years, 1531 to 1537, Alessandro de’ Medici was arguably the first person of color to serve as a head of state in the Western world. Born out of wedlock to a dark-skinned maid and Lorenzo de’ Medici, he was the last legitimate heir to the line of Lorenzo the Magnificent. When Alessandro’s noble father died of syphilis, the family looked to him. Groomed for power, he carved a path through the backstabbing world of Italian politics in a time when cardinals, popes, and princes vied for wealth and advantage. By the age of nineteen, he was prince of Florence, inheritor of the legacy of the grandest dynasty of the Italian Renaissance.

Alessandro faced down family rivalry and enormous resistance from Florence’s oligarchs, who called him a womanizer-which he undoubtedly was—and a tyrant. Yet this real-life counterpart to Machiavelli’s Prince kept his grip on power until he was assassinated at the age of 26 during a late-night tryst arranged by his scheming cousins. After his death, his brief but colorful reign was criticized by those who had murdered him in a failed attempt to restore the Florentine republic. For the first time, the true story is told in The Black Prince of Florence.

Catherine Fletcher tells the riveting tale of Alessandro’s unexpected rise and spectacular fall, unraveling centuries-old mysteries, exposing forgeries, and bringing to life the epic personalities of the Medicis, Borgias, and others as they waged sordid campaigns to rise to the top. Drawing on new research and first-hand sources, this biography of a most intriguing Renaissance figure combines archival scholarship with discussions of race and class that are still relevant today.

Table of Contents

  • Family tree
  • Glossary of names
  • Timeline
  • Maps
  • A note on money
  • Prologue
  • Book One: The Bastard Son
  • Book Two: The Obedient Nephew
  • Book Three: The Prince Alone
  • Afterword: Alessandro’s Ethnicity
  • Acknowledgements
  • Bibliography
  • Notes
  • Index
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The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire

Posted in Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Forthcoming Media, History, Mexico, Monographs, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2016-05-14 01:40Z by Steven

The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire

W. W. Norton & Company
June 2016
368 pages
6.1 × 9.3 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-23925-6

Karl Jacoby, Professor of History
Columbia University, New York, New York

A prize-winning historian tells a new story of the black experience in America through the life of a mysterious entrepreneur.

A black child born in the twilight of slavery, William Henry Ellis inhabited a world of fraught, ambiguous racial categories on the anarchic border between the United States and Mexico. He adopted the name Guillermo Enrique Eliseo and passed as a Mexican: traveling as Hispanic in first-class train berths, staying in the finest hotels, and eating in leading restaurants. A shrewd businessman, he became fabulously wealthy and found himself involved in scandalous trials, unexpected disappearances, and diplomatic controversies. Constantly switching identities, Eliseo was a genius at identifying and exploiting the porousness of the color line and the border line.

Through Ellis’s picaresque biography, Karl Jacoby presents an intriguing narrative set in a secret and ever-changing world. The Strange Career of William Ellis reinterprets the borderlands, showing how U.S. and Mexican histories intertwined during Reconstruction, and he offers new insight into the arbitrary and evolving definitions of race in America.

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Chan

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Poetry, United Kingdom on 2016-05-13 01:50Z by Steven

Chan

Bloodaxe Books
2016-06-23
72 pages
234 x 156 mm
Paperback ISBN: 9781780372839
E-book ISBN: 9781780372846

Hannah Lowe

Chan is a mercurial name, representing the travellers and shape-shifters of the poems in this collection. It is one of the many nicknames of Hannah Lowe’s Chinese-Jamaican father, borrowed from the Polish émigré card magician Chan Canasta. It is also a name from China, where her grandfather’s story begins. Alongside these figures, there’s Joe Harriott, the Jamaican alto saxophonist, shaking up 1960s London; a cast of other long-lost family; and a ship full of dreamers sailing from Kingston to Liverpool in 1947 on the SS Ormonde.

Hannah Lowe’s second collection follows her widely acclaimed debut, Chick, which took readers on a journey round her father, a gambler who disappeared at night to play cards or dice in London’s old East End to support his family.

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Dreams of my father’s dreams of Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Biography, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-05-12 02:08Z by Steven

Dreams of my father’s dreams of Obama

Ventura County Star
Camarillo, California
2008-11-02

Steven William Thrasher

Fifty years ago, when my father, Bill Thrasher, (who was black) and my mother Margaret (who was white) decided to get married in Nebraska, it was illegal for them to do so there. They had to go to the “progressive” state next door, (Iowa!) to be allowed to wed. Growing up in Ventura County, I’d laugh with my parents about how our family wouldn’t exist without Iowa, which didn’t seem so progressive compared to our Southern California surroundings.

And yet, 50 years later, on a cold January night, good old progressive Iowa shocked me once again as it vaulted Barack Obama onto the path to the White House. What would my parents, who once feared raising their children in the Midwest (after all, they had relatives who tried to convince them, in all seriousness, that their children would be striped like zebras), have made of the fact that the child of a union like theirs could have won the Iowa caucuses or, more implausibly, that in less than one week, that man stands to become the 44th president of the United States?…

Read the entire article here.

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Jump at de Sun

Posted in Articles, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-05-09 01:33Z by Steven

Jump at de Sun

The Nation
2003-01-30

Kristal Brent Zook

Anthropologist, novelist, folklorist, essayist and luminary of the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston dazzled her peers and patrons almost immediately upon her arrival in New York City in 1925, when she made a show-stopping grand entrance at a formal literary affair, flinging a red scarf around her neck and stopping all conversation with her animated storytelling and antics. “I would like to know her,” declared Langston Hughes. She had a “blazing zest for life,” opined celebrity writer Fannie Hurst. Annie Nathan Meyer, a founder of Barnard College, did them one better: She promptly offered Hurston entrance into Columbia University’s sister college, making her the first black student to attend Barnard.

Over the course of her life, Hurston would publish several dozen essays, short stories and poems, and seven books, including her notoriously deceptive (some would say ingeniously “dissembling”) autobiography Dust Tracks on a Road. Nine more books–essays, folklore, short stories and a play–would appear in print posthumously, following Alice Walker’s “rediscovery” of Hurston in the 1970s. According to Carla Kaplan, editor of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters and a professor at the University of Southern California, this resurrection of the long-forgotten writer has yielded over 800 more books (including sixteen for children), articles, chapters, dissertations, reference guides and biographical essays about Hurston over the past three decades. That some 2,000 spectators showed up at Central Park last summer for a reading of her work is further evidence that Zora mania continues to be in full swing….

…On the other hand (and herein lies the rub), Hurston also believed that “all clumps of people turn out to be individuals on close inspection,” and that “black skunks are just as natural as white ones.” And she had absolutely no tolerance for the suffering protest narratives such as those offered up by novelist (and nemesis) Richard Wright. But “can the black poet sing a song to the morning?” she demanded in a 1938 essay. No, she laments, answering her own question. “The one subject for a Negro is the Race and its sufferings and so the song of the morning must be chocked back. I will write of a lynching instead.”

And there are other troubling inconsistencies. Those of us of racially mixed parentage, for example, might wonder whether we would have qualified for Hurston’s affection as “authentic” black folk. That she placed a premium on “pure” Negroness was apparent in her attacks on colorist prejudice among the light-skinned black elite (W.E.B. Du Bois was not well-loved by Hurston for his championing of the talented tenth); her disparaging remarks about “a crowd of white Negroes” on their way to Russia to make a movie about black America who had never been “south of the Mason-Dixon line”; and her “color-conscious casting” of an “authentic” Negro concert with “no mulattoes at all.” (Godmother Mason was also pleased by this banning of the “diluted ones.”)

She was a black nationalist, say some. Indeed, her complicated opposition to Brown v. Board of Education flew in the face of everything the “race leaders” of her time fought and died for. Though she was not a segregationist, Hurston found the assumption of Negro inferiority deeply insulting, according to both Boyd and Kaplan. “It is a contradiction,” as Hurston put it, “to scream race pride and equality while…spurning Negro teachers and self-association.”…

Read the entire article here.

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A Refugee from His Race: Albion W. Tourgée and His Fight against White Supremacy

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2016-05-09 01:03Z by Steven

A Refugee from His Race: Albion W. Tourgée and His Fight against White Supremacy

University of North Carolina Press
2016-05-02
464 pages
9 halftones, notes, bibl., index
6.125 x 9.25
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4696-2795-3

Carolyn L. Karcher

During one of the darkest periods of U.S. history, when white supremacy was entrenching itself throughout the nation, the white writer-jurist-activist Albion W. Tourgée (1838-1905) forged an extraordinary alliance with African Americans. Acclaimed by blacks as “one of the best friends of the Afro-American people this country has ever produced” and reviled by white Southerners as a race traitor, Tourgée offers an ideal lens through which to reexamine the often caricatured relations between progressive whites and African Americans. He collaborated closely with African Americans in founding an interracial civil rights organization eighteen years before the inception of the NAACP, in campaigning against lynching alongside Ida B. Wells and Cleveland Gazette editor Harry C. Smith, and in challenging the ideology of segregation as lead counsel for people of color in the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case. Here, Carolyn L. Karcher provides the first in-depth account of this collaboration. Drawing on Tourgée’s vast correspondence with African American intellectuals, activists, and ordinary folk, on African American newspapers and on his newspaper column, “A Bystander’s Notes,” in which he quoted and replied to letters from his correspondents, the book also captures the lively dialogue about race that Tourgée and his contemporaries carried on.

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The Man Who Stole Himself: The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan

Posted in Biography, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery on 2016-04-30 20:50Z by Steven

The Man Who Stole Himself: The Slave Odyssey of Hans Jonathan

University of Chicago Press
2016
264 pages
8 color plates, 49 halftones
6 x 9

Gísli Pálsson, Professor of Anthropology
University of Iceland

The island nation of Iceland is known for many things—majestic landscapes, volcanic eruptions, distinctive seafood—but racial diversity is not one of them. So the little-known story of Hans Jonathan, a free black man who lived and raised a family in early nineteenth-century Iceland, is improbable and compelling, the stuff of novels.

In The Man Who Stole Himself, Gisli Palsson lays out Jonathan’s story in stunning detail. Born into slavery in St. Croix in 1784, Jonathan was brought as a slave to Denmark, where he eventually enlisted in the navy and fought on behalf of the country in the 1801 Battle of Copenhagen. After the war, he declared himself a free man, believing that not only was he due freedom because of his patriotic service, but because while slavery remained legal in the colonies, it was outlawed in Denmark itself. Jonathan was the subject of one of the most notorious slavery cases in European history, which he lost. Then, he ran away—never to be heard from in Denmark again, his fate unknown for more than two hundred years. It’s now known that Jonathan fled to Iceland, where he became a merchant and peasant farmer, married, and raised two children. Today, he has become something of an Icelandic icon, claimed as a proud and daring ancestor both there and among his descendants in America.

The Man Who Stole Himself brilliantly intertwines Jonathan’s adventurous travels with a portrait of the Danish slave trade, legal arguments over slavery, and the state of nineteenth-century race relations in the Northern Atlantic world. Throughout the book, Palsson traces themes of imperial dreams, colonialism, human rights, and globalization, which all come together in the life of a single, remarkable man. Jonathan literally led a life like no other. His is the story of a man who had the temerity—the courage—to steal himself.

Contents

  • Prologue: A Man of Many Worlds
  • I. The Island of St. Croix
    • “A House Negro”
    • “The Mulatto Hans Jonathan”
    • “Said to Be the Secretary”
    • Among the Sugar Barons
  • II. Copenhagen
    • A Child near the Royal Palace
    • “He Wanted to Go to War”
    • The General’s Widow v. the Mulatto
    • The Verdict
  • III. Iceland
    • A Free Man
    • Mountain Guide
    • Factor, Farmer, Father
    • Farewell
  • IV. Descendants
    • The Jonathan Family
    • The Eirikssons of New England
    • Who Stole Whom?
    • The Lessons of History
  • Epilogue: Biographies
  • Timeline
  • Acknowledgments
  • Photo Catalog
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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22nd Annual David Noble Lecture featuring Robin D.G. Kelley

Posted in Biography, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2016-04-26 20:31Z by Steven

22nd Annual David Noble Lecture featuring Robin D.G. Kelley

Best Buy Theater
Northrop Auditorium
84 Church Street, SE
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455
Tuesday, 2016-04-26, 19:00 CDT (Local Time)

Robin D.G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History & Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in United States History
University of California, Los Angeles

The 22nd Annual David Noble Lecture will feature Robin D.G. Kelley. His talk is titled “‘A Female Candide’: U.S. Empire, Racial Cartographies, and the Education of Grace Halsell, 1952 – 1986.” Kelley’s talk focuses on Texas-born journalist Grace Halsell, who spent part of the Cold War as a foreign correspondent, including a stint in Vietnam, working as a staff writer under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and engaged in investigations into U.S. “internal colonies.” She chemically darkened her skin and lived as a black woman in Harlem and Mississippi, resulting in her book, Soul Sister; she published Bessie Yellowhair about living as a Navajo and working as a housekeeper; and The Illegals, a book about passing as an undocumented worker from Mexico. In the course of her travels and experiments in racial passing, the worlds she encountered undermined the conceits she grew up with. Halsell’s world view, schooled in Cold War liberalism, Southern paternalism & white supremacy, and domesticity, begins to unravel especially after her stint in Vietnam, and even more so when she turns her attention to the U.S., its ghettos, reservations, borders and finally to Palestine. So in some ways, this is a classic loss of innocence story.

For more information, click here.

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New Generation Thinkers: The Moor of Florence – A Medici Mystery

Posted in Audio, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2016-04-23 20:50Z by Steven

New Generation Thinkers: The Moor of Florence – A Medici Mystery

Free Thinking
BBC Radio 3
2015-11-09

2015 Festival, The Free Thinking Essay

For over 400 years it’s been claimed that the first Medici Duke of Florence was mixed race, his mother a slave of African descent. Catherine Fletcher of Swansea University asks if this extraordinary story about the 16th-century Italian political dynasty could be true. Or do the tales of Alessandro de’ Medici tell us more about the history of racism and anti-racism than about the man himself?

The New Generation Thinkers are the winners of an annual scheme run by the BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council to find academics at the start of their careers who can turn their research into fascinating broadcasts.

The Essay was recorded in front of an audience at the Free Thinking Festival at Sage Gateshead. If you want to hear Catherine Fletcher discussing her research you can download the Essay and conversation as an Arts and Ideas podcast.

Producer: Jacqueline Smith.

Listen to the lecture (00:14:40) here.

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