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African-American Literature

Charles Chesnutt

  1. Conjure Woman
    Conjure Woman
    Charles Chesnutt
    Penguin Putnam Inc. / 2000 / Trade Paperback
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This collection contains all the stories in Chesnutt's two pioneering volumes of short fiction. The Conjure Woman (1899) and The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line (1899). Centered on the world of slavery and the voodoo beliefs and practices that black people in the antebellum South used to help them resist the injustices of their social condition, The Conjure Woman features a new kind of black story teller, Uncle Julius McAdoo, who shrewdly adapts his recollections of the past to secure his economic advantage in the present, sometimes at the expense of his white employer, The Wife of His Youth Probes the moral conflicts and psychological strains experienced by those African Americans who lived closest to the color line in Chesnutt's day. This Penguin Classics edition adds two remarkable previously uncollected work: "Dave's Neckliss" and "Baxter's Procrustes."

  1. The Marrow Of Tradition
    The Marrow Of Tradition
    Charles Chesnutt
    Penguin Classics / 1993 / Trade Paperback
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One of the most significant historical novels in American literature, this book is based on the Wilmington, North Carolina Massacre of 1898. Called a "race riot" by the inflammatory Southern press and engineered by white Democrats who had seen their political control slip into the hands of Republicans, many of whom were black, it was in fact a coup that restored power to the Democrats by subverting the principles of free democratic election. Some of Charles Chesnutt's relatives lived through the violence, and their accounts inspired this powerful and passionate novel.

  1. The House Behind the Cedars
    The House Behind the Cedars
    Charles Chesnutt
    Penguin Putnam Inc. / 1993 / Trade Paperback
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First published in 1900 during an era when many white American leaders waxed hysterical about the threat to "Anglo-Saxon civilization" posed by racial intermixing, The House Behind the Cedars sensitively explores the lives and fates of John and Rena Walden, two young African-Americans who decide to pass for white in order to claim their share of the American dream.

Cornel West

  1. Race Matters
    Race Matters
    Cornel West
    Random House, Inc / 1994 / Trade Paperback
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(PUBVintage)''As moving as any of the sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr., as profound as W.E.B. DuBois' The Souls of Black Folk, as exhilarating in their offering of liberation as James Baldwin's early essays,''---Washington Post Book World. West is the pre-eminent African-American intellectual of our generation and also a thoughtful Christian. 105 pages, softcover.

  1. African American Religious Thought: An Anthology
    African American Religious Thought: An Anthology
    Cornel West, Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
    Westminster John Knox Press / 2004 / Trade Paperback
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    5 Stars Out Of 5 2 Reviews
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Believing that African American religious studies has reached a crossroads, Cornel West and Eddie Glaude seek, in this landmark anthology, to steer the discipline into the future. Arguing that the complexity of beliefs, choices, and actions of African Americans need not be reduced to expressions of black religion, West and Glaude call for more careful reflection on the complex relationships of African American religious studies to conceptions of class, gender, sexual orientation, race, empire, and other values that continue to challenge our democratic ideals.

  1. Prophetic Fragments
    Prophetic Fragments
    Cornel West
    Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. / Trade Paperback
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Frederick Douglass

  1. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
    Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
    Frederick Douglass
    Random House, Inc / 1963 / Trade Paperback
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    CBD Stock No: WW007051

This eloquent and dramatic autobiography of the early life of an American slave was first published in 1845, when its author was about twenty-eight years old and had just achieved his freedom. Although it was not uncommon during the era of American slavery for articulate Blacks who escaped to have their experiences published, Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass is unique among these "slave narratives" because of Douglass's eloquent power of expression. The publication of the book also marked the beginning of a career in which the militant and uncompromising Douglass emerged as the first great leader of Afro-Americans in the United States.

  1. Slave Narratives
    Slave Narratives
    Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs
    Random House, Inc / 2000 / Trade Paperback
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Douglass became the preeminent spokesman for his people during his life; his narrative is an unparalleled account of the dehumanizing effects of slavery and Douglass's own triumph over it. Like Douglass, Harriet Jacobs was born into slavery, and in 1861 she published Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, now recognized as the most comprehensive antebellum slave narrative written by a woman. Jacob's account broke the silence on the exploitation of African American female slaves, and it remains crucial reading. These narratives illuminate and inform each other. This edition includes an incisive introduction by Kwame Anthony Appiah and extensive annotations.

  1. My Bondage and My Freedom
    My Bondage and My Freedom
    Frederick Douglas
    Penguin Putnam Inc. / 2003 / Trade Paperback
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My Bondage and My Freedom represents ten years of Frederick Douglass' reflections following his legal emancipation in 1846, and captipulted him into the spotlight as the foremost spokesman for American blacks--free and slave. 364 pages, softcover.

Harriet Jacobs

  1. Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl
    Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl
    Harriet Jacobs
    Penguin Classics / 2000 / Trade Paperback
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    5 Stars Out Of 5 1 Reviews
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A haunting, evocative recounting of her life as a slave in North Carolina and of her final escape and emancipation, Harriet Jacob's classic narrative, written between 1853 and 1858 and published pseudonymously in 1861, tells firsthand of the horrors inflicted on slaves. In writing this extraordinary memoir, which culminates in the seven years she spent hiding in a crawl space in her grandmother's attic, Jacobs skillfully used the literary genres of her time, presenting a thoroughly feminist narrative that portrays the evils and traumas of slavery, particularly for women and children. Now with an introduction by renowned historian Nell Irvin Painter, this edition also includes "A True Tale of Slavery," the brief memoir of Harriet Jacob's brother, John S. Jacobs, originally published in a London periodical in 1861.

James Haywood Rolling Jr.

  1. Come Look with Me: Discovering African American Art for Children
    Come Look with Me: Discovering African American Art for Children
    James Haywood Rolling Jr.
    Charlesbridge Publishing / 2005 / Hardcover
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The artwork presented in this book is a small representation of a very remarkable effort by African Americans in the United States during the twentieth century. Well suited for both individual and classroom use, Discovering African American Art for Children pairs great works of art with thought-provoking questions. The author leads this visual exploration and interaction. Children are invited to wake up with Romare Bearden's "Morning," to explore and join in important ceremonies as revealed in Clementine Hunter's "Baptism," and to stroll along the busy sidewalk in front of Jacob Lawrence's "Brownstones." They can explore the ideas and the unique struggles of African American artists and their contribution to the culture of the United States.

James Weldon Johnson

  1. Lift Every Voice and Sing: Selected Poems
    Lift Every Voice and Sing: Selected Poems
    James Weldon Johnson, Sondra Kathryn Wilson
    Penguin Classics / 2000 / Trade Paperback
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Powerful poems of black life and achievement from a leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance including his celebrated "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the African American National Anthem. James Weldon Johnson's name stirs up emotions which are contained only by tremendous control. His poetry is an exhortation to loose the bonds of dreary second-class citizenship and humiliating segregation and devastating racism. The lyrics bid the reader to be free, to walk with gratitude over ground red with the blood of our ancestors; encourages us to be free to bid the day good morning with hopeful heart, to adore the Creator with gladsome hearts for the battles won and to ask of that same Creator for strength for the battles yet to come. James Weldon Johnson aptly, deeply, with love and humor and a powerful rhyming tongue, has told our story and sung our song. Originally published as Saint Peter Relates a Incident.

  1. God's Trombones
    God's Trombones
    James Weldon Johnson
    Penguin Putnam Inc. / 2008 / Trade Paperback
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In God's Trombones, one of James Weldon Johnson's most celebrated works, inspirational sermons of African American preachers are re-imagined as poetry, reverberating with the musicality and splendid eloquence of the spirituals.

Langston Hughes

  1. The Ways of the White Folks
    The Ways of the White Folks
    Langston Hughes
    Random House, Inc / 1990 / Trade Paperback
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Perhaps more than any other writer, Langston Hughes made the white America of the 1920's and '30s aware of the black culture thriving in its midst. Like his most famous poems, Hughes's stories are messages from that other America, sharply etched vignettes of its daily life, cruelly accurate portrayals of black people colliding - sometimes humorously, more often tragically - with whites. Here is the ailing black musician who comes home from Europe to die in his small town - only to die more quickly and brutally than he had imagined. Here are the wealthy bohemians who collect Negroes like so many objets d'art.

  1. Poems
    Poems
    Langston Hughes, David Roessel
    Random House, Inc / 1999 / Hardcover
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From the publication of his first book in 1926, Langston Hughes was hailed as the poet laureate of black America, the first to commemorate the experience of African Americans in a voice that no reader, black or white, could fail to hear. Lyrical and pungent, passionate and polemical, this volume is a treasure--an essential collection of the work of a poet whose words have entered our common language.

  1. Selected Poems of Langston Hughes
    Selected Poems of Langston Hughes
    Langston Hughes
    Random House, Inc / 1990 / Trade Paperback
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Langston Hughes' poems celebrate the experience of invisible men and women: of slaves who "brushed the boots of Washington"; of musicians on Lenox Avenue; of the poor and lovesick; of losers in "the raffle of night." They conveyed that experience in a voice that blended the spoken with the sung, that turned poetic lines into the phrases of jazz and blues, and that ripped through the curtain separating high from popular culture. The poems in this collection were chosen by Hughes himself shortly before his death and represent works from throughout his career. 297 pages, softcover.

Nella Larson

  1. Quicksand
    Quicksand
    Nella Larsen
    Penguin Classics / 2000 / Trade Paperback
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A compelling story of cultural dislocation and one mixed-race woman's search for her place in the world. Born to an indifferent white mother and an absent black father, and scorned for her dark skin, Helga Crane has long had to fend for herself. As a young woman, Helga teaches at an all-black school in the South, but even here she feels different. Moving to Harlem and eventually to Denmark, she attempts to carve out a comfortable life and place for herself, but ends up back where she started, choosing emotional freedom that quickly translates into a narrow existence. Quicksand, Nella Larsen's powerful first novel, has intriguing autobiographical parallels and at the same time invokes the international dimension of African American culture in the 1920s. It also evocatively portrays the racial and gender restrictions that can mark a life.

Phillis Wheatley

  1. Poems of Phillis Wheatley
    Poems of Phillis Wheatley
    Phillis Wheatley
    Applewood Books / 1995 / Trade Paperback
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Phillis Wheatley was America's first published Black poet. Her poems were published before the Revolutionary War and were recognized throughout the English speaking world. She was born in Africa, sold as a slave in America, and became a celebrity in Europe.

Ralph Ellison

  1. Juneteenth
    Juneteenth
    Ralph Ellison, Charles Johnson
    Random House, Inc / 2000 / Trade Paperback
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"Tell me what happened while there's still time," demands the dying Senator Adam Sunraider to the Reverend A. Z. Hickman, the interant Negro preacher whom he calls Daddy Hickman. As a young man, Sunraider was Bliss, and orphan taken in by Hickman and raised to be a preacher like himself. His history encompasses camp meetings where he became the risen Lazarus to inspire the faithful; the more ordinary joys of Southern boyhood; bucolic days as a filmmaker; lovemaking with a young woman in a field in the Oklahoma sun. And behind it all lies a mystery: how did this chosen child become the man who would deny everything to achieve his goals? Brilliantly crafted, moving, wise, Juneteenth is an American master's abiding testament to the country he so loved, and to its many unfinshed tasks.

  1. Invisible Man
    Invisible Man
    Ralph Ellison
    Random House, Inc / 1995 / Trade Paperback
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Written in 1952, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is an existential novel that looks at the nature of bigotry and prejudice through a deeply sardonic lens. Following the life journey of an unnamed black narrator who is "invisible" not literally, but due to society's cultural constructions of humanity that erases the "other," this classic work brilliantly tackles the issues that African-Americans faced in the twentieth century. 571 pages, softcover.

Rosa Parks

  1. Rosa Parks: My Story
    Rosa Parks: My Story
    Rosa Parks, James Haskins, Jim Haskins
    Puffin / 1999 / Trade Paperback
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On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on a segregated bus, sparking the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott. A year later, when the boycott finally ended, segregation on buses was ruled unconstitutional, the civil rights movement was a national cause, and Rosa Parks was out of a job. Yet there is much more to Rosa Park's story than just one act of defiance. In straightforward, moving language, she tells of her vital role in the struggle for equality for all Americans. Her dedication is inspiring; her story is unforgettable.

Sojourner Truth

  1. Narrative of Sojourner Truth
    Narrative of Sojourner Truth
    Sojourner Truth
    Penguin Classics / 1998 / Trade Paperback
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A symbol of the strength of African American women and a champion of the rights of all women, Sojourner Truth was an illiterate former slave named Isabella who transformed herself into a vastly powerful orator. Truth's magnetism brought her fame in her own time, and her story gives us a vivid picture of nineteenth-century life in the North, where blacks, enslaved or free, lived in relative isolation from one another. This volume contains the "Book of Life", including the "Ar'n't I a Woman" speech as well as "A Memorial Chapter" about her death. 264 pages, softcover.

Thomas Wenworth Higginson

  1. Army Life in a Black Regiment and Other Writings
    Army Life in a Black Regiment and Other Writings
    Thomas Wenworth Higginson
    Penguin Classics / 1997 / Trade Paperback
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    CBD Stock No: WW436219

A stirring account of wartime experiences from the leader of the first regiment of emancipated slaves. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a Unitarian minister, was a fervent member of New England's abolitionist movement, an active participant in the Underground Railroad, and part of a group that supplied material aid to John Brown before his ill-fated raid on Harpers Ferry. When the Civil War broke out, Higginson was commissioned as a colonel of the black troops training in the Sea Islands off the coast of the Carolinas.

Zora Neale Hurston

  1. Their Eyes Were Watching God
    Their Eyes Were Watching God
    Zora Neale Hurston, Edwidge Danticat
    Harpercollins Publishing / 2006 / Trade Paperback
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    CBD Stock No: WW1120060