Category Archives: Politics

Opening TODAY @7pm: “The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs and Germany”

Opening TONIGHT at the Stone Center, this event is FREE and OPEN to the PUBLIC:

“The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs and Germany” exhibition will open at the Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum, Thursday, September 8, at 7pm.

“The exhibition, on display thru October 28, features photos, cartoons and political posters that tell an intriguing story of how American and German history became intertwined in the struggle for civil rights.

The exhibition was curated by Maria Hoehn, Professor of History at Vassar College and Dr. Martin Klimke, Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C.  This project expands the boundaries of the African American Freedom Struggle beyond the U.S. and depicts African American GIs as active participants in the victory over Nazism, the democratization of Germany after WWII, and in the advancement of civil rights in their own country and beyond.

The opening reception is set for 7pm on September 8 and is free and open to the public.   Professor Maria Hoehn will give a brief presentation at the reception.  Local representatives from the National Association of Black Veterans, Tuskegee Airmen, Montford Point Marines, and Buffalo Soldiers will attend the reception as special guests.”

More details about this exhibit are available HERE.

Interested in learning more? Come by the Stone Center Library and check out our latest display of related books. For example:

SCL Boredom-Buster #17: “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett

Readers, you are in for a treat today! SCL Boredom-Buster #17 features a review by none other than Stone Center Librarian Shauna Collier, with a personal and lively discussion of best-selling novel The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. This book may be requested from UNC’s Davis Library or Undergraduate Library. Check out the review below:

At first, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read the novel The Help.  It was one of my book club’s selections and although I admit I was a little intrigued when I saw it was set in my home state of Mississippi, I also noted that the setting was the 1960s;  a period when racism, hatred and extreme violence were sadly prevalent.  So when I first picked it up and read the premise I couldn’t help but groan and think, “here we go again.”  Don’t get me wrong, I am quite familiar with the events that unfortunately did happen during that time in the state and across the South (I remember some of them from my childhood), but I’m reluctant to read fiction that will downright depress me.  Boy, was I in for a surprise!  Author Kathryn Stockett does an excellent job of balancing the severity of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi with a surprisingly uplifting tone that doesn’t distract from the seriousness of the time period.

The Help is about the complex relationships that existed at the time between White housewives and their African-American maids and just how complicated and silly the relationships and rules could be.  The novel does include some of the major events of the time, such as the death of Medgar Evers, and Stockett gives these real-life events a respectful treatment, while at the same time knowing when and where to adeptly inject humor. As a result I often found myself literally laughing out loud on several occasions, often before I could dry away tears.  In other words, I simply couldn’t put it down.

Part of the uplifting tone comes from the three main characters who take turns narrating the novel. Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan is a 22 year old recent graduate of Ole Miss who aspires to be a writer, at a time when women were expected to marry well and have babies. In my opinion she is the “co-hero” of the story, along with Abileen, one of the African American maids who finds the courage to help “Miss Skeeter” tell the story of the maids. Last but not least is Minny, one of the maids who is best described as “mouthy” but also quite hilarious.  Together these three women help start a movement of their own.

There are also a host of other characters who range from compassionate to ridiculous who help to tell this multilayered story that touched me in so many ways, and compelled me to write this very personal review of the novel.

However, there’s also another reason I wanted to put a personal stamp on this review. You may be aware that a film version of The Help is coming out on August 10th, but I learned of the movie being in production long before many others. How? Last year my mom called to tell me about a movie being filmed in my hometown near her job, where she had met a “nice gentleman.” This gentleman turned out to be Steven Spielberg himself, and the movie turned out to be… well, you guessed it. 🙂

SCL Boredom-Buster #14: “Homeland: an extraordinary story of hope and survival,” by George Hussein Obama

Last week’s poetry recommendations included an anthology inspired by President Obama’s first 100 days in office. Today’s Boredom-Buster was likewise motivated by the Commander-in-Chief, but this time the connection is familial. Check out:

Homeland: an extraordinary story of hope and survival, by George Hussein Obama with Damien Lewis.

  • Homeland is the remarkable memoir of George Obama, President Obama’s Kenyan half brother, who found the inspiration to strive for his goal–to better the lives of his own people–in his elder brother’s example . . . The father they shared was as elusive a figure for George as he had been for Barack; he died when George was six months old. . . When he was twenty, he and three fellow gangsters were arrested for a crime they did not commit and imprisoned for nine months in the hell of a Nairobi jail. In an extraordinary turn of events, George went on to represent himself and the other three at trial. The judge threw out the case, and George walked out of jail a changed man. . . George was inspired by his older brother’s example to try to change the lives of his people, the ghetto-dwellers, for the better. . . ‘My brother has risen to be the leader of the most powerful country in the world. Here in Kenya, my aim is to be a leader amongst the poorest people on earth–those who live in the slums.’ George Obama’s story describes the seminal influence Barack had on his future and reveals his own unique struggles with family, tribe, inheritance, and redemption.” (Source: Syndetic Solutions)

We hope you’re enjoying our Boredom-Busters series, and that it’s inspired you to make some additions to your summer reading list. A quick recap of this week’s highlights is listed below, and you can check out the whole series-in-progress by clicking here.

 

Next week, our July Boredom-Busters concludes with a return to recommendations in fiction. Happy reading and have a great weekend! 🙂

SCL Boredom-Buster #13: “Nobody Called Me Charlie,” by Charles Preston

Good morning, y’all! Today’s Boredom-Buster is:

Nobody called me Charlie: the story of a radical white journalist writing for a Black newspaper in the Civil Rights era, by Charles Preston.

  • In the 1940s, at the height of segregation, Charles Preston became the unlikely newest worker at a black owned-and-operated newspaper. Preston, a white man and, unbeknownst to most of his colleagues, a member of the Communist Party, quickly came face to face with issues of race and injustice that would profoundly impact his life and change the way he understood United States society. This fictionalized account . . . takes on the central question of this nation’s history: can a truly human and humane society be built on a foundation of profound and pervasive racial inequality? Of course, the answer is no. Yet how do we make such a society? Or put another way, how must white people try to live their lives and how must they connect with their black brothers and sisters, personally and politically, to make a world in which the horrible scars of racism are healed once and for all? The answer that shines through Preston’s book–whether he is writing (and reporting) about work, local politics, the civil rights struggle, housing, education, entertainment,travel, sports, business, child-rearing, friendship, or intimate relationships–is that whites must do what he did: give up their whiteness. This is a book you will not forget.” (Source Syndetic Solutions)

Enjoy! And don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for our next pick! 🙂

SCL Boredom-Buster #9: “Starting today : 100 poems for Obama’s first 100 days”

Today’s boredom-busting SCL pick features yet another innovative poetry project, first published online as a collective artistic response to Barack Obama’s first one hundred days as U.S. President:

Starting today: 100 poems for Obama’s first 100 days, edited by Rachel Zucker & Arielle Greenberg, and available here at the SCL. You can also check out the blog that started it all here.

  • “Starting Today contains 100 poems written during-and responding to-Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office. The poems included in this anthology, except for Elizabeth Alexander’s inauguration poem, were all written no more than a day before they appeared on the popular blog “Starting Today: Poems for the First 100 Days” . The result is a work that documents the political and personal events of those crucial days through a variety of contemporary poetic voices, from the ebullient to the admiring, from the pithy to the loquacious. . . Difficult to categorize but easy to enjoy, the poems in Starting Today offer something for every type of poetry reader, from the novice to the seasoned. This smart, timely collection offers a swirling portrait of the American Zeitgeist-a poetic reportage that demonstrates spontaneity, collaboration, immediacy, and accessibility.” (Source: Syndetic Solutions)

Happy reading! We hope you’ll tune back in tomorrow for our final poetry recommendation of the month. 🙂

FRIDAY (triple) FEATURE: SCL Boredom-Busters #4-6

Happy Friday, everyone! To celebrate the upcoming weekend, the Stone Center Library recommends not one, not two, but technically THREE books today:

The African Trilogy* by Chinua Achebe, and available here at the Stone Center Library.

  • “Here, collected for the first time in Everyman’s Library, are the three internationally acclaimed classic novels that comprise what has come to be known as Chinua Achebe’s ‘African Trilogy.’ Beginning with the best-selling Things Fall Apart –on the heels of its fiftieth anniversary– The African Trilogy captures a society caught between its traditional roots and the demands of a rapidly changing world. Achebe’s most famous novel introduces us to Okonkwo, an important member of the Igbo people, who fails to adjust as his village is colonized by the British. In No Longer at Ease we meet his grandson, Obi Okonkwo, a young man who was sent to a university in England and has returned, only to clash with the ruling elite to which he now believes he belongs. Arrow of God tells the story of Ezuelu, the chief priest of several Nigerian villages, and his battle with Christian missionaries. In these masterful novels, Achebe brilliantly sets universal tales of personal and moral struggle in the context of the tragic drama of colonization.” (Source: Syndetic Solutions)

*Things Fall ApartNo Longer At Ease | Arrow of God

Interested in learning more about the author and/or his work? We also have Chinua Achebe, teacher of light : a biography; The Chinua Achebe encyclopedia; and Chinua Achebe’s Things fall apart : a casebook, among others.

Missed any of our previous Boredom Buster selections? Check them out here.

New display at the Stone Center Library!

Come by the library and check out our newly updated display! Featuring recent acquisitions in literature, history, politics, women’s studies, and music. Selections include Young Mandela, Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens, Terry McMillan’s Getting to Happy, and Jay-Z’s memoir, Decoded.

Read all about it: SCL Picks for LGBT Pride Month

In addition to being Black Music Month, June is also Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. For our first set of recommendations for this week, the Stone Center Library would like to highlight some more of our recent acquisitions related to LGBT studies, reflecting a wide range of approaches – from journalism to queer theory to performance studies. Enjoy!

Thinking Queerly: Race, Sex, Gender, and the Ethics of Identity (2010) David Ross Fryer

“Queer theory and the gay rights movement historically have been in tension, with the former critiquing precisely the identity politics on which the latter relies. Yet neither queer theory, in its predominately poststructuralist form, nor the gay rights movement, with its conservative inclusionary aspirations, has adequately addressed questions of identity or the political struggles against normativity that mark the lives of so many queer people. Taking on issues of race, sex, gender, and what he calls the ethics of identity, Fryer offers a new take on queer theory ‘one rooted in phenomenology rather than poststructuralism’ that seeks to put postnormative thinking at its center. This provocative book gives us a glimpse of what thinking queer can look like in our posthumanist age.”

Post Black: How a New Generation is Redefining African American identity (2010) Ytasha L. Womack; foreword by Derek T. Dingle

“Highlighting certain socioeconomic and cultural trends, this exploration discloses the new dynamics shaping contemporary lives of African Americans. Using information from conversations with mavericks within black communities–such as entrepreneurs, artists, scholars, and activists as well as members of both the working and upper classes–this powerful examination gives voice to what the author has deemed “post black” approaches to business, lifestyles, and religion that are nowhere else reflected as part of black life. The argument states that this new, complex black identity is strikingly different than the images handed down from previous generations and offers new examples of behavior, such as those shown by President Obama, gays and lesbians, young professionals, and black Buddhists. Contending that this new generation feels as unwelcome in traditional churches as in hip-hop clubs, this dynamic provocation dispels myths about current, popular black identity.”

Representations of Homosexuality: Black Liberation Theology and Cultural Criticism (2010) Roger A. Sneed

“This book challenges black religious and cultural critics to rethink theological and ethical approaches to homosexuality. Sneed demonstrates how black liberation theology and has often characterized homosexuality as a problem to be solved, and his work here offers a different way for black religious scholars to approach black homosexuality and religious experiences. Drawing on a range of black gay writers from Essex Hemphill to J.L. King, Sneed identifies black gay men’s literature as a rich source for theological and ethical reflection and points black religious scholarship toward an ethics of openness.”

Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies: Performance, Race, and Sexuality in the Harlem Renaissance (2010) James F. Wilson

“Bulldaggers, Pansies, and Chocolate Babies shines the spotlight on historically neglected plays and performances that challenged early twentieth-century notions of the stratification of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. . . Blues-singing lesbians, popularly known as ‘bulldaggers,’ performed bawdy songs; cross-dressing men vied for the top prizes in lavish drag balls; and black and white women flaunted their sexuality in scandalous melodramas and musical revues. . . James F. Wilson has based his rich cultural history on a wide range of documents from the period, including eyewitness accounts, newspaper reports, songs, and play scripts, combining archival research with an analysis grounded in a cultural studies framework that incorporates both queer theory and critical race theory.”

 

(Excerpts from Syndetic Solution summaries.)

Juneteenth: An introduction & UNC resources

On June 19, 1865 – two years after the Emancipation Proclamation – Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, TX to enforce the previously declared abolition of slavery.

In recognition of this landmark event, Juneteenth was first established as a state holiday in Texas in 1980 and celebrates slavery’s end in the United States. Juneteenth is now celebrated in most states, including North Carolina, and it “celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.”

Here at the Stone Center Library, we encourage you to learn more about this holiday, the events surrounding emancipation, and African-American celebrations in general by recommending a few books to get you started:

Interested in learning more? Don’t forget our Guide to the Web, which includes a list of resources on Emancipation and Reconstruction. Happy reading!

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month! Resources available @the Stone Center Library!

In celebration of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, here’s a quick sampling of some Stone Center Library titles on Afro-Asian topics:

Everybody was Kung Fu fighting : Afro-Asian connections and the myth of cultural purity. 2001. By Vijay Prashad.

  • “Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting examines five centuries of remarkable cultural & political interaction between black & Asians around the world. Prashad offers the theory of polyculturalism, which allows for solidarity, not just lip service to diversity.”**

AfroAsian encounters : culture, history, politics. 2006. Edited by Heike Raphael-Hernandez and Shannon Steen; with a foreword by Vijay Prashad and afterword by Gary Okihiro.

  • “the first anthology to look at the mutual influence of and relationships between members of the African and Asian diasporas. While these two groups have often been thought of as occupying incommensurate, if not opposing, cultural and political positions, scholars from history, literature, media, and the visual arts here trace their interconnections and interactions, as well as the tensions between the two groups that sometimes arise. AfroAsian Encounters probes beyond popular culture to trace the historical lineage of these coalitions from the late nineteenth century to the present.”**
  • “Fred Ho and Bill V. Mullen have assembled a first-rate dossier of Afro-Asian work. It is equal parts lyrical and analytical. Flies like a butterfly; stings like a bee.”–Vijay Prashad, author of “Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity”**

Happy reading!

**Source: reviews provided by Syndetic Solutions.