Documentary About Black Italian Boxer Who Angered Mussolini Makes Splash

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2017-03-24 15:27Z by Steven

Documentary About Black Italian Boxer Who Angered Mussolini Makes Splash

Variety
2017-03-21

Nick Vivarelli, International Correspondent


Courtesy Istituto Luce

ROME – As Europe’s neo-fascists re-emerge and right-wing populism sweeps through the West, a documentary about a black Italian boxer who discredited Benito Mussolini’s racist ideology by winning a European boxing title is making a splash in Italy and abroad.

“The Duce’s Boxer” tells the story of Leone Jacovacci, an African Italian born in the Congo who won the 1928 European middleweight title by beating Mario Bosisio a white Italian boxer favored by the country’s Fascist leaders, in front of 40,000 fans in Rome’s National Stadium.

An infuriated Mussolini then ordered Jacovacci and his achievement erased from Italy’s history books. But 89 years later, Jacovacci’s story has resurfaced, with “The Duce’s Boxer” premiering Tuesday in 25 Italian cities to mark the U.N. International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Based on the book “Black Roman” by Italian sociologist Mauro Valeri, a former head of the country’s National Xenophobia Observatory, “The Duce’s Boxer” is directed by first-timer Tony Saccucci

Read the entire article here.

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The Secret Life of Bacon Tait, a White Slave Trader Married to a Free Woman of Color

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2017-03-21 01:37Z by Steven

The Secret Life of Bacon Tait, a White Slave Trader Married to a Free Woman of Color

Louisiana State University Press
March 2017
224 pages
5.50 x 8.50 inches
no illustrations
Hardcover ISBN: 9780807165218

Hank Trent

Historians have long discussed the interracial families of prominent slave dealers in Richmond, Virginia, and elsewhere, yet, until now, the story of slave trader Bacon Tait remained untold. Among the most prominent and wealthy citizens of Richmond, Bacon Tait embarked upon a striking and unexpected double life: that of a white slave trader married to a free black woman. In The Secret Life of Bacon Tait, Hank Trent tells Tait’s complete story for the first time, reconstructing the hidden aspects of his strange and often paradoxical life through meticulous research in lawsuits, newspapers, deeds, and other original records.

Active and ambitious in a career notorious even among slave owners for its viciousness, Bacon Tait nevertheless claimed to be married to a free woman of color, Courtney Fountain, whose extended family were involved in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. As Trent reveals, Bacon Tait maintained his domestic sphere as a loving husband and father in a mixed-race family in the North while running a successful and ruthless slave-trading business in the South. Though he possessed legal control over thousands of other black women at different times, Trent argues that Tait remained loyal to his wife, avoiding the predatory sexual practices of many slave traders. No less remarkably, Courtney Tait and their four children received the benefits of Tait’s wealth while remaining close to her family of origin, many of whom spoke out against the practice of slavery and even fought in the Civil War on the side of the Union.

In a fascinating display of historical detective work, Trent illuminates the worlds Bacon Tait and his family inhabited, from the complex partnerships and rivalries among slave traders to the anxieties surrounding free black populations in Courtney and Bacon Tait’s adopted city of Salem, Massachusetts. Tait’s double life illuminates the complex interplay of control, manipulation, love, hate, denigration, and respect among interracial families, all within the larger context of a society that revolved around the enslavement of black Americans by white traders.

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A Tale Which Must Never Be Told: A New Biography of George Herriman

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-03-19 14:32Z by Steven

A Tale Which Must Never Be Told: A New Biography of George Herriman

Los Angeles Review of Books
2017-03-18

Ben Schwartz

George Herriman, a Life in Black and White
By Michael Tisserand

Published 12.06.2016
Harper
560 Pages

ON MARCH 4, 1913, Woodrow Wilson took the oath of office and became our 28th president. While we remember Wilson for his internationalist foreign policy and progressive labor laws, he was also the first Southerner elected since the mid-19th century, and his racial policies reflected it. Wilson saw Jim Crow as the necessary remedy to the aftermath of the Civil War. As president, he normalized his revanchist views from the White House by expanding segregation of federal workers. Not surprisingly, 1913 also saw a rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan. An excerpt from Wilson’s revisionist writings proclaiming the Klan “a veritable empire of the South” even appears in D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, a box-office smash which Wilson personally screened at the White House, the first American film ever shown there.

In that reactionary atmosphere, on October 28, 1913, in the New York Evening Journal, William Randolph Hearst debuted a new comic strip, Krazy Kat, by one of his favorite cartoonists, George Herriman. It starred Krazy, an androgynous cat in love with Ignatz, a brick-throwing, cat-chasing mouse. They lived in Coconino County, Arizona, desert mesa country, and Herriman shifted their backgrounds panel-by-panel — night to day, day to night, mountain to desert to town to river — with no rhyme or reason. They spoke in a patois of slang, Elizabethan English, Yiddish, Spanish, French, and tossed off literary allusions. When asked once about his basic upending of the natural order of cats, mice, dogs, time, and space, Herriman summed up his Weltanschauung: “To me it’s just as sensible as the way it is.”.

Krazy Kat’s whimsy caught on quickly in the Age of Wilson, and its large and devoted fan base ranged from high society to poets to school children to the president himself. What none of them knew then was that George Herriman was black. He passed for white most of his life. And what we can only see now, thanks to an authoritative new biography of Herriman by New Orleans historian Michael Tisserand, is that, as far removed from social commentary as Krazy Kat may appear, race was as much on George Herriman’s mind as the president’s…

Read the entire review here.

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Interview with Genarao Kỳ Lý Smith on “The Land Baron’s Sun”

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Interviews, Media Archive on 2017-03-19 01:47Z by Steven

Interview with Genarao Kỳ Lý Smith on “The Land Baron’s Sun”

Interminable Rambling
2015-12-10

Matthew Teutsch

Last post, I wrote about Genarao Kỳ Lý Smith’s The Land Baron’s Sun. Today, I am sharing a recent interview I conducted with Smith. In the video above, Smith talks more about his grandfather and reads two poems from The Land Baron’s Sun.

In the acknowledgements of The Land Baron’s Sun, you write about Darrell Bourque telling you that your grandfather’s “story needs to be heard” because it is an important story to everyone. What makes Lý Loc’s story so significant?

Lý Loc came from a privileged life: inherited land from his father who was only known as the land baron (to this day, my mother does not know his name), had seven wives, twenty-seven children, seven houses (1 per wife), mistresses to go with each wife; he was a major commander for the South Vietnamese Army.  When the Fall of Saigon occurred, he lost everything to the point of writing my mother a few years later asking for money, food, medicine, and clothes.  It is a tragic story that needs to be told.  The idea of someone who had it all to living as a pauper is and has always been an intriguing story.  Also, had I not known about his seven wives or his privileged lifestyle, his story would have died with my mother.  The goal therefore was to resurrect his life, the lives of his wives and their children.  The purpose of writing the book was to leave his legacy.  I simply did not want him to die…

Read the entire interview here.

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Derek Walcott, Poet and Nobel Laureate of the Caribbean, Dies at 87

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive on 2017-03-17 17:19Z by Steven

Derek Walcott, Poet and Nobel Laureate of the Caribbean, Dies at 87

The New York Times
2017-03-17

William Grimes


Derek Walcott in 1986. Credit Jill Krementz, All Rights Reserved

Derek Walcott, whose intricately metaphorical poetry captured the physical beauty of the Caribbean, the harsh legacy of colonialism and the complexities of living and writing in two cultural worlds, bringing him a Nobel Prize in Literature, died early Friday morning at his home near Gros Islet in St. Lucia. He was 87.

His death was confirmed by his publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. No cause was given, but he had been in poor health for some time, the publisher said.

Mr. Walcott’s expansive universe revolved around a tiny sun, the island of St. Lucia. Its opulent vegetation, blinding white beaches and tangled multicultural heritage inspired, in its most famous literary son, an ambitious body of work that seemingly embraced every poetic form, from the short lyric to the epic…

…As a poet, Mr. Walcott plumbed the paradoxes of identity intrinsic to his situation. He was a mixed-race poet living on a British-ruled island whose people spoke French-based Creole or English.

In “A Far Cry From Africa,” included in “In a Green Night” — his first poetry collection to be published outside St. Lucia — he wrote:

Where shall I turn, divided to the vein?
I who have cursed
The drunken officer of British rule, how choose
Between this Africa and the English tongue I love?
Betray them both, or give back what they give?

Derek Alton Walcott was born on Jan. 23, 1930, in Castries, a port city on the island of St. Lucia. His father, Warwick, a schoolteacher and watercolorist, died when he was an infant, and he was raised by his schoolteacher mother, the former Alix Maarlin.

Both his parents, like many St. Lucians, were the products of racially mixed marriages. Derek was raised as a Methodist, which made him an exception on St. Lucia, a largely Roman Catholic island, and at his Catholic secondary school, St. Mary’s College…

Read the entire obituary here.

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Apres Midi Afternoon Classics: March 7, 2017- “Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White”

Posted in Arts, Audio, Biography, Interviews, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-03-13 18:24Z by Steven

Apres Midi Afternoon Classics: March 7, 2017- “Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White”

Apres Midi/Afternoon Classics
KRVS 88.7 FM
Lafayette, Louisiana
2017-03-07

Judith Meriwether, Host

Interview with Michael Tisserand about his book Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White.

Listen to the interview (01:00:00) here.

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Teaser: Documentary on Leone Jacovacci – 1920s Black Italian Boxer Who “Took a Swing at Fascism”

Posted in Articles, Biography, Europe, Media Archive, Videos on 2017-03-13 15:34Z by Steven

Teaser: Documentary on Leone Jacovacci – 1920s Black Italian Boxer Who “Took a Swing at Fascism”

Shadow and Act: On Film, Television and Web Contents of Africa and Its Diaspora
2017-03-12


Leone Jacovacci

Leone Jacovacci (a.k.a. John Douglas Walker and Jack Walker) was born in 1902 in the village of Pombo in the then Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of the Congo), the son of an Italian man and a Congolese woman. He was raised in Italy which was rough for him, given that he was bi-racial, and as a result, in his late teens, found himself in England where he reinvented himself as John Douglas Walker, added a couple of years to his age, and enlisted in the 53rd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment of the British Army.

After being discharged, he took up amateur boxing and was mostly successful, bouncing between England and France, racking up victories. In 1922 he returned to Italy, pretending to be an American named Jack Walker until he found it too burdensome to maintain the fake persona (he occasionally slipped and spoke fluent Italian). His surprising confession in 1925 that he was Italian presented complications in a nation that was then ruled by Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party

Read the entire article and watch the trailer here.

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A Good Fellow and a Wise Guy

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, United States on 2017-03-13 01:41Z by Steven

A Good Fellow and a Wise Guy

The New York Sun
2006-08-09

William Bryk

Book Review
A Pickpocket’s Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York
by Timothy J. Gilfoyle

George Washington Appo, the once notorious Asian-Irish-American petty criminal who flourished during the last quarter of the 19th century as a pickpocket and swindler, had pretty much faded into obscurity at his death in 1930, aged 73. Even the street where he lived, Donovan’s Lane (better known as Murderer’s Alley) is gone, buried with the infamous Five Points slum beneath the federal courthouses in Foley Square.

Appo resurfaced in Luc Sante’s 1991 best seller, “Low Life,” which briefly presents him as a buffoon, incompetent even as a crook. If Timothy J. Gilfoyle’sA Pickpocket’s Tale” (W.W. Norton, 460 pages,$27.95) serves any purpose, it corrects this slur on Appo’s reputation. Appo practiced pick-pocketing as others practice dentistry or law: He was a thorough professional who picked thousands, if not tens of thousands, of pockets during his career, usually making as much money in a day as the average workingman then made in a year. He was imprisoned four times for pickpocketing, all while still relatively young. He apparently accepted jail as an inevitable cost of doing business…

Read the entire review here.

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Before “Hidden Figures,” There Was a Rock Opera About NASA’s Human Computers

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-03-13 01:30Z by Steven

Before “Hidden Figures,” There Was a Rock Opera About NASA’s Human Computers

Air & Space Magazine
2017-02-03

Linda Billings, Senior Editor

Katherine Johnson’s inspirational story came to the Baltimore stage in 2015, thanks to another space scientist.

Hidden Figures,” the story of three African-American women whose mathematical skill helped NASA launch astronauts into space and back in the early 1960s, has been both a critical and box office success. With more than $100 million in ticket sales and a stack of award nominations, the movie has inspired audiences with a true story made even more powerful by virtue of the fact that it was largely untold for 50 years. And still mostly unknown is the story of another NASA scientist who beat Hollywood to the punch by putting “human computer” Katherine Johnson’s saga on stage almost two years ago.

Heather Graham is an astrobiologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, D.C. She’s also a gamer, a feminist, and a member of the Baltimore Rock Opera Society. In May 2015, the society staged Graham’s one-act rock opera, “Determination of Azimuth,” which portrays how Johnson and her colleagues Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan, were ignored and demeaned on the job at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, because they were black and female. The story has a happy ending: Their work was validated, their expertise accepted. But they had to endure racism and sexism along the way…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White’: A life as unorthodox as his comic strip

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-03-12 02:21Z by Steven

‘Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White’: A life as unorthodox as his comic strip

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
2017-02-19

Wayne Wise


Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White” by Michael Tisserand.

Ignatz Mouse: “Hey, this isn’t black coffee!!!”

Krazy Kat: “Sure it is. Look unda the milk.”

Krazy Kat,” created by George Herriman, is one of the most influential comic strips of all time. Centered around the iconic love triangle of Krazy, Ignatz Mouse and Offisa Pupp, the feature ran as a syndicated newspaper strip from 1913 to 1944. To a modern audience the strip can be difficult to understand, if not impenetrable. The pacing and sense of humor of 100 years ago feel foreign to current trends. There are references that were common at the time that are lost to us now. The language used is an idiosyncratic patois of nonsense poetry.

The backgrounds, while beautifully rendered, are a constantly changing surreal backdrop. Characters frequently broke the fourth wall, commenting directly on their status as cartoons. The title character, Krazy Kat, was of indeterminate gender, referred to with shifting pronouns, sometimes within the same sentence. As a whole, Krazy Kat was an ongoing challenge to the reader’s perception of definitions and boundaries.

Creator George Herriman was born in New Orleans in 1880. In the latter part of the 19th century his family moved to Los Angeles where his father worked as a tailor and George began his art career, eventually becoming one of the most famous and celebrated cartoonists in history. This is a distinction that would not have been possible if the truth of his life had been known at the time.

In 1971, while researching Mr. Herriman for an entry in the Dictionary of American Biography, professor Arthur Berger discovered a previously unknown fact. On his birth certificate Mr. Herriman was listed as “colored.” It had always been assumed that he was a white man. Mr. Herriman, to use the terminology of the time, “passed for white” his entire life, at a time when his color would have prevented him from many, if not all, of the achievements he is known for…

Read the entire article here.

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