Christopher Columbus: The ISIS Of His Day

images (1)Christopher Columbus is hailed as a hero in the western world. He is celebrated in America with the distinguished honor of having his own holiday. The facts are that he never set foot on American soil and was lost at sea when he landed in the Caribbean. There are many who call him the “Father of Slavery”!

More to the point, he is credited with destroying the indigenous people on the island where he landed. He was such a heathen that he justified rape, murder, did pillage claiming religion and funded his efforts with whatever he could steal.

Therefore, more and more Americans are now learning the real history behind Christopher Columbus’s legacy and so-called “discovery.” Many are choosing not to participate or celebrate this day; cities and states across the country have shifted away from celebrating Columbus Day. Particularly Native American’s and most certainly African American’s!

It is clear, and the truth revealed that Columbus didn’t discover the Americas, despite what you may have been taught in school, which is just another lie. Thanks to archeological evidence, we know now that there were many other groups who traveled to the Americas long before Columbus did.

In fact, people from Africa traveled to the America’s regularly. Even other white people like the Vikings had settlements in what are now Greenland and Newfoundland. Also, DNA evidence proves that Polynesians came to South America almost a century before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. So, Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas wasn’t really a discovery at all.

Ok, enough about the so-called discovery and all the made up lies. Let’s talk about the man, the criminal, himself, and what he did to the indigenous peoples that he found when he arrived in the New World.

When Columbus set sail in 1492, he was on the hunt for gold to bring back to Europe, and eventually landed on an island known as Hispaniola, which today is the home of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Unfortunately, Columbus didn’t discover much gold on Hispaniola, but he did find something as good as it, if not better; he made the people slaves.

When Columbus discovered the Taino indigenous peoples of Hispaniola, he wrote back to the Spanish monarchs funding his voyage, saying that:

“They are well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…They do not bear arms and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… They would make fine servants…With fifty men, we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want. Here there are so many of these slaves…although they are living things they are as good as gold…”

Over time, Columbus’ real actions in the Americas have been replaced by a warm-and-fuzzy coloring book story of a bold and brave explorer who set out to discover a new world. But in reality, as we have learned from writings of Christopher Columbus’ own men, the “bold explorer” raped, pillaged, enslaved and slaughtered people just to get rich.

There are some historians who say Columbus eventually started up a global child-sex-slave trade, shipping off Indians to all corners of the globe. He even bragged about it to a friend in a letter written in 1500, saying that, “A hundred Castellanos (a Spanish coin) are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten (years old) are now in demand.”

Under Columbus’ rule, life for the Taino people became so bad that they resorted to mass suicide. Twenty-five years after Columbus had arrived in Hispaniola, the Spanish missionary Pedro Cordoba wrote that,

“As a result of the suffering and hard labor they endured, the Indians choose and have chosen suicide. Occasionally a hundred have committed mass suicide. The women, exhausted by labor, have shunned conception and childbirth. Many, when pregnant, have taken something to abort and have aborted. Others after delivery have killed their children with their own hands, so as not to leave them in such oppressive slavery.”

Prior to Columbus’ arrival in the New World, scholars place the population of Haiti/Hispaniola at around 1.5 to 3 million people. By 1496, it was down to 1.1 million, according to a census done by Bartholomew Columbus, Columbus’ brother. By 1516, the indigenous population was at 12,000, and by 1542, fewer than 200 natives were alive on Hispaniola. By 1555, every single native was dead. Every last one!

It’s time to put the shameful history of Columbus and his enslavement and murder of Native Americans behind us – and start celebrating the indigenous peoples who called the Americas home long before Columbus ever set sail. Some kinda hero!!! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Commentary: Republican Chaos “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”  

20150428_000908I know these crazies, Republicans, don’t believe in science, but I learned in elementary school that sharks eat their own. In the midst of the dysfunction in the Republican Party, this appears to be happening. The title might be over the top, but it’s more like business as usual for this bunch. I would suggest that this chaos would be entertaining if the consequences weren’t so serious.

This ilk fought President Obama his entire presidency opposing his every action with their racist mindset thinking he would improve the lives of black people. The Republicans and Tea Party, i.e., KKK, are known as the party of NO, for good reason; the do nothing Congress! Lincoln said before the Civil War that “a divided house cannot stand.” From what I see, they are fighting a Civil War between themselves!

The speaker of the House is second in line to the presidency, and since the founding of the Republic the position has been one of the most important in government, key to national security and domestic tranquility. The entire party seems to be at war with itself. Maybe the better word to use is a revolt. There is a band of about three dozen conservative hard-liners, exploiting the partisan divide, essentially hijacking the Congressional Chamber and the party. It appears their intent is to reduce the speaker’s role to that of a figurehead subservient to the demands of this group of secessionists. Some might call their actions as nothing more than a coup!

A week or so ago, the leader, John Boehner abruptly quit the job of House Speaker going out singing “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Duh. Next, within a week his number two, a guy named McCarthy, was swiftly deposed by a conservative rebellion before he even got to hold the speaker’s gavel by the Freedom Caucus and other conservative malcontents. Let’s go back a little bit; Boehner’s understudy, Eric Cantor, would have been the speaker, but his position in leadership made him a fat target for conservatives and voted out by his congressional district.

These folk said when they have the majority they would make the government work. Now, there is nobody who even wants the job. The next speaker, whoever that may be, will have to pick between two poisons: Defy the few dozen conservative zealots who hold the balance of power in the House and thereby lose the gavel, or surrender to the conservatives and take the Republican Party deeper into a quagmire of default and shutdown.

The real danger in American Republican politics these days is the in-house feud. The activists, claiming the mantle of principled conservatives, want Congress to become a stage for confrontation and displays of anger at the entire federal government and, most of all, at President Obama. Add to the mix the threat of the GOP’s right wing shutting down the government over federal funding of Planned Parenthood. It’s clear, we are witnessing a truly historic political moment, a party engaged in a full civil war with just a year to go before a presidential election.

Whether it’s their so-call savior Paul Ryan or another figure can temporarily unite the caucus, the conservatives’ demands will inevitably lead to more chaos. Frankly, all I see in anarchy, including unlimited freedom to amend legislation; a ban on legislation that doesn’t have the support of a majority of GOP members; and a refusal to take up compromise legislation worked out by the Senate.

These guys spend all the energy planning a shutdown, defunding Obamacare, and their favorite non-story Benghazi, which McCarthy, in an unwise moment of honesty this month, admitted was for the purpose of damaging Hillary Clinton politically. As bad as all of this is, I am not going to get into the presidential campaign; Lord knows that is a circus all unto itself.

Republican contenders for the party’s presidential nomination have noticed. An August Gallup poll of Republicans gave Boehner only a 37 percent approval rating while 42 percent rated him negatively. The same Gallup poll showed McConnell with a disapproval rating of 41 percent among independents and Boehner with a 57 percent disapproval rating among independents. McConnell had a 34 percent favorability rating among Republicans. The polls reflect hard-right criticism of the leaders for failing to use their majorities to halt Obama Care or same-sex marriage, and for failing to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Oh, can’t forget wanting to start another war somewhere!

Whether this is bad for the Republican Party isn’t my concern, but in the free advice department, I’d say being pushed into paralysis by a racist and sexist tiny but vocal minority isn’t doing the GOP brand any favors. More important, the dysfunction and extremism that increasingly define the House are bad for the country and the laughing stock around the world. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Fact: We Have “Not Overcome”

200_1000theI lived through segregation and knew the evils of the Jim Crow system first-hand to which not much has changed. Just as they did then, they hold up a few to make it appear as if we have “overcome” or achieved some measure of advancement. Malcolm would have called some of these folks who keep telling us everything is alright – “House Niggers” – I will call them covert operatives. It was Solomon that said “there is nothing new under the sun.” This is a powerful statement because very little has changed since the 1960s, even though the remind us of this mythical dream!

If you look at history, you will see that it repeats itself; the system is designed to protect the system and that system excludes black people. Malcolm also told us that “Anywhere south of Canada was south”, meaning wherever you are in America you were subjected to discrimination in terms of the “separate but equal” and racism is the unwritten law of the land. I am not just saying this to be as I have been called, a “race baiter”. It is a fact written in the Constitution that people of African descent are only 3/5ths human, which has never changed. In addition, the Supreme Court decision also made it law that “a Negro has no right that white man is bound to respect in the Dred Scott Decision.

It is seen today in America’s justice system and how the Republicans/Tea Party in particular are trying to turn back the hands of time. Their attempts to suppress voting rights it is no different than the poll taxes from the days of segregation; so this is not new either – just the American political structure. There have been many ways to suppress people over-time; unfortunately, African Americans have endured the brunt of these efforts. Of course, the history of America shows that it was not only our race subjected or affected by these efforts. However, it was always a minority, usually, African Americans that were the most affected and viewed as a permanent underclass.

So there continue to be “Black Codes” which are laws passed designed specifically to take away civil rights and civil liberties of African American people. However, the difference today is that they just use different code-words to be politically correct. This is the reason conservatives speak of taking back their country and have a strong desire to uphold “States Rights”; because at the state level laws can be unimpeded by the federal government. You can see this clearly today by the upsurge in the police killings and corruption under the cover of law all over the country, while the country rushes to save those on distant lands wasting trillions.

I wrote an article a few weeks ago titled “The Making of a Slave” to which I received a comment from a guy; I’ll call Mr. White Man. I should assume he was a white man because he vociferously defended the American way! In the article, I talked about the Willie Lynch Syndrome. This guy goes on to tell me or in his mind educate me on the subject by telling me there was never a Willie Lynch and that the supposed letter was debunked years ago. He went on to say that there was no truth to the myth. However, what he did not understand that true or not, there is a system in place to ensure black people “love and respect only” them.

He went on to say, how sad that I write about the bad things in history; how lucky I am for all that America has done for my people; and I should leave that stuff in the past. Normally I don’t take the time to respond to fools because my grandfather taught me a long time ago “never argue with a fool”. However, his comment proves my point that he knows the game is rigged against people of color. He also knows he benefits for a privilege decreed by the “American Way”.

What we see today with regard to police killing, inequality, and injustice is no different than a hundred years ago! The obvious fact is that racism is alive and systemic, which is deeply embedded into the fabric of the American way! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Remembering: The Legendary Sam Cooke

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The music of Black America that we called soul music, born in the Church, has produced many great artists. There were groundbreakers who paved the way for other entertainers to follow. History reposts that none was better than the singer, songwriter and entrepreneur Sam Cooke, who was considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music. Sam Cooke was commonly referred to as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocal abilities and influence on the modern world of music.

Cooke’s pioneering contributions to soul music led to the rise of greats such as Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and the Godfather of Soul James Brown. Cooke was also among the first modern black performers and composers to attend to the business side of his musical career. He founded both a record label and publishing company as an extension of his careers as a singer and composer. He also took an active part in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

Sam should be recognized with great pride and as a pioneer, he was one of the first black artists to break away for from the traditional artist role of the music industry of the day. Where black artists were being robbed of their music, had no ownership rights or control of the masters, and use as slaves for the white labels. Sam started his own label, which was prospering and a threat to the major label and in my view was the reason he was killed.

On December 11, 1964, Cooke was fatally shot by the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California at the age of 33. At the time, the courts ruled that Cooke was drunk and distressed, and the manager had killed Cooke in what was later ruled justifiable homicide. Since that time, the circumstances of his death have been widely questioned.

My question: Why has there not been a bio-pic of this man’s story? “A Change is Gonna Come,” which became an anthem for the civil rights movement. Sam Cooke is the man who invented Soul. Most will agree he was imitated but never duplicated. In other words, one of a kind! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

The legendary Sam Cooke
“It’s been a long time coming but a change going to come.” 

White Lies!

12144741_10206757597917424_4073909058159467606_nThe people who stole so much of world heritage and caused so much terror tells His-Story as if it was a little white lie people claim they’ve done. The definition of a white lie is something often trivial, diplomatic, or simply a well-intended untruth; in other words, a story inconsequential to facts.

If anyone does not believe white folk are unaware that the system established by their forefathers is designed to benefit them, meaning white privilege, frankly, deserve to be in the condition they are in. So when they smile in your face and tell you to be happy and thank Jesus – don’t believe the hype!

From the very beginning, they set out to control the system by eliminating the people who were here and took their land by force. It was as close to genocide as any of the lands they conquered. Next, they stole people from Africa and made them slaves to build a nation on this stolen land. Of course, they used nice sounding words to make it sound as if what they did was moral and right, and if the words Constitution or Patriot did or do not work they will use Jesus or God!

Oh, can’t leave out Manifest Destiny, which means all that they could steal God gave them the right to do so! If you can remember, they used Christianity to justify slavery. The Klan claims Christianity as the foundation of their justification of terror and hatred. Listen; make no mistake that white folk know racism is the driving force behind this system of power that is White Supremacy!

These people knew then and know now that the first human being on the planet was black, and the Africans they stole were much smarter than they were. The first people practiced a true religion, to which they stole and Europeanized it to make everyone in the Bible white. The African built pyramid, performed brain surgery, invented mathematics, established and operated colleges – long before the European wore a shoe or underwear. In fact, they were living in caves and plagued with disease! Let me say clearly and emphatically, there is no evidence anywhere on earth that says black people lived in caves.

One of the first lies told was written in the country’s founding documents that said, “All men are created equal.” Since then there have been countless laws enacted with the expressed intent to suppress, control, and make sure the stolen African and their decedents remained a permanent underclass. In fact, there was one ruling rendered by the Supreme Court that said, “There is no right a black man has that a white man is bound to respect.”  Even the good Dr. King said they were the greatest purveyor of evil on the planet. He was murdered for that!

I will say what the white man in America has done and did since he stole this nation would make Hitler blush. Today, they talk so vehemently about terror, but these folk have perpetrated and inflicted terror on mass more than any other people on the planet. Lest not forget through all of this they continued to use the word freedom and liberty. NEWS FLASH, black people, have never had anything close to the meaning of either term, and they know it.

It was never their intent to include the people stolen from Africa or their descendants to be part of what they call democracy. Rather, they lynched, murdered, raped and robbed black people, and all others who are non-white. I will repeat these folk have inflicted the most horrific terror in the history of the world than any other people. However, what makes this evil so atrocious is that they justify it in the name of GOD!

I use a phrase that aptly apply, “the sins of their fathers” and therefore, if there is a God to which they have imposed upon so many – judgment will be harsh! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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Happy Birthday Fannie Lou Hamer

12On this day the amazing Fannie Lou Hamer was born. Ms. Hamer was a courageous civil rights activist who was famous for saying she was sick and tired of the condition of black people, stood up and took a stand. She used a passionate depiction of her own suffering in a racist society helped focus attention on the plight of African Americans throughout the South. While working with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1964; Hamer helped organize the 1964 Freedom Summer African American voter registration drive in her native Mississippi. Civil rights activist.

Born Fannie Lou Townsend on October 6, 1917 in Montgomery County, Mississippi the daughter of sharecroppers, Hamer began working the fields at an early age. Her family struggled financially, and often went hungry. In the summer of 1962, she made a life-changing decision to attend a protest meeting. She met civil rights activists there who were there to encourage African Americans to register to vote.

Hamer became active in helping with the voter registration efforts, which few in Mississippi were brave enough to do. Hamer dedicated her life to the fight for civil rights, working for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) after going involved with the struggle. This organization was comprised mostly of African American students who engaged in acts of civil disobedience to fight racial segregation and injustice in the South. These acts often were met with violent responses by angry whites.

At the Democratic National Convention later that year, she was part of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, an integrated group of activists who openly challenged the legality of Mississippi’s all-white, segregated delegation. For her devotion and commitment she paid a heavy price. She was beaten within an inch of her life. So brutally that it took months for her to recover but she never gave up the fight.

During the course of her activist career, Hamer was threatened, arrested, beaten, and shot at but none of these things deterred her from her work. In 1964, Hamer helped found the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which was established in opposition to the state’s all-white delegation to that year’s Democratic convention. She brought the civil rights struggle in Mississippi to the attention of the entire nation during a televised session at the convention.

The next year, Hamer ran for Congress in Mississippi but was unsuccessful in her bid. Along with her political activism, Hamer worked to help the poor and families in need in her Mississippi community. She also set up organizations to increase business opportunities for minorities and to provide childcare and other family services.

Hamer died of cancer on March 14, 1977 from cancer. The encryption on her tombstone denotes her famous quote, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.” I’ll ask, when will this statement impact your life, whereas you will affect change. Mrs. Hamer put her life on the line for freedom. The next time you look in the mirror, ask yourself – WOULD YOU? And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Media Kit

Essential African American Writers

imagesThough things have steadily improved a bit over the past few decades, the literary canon is still dominated by what’s commonly criticized as “dead white men.” Because of this phenomenon, the contributions of female and minority writers, philosophers, scholars and activists fall to the wayside — sometimes completely missing opportunities to pick up prestigious awards.

Readers from all backgrounds hoping to diversify their intake of novels, poetry, essays and speeches would do well to start here when looking for African-American perspectives. Trust and believe that there are far more than these 20 fantastic writers, but the ones listed here provide an amazing start to your literary empowerment.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014): This incredible Renaissance woman served as the American Poet Laureate, won several Grammy Awards, served the Civil Rights cause under the venerable Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., taught numerous classes and enjoyed a respectable performing arts career — all while never losing sight of her elegant poetry and prose. Her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings remains one of the most essential and inspiring examples of the genre, often finding its way onto syllabi across the nation. Like every other entry on this list, she’s more than an essential African-American writer — she’s an essential component of the literary canon, period.

James Baldwin (1924-1987): Writer, activist and expatriate James Baldwin fearlessly tackled challenging, controversial sexual and racial subject matter at a time when hate crimes and abuse against the African-Americans and members of the LGBTQIA community ran riot. The impact of religion, for better or for worse, amongst the two marginalized minorities comprises one of his major themes. Go Tell it on the Mountain, Baldwin’s sublime debut novel, pulled from his own life experiences and opened readers up to the realities those forced to the fringes of society must face on a daily basis — and how they find the strength to continue in spite of adversity.

Sterling Allen Brown (1901-1989): Folklore, jazz and Southern African-American culture greatly inspired the highly influential academic and poet. In 1984, Sterling Allen Brown received the distinguished position of Poet Laureate of the District of Colombia for his considerable contributions to education, literature and literary criticism — not to mention his mentorship of such notable figures as Toni Morrison, Ossie Davis, Stokely Carmichael and many more. Along with Langston Hughes and many others during the “Harlem Renaissance” (a term Brown considered a mere media label), he showed the world why poetry written in the African-American vernacular could be just as beautiful, effective as anything else written in any other language.

William Demby (1922-): In 2006, received a Lifetime Achievement recognition from the Saturday Review’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. He has only written four novels to date, with 1950s reflection on West Virginian race relations Beetlecreek garnering the most attention. These days, he works as a contributing editor for the nonprofit, bimonthly literary journal American Book Review after having retired from academia in 1989.

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895): Today, schoolchildren across America remember Frederick Douglass as one of the most inspiring voices in the pre-Civil War Abolitionist movement. Because of his autobiographies and essays — most famously, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, a Slave – readers fully understood the mortal and dehumanizing dangers found on slave plantations and farms. Following emancipation, Douglass continued working as a political activist and lecturer, traveling all over the world to discuss issues of slavery and equal rights.

Paul Laurence Dunbarr (1872-1906): Even those unfamiliar with the amazing Paul Laurence Dunbar’s writings still know of them tangentially — “I know why the caged bird sings,” the inspiration for Maya Angelou’s autobiography, comes from his poem “Sympathy.” Way before that, though, he earned a reputation as the first African-American poet to gain national renown, though his oeuvre stretched into novels, plays, librettos and more as well. Most literary critics and historians accept that the sublime 1896 piece “Ode to Ethiopia” the defining work that launched him to national acclaim, paving the way for later writers from a number of different marginalized communities to shine through.

Ralph Ellison (1914-1994): To this day, Invisible Man remains one of the most intense portraits of a marginalized community (American or not) ever printed. Writer, literary critic and academic Ralph Ellison bottled up the anger and frustration of African-Americans — specifically men — shoved to the fringes of society for no reason other than skin color, paying close attention to how they channeled such volatile emotions. Even beyond his magnum opus, he made a name for himself as an insightful scholar with a keen eye for analyzing and understanding all forms of literature, and he published numerous articles fans should definitely check out.

Bell Hooks (1952-): Gloria Watkins, better known by her pen name bell hooks, stands at the forefront of postmodern feminism. Thanks to her impressive activism work meaning to break down racial, gender and sexual barriers, she published some of the most essential works on the subjects — including the incredibly intelligent and insightful Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. Today, she continues to lecture, publish and teach classes that carry on her philosophies pushing towards a more equitable, harmonious society.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967): Regardless of whether or not one considers the Harlem Renaissance a broad media label or a legitimate literary movement (or somewhere in between), few argue that Langston Hughes emerged as one of the most essential American writers of the period. He worked in a wide range of styles, from plays to novels to essays to songs, but today’s audiences seem to know him from his poetry more than anything else. Though the short story collection The Ways of White Folks still garners plenty of attention for its sarcastic take on race relations in the early decades of the 20th Century.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960): Because Zora Neale Huston intently studied anthropology and folklore, her fictional characters crackle with nuance that becomes more apparent in subsequent readings. Her oeuvre stretches across four books, with Their Eyes Were Watching God easily the most recognized, and over 50 plays, short stories and essays — all of them considered some of the finest examples of Harlem Renaissance literature (not to mention American in general!). Interestingly enough, her conservative leanings placed her at odds with her more liberal contemporaries from the movement, most especially the heavily influential Langston Hughes.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968): The passion and backbreaking effort Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put into nonviolently protesting the state of African-Americans and other minorities needs no further introduction. His historical impact, still resonant and relevant today, came about through his eloquent, inspiring writings — largely speeches, essays and letters. “I Have a Dream” and “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” are essential readings for anyone interested in history, Civil Rights, politics, culture and even excellent persuasive nonfiction.

Toni Morrison (1931-): Among Toni Morrison’s litany of accomplishments sits two incredible awards — both the Pulitzer Prize (which she won for Beloved in 1988) and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Along with the aforementioned novel, The Bluest Eye and Song of Soloman have both received plenty of acclaim for their fearless approaches towards racial, sexual and economic divides. Today, she remains politically, educationally and creatively active, touring the world to receive some impressive, distinguished honors and promote the importance of literacy and equality.

Barack Obama (1961-): Though known more as a politician than a writer, America’s 44th president published the incredible memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance in 1995 — right at the very beginning of his political career. Such literary giants as Toni Morrison have praised Barack Obama’s writing style and very raw exploration of his biracial identity at a time when such things were not exactly embraced. Most of his writings these days center around politics, naturally, but the autobiography remains essential reading for anyone interested in American history, race relations and other similar topics.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Because of Sojourner Truth’s unyielding strength and integrity, both the abolitionist and women’s rights movements propelled forward and changed American history forever. Her writings bravely addressed some incredibly controversial subject matter, and she put her beliefs into practice with the Underground Railroad and the recruitment of Union soldiers. To this day, the haunting “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech remains her most celebrated, influential and inspiring work, encapsulating how frustrated and overlooked she felt as both an African-American and a female.

Alice Walker (1944-): The Color Purple rightfully earned Alice Walker both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award in 1983, and to this day it remains her most cherished and essential work. Inspired by the Civil Rights movement and professor Howard Zinn, she used the novel format to expound upon the double marginalization of African-American women, speaking frankly about tough racial and sexual issues. She wrote many other novels, short stories and essays tackling similar subject matter as her more famous book — any fans should certainly head towards her more “obscure” works for more in-depth explorations of such complex themes.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915): As with many other early African-American writers of note, impassioned activist and educator Booker T. Washington used his talents towards abolishing slavery and establishing equal rights. Though he butted heads with many other Civil Rights leaders of the time — most especially W.E.B. DuBois — his efforts certainly lay the foundation for Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and other leaders who rose to prominence in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Washington wrote 6 books in his lifetime, among many other formats, but his autobiography Up From Slavery earned him the honor of being the first African-American ever invited to the White House in 1901.

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784): In spite of her unfortunate slave status, this absolutely essential writer became the first African-American woman to see her lovely poems pushed to print. So impressed was the world at large by her lyrical prowess, she received special permission to travel abroad and meet influential English politicians and delegates — though she only attained freedom following her master’s death. Most of her poems revolved around historical figures, close friends, Classical ideas and images and Christian propriety rather than the plight of the enslaved and the female.

Harriet E. Wilson (1825-1900): Most historians and literary critics accept 1859’s Our Nig as the very first novel ever published by an African-American writer in the United States. Drawing from her own life story, Harriet E. Wilson used her pen to shed light on the true horrors of slavery, but unfortunately it fell from the public’s attention until Henry Louis Gates, Jr. rediscovered her talents and revealed her significance. Outside of her writing, she also garnered some degree of attention as a political activist, lecturer, trance reader and Spiritualist.

Richard Wright (1908-1960): Regardless of whether or not one picks up Richard Wright’s fiction or nonfiction, he or she will be treated with some oft-controversial observations on race relations in America prior to the Civil Rights movement. Black Boy is, by and large, probably his most popular work, regardless of format. Most of his works, like many other African-American writers of the time, revolved around promoting awareness of the marginalization they experienced because of restrictive laws and general antipathy from mainstream society.

Malcolm X (1925-1965): 1965’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X remains an incredibly essential read for anyone desiring to learn more about American history and the Civil Rights movement. Journalist Alex Haley interviewed and assisted the activist in compiling what became his only book, published with an addendum following his assassination. However, for a deeper glimpse into X’s beliefs, his relationship with the controversial Nation of Islam and his efforts to further the African-American cause, one must also pick up his published speeches as well.

READ!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

“Just a Season”


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