Drum Dream Girl : How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Posted in Arts, Biography, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Novels, Women on 2015-06-23 00:37Z by Steven

Drum Dream Girl : How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
48 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544102293
eBook ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780544102286

Margarita Engle

Rafael López

In this picture book bursting with vibrance and rhythm, a girl dreams of playing the drums in 1930s Cuba, when the music-filled island had a taboo against female drummers.

Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.

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Joseph Emidy: From slave fiddler to classical violinist

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2015-06-23 00:11Z by Steven

Joseph Emidy: From slave fiddler to classical violinist

BBC News

Miles Davis, BBC News Online

Joseph Emidy led the Truro Philharmonic Orchestra

The remarkable life of a former slave who became a pioneer of classical music has been commemorated.

The “genius” violinist Joseph Emidy, from West Africa, was enslaved for two long periods of his eventful life.

But having finally gained his freedom in 1799, Emidy became “Britain’s first composer of the African diaspora”.

His achievements were marked at Truro Cathedral on Sunday with the erection of a ‘boss‘ – a painted wooden carving featuring a violin and a map of Africa.

On his death in 1835, The West Briton newspaper reported in Emidy’s obituary: “As an orchestral composer, his sinfonias may be mentioned as evincing not only deep musical research, but also those flights of genius.”…

…Emidy was finally discharged four years later in the port of Falmouth on 28 February 1799.

He married a local woman, Jenefer Hutchins, in 1802, started taking on music students and became involved with the the first of Truro’s biennial concerts in 1804.

Beverley Wilson (far right) the great, great, great, great grand-daughter of Joseph Emidy met kora player Sona Jobarteh (centre)

Silk Buckingham described him as “an exquisite violinist, a good composer, who led at all the concerts of the county, and who taught equally well the piano, violin, violoncello, clarionet and flute”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-22 01:17Z by Steven

The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology

University of California Press
August 2015
320 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9780520276352
Adobe PDF E-Book ISBN: 9780520960480
ePUB Format ISBN: 9780520960480

Aldon D. Morris, Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology and African American Studies
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois

In this groundbreaking book, Aldon D. Morris’s ambition is truly monumental: to help rewrite the history of sociology and to acknowledge the primacy of W. E. B. Du Bois’s work in the founding of the discipline. Calling into question the prevailing narrative of how sociology developed, Morris, a major scholar of social movements, probes the way in which the history of the discipline has traditionally given credit to Robert E. Park at the University of Chicago, who worked with the conservative black leader Booker T. Washington to render Du Bois invisible. Morris uncovers the seminal theoretical work of Du Bois in developing a “scientific” sociology through a variety of methodologies and examines how the leading scholars of the day disparaged and ignored Du Bois’s work.

The Scholar Denied is based on extensive, rigorous primary source research; the book is the result of a decade of research, writing, and revision. In exposing the economic and political factors that marginalized the contributions of Du Bois and enabled Park and his colleagues to be recognized as the “fathers” of the discipline, Morris delivers a wholly new narrative of American intellectual and social history that places one of America’s key intellectuals, W. E. B. Du Bois, at its center.

The Scholar Denied is a must-read for anyone interested in American history, racial inequality, and the academy. In challenging our understanding of the past, the book promises to engender debate and discussion.


  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Race and the Birth of American Sociology
  • 1. The Rise of Scientific Sociology in America
  • 2. Du Bois, Scientific Sociology, and Race
  • 3. The Du Bois–Atlanta School of Sociology
  • 4. The Conservative Alliance of Washington and Park
  • 5. The Sociology of Black America: Park versus Du Bois
  • 6. Max Weber Meets Du Bois
  • 7. Intellectual Schools and the Atlanta School
  • 8. Legacies and Conclusions
  • Notes
  • References
  • Illustration Credits
  • Index
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The Trouble with Virginia

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2015-06-17 19:56Z by Steven

The Trouble with Virginia

Michele Beller: writing the mixed-race experience of America, from Buckingham County, Virginia, to Dominica, West Indies, and beyond

Michele Beller

Finally. My book project is coming to life. My dream of writing is here. As I learn new things or have something interesting to share, I promise you, I’ll post it here. Now. Here is the story of my (first) book:

The Trouble with Virginia is a historical novel based on the true story of my great-great grandmother, Virginia. She was the daughter of a prosperous white plantation owner and a mulatto slave who lived openly as husband and wife — a dangerous way to live in the antebellum South. Virginia grew up with many privileges of her white father, yet her father had to buy her a husband from a nearby plantation. Her first two children were born into slavery—her father’s property. Then came the Civil War, marching right through Virginia’s front yard.

But this isn’t just a story about our distant past. My parents married in 1958–a time when it was still illegal for them to marry in sixteen states; like Virginia, my father is white and my mother is black. My parents believed there’s no such thing as race or color. I didn’t understand until I grew up how defining race still is; it may have been a hundred years later, but when I left home, neither side knew what to do with me. My parents loved me, but they didn’t prepare me for the fight that awaited me out in the world. I had no idea race was such a defining issue…

Read the entire article here.

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Rachel Dolezal isn’t alone – my family history proves choosing a racial definition is hard

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-16 19:45Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal isn’t alone – my family history proves choosing a racial definition is hard

The Guardian
Monday, 2015-06-15

Bliss Broyard

Bliss Broyard’s father kept his black roots a secret his whole life. Her journey of self-discovery led her to the understanding that believing the results of a DNA cheek swab to be more meaningful than one’s experiences is a ridiculous notion

How do you determine who is black? Is it simply a matter of inheritance – you are what your parents are? Does having a black grandparent make a person black? Must she have been raised as black, in a black community? Is one black ancestor, one drop of blood, enough?

These were the kinds of questions asked during the legal trials undertaken in the late 19th and early 20th century throughout southern and midwestern US states, to determine a person’s “true” racial identity. Then, as now, ancestry trumped lived experience. In Ohio the courts ruled that having 50% black ancestry, a single black parent or two mixed parents, made a person black – and hence socially and politically inferior – while in Louisiana, the “one drop” rule prevailed, and any traceable amount of Negro ancestry denied one certain legal rights, including the right to vote and the right to marry a person of another race.

It was possible to be legally white in one state and legally black in an adjacent one. The line dividing racial categories has never been a clear or constant one. It takes someone trying to cross that line to illuminate its current coordinates…

…Since 1970, Americans have been allowed to “self-identify” on the federal census, which serves as the source for other federal- and state-mandated definitions of race. Yet, since its inception in 1790, the census has never defined the categories and definitions for race the same way. The 2000 census, for example, saw the addition of an option to check more than one box when identifying one’s race, where before a respondent was forced to chose one category.

My own family history provides an instructive example of the difficultly of choosing a consistent racial definition across a changing cultural and legal landscape…

…As I set off on a publicity tour for my second book, One Drop, about my father’s and his family history and the history of racial identification in the United States, I steeled myself for someone, most likely African American, to challenge my right to claim a (partly) black identity. To my surprise, it was the white audience members who questioned my embrace of my newly discovered heritage.

I live differently than I might have had I never discovered my father’s racial ancestry…

Read the entire article here.

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Before Rachel Dolezal, there was Walter White

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-16 17:24Z by Steven

Before Rachel Dolezal, there was Walter White

The Christian Science Monitor

Randy Dotinga

The man known as ‘Mr. NAACP’ was blonde, blue-eyed and 5/32nd black, all of which provoked an outcry similar to that over contemporary NAACP official Rachel Dolezal.

Walter White, known as “Mr. NAACP,” didn’t look black. He had blue eyes and blonde hair, and his enemies sought to smear him as an opportunist who lied about his race and couldn’t possibly understand the black experience. But the secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People persevered through much of the 20th century and left a stunning if tarnished legacy.

White energized the refined halls of the NAACP, brought together literary stars of the Harlem Renaissance, and helped craft the partial demise of segregation. He battled lynching, convinced politicians to kill the Supreme Court nomination of a racist and hobnobbed with the famous. Sixty years after his death, White is eclipsed in modern memory by other civil-rights leaders. Few know about his remarkable struggle to be seen as the genuine article by other African-Americans, and his vicious battles with fellow leaders like W. E. B. DuBois.

But this month, the ever-bubbling issue of blackness – who has it, who doesn’t, and why it matters – is on tongues across the country amid the roaring debate over Rachel Dolezal, a NAACP official in Spokane, Wash. White’s story resonates as Dolezal, who may not be black as she’s claimed, faces a national storm.

Here are 5 Things to Know about Walter White and Racial Identity, gleaned from his crisply written 1948 memoir A Man Called White and author Thomas Dyja’s perceptive and often-critical 2008 biography Walter White: The Dilemma of Black Identity in America

Read the entire article here.

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The Gains and Losses of Passing for White – Ernest Torregano

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-06-04 19:59Z by Steven

The Gains and Losses of Passing for White – Ernest Torregano


Jari Honora, Founder and Consultant

In 1912, Ernest Joseph Torregano, a thirty-year old New Orleans native, was a porter on the Southern Pacific Railroad. For about three years, Torregano had worked the run from New Orleans to San Francisco. After each successful run, he would return home to his wife, Viola Perrett Torregano, and his only child, Gladys Marguerite, who had been born on 7 February 1904. Like so many other Southerners of color, Ernest Torregano found moving to California to be a golden opportunity to better himself. In his case however, it came at a drastic cost – the loss of his wife and child. He was able to use what was undoubtedly his God-given intelligence and aptitude, but to do so, he passed for white. In his early adult years, Ernest had worked as a singer and handyman for a traveling minstrel troupe. It was while with the troupe, that he met one of it’s pretty stars, a guitar-playing young lady named Viola Perrett. They were married and soon had their daughter Gladys, after which they quit the show so that he could sign-on with the Southern Pacific Railroad.

Concurrent with his employment on the railroad, Ernest completed his high school studies and through independent study courses and classes at the Saint Ignatius College of Law, he was able to pass the California bar examination on 7 April 1913. During all of this time, he maintained a foot in both worlds – telling friends and relatives in New Orleans that he was working as a warehouseman in San Francisco, even having relatives to visit, while all the way he kept up a separate white identity for the sake of his schooling and his intended profession. He regularly went back to New Orleans, spending time with his wife and daughter who lived in the home of his mother, Mrs. Louise Johnson Torregano…

Read the entire article here.

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10 Afro-Puerto Ricans Everyone Should Know

Posted in Articles, Biography, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States on 2015-06-04 14:33Z by Steven

10 Afro-Puerto Ricans Everyone Should Know

La Respuesta: A magazine to (Re)Imagine Boricua Diaspora

La Respuesta magazine is dedicated to both resurrecting lost history and highlighting marginalized communities within our “gran familia puertorriqueña”. Afrodescendientes boricuas is one such community, who are, at best – forgotten or ignored – and at worst – exoticized, feared, or even hated. So, with pride and determination, we humbly compiled a list of 10 “Black Boricuas” we think have impacted our history and identities.

Of course, there are many, many more. You can find some Afro-Boricuas in our list “20 Puerto Rican Women Everyone Should Know” (we did not reproduce them here so as to give room to name others). For the sake of space and capacity, we can only give you a taste – but let’s start a dialogue. Please, share with us the names of other Afro-Puerto Ricans you may know! ¡Qué Viva Puerto Rico Negro!

Read the entire article here.

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Mystery, and Discovery, on the Trail of a Creole Music Pioneer

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Louisiana, Media Archive, United States on 2015-05-28 16:09Z by Steven

Mystery, and Discovery, on the Trail of a Creole Music Pioneer

The New York Times

Campbell Robertson, Southern correspondent

PINEVILLE, La. — Somewhere among the thousands beneath a grassy hill here lies the body of Amédé Ardoin.

He was singular in life: one of the greatest accordion players ever to come out of south Louisiana. A Creole prodigy who traveled the countryside playing his bluesy two-steps and waltzes, he changed Cajun music and laid down the roots for zydeco.

At his death at the age of 44 in 1942, he was Case No.13387 in the state psychiatric hospital, destined for an anonymous burial.

Years of attempts to recover the body of Amédé, as he is widely known, have come to nothing. As with Mozart’s grave, Amédé’s is known only by its general vicinity: the area where the blacks were buried. But a desire for some sort of physical commemoration of his life, beyond a few documents and a blurry photograph, has not gone away.

“I started thinking of possible symbolic ways of bringing Amédé home, placing a kind of image of him in the culture, something physical,” said Darrell Bourque, a former state poet laureate, who has been trying to raise funds to have a statue erected, most likely in Eunice, La., where Amédé spent much of his life.

Mr. Bourque described Amédé as bringing the white Cajun and black Creole traditions together in a society that policed racial boundaries so rigidly that it ultimately brought about his death. His music, Mr. Bourque said, represented “a little pocket of possibility that didn’t get replicated in the larger culture.”

It was only after he began looking for Amédé that Mr. Bourque came to learn how complicated those boundaries could be for whites and blacks at that time — and how deeply connected he was to the people who crossed them…

Read the entire article here.

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Tony Williams’ “Wilderness” and Mixed-Race Identity through Jazz

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-05-27 02:31Z by Steven

Tony Williams’ “Wilderness” and Mixed-Race Identity through Jazz

Soundscapes and Such: Critical Thoughts on Sonic Subjects

Shawn M. Higgins
University of Connecticut

Tony Williams (source: Wikipedia)

Why do song writers choose the song titles they do? Perhaps Herbie Hancock’s 1980 track “4 A.M.” was recorded at that exact time – or maybe finished then? The song isn’t sleepy and lethargic as I might connotatively connect with the before-dawn hour, but jazz musicians are infamously night owls, and the song’s rhythm suggests this might be the funkiest, most active hour of the cycle. The title of John Coltrane’s 1967 song “Stellar Regions”, through the frenzied, echoing cymbal work of Rashied Ali and Coltrane’s trilling, screaming saxophone, could serve in a Romantic sense to invoke feelings of a paean to the heavens. The listeners, upon closing their eyes, are sonically shot into space and flung around the cosmos through the combination of music and such a song title. And of course, one of Duke Ellington’s most famous songs, which is in turn an absolute standard of jazz today, was given a title by the composer Billy Strayhorn after Duke gave him directions to his house and told him to “Take the ‘A’ Train.” None of these songs at the time of their composure had any lyrics to support these titles either in a refrain or in any thematic way. Rather, the listener is encouraged to interpret the sounds alongside the title or through the title. What happens in this exchange between artist, product, and consumer is my primary interest, and I would like to point to one artist in particular who used his song titles as a conscious way of addressing his newly discovered mixed-race identity.

Tony Williams, the legendary jazz drummer who is credited with inventing the “blast beat” and who called legends like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and John McLaughlin his musical partners, candidly explained in a 1995 BET interview a recent revelation in his life. Williams had discovered at the age of roughly forty-nine that he was of a racially mixed ancestry – he was phenotypically African American but also of Chinese and Portuguese background…

Read the entire article here.

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