Black History Month: Spotlight

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Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.

Soon to be made into an HBO movie by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball, this New York Times bestseller takes readers on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers filled with HeLa cells, from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia, to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. It’s a story inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we’re made of.

Winner of several awards, including the 2010 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the 2010 Wellcome Trust Book Prize, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Award for Excellence in Science Writing, the 2011 Audie Award for Best Non-Fiction Audiobook, and a Medical Journalists’ Association Open Book Award, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was featured on over 60 critics’ best of the year lists. For more reviews, praise, and media coverage of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, please visit the book’s press page. Also explore the resources found throughout this site for book groups, classrooms, and more. (From the author’s website).

Read the review at The New York Times.

Watch the book trailer.

Catch a sneak peak at the trailer for the HBO film which airs Saturday April 22nd @ 8pm.

  • Purchase your own copy, or check out the ESA Library copy out on the Black History Month display on the upper level of the Library.

Black History Month: Spotlight

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The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.  She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.
(From GoodReads)

 

Read the review at Quill and Quire.

  • Purchase your own copy, or check out the ESA Library copy out on the Black History Month display on the upper level of the Library.

Black History Month: Spotlight

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Quentin Tarantino is co-writing a graphic novel mini-series based on his 2012 film, Django Unchained, which starred Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The graphic novels will see Django, the freed slave and eponymous hero of Tarantino’s hyper-violent slavery Western, team up with another famous big screen character, the masked swordsman Zorro.

Tarantino will co-write the novel alongside the comic book author Matt Wagner, who has already written a series of graphic novels centred around Zorro. The new book will be published by DC Entertainment.

(From The Guardian, June 2014)

Read the rest of the above article at The Guardian.

  • Purchase your own copy, or check out the ESA Library copy out on the Black History Month display on the upper level of the Library.

Black History Month: Spotlight

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The classic Black Indians has been updated and reissued. This startling and readable work of people’s history chronicles both the attempts to keep black people and Indians divided in the Americas, and their efforts to unite. As one French colonial document stated, “Between the races we cannot dig too deep a gulf.” But the “digging” was not always successful, and much of the drama of Katz’ book is found in the inspiring instances of black-Indian unity, as in the Seminole Wars. Two lessons on the Zinn Education Project website draw on Black Indians: “The Color Line,” about conscious efforts in early America to create divisions between races; and “The Cherokee/Seminole Removal Role Play,” which helps students explore events leading up to the Trail of Tears.

The expanded and updated edition of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage brings the Native American and African American alliance that for four centuries challenged the European conquest and slavery into the 21st century with additional research and documentary and photographic evidence.

Learn more about this title at the Zinn Education Project website.

  • Purchase your own copy, or check out the ESA Library copy out on the Black History Month display on the upper level of the Library.

Black History Month: Spotlight

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The facts are clear-it was, by all accounts, a slug-ugly crime. Brothers George and Rufus Hamilton, in what was supposed to be a simple robbery, drunkenly bludgeoned a taxi driver to death with a hammer. It was January 1949, and the two brothers, part Mi’kmaq and part African, lived in the dirt-poor settlement of Barker’s Point, New Brunswick. Less than eight months later, they were both hanged from the gallows for their crime.

Those facts are also the skeletons in George Elliott Clarke’s family closet. George and Rufus Hamilton were the author’s matrilineal first cousins, once removed. Despite the fact that the crime lives on in Fredericton, where the murder site is known as “Hammertown”, Clarke knew nothing of this chapter in his family’s past untilhis mother told him about it in 1994. Both repelled and intrigued by his ancestors’ deeds, Clarke set out to discover just what kind of forces would reduce a man to crime, violence, and ultimately, murder. The results are an award-winning book of poetry, Execution Poems, and now George & Rue, a richly evocative fiction debut from one of this country’s literary luminaries.

The novel shifts seamlessly back through the killers’ pasts, recounting a bleakly comic tale of victims of violence who became violent themselves, an Africadian community—Three Mile Plains, Nova Scotia—too poor and too shamed to help the men, and a white community bent on condemning all blacks as dangerous outsiders.

George Elliott Clarke has written a horrific—and horrifically funny—story that is also infused with a sensual, rhythmical beauty. (From the Bukowski Agency website)

Learn more about the book at CBC Books, including listening to an interview from The Sunday Edition.

  • Purchase your own copy, or check out the ESA Library copy out on the Black History Month display on the upper level of the Library.
  • We have additional copies on the shelf in the History collection… check the ESA Library Catalogue.

Black History Month: Spotlight

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Adam Hochschild’s awardwinning, hearthaunting account of the brutal plunder of the Congo by Leopold II of Belgium presents a megalomaniac of monstrous proportions, a royal figure as cunning, charming, and cruel as any of Shakespeare’s great villains. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who fought Leopold: a brave, committed handful of idealists, missionaries, travelers, diplomats, and African villagers who found themselves witnesses to and, in too many instances, victims of a holocaust.

In the late 1890s, Edmund Dene Morel, a young British shipping company agent, noticed something strange about the cargoes of his company’s ships as they arrived from and departed for the Congo, Leopold II’s vast new African colony. Incoming ships were crammed with valuable ivory and rubber. Outbound ships carried little more than soldiers and firearms. Correctly concluding that only slave labor on a vast scale could account for these cargoes, Morel resigned from his company and almost singlehandedly made Leopold’s slavelabor regime the premier humanrights story in the world. Thousands of people packed hundreds of meetings throughout the United States and Europe to learn about Congo atrocities. Two courageous black Americans—George Washington Williams and William Sheppard—risked much to bring evidence to the outside world. Roger Casement, later hanged by Britain as a traitor, conducted an eyeopening investigation of the Congo River stations. Sailing into the middle of the story was a young steamboat officer named Joseph Conrad. And looming over all was Leopold II, King of the Belgians, sole owner of the only private colony in the world. (From Houghton Mifflin Publishers)

• Finalist, 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction
• Winner, 1998 J. Anthony Lukas Prize

Read the original book review from the New York Times, 1998

Watch the film version on YouTube ($2.99 rental) or find it at your local video store, or on demand (perhaps??).

  • Purchase your own copy, or check out the ESA Library copy out on the Black History Month display on the upper level of the Library.
  • We have additional copies on the shelf in the History collection… check the ESA Library Catalogue.

Black History Month: Spotlight

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In the decades of the 1920s and 1930s in the section of New York City known as Harlem, there developed a unique awakening of mind and spirit, of race consciousness and artistic advancement. This declaration of African-American independence became known as the Harlem Renaissance. Stemming from the Great Migration when large numbers of blacks living in the rural South made their way to the urban centers of the North and Midwest, it was marked by an emergence of new ideas in political thought; numerous groundbreaking artistic developments in theater, music, literature, and visual arts; and an inauguration of civil rights organizations, unions, and other associations.

Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance is a fascinating guide to this colorful and culturally productive era in African-American history. Including a foreword by Dr. Clement Alexander Price, an esteemed scholar and the current director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University; a general introduction; A-to-Z entries; a chronology; a glossary of slang; a bibliography and list of sources for further reading, listening, and viewing; a subject index; and a general index, this encyclopedia contains an abundance of information presented in an accessible format that everyone can enjoy.

Excerpt from Infobase Publishing.

Read reviews and Awards here.