Friday, January 29, 2016

ICYMI: The Last Week in Black Writing and Culture (1/23-1/29)

In an interview with Meredith Maran of Barnes and Noble, Edwidge Danticat spoke on her writing craft, genres of writing, and the place where fiction and memoir intersect and diverge.

Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker sat down with Irish writer Colm Toibin to discuss their lives, histories and how those inform their writing.

In light of the recent outrage at the Oscars due to lack of diversity, The Guardian's Nigel Smith and Lanre Bakare praised the diversity at the Sundance Film festival and the new film by Nate Parker, Birth of a Nation. Parker's film is about the slave Nat Turner who led a slave rebellion in Southampton, Virginia in 1831. Read more about Parker's film here,

Toni Morrison spoke with Dave Davies and Terry Gross of NPR. Morrison reflected on her life and read an excerpt from her newest novel, God Help the Child. 

Author Gloria Steinem listed her 10 favorite books and why. Making the list was Alice Walker's The Color Purple. Steinem says of the book, "[Walker] makes the invisible visible, and redeems people who seem irredeemable, she makes every reader feel visible and redeemable, too."

The film Race, a biopic of track athlete Jesse Owens, opens in wide release on February 19.  While Hitler attempted to use the 1936 Berlin Olympics to demonstrate Aryan racial superiority, Owens countered this by winning 4 gold medals.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Pursuit of his Dream

As we enter Black History Month, I reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Almost fifty years after King's death, we are still searching for his elusive dream. Recent events, such as those in Ferguson, last summer's ruthless killing of a prayer group in Charleston, South Carolina, and the all-too-frequent murdering of children of color by law enforcement, have shown us that there is still much progress to be made. Last semester, the University of Kansas held a town hall meeting to discuss ongoing racial injustice on campus. As students were asked to tell their stories so that the university could find solutions, the student body grew anxious and then infuriated. “I’ve been telling my story for years,” one student exclaimed, “and still nothing has been done.”

What has become glaringly clear, both at KU and in society at large, is that we are still in pursuit of King’s dream. In a special segment to CNN, "Looking for Martin Luther King's 'Dream,'" Kevin Powell writes, “Violence, hatred and the spiritual sickness [King] talked about in our country are alive and well. That is why I think it does us some good as a nation of millions to not just say we love King on his birthday, to not just honor him with the national holiday, or even by doing service on that day.” And Powell is right. King’s message is a timeless and necessary one that cannot be confined to one day of the year.

In Kevin Powell’s latest memoir, The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood, he discusses his rise and transformation as a young black male in our discriminatory society to the man he is now. Like King, Powell became a social activist, pushing for change and equality for all. In February, the University of Kansas will welcome Kevin Powell who will talk about his latest book and topics of social justice.

Watch Kevin Powell’s 2015 MLK speech at the Missouri History Museum below:

[by Matthew Broussard]

Saturday, January 23, 2016

ICYMI: The Last Month in Black Writing and Culture

Editor's note: HBW's ICYMI segment resumes after the holiday break. We hope that the holidays treated everyone well, and we look forward to a fruitful 2016! 

What did you miss? 

Martin Luther King Jr.,'s birthday was on January 15th, and the nation celebrated MLK Day on January 18th.

In light of Martin Luther King Day, the Huffington Post created a list of 13 significant books on civil rights. 

Historically, patriarchal society has cast women into the shadow of men when it comes to civil rights. Names such as Rosa Parks come to mind, but there were countless others. Read about the invisible women of the civil rights movement. 

Cultural memory is important. It makes sure we understand the past and learn from it. Slavery is one topic that contemporary rhetoric so often urges to just "forget" and "move on." The Huffington Post has compiled a list of 13 honest books on slavery that young people should read.

Lack of diversity has been a problem that has persisted in various institutions, and this doesn't exclude Hollywood. Upon the release of the nominations for this year's Oscars, many actors have announced their boycotting of the ceremony this year. This controversy echoes Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James's criticism of the lack of diversity in publishing.

The great Natalie Cole, daughter of Nat King Cole, died at the age of 65 earlier this month.

National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke with NPR on current issues including police brutality and the confederate flag.

Author J. Everitt Prewitt released his second novel, A Long Way Back. The novel tells the story from the perspective of black soldiers in the Vietnam war.

A Birthday Cake for George Washington, a children's book about an enslaved chef and his child, was recalled for softening the brutality of slavery. The controversy calls into light the tension of educating children on difficult topics such as slavery.

Lisa Page reviewed Grant Park by Leonard Pitts, Jr. for the Washington Post. The novel addresses America's "continuing racial divide."