Archive for the ‘African American History’ Category


In African American History on February 1, 2014 at 3:58 pm
Top: Alice Walker at London Premiere of “Beauty in Truth”; Credit: Brenda Lawley. Bottom:  Credit: Eunique Jones Gibson for the Because of Them, We Can™  Campaign

Top: Alice Walker at London Premiere of “Beauty in Truth”; Credit: Brenda Lawley. Bottom: Credit: Eunique Jones Gibson for the Because of Them, We Can™ Campaign

PBS Black Culture Connection Website Partners with Eunique Jones Gibson to Showcase the Making of the Because of Them, We Can™ Campaign

ARLINGTON, VA – January 16, 2014 – In commemoration of Black History Month and as part of its year-round commitment to provide diverse programming and resources for all Americans, PBS today announced new shows and online content celebrating the African American experience past, present and future. From an AMERICAN MASTERS profile of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, to an INDEPENDENT LENS documentary about the secret spy agency created to maintain segregation in 1950’s Mississippi, Black History Month on PBS will provide programs that educate, inform and inspire viewers to learn more about the rich culture of our nation.

The lineup begins on February 3 at 10:00 p.m. with “American Promise,” a powerful coming-of-age documentary from POV that follows the journey of two young African-American males from kindergarten through high school graduation as they attend a prestigious Manhattan private school. Confronting challenges from typical childhood growing pains to cultural identification within a predominantly white environment, the young men and their parents push toward success and discover their own individuality in the process.

Also airing in February are two programs that celebrate the contributions of artists such as Bobby McFerrin and Terence Blanchard in JAZZ AND THE PHILHARMONIC, and Bill T. Jones and Brian Stokes Mitchell in BECOMING AN ARTIST.

“PBS is committed to providing programming for diverse audiences all through the year, and Black History Month provides a special opportunity to shine a spotlight on the contributions of African Americans to our culture and history,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming for PBS. “We are proud to celebrate these contributions with an array of exceptional programming, during Black History Month and all year long.”

“Our Black History Month lineup delves deep into the stories of notable people and historical topics in a way that’s uniquely PBS,” says Donald Thoms, Vice President, Programming and Talent Management.  “We feature the work of diverse and independent producers, which remains a staple of our content offerings year round, and I think our viewers will enjoy and even find a little inspiration from our content this year.”

In addition to on-air programs, the PBS Black Culture Connection (BCC), an extension of featuring black films, stories and discussion across PBS, announces a digital partnership with the Because of Them, We Can™ campaign, which aims to educate and connect a new generation to heroes who paved the way. In an original blog series called “Behind the Lens,” hosted on, PBS will go behind the camera of cultural architect and campaign photographer Eunique Jones Gibson, and her powerful images, to tell the rich story and history of African-American icons through the eyes of our nation’s youth. During the month of February, the BCC will feature images from the Because of Them, We Can™ campaign including portraits of children inspired by Harriet Tubman, James Brown, Muhammad Ali and the Freedom Riders, along with a blog post by the photographer giving details of the subject, the shoot and the child/children who are pictured. “Behind the Lens” will be hosted on both the PBS Black Culture Connection and

“Eunique has created a special link to our past through a campaign that’s inspired and powered by our youth, our future,” said Nicole Eley-Carr, editor, PBS Black Culture Connection. “In many ways, she’s contemporizing Black History, and PBS is excited to be a space for this evolving dialogue that empowers young people by honoring achievers of yesterday and today.”

“I am excited and honored to share a glimpse into the making of the Because of Them, We Can™ campaign with the PBS audience,” said Eunique Jones Gibson. “Through the ‘Behind the Lens’ blog series I hope to further the campaign’s mission of building the esteem of both children and adults, while helping them reflect on a living legacy of greatness.”

“Behind the Lens” will debut during Black History Month on, alongside more than 30 films that will be available for streaming online throughout the month of February. The full Black History Month programming lineup is listed below (check local listings) and will also be available for online streaming on the BCC after premiere:

POV “American Promise”
Monday, February 3, 2014, 10:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. ET

“American Promise” spans 13 years as Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, middle-class African-American parents in Brooklyn, New York, turn their cameras on their son, Idris, and his best friend, Seun, who make their way through Manhattan’s Dalton School, one of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Chronicling the boys’ divergent paths from kindergarten through high school graduation, this provocative, intimate documentary presents complicated truths about America’s struggle to come of age on issues of race, class and opportunity.Winner, U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, 2013 Sundance Film Festival

AMERICAN MASTERS “Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth”
Friday, February 7, 2014, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET 

Most famous for her seminal novel The Color Purple, writer/activist Alice Walker celebrates her 70th birthday. Born February 9, 1944, into a family of sharecroppers in rural Georgia, she came of age during the violent racism and seismic social changes of mid-20th-century America. Her mother, poverty and participation in the Civil Rights Movement were the formative influences on her consciousness, becoming the inherent themes in her writing. The first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Walker continues to shine a light on global human rights issues. Her dramatic life is told with poetry and lyricism, and includes interviews with Steven Spielberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Howard Zinn, Gloria Steinem, Sapphire, and Walker herself.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Spies of Mississippi”
Monday, February 10, 2014, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET

View the story of a secret spy agency formed during the 1950s and 60s by the state of Mississippi to preserve segregation and maintain white supremacy. Over a decade, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission employed a network of investigators and informants, including African Americans, to help infiltrate the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). They were granted broad powers to investigate private citizens and organizations, keep secret files, make arrests and compel testimony. The program tracks the commission’s hidden role in important chapters of the Civil Rights Movement, including the integration of the University of Mississippi, the trial of Medgar Evers and the KKK murders of three civil rights workers in 1964.

Friday, February 28, 2014, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET

JAZZ AND THE PHILHARMONIC is a unique, generational and wholly American concert experience that highlights two of the greatest musical art forms the world has ever seen, classical and jazz. With performances by artists such as Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, Terence Blanchard and Elizabeth Joy Roe, this special emphasizes the works of legendary past composers such as Bach and Mozart with these contemporary artists. Songs are performed with the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra from the University of Miami Frost School of Music and National YoungArts Foundation alumni.

Friday, February 28, 2014, 10:30-11:00 p.m. ET

Enjoy an inspiring tribute to the power of mentoring and the vital role it plays in passing on our artistic cultural heritage from one generation to the next. The documentary features acclaimed artists across the disciplines, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Robert Redford, Rosie Perez, Bill T. Jones, Frank Gehry, Brian Stokes Mitchell, John Guare and Kathleen Turner working with some of the nation’s most talented students selected by the National YoungArts Foundation. BECOMING AN ARTIST is a celebration of our cultural vitality and the need to ensure its continuance.

The following is a sample of the more than 30 programs available for online streaming on the BCC in February:

•    The African Americans:  Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
•    The March
•    Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson
•    Independent Lens – Daisy Bates, Black Power Mixtape, Soul Food Junkies
•    Memories of the March
•    Bill T. Jones: A Good Man (American Masters)
•    Cab Calloway: Sketches (American Masters)
•    Dreams of Obama (Frontline)
•    Endgame: AIDS in Black America (Frontline)
•    Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
•    Freedom Riders (American Experience)
•    Interrupters (Frontline)
•    Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A-Comin’ (American Masters)
•    Jesse Owens (American Experience)
•    “Roots” Special on Miniseries (Pioneers of TV)
•    Not in Our Town: Class Actions
•    Slavery by Another Name
•    Too Important to Fail (Tavis Smiley)
•    Underground Railroad: The William Still Story
•    Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll (American Masters)
•    James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket (American Masters)
•    POV – Black Male Achievement documentary special series: Teaching Fatherhood, The Jazz Ticket, The Algebra Ceiling

Other series that routinely offer programming to commemorate Black History Month include FRONTLINEGREAT PERFORMANCESPBS NEWSHOUR, TAVIS SMILEY andWASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL.

Find more information and high-resolution images from these programs on PBS PressRoom.

About PBS Black Culture Connection
The PBS Black Culture Connection, featuring video from films, award-winning documentaries and popular series like AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, links the diverse national content found on PBS with local programs, interviews and discussions from PBS member stations and from around the web. In addition to aggregating more than 100 digital resources about black history and culture in one place within, the PBS Black Culture Connection features thematic film collections, biographies and profiles, original productions made just for the web and local station spotlights. After exploring the site, users are encouraged to connect with others through online discussion and to challenge themselves with a suite of quizzes. The PBS Black Culture Connection is made available through partnerships with member stations, including WNET and WGBH, and public media partners like the National Black Programming Consortium. It will also feature the works of producers like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Stanley Nelson and Tavis Smiley.


The Library Card, By Richard Wright | (from Black Boy, 1944)

In African American History, Education, Writing on May 8, 2013 at 2:31 pm

I decided to post an essay by one of my favorite author’s (Richard Wright) about the library. I thought this was a great read and believed that others would enjoy it as much as I did. The essay, “The Library Card,” by Richard Wright, was written in 1944 (from Black Boy).

“One morning I arrived early at work and went into the bank lobby where the Negro porter was mopping. I stood at a counter and picked up the Memphis Commercial Appeal and began my free reading of the press. I came finally to the editorial page and saw an article dealing with one H. L. Mencken. I knew by hearsay that he was the editor of the American Mercury,but aside from that I knew nothing about him. The article was a furious denunciation of Mencken, concluding with one, hot, short sentence: Mencken is a fool.” –Richard Wright

I wondered what on earth this Mencken had done to call down upon him the scorn of the South. The only people I had ever heard denounced in the South were Negroes, and this man was not a Negro. Then what ideas did Mencken hold that made a newspaper like the Commercial Appeal castigate him publicly? Undoubtedly he must be advocating ideas that the South did not like. Were there, then, people other than Negroes who criticized the South? I knew that during the Civil War the South had hated northern whites, but I had not encountered such hate during my life. Knowing no more of Mencken than I did at that moment, I felt a vague sympathy for him. Had not the South, which had assigned me the role of a non-man, cast at him its hardest words?

Now, how could I find out about this Mencken? There was a huge library near the riverfront, but I knew that Negroes were not allowed to patronize its shelves any more than they were the parks and playgrounds of the city. I had gone into the library several times to get books for the white men on the job. Which of them would now help me to get books? And how could I read them without causing concern to the white men with whom I worked? I had so far been successful in hiding my thoughts and feelings from them, but I knew that I would create hostility if I went about the business of reading in a clumsy way.

I weighed the personalities of the men on the job. There was Don, a Jew; but I distrusted him. His position was not much better than mine and I knew that he was uneasy and insecure; he had always treated me in an offhand, bantering way that barely concealed his contempt. I was afraid to ask him to help me get books; his frantic desire to demonstrate a racial solidarity with the whites against Negroes might make him betray me.

Then how about the boss? No, he was a Baptist and I had the suspicion that he would not be quite able to comprehend why a black boy would want to read Mencken. There were other white men on the job whose attitudes showed clearly that they were Kluxers or sympathizers, and they were out of the question.

There remained only one man whose attitude did not fit into an anti-Negro category, for I had heard the white men refer to him as a “Pope lover.” He was an Irish Catholic and was hated by the white southerners. I knew that he read books, because I had got him volumes from the library several times. Since he, too, was an object of hatred, I felt that he might refuse me but would hardly betray me. I hesitated, weighing and balancing the imponderable realities.

One morning I paused before the Catholic fellow’s desk.

“I want to ask you a favor,” I whispered to him.

“What is it?”

“I want to read. I can’t get books from the library. I wonder if you’d let me use your card?”

He looked at me suspiciously.

“My card is full most of the time,” he said.

“I see,” I said and waited, posing my question silently.

“You’re not trying to get me into trouble, are you, boy?” He asked, staring at me.

“Oh, no sir.”

“What book do you want?”

“A book by H. L. Mencken.”

“Which one?”

“I don’t know. Has he written more than one?”

“He has written several.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“What makes you want to read Mencken?”

“Oh, I just saw his name in the newspaper,” I said.

“It’s good of you to want to read,” he said. “But you ought to read the right things.”

I said nothing. Would he want to supervise my reading?

“Let me think,” he said. “I’ll figure out something.”

I turned from him and he called me back. He stared at me quizzically.

“Richard, don’t mention this to the other white men,” he said.

“I understand,” I said. “I won’t say a word.”

A few days later he called me to him.

“I’ve got a card in my wife’s name,” he said. “Here’s mine.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Do you think you can manage it?”

“I’ll manage fine,” I said.

“If they suspect you, you’ll get in trouble,” he said.

“I’ll write the same kind of notes to the library that you wrote when you sent me for books,” I told him. “I’ll sign your name.”

He laughed.

“Go ahead. Let me see what you get,” he said.

That afternoon I addressed myself to forging a note. Now, what were the names of books written by H. L. Mencken? I did not know any of them. I finally wrote what I thought would be a foolproof note: Dear Madam: Will you please let this nigger boy–I used the word “nigger” to make the librarian feel that I could not possibly be the author of the note–have some books by H. L. Mencken?  I forged the white man’s name.

I entered the library as I had always done when on errands for whites, but I felt that I would somehow slip up and betray myself. I doffed my hat, stood a respectful distance from the desk, looked as unbookish as possible, and waited for the white patrons to be taken care of. When the desk was clear of people, I still waited. The white librarian looked at me.

“What do you want, boy?”

As though I did not possess the power of speech, I stepped forward and simply handed her the forged note, not parting my lips.

“What books by Mencken does he want?” she asked.

“I don’t know, ma’am,” I said, avoiding her eyes.

“Who gave you this card?”

“Mr. Falk,” I said.

“Where is he?”

“He’s at work, at the M—- Optical Company,” I said. “I’ve been in here for him before.”

“I remember,” the woman said. “But he never wrote notes like this.”

Oh, God, she’s suspicious. Perhaps she would not let me have the books? If she had turned her back at that moment, I would have ducked out the door and never gone back. Then I thought of a bold idea.

“You can call him up, ma’am,” I said, my heart pounding.

“You’re not using these books, are you?” she asked pointedly.

“Oh, no, ma’am. I can’t read.”

“I don’t know what he wants by Mencken,” she said under her breath.

I knew now that I had won; she was thinking of other things and the race question had gone out of her mind. She went to the shelves. Once or twice she looked over her shoulder at me, as though she was still doubtful. Finally she came forward with two books in her hand.

Continue Reading Here

National Poetry Month: My Gift to You…

In African American History, Books, Writing on April 1, 2013 at 12:59 am

Photo Opt Courtesy of: mosheflow publishes books, INC.

National Poetry Month is finally in motion! I wanted to share something very special with you. My alter-ego just released her first book of poetry entitled, “SOUL ALIVE Poetry & Prose” –I wanted to make sure you got a chance to download a free copy of the digital poetry chapbook. My alter-ego’s name is atlas brown and she resides in Paris, France. Learn more about the writer below. Read | Download | Share atlas brown’s latest literary gift to the masses.

“SOUL ALIVE! Prose & Poetry”  a book of poetry written for the sake of writing, dedicated to society that rejects the art form as a worthy cause and occupation.

Writer and poet, atlas brown opens up the book stating, “SOUL ALIVE! Prose & Poetry was written out of frustration in my studio. When you want something so bad that you can taste it, what would you do to get it?”

Grab your favorite beverage, turn on your reading device, and get ready for enlightenment. Download the print edition for FREE. Read the book via a Kindle device and purchase the e-book for .99 cents.

Leave a comment about the book via this page. Interested in writing a review about the book, click on the link below. Share with friends, family, and co-workers!!!!

Book Reviews:

“Just like the author states about themself in the bio, the prose and poetry found in SOUL ALIVE! is also, “to the point, clear, and concise.” Containing only seven pieces, each of varying themes, this debut work from atlas brown is a literary ‘sampler platter’ of sorts. I really enjoyed and chuckled at “Writer’s Anonymous,” perhaps because I can relate so much to the “Woe is I Syndrome.” Maybe getting back to the basics of just pen and paper is the perfect cure, indeed. Although not an official piece, I think my favorite part of this collection is the author’s bio. An unashamed and apologetic writer writing what they want, how they want is definitely worth reading if for no other reason than that they had the audacity to write what they mean.” 

S.W., Chicago, IL

“This book rocks, the only downfall was that it was too short, I would of wanted to read more because you are an exceptional writer Ms. Atlas.” 

–Anonymous., Seattle, WA

“This book is simply AMAZING!!! I have read it over five times already; atlas’ writing style is savvy and warm. All would enjoy this beautiful work, however it is especially dear to the soul of a writer. Atlas reminds us that words are our paint, writing utensils are our brush, and paper is our canvas. We are indeed the artist and ought to will the words as WE see fit. I absolutely love this bookit is a living breathing workit is indeed ALIVE. It will remind and inspire us for many years to come.

C.S., New Orleans, LA

Creative eclectic, and very chic French, atlas brown, has recently published the powerful, soul-stirring “Soul Alive Poetry & Prose.” Just as the title indicates, the book is a kaleidoscope of thought-provoking poetry and prose that grabs readers and holds them there, tightly, from beginning to end. Breathtaking.

d.m., Dallas, TX



He loves Me

Read Press Release: 


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“SOUL ALIVE! Prose & Poetry”


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In African American History, Education, History on February 1, 2013 at 2:01 pm
Left: Whitney Young at a news conference, from INDEPENDENT LENS “The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights”  (Credit: Cecil Layne); Right: Sister Rosetta Tharpe performing in New York’s Café Society in 1940, from AMERICAN MASTERS “Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll”  (Credit: Don Peterson/Charles Peterson).

Left: Whitney Young at a news conference, from INDEPENDENT LENS “The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights” (Credit: Cecil Layne); Right: Sister Rosetta Tharpe performing in New York’s Café Society in 1940, from AMERICAN MASTERS “Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll” (Credit: Don Peterson/Charles Peterson).

Happy Black History Month 2013!!!!

New Black Culture Connection Website Connects PBS Programming to Digital Resources on

In celebration of Black History Month and as part of its year-round commitment to diverse programming, PBS today announced an on-air lineup commemorating the contributions of African Americans in music, dance, television and civil rights, providing an in-depth look at key figures and events that shaped black — and American — history. In addition to these programs, PBS announced it will launch the PBS Black Culture Connection, a digital storybook of black films, history, trends and discussion that’s available throughout the year on, on February 1, 2013. A video showcasing the PBS Black History Month programming schedule and PBS Black Culture Connection is available to view or embed here.

“PBS’ mission is clear — to provide accessible, educational, informative programs of every genre and culture all year long. Since February is Black History Month, our schedule is heavily focused on the contributions of African Americans,” said Donald Thoms, Vice President, Programming. “During the month, we are also continuing our commitment to feature stories and films from diverse and independent producers, which remains a staple of our content offerings year round.”

The PBS Black Culture Connection, featuring video from films, award-winning documentaries and popular series like AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE, will link the diverse national content found on PBS with local programs, interviews and discussions from PBS member stations and from around the web. In addition to aggregating more than 100 digital resources about black history and culture in one place within, the PBS Black Culture Connection will feature thematic film collections, biographies and profiles, original productions made just for the web and local station spotlights. After exploring the site, users are encouraged to connect with others through online discussion and to challenge themselves with a suite of quizzes.

“The PBS Black Culture Connection is a digital resource that unites a diverse collection of films and other content across PBS. It’s a screening room for award-winning documentaries and films, a forum to engage in meaningful discussions, and a library to explore hundreds of videos, articles, quizzes and resources like historical maps and timelines,” said Jason Seiken, PBS SVP and General Manager, Digital.

The PBS Black Culture Connection is made available through partnerships with member stations including WNET and WGBH and public media partners like the National Black Programming Consortium. It will also feature the works of producers like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Stanley Nelson and Tavis Smiley.

The full Black History Month programming lineup is included below. Most films listed will also be available via streaming video on the PBS Black Culture Connection.

The third season of the Emmy-nominated PIONEERS OF TELEVISION reveals intriguing behind-the-scenes stories and fascinating facts about television shows and programming genres that continue to influence the medium today. Miniseries, which still rank among the top-rated programs in television history, were major events that captured the nation’s imagination. The groundbreaking “Roots” was the biggest. In the episode “Miniseries,” premiering Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 8:00-9:00 p.m. ET, hear “Roots” stars LeVar Burton, Louis Gossett, Jr., Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, John Amos, Georg Stanford Brown and Ed Asner talk about the epic broadcast.

LIFECASTERS, premiering Thursday, February 7, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings), unites fiction and documentary filmmakers to tell stories of Americans who use their strength, creativity and determination to reach their goals — a bit later in life. In one segment, Oscar-nominees Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert observe African-American dancer Sherri “Sparkle” Williams, one of the oldest female professional dancers still practicing in the U.S.

Whitney M. Young, Jr. was one of the most celebrated — and controversial — leaders of the civil rights era. In INDEPENDENT LENS “The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights,” premiering Monday, February 18, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET, follow his journey from segregated Kentucky to head of the National Urban League. Unique among black leaders, Young took the fight directly to the powerful white elite, gaining allies in business and government, including three presidents. He had the difficult tasks of calming the fears of white allies, relieving the doubts of fellow civil rights leaders and responding to attacks from the militant Black Power movement.

In AMERICAN MASTERS “Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll,”premiering Friday, February 22, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET, discover the life, music and influence of African-American gospel singer and guitar virtuoso Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973). Southern-born, Chicago-raised and New York-made, “She could play the guitar like nobody else … nobody.” During the 1940s-60s, Sister Rosetta introduced the spiritual passion of her gospel music into the secular world of rock ’n’ roll, inspiring the male icons of the genre. One of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Tharpe may not be a household name today, but the flamboyant superstar, with her spectacular playing on the newly electrified guitar, had a major influence on black musicians, including Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Isaac Hayes and Etta James, and also on white stars such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

In MAKERS: WOMEN WHO MAKE AMERICA, a PBS film about the modern American Women’s Movement, premiering Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 8:00-11:00 p.m. ET, one segment explores stories of how 1960s Civil Rights leaders helped inspire the pioneers of the modern American Women’s Movement. MAKERS details how the parallel movements steadily made gains after initially being cast together with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In addition, the film tells the stories of many groundbreaking African-American women, such as Barbara Smith, who started Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press to give women inroads into publishing, civil rights activist Diane Nash, and Yale-educated lawyer Eleanor Holmes Norton, a civil rights veteran who now serves in the House of Representatives. The documentary builds on an unprecedented multi-platform video experience from PBS and

Gwen Ifill interviews Berry Gordy, founder in 1959 of Motown Records, which became the most successful African-American-owned enterprise in the United States, in AN EVENING WITH BERRY GORDY, airing in February 2013 (check local listings). Gordy’s celebrated life as entrepreneur, songwriter, record producer, movie director and producer has left an indelible influence on music and films nationally and internationally. Performing one tribute song from Gordy’s musical career, representing the old and new school Motown, are Valerie Simpson (Ashford & Simpson) and R&B musician KEM. Gordy’s son, Stefan Gordy — known to the music world as Redfoo — one-half of the hip-hop musical group, LMFAO, will be in attendance.

Encore Programming


Sundays, January 13-27, 2013, 10:00-11:00 p.m. ET
Witness the struggles of Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimké, Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown to end slavery.

AMERICAN MASTERS “Cab Calloway: Sketches” 
February 2013 (check local listings)
Explore the life of this pioneering jazz legend who charmed audiences with his bravado and showmanship.

February 2013 (check local listings)
Travel with Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as he uncovers Latin America’s African roots.


February 2013 (check local listings)
Find inspiration in the story of the young civil-rights activists who journeyed through the Deep South in 1961.

INDEPENDENT LENS “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975” 
February 2013 (check local listings)
Take a cinematic and musical journey into the black communities of America, 1967-1975.

INDEPENDENT LENS “Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock” 
February 2013 (check local listings)
Learn why this unconventional revolutionary paid dearly for her instant fame.

INDEPENDENT LENS “More Than a Month” 
February 2013 (check local listings)
Find out why an African-American filmmaker wants to end Black History Month.


Friday, February 15, 2013, 10:30-11:30 p.m. ET
Hear the story of William Still, a free black man who accepted delivery of “human cargo” on the Underground Railroad.

Friday, February 22, 2013, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET
Explore the story of labor practices and laws that effectively created a new form of slavery in the South. Laurence Fishburne narrates.

Other series that routinely cover topics and profile guests and performers of particular interest to African Americans include FRONTLINE, GREAT PERFORMANCES, PBS NEWSHOUR, NEED TO KNOW, POV, TAVIS SMILEY and WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL.

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Digital Imaging Librarianize Me…

In African American Art, African American History, Photography on October 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm

This semester I signed up for an intermediate digital imaging course. I thought I knew something about photography –until I started taking this class. The camera that I had to purchase had to be a Digital SLR Camera. I decided to buy the Canon EOS Rebel XS; it cost me about $600.00 in all, because I also had to buy a cable cord and a tripod.

I’ve been learning a lot about the three main important things in regard to taking good pictures including Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO as it pertains to digital photography. These are the most important factors that you have to get down when taking professional photos. Additionally, it is important to understand what exposure is about and the functions of a camera to take the best pictures.

We have been given the opportunity to learn about photography by others in the field –famous and local. I chose to study the work of Gordon Parks. I wanted to share some of the photos that I had to post for my latest assignment regarding high and low key images.

Photos By Gordon Parks…

Book Review: Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend

In African American History, Authors, Books on May 9, 2012 at 11:37 am

Beautiful Story…

I met Calvin Alexander Ramsey through the Black Caucus of the American Library Association email list-serve. I contacted the author to see if I could review his new children’s book entitled, “Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend.” This was my first children’s book that I’ve read in a long time. In like manner, I also learned some new things about African American history after reading the book. I believe that is what a good book is supposed to do—open an individual’s eyes to knowledge.

“Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend,” is set in Gee’s Bend, Alabama. The story centers around an easy mule named, Belle. It was enlightening to find out that this story is based on real life events. Alex, a young African American boy, interacts with Miz Pettway in front of a garden. He is intrigued by the mule that is eating all of the collard greens in the garden. The young boy asks Miz Pettway why the mule continues to eat all of the fluffy greens.

Miz Pettyway tells Alex that Belle is a special mule.

“She can have all the collards she wants. She’s earned it,” the older lady tells the young man.

Sitting in front of the garden, Miz Pettyway goes into a story about Belle and why she is so important to the community. First, she declares that mules are special because when she was growing up there were no means of transportation such as cars, trains, or airplanes. A mule represented tenacity and strength; though they were not considered attractive. Alex wanted to hear more about the mule and was in for a history lesson.

Miz Pettyway described how the people in Gee’s Bend considered their spirits kindred to the mules, “…Benders—-that’s what we call ourselves here—used mules to haul most everything,” she tells Alex.

As the old woman began reminiscing about the past, she mentioned the name Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Miz Pettyway asked the young boy if he knew of the Civil Rights Leader. Alex concurred.

From this point on in the story, Miz Pettway tells the history of Gee’s Bend to the young boy. She tells him that the community has a thriving arts history—quilt making. They also went through many trials and tribulations before and during the Civil Rights Movement. In regard to Dr. King, she acknowledges that he frequented the community often. He encouraged them about their right to vote as citizens of the United States.

The community of Gee’s Bend had to cross the river into Camden, and Dr. King suggested that once they arrived, to take the ferry to register for voting. With that in mind, the people began to gather their belongings, children, and mules to trek to the river into Camden. Once they arrived, they were faced with opposition. The Sheriff of Camden closed down the ferry, because of their racial heritage.

Miz Pettway tells Alex that this did not stop their stride or faith. They continued on and wagonloads of people were hauled to their destination by the mules of Gee’s Bend. Alex thought that was the end of Belle’s heroic story. There was more to come. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had a special request that he left in a letter about the mules that he met in Gees Bend, Alabama.

In 1968, King new that something was going to happen to him. He wrote in a letter that he wanted Belle and another mule named Ada to pull his body to its final destination at his funeral. Another controversy takes place to derail his request. However, the mules endure the hardship and prevail on. Both mules were able to pull Dr. King’s casket from Ebenezer Baptist Church to Morehouse College.

Calvin Alexander Ramsey does an excellent job telling this story about Gee’s Bend and the heroic efforts of their mules and community. In addition, it gives an intricate look at how a piece of history can be told to a child and they understand the lesson. This book can be read to children, in the classroom, and should be read by adults.

Visit Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s Website

Purchase: “Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend”

Hip-Hop: I Used to Love Her

In African American History, Authors, Writing on April 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm


View: Hip-Hop: I Used To Love Her…

I had to share this moment with you. This is the last day of National Poetry Month. I remember when I first began out as a poet in Fort Worth, Texas. I heard this female blast on the microphone at Tarrant County Community College. I never heard anyone spit so clear with meaning and feeling. I wanted to be just like her at the time. I then started going around the city and performing at open-mics and anywhere that anyone would listen to me.

I eventually would come in contact with National Best Selling Author, Camika Spencer. At the time she was selling her new novel out of her trunk. I met her at the Black Bookworm (local African American Bookstore–now closed) and I probed her brain. I got her phone number and called her on my lunch breaks. I confessed that I wanted to be just like her too. She told me that I would have to find my own voice, and that she could not give me any keys to success but to just go with my heart.

After that, I started writing like crazy, and listening and reading as much poetry as I could. I became a well-known poet in my hometown and then my name started traveling around the circuit of the tri-city (Fort Worth-Arlington-Dallas, Texas). I was given a major opportunity at the turn of the century.

I began hosting an open-mic entitled, After Hours, at the Arlington Museum of Art. I was the first African American poet/writer to ever host anything in the institution. I met a lot of people and had some great moments that I will never forget. I hosted the event for three years. The opportunities were endless after that in my life.

I wanted to perfect my game as a poet, and I decided to get a degree. I took it seriously and went for it!

The video of my last poetry performance before entering college is located up above. Click on it, to view, the poem entitled, Hip-Hop: I Used to Love Her.

I will never forget my journey. The pen got me where I am today!

Chango, the Biggest Badass

In African American History, Authors, Books on April 12, 2012 at 12:24 am

My latest literary crush...

Once I received my creative writing degree, I decided to read whatever I wanted. Now, I have stumbled upon a book that has me reminisicing about the days when I debated with my former classmates about critical theory, culture, society, and politics. Manuel Zapata Olivella’s, “Chango, the Biggest Badass,” is my latest literary crush. I opened the book tonight and realized that I need a highlighter for this journey–it is going to be that good. Check out the summary of the book below. I think it is befitting to read this creative piece of art work  during National Poetry Month. It begins with a poem that is thirty-two pages. 

Summary:  Among the African pantheon of the Orichas—deities and messengers often inscrutable to the Western mind—stands Changó, god of fire, war, and thunder. In Manuel Zapata Olivella’s four-hundred-year epic of the African American experience, first published in 1983 as Changó, el gran putas, Changó both curses the muntu—the people—for betraying their own kind and challenges them to liberate not only themselves but all of humanity. In luminous verse and prose, Zapata Olivella conveys the breadth of heroism, betrayal, and suffering common to the history of people of African descent in the Western hemisphere.

Ranging from Brazil to New England but primarily turning his wrath on the Caribbean centers of the slave trade, Changó inhabits personas as diverse as Benkos Biojo, Henri Christophe, Simón Bolívar, José María Morelos, the Aleijadinho, Marcus Garvey, and Malcolm X. His message is one of vengeance, but also one of hope. Readers and critics will relish the opportunity to at last experience Zapata Olivella’s masterpiece in English and to appreciate this extraordinary tapestry, woven from equal strands of myth and history.

Author: Manuel Zapata Olivella (1920–2004), hailed by critic Richard Jackson as “the dean of Black Hispanic writers,” was the author of more than a dozen novels as well as numerous essays and short stories, including A Saint Is Born in Chimá and Chambacú, Black Slum. One of six children in a Colombian literary family, Zapata Olivella initially pursued medical training at the National University of Bogotá but interrupted his studies to write and travel. From the 1940s through the 1990s he explored not only the folklore and ethnography of his native country but an expansive range of international social and political themes.

His work garnered prestigious literary awards worldwide, including the Símon Bolívar Prize, the Casa de las Américas Prize, and the Parisian Human Rights Prize. Jonathan Tittler, professor of Hispanic studies at Rutgers University–Camden, holds the Ph.D. in Hispanic literature from Cornell University.

He is the author of four books, including the political-literary biography El verbo y el mando: Vida y milagros de Gustavo Alvarez Gardeazábal (Language and Power: The Life and Times of Gustavo Alvarez Gardeazábal) and numerous articles in the field of contemporary Latin American literature. He has previously translated two Afro-Hispanic novels into English: Juyungo, by Adalberto Ortiz, and Chambacú, Black Slum. William Luis, Chancellor’s Professor of Spanish at Vanderbilt University and editor of the Afro-Hispanic Review, is the author and editor of several scholarly books on Latino Caribbean, Afro-Hispanic, and Latin American literature.

Learn more about Manuel Zapata Olivella

Summary/Author Bio Courtesy of  &

QBR The Black Book Review is Now Available Online

In African American History, Authors, Books on February 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Harlem Book Review Current Issue

I was able to meet the founder of the QBR Black Book Review in 2011. I attended a self-publishing workshop that he facilitated at the annual Tulisoma: South Dallas Book Festival, in Dallas, Texas. I am so excited to be able to be working with them as a Book Reviewer and their publication is available online now!

According to the QBR The Black Book Review website, it has been called, ” [“the African American book review of record”] by New York Times culture critic Martin Arnold. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s books, and more are found within its pages. Published by the founders of the Harlem Book Fair, QBR is your source for what’s good and what’s current.”

The publication is available for FREE download. The current issue features the latest news in fiction, poetry, non-fiction, etc.

In addition, this year the Harlem Book Fair will convene in Harlem, NY, during July 2012. And, the fair will head to Newark, NJ, in April 2012.  Exhibitor applications are now available via their website.

Download QBR The Black Book Review


The Tulisoma: South Dallas Book Festival will convene in August 2012. Tulisoma, Swahili for “we read”, is a community-based literary festival promoting literacy and the arts in the South Dallas/Fair Park area. Applications are available online for authors and vendors.

Literary Freebies.

Take a free online Black History Course through MIT OpenCourseWare. This class is an interdisciplinary survey that explores the experiences of people of African descent through the overlapping approaches of history, literature, anthropology, legal studies, media studies, performance, linguistics, and creative writing.

Take a free online Creative Writing Course *online through Creative Writing Now.

Black Librarians Rock!

Download Little Known Black Librarian Facts the e-book for Free via online. This is an excellent website, and a hidden treasure that features the history of African American Librarianship. The book should be added to your library.

I Was Selected: “World Book Giver 2012”

In African American History, Authors, Books on February 4, 2012 at 12:37 am

Free Literature!

I found out about World Book Night 2012 through a literary site and decided to apply to give out books during the event. The literary extravaganza  will be held on April 23, 2012. I received an email yesterday stating that I was accepted as a, “World Book Giver.”

The organization’s website says, “The goal is to give books to new readers, to encourage reading, to share your passion for a great book. The entire publishing, bookstore, library, author, printing, and paper community is behind this effort with donated services and time. The first World Book Night was held in the UK last year, and it was such a big success that it’s spreading around the world!”

I am too excited about this opportunity to share FREE reading materials with my community. I will be able to giveaway 20 books this year.

The book selections that I chose for the giveaway include the following: *I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou and *Kindred, by Octavia Butler.

If you are interested in receiving a free copy of one of the selected titles complete the following:

Subscribe: www.twitter/digibooklibrari 

Email mailing address to:

All book receipents will receive an email confirmation. Books will be mailed out by April 23, 2012!

Visit World Book Night Online