AFPL Bookends – Black History Month

Here’s a small sample of books and movies in honor of Black History Month!


BOOKS

Guest of Honor by Deborah Davis.jpgGuest of Honor – Booker T. Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation by Deborah Davis

In this revealing social history, one remarkable White House dinner becomes a lens through which to examine race, politics, and the lives and legacies of two of America’s most iconic figures.

In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to have dinner at the executive mansion with the First Family. The next morning, news that the president had dined with a black man—and former slave—sent shock waves through the nation. Although African Americans had helped build the White House and had worked for most of the presidents, not a single one had ever been invited to dine there. Fueled by inflammatory newspaper articles, political cartoons, and even vulgar songs, the scandal escalated and threatened to topple two of America’s greatest men.

In this smart, accessible narrative, one seemingly ordinary dinner becomes a window onto post–Civil War American history and politics, and onto the lives of two dynamic men whose experiences and philosophies connect in unexpected ways. Deborah Davis also introduces dozens of other fascinating figures who have previously occupied the margins and footnotes of history, creating a lively and vastly entertaining book that reconfirms her place as one of our most talented popular historians.

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Forgotten - The Untold Story of D-Day's Black Heros, at Home and at War by Linda Hervieux.jpgForgotten – The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heros, at Home and at War by Linda Hervieux

The injustices of 1940s Jim Crow America are brought to life in this extraordinary blend of military and social history—a story that pays tribute to the valor of an all-black battalion whose crucial contributions at D-Day have gone unrecognized to this day.

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African-American soldiers, landed on the beaches of France. Their orders were to man a curtain of armed balloons meant to deter enemy aircraft. One member of the 320th would be nominated for the Medal of Honor, an award he would never receive. The nation’s highest decoration was not given to black soldiers in World War II.

Drawing on newly uncovered military records and dozens of original interviews with surviving members of the 320th and their families, Linda Hervieux tells the story of these heroic men charged with an extraordinary mission, whose contributions to one of the most celebrated events in modern history have been overlooked. Members of the 320th—Wilson Monk, a jack-of-all-trades from Atlantic City; Henry Parham, the son of sharecroppers from rural Virginia; William Dabney, an eager 17-year-old from Roanoke, Virginia; Samuel Mattison, a charming romantic from Columbus, Ohio—and thousands of other African Americans were sent abroad to fight for liberties denied them at home. In England and Europe, these soldiers discovered freedom they had not known in a homeland that treated them as second-class citizens—experiences they carried back to America, fueling the budding civil rights movement.

In telling the story of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, Hervieux offers a vivid account of the tension between racial politics and national service in wartime America, and a moving narrative of human bravery and perseverance in the face of injustice.

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Devotion by Adam Makos.jpgDevotion by Adam Makos

Devotion tells the inspirational story of the U.S. Navy’s most famous aviator duo: Lieutenant Tom Hudner, a white New Englander from the country-club scene, and Ensign Jesse Brown, an African American sharecropper’s son from Mississippi. Tom passed up Harvard to fly fighter planes for his country. Jesse became the navy’s first black carrier pilot to defend a nation that wouldn’t even serve him in a bar.

While much of America remained divided by segregation, Jesse and Tom joined forces as wingmen in Fighter Squadron 32. Adam Makos takes us into the cockpit as these bold young aviators cut their teeth at the world’s most dangerous job—landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier—a line of work that Jesse’s young wife, Daisy, struggles to accept. Then comes the war no one expected, in faraway Korea.

Devotion brings us into the foxholes with U.S. Marines and soaring overhead with Tom and Jesse as they battle a North Korean invasion. As the fury of the fighting escalates, Tom and Jesse fly, guns blazing, to save a Marine division cornered at the Chosin Reservoir and outnumbered ten to one. When one of the duo is shot down behind enemy lines and pinned in his burning plane, the other faces an unthinkable choice: watch his friend die or attempt history’s most audacious one-man rescue mission.

A tug-at-the-heartstrings tale of bravery and selflessness, Devotion asks: How far would you go to save a friend?

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Born Bright - A Young Girl's Journey from Nothing to Something in America by C. Nicole Mason.jpgBorn Bright – A Young Girl’s Journey from Nothing to Something in America by C. Nicole Mason

So begins Born Bright, C. Nicole Mason’s powerful memoir, a story of reconciliation, constrained choices and life on the other side of the tracks. Born in the 1970s in Los Angeles, California, Mason was raised by a beautiful, but volatile16-year-old single mother. Early on, she learned to navigate between an unpredictable home life and school where she excelled.

By high school, Mason was seamlessly straddling two worlds. The first, a cocoon of familiarity where street smarts, toughness and the ability to survive won the day. The other, foreign and unfamiliar with its own set of rules, not designed for her success. In her Advanced Placement classes and outside of her neighborhood, she felt unwelcomed and judged because of the way she talked, dressed and wore her hair.

After moving to Las Vegas to live with her paternal grandmother, she worked nights at a food court in one of the Mega Casinos while finishing school. Having figured out the college application process by eavesdropping on the few white kids in her predominantly Black and Latino school along with the help of a long ago high school counselor, Mason eventually boarded a plane for Howard University, alone and with $200 in her pocket.

While showing us her own path out of poverty, Mason examines the conditions that make it nearly impossible to escape and exposes the presumption harbored by many—that the poor don’t help themselves enough.

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Soldier - The Life of Colin Powell by Karen DeYoung.jpgSoldier – The Life of Colin Powell by Karen DeYoung

The first full biography of Colin Powell, from his Bronx childhood to his military career to his controversial tenure as secretary of state, with a new afterword detailing his life after the Bush White House.

Over the course of a lifetime of service to his country, Colin Powell became a national hero, a beacon of wise leadership and one of the most trusted political figures in America. In Soldier, the award-winning Washington Post editor Karen DeYoung takes us from Powell’s humble roots as the son of Jamaican immigrants to his meteoric rise through the military ranks during the Cold War and Desert Storm to his agonizing deliberations over whether to run for president. Culminating in his stint as Secretary of State in the Bush Administration and his role in making the case for war with Iraq, this is a sympathetic but objective portrait of a great but fallible man.

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Books on CD


MOVIES

Reconstruction.jpgReconstruction – The Second Civil War

On a misty April evening in 1865, a jubilant crowd packed the White House lawn to hear President Abraham Lincoln’s first speech since the end of the Civil War. They expected a stirring celebration of the Union victory — but instead got harsh reality. Even with the South defeated, Lincoln warned, the future would be “fraught with great difficulty.” He called the task ahead reconstruction — a word that returned to American headlines nearly a century and a half later, in the aftermath of the war in Iraq.

Even as Lincoln spoke, opposing forces were gathering. Some Americans saw Reconstruction as a chance to build a new nation out of the ashes of war and slavery. Others vowed to wage a new war to protect their way of life, and a racial order they believed ordained by God. Lincoln saw the problem with agonizing clarity. Bitter enemies, North and South, had to be reconciled. And four million former slaves had to be brought into the life of a nation that had ignored them for centuries. In some ways, it was harder than winning the war.

Three days after delivering his warning, Lincoln was shot dead. Reconstruction would have to go forward without him.

Spanning the momentous years from 1863 to 1877, Reconstruction tracks the extraordinary stories of ordinary Americans — Southern and Northern, white and black — as they struggle to shape new lives for themselves in a world turned upside down.

Reconstruction’s remarkable cast of characters includes Tunis Campbell, a daring former minister who staked out an independent colony for blacks in Georgia’s Sea Islands — and declared it off-limits to whites. Frances Butler, the daughter of a Georgia rice baron, struggled to rebuild her family’s plantations — and to negotiate labor contracts with the very men and women her family used to own. Marshall Twitchell, a battle-scarred Civil War veteran from Vermont, rose to power in the wild northwest corner of Louisiana with deadly consequences. John Roy Lynch, a former slave from Mississippi, was elected to Congress, where he challenged whites’ deepest beliefs about race and class.

The narratives of these and other unknown players are interwoven with the stories of presidents and generals — Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman — and others whose lives were caught up in the epochal struggles of the era. “An old social order had been destroyed,” says Eric Foner, historian at Columbia University and author of Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution. “Everything was up for grabs.”

After four bloody years of civil war, North and South would continue to fight over the meaning of freedom, the meaning of citizenship, and the survival of the nation itself. Reconstruction brings to life this turbulent and complex period through original footage shot on location, primarily in the South (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina), and with the assistance of regional groups and associations — the First Louisiana Cavalry Regiment, Company E; the Liberty Greys, Civil War re-enactors based in New England; South Carolina’s Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition; and the Thirty-Second Georgia Artillery, among others.

Reconstruction shows how, in just a few years, a series of stunning events — the Emancipation Proclamation, the Fourteenth Amendment granting ex-slaves citizenship in 1868, the enfranchisement of blacks the following year — reversed centuries-old patterns of race relations in America. People who for generations had been the property of others were now free to run their own lives.

The whole Southern world was turned upside down. And yet, despite these challenges and terrible racial violence in this period, so much was accomplished. Reconstruction brought public schools to the South for the first time. Black Southerners were elected to local and national offices. And the nation committed itself to equality under the law for all Americans, regardless of race, by passing the Fourteenth Amendment. Reconstruction laid the groundwork for the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, and the foundation for the American society we live in today.

Description provided by PBS

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DVD


red-tailsRed Tails

A crew of African American pilots in the Tuskegee training program, having faced segregation while kept mostly on the ground during World War II, are called into duty under the guidance of Col. A.J. Bullard.

Description provided by IMDb

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Blu-Ray

DVD


 

About Avalon Free Public Library

Avalon is a bustling little shore town in southern NJ. Our small population of 1800 expands to about 30,000 at the height of summer. We like to think that we serve them all and then some! Our goal is to make our library available to our patrons wherever they may roam.

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