Monday, July 6, 2015

In Memoriam: John A. Williams (December 5, 1925 - July 3, 2015)

[by Matthew Broussard]

HBW mourns the loss of John A. Williams, who passed away on July 3, 2015.

John Alfred Williams was born on December 5, 1925, in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1950, he earned a B.A. from Syracuse University in English and journalism, and then Williams worked as a journalist for publications such as Ebony, Jet, CBS, and Newsweek. Williams later taught at the City University of New York, the University of California-Santa Barbara, Boston University, and Rutgers University where he was the Paul Robeson Professor of English.

Williams was also a prolific and renowned author of fiction and nonfiction.

Monday, June 29, 2015

ICYMI: The Last Two Weeks in Black Writing (6/15 - 6/28)

- HBW remembered Dr. Jim Miller, a foundational scholar of twentieth-century African American cultural politics. doris davenport contributed a beautiful poem memorializing her friend.

- New U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch took her oath of office using Frederick Douglass's Bible.

- The National Endowment for the Arts asked several artists and creators, including playwright Katori Hall and Sherri Young of the African American Shakespeare Company, why the arts matter.

- Just hours before the Charleston Massacre, Gene Demby wrote about the need to balance the seriousness of black life with jokes and joy (such as the #AskRachel hashtag).

- Nell Irvin Painter, author of the The History of White People, lays out a brief history of whiteness to give context to Rachel Dolezal and the Charleston Massacre.

- Edwidge Danticat and Junot Diaz joined forces to condemn the Dominican Republic's forcible removal of citizen of Haitian descent. (And Book Riot has a list of suggested reading to help you understand the situation.)

- If you missed out on this year's Juneteenth celebrations, Book Riot has a list of reading suggestions for you.

- Justina Ireland helpfully outlines how to analyze white characters in literature.

- Another white actor is taking over the role of Peter Parker in the next Spider-Man film, but in the comics, black Latino Miles Morales is the official new Spider-Man.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Remembering James A. (Jim) Miller (August 27, 1947-June 19, 2015)

[by Matthew Broussard]

Editor's Note: The Official Statement Released by George Washington Today can be accessed by clicking here or the link at the bottom of this post.

The Project on the History of Black Writing is saddened by the untimely loss of James (Jim) Miller. Miller is a graduate of SUNY, and he went on to teach at George Washington University where he was professor of English, American studies, and Director of the Center for the Study of Public History and Culture. Miller's scholarly pursuits were concerned with twentieth century African American cultural politics.

Miller's most recent book, Remembering Scottsboro: The Legacy of an Infamous Trial (2009), examines the impact of the 1931 trial on American culture. The case gained infamy after 9 black youths were charged and put to death after being accused of raping a white woman, despite lack of solid evidence. Barbara Foley of the African American Review writes that the book "is a valuable contribution to the growing body of scholarship that documents repression, resistance, and representation in and of the Jim Crow South. This important book should be widely read and taught."

Miller created a valuable resource for the study of Richard Wright by editing Approaches to Teaching Wright's Native Son (1997), and he was also editor of The Richard Wright Newsletter, founded by the Project on the History of Black Writing.

doris davenport, a colleague and close friend of Jim, has shared with HBW the following poem:

ICYMI: Charleston Edition

In the wake of the Charleston Massacre, the HBW Blog offers this compendium of suggested reading, in no particular order.

- The Holy City: Charleston, a Remembrance, by Délana R.A. Dameron

- BK Nation Statement on the Charleston, South Carolina Church Massacre, by Kevin Powell

- No Sanctuary in Charleston, by Patricia Williams Lessane

- Letter to My Mother After Charleston, by Carvell Wallace

- Denmark Vesey and the History of Charleston's 'Mother Emanuel' Church, by Kat Chow

- For Charleston's Emanuel AME Church, shooting is another painful chapter in a rich history, by Sarah Kaplan

- Dylann Roof and the Stubborn Myth of the Colorblind Millennial, by Gene Demby

- Why I Can't Forgive Dylann Roof, by Roxane Gay

- I'm Not a South Carolinian; I'm the Rebirth of the Black Radical, by Riley Wilson

Feel free to suggest additions to the list.