Monday, February 28, 2011

Teaching U.S. History Beyond the Textbook (to middle-schoolers) with Dr. Yohuru Williams

Teaching U.S. Hisotry Beyond the
Textbook by Prof. Yohuru Williams 
Author Tonya Bolden edited a wonderful book a few years ago called Tell All the Children Our Story, a title that could serve as an imperative directed to U.S. public schools because most do not integrate into their curricula in any comprehensive way the contributions, achievements and experiences of African descendants.

For teachers who want to do some of that, and innovate their teaching styles as well, there is a forthcoming workshop offered at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and designed by history educator, Prof. Yohuru Williams (Teaching U.S. History Beyond the Textbook: Six InvestigativeStrategies for Grades 5-12.) Here's the Schomburg's presentation summary that's sure to pique your interest. 
(If you attend, please share your experience here--thanks!)

Wednesday, April 20 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. TEACHER SEMINAR DAY
Teaching U.S. History Beyond the Textbook with Prof. Yohuru Rashied Williams
Dr. Yohuru Williams will ignite your history and social studies lessons with his innovative teaching strategies for middle and high-school educators. Using a “CSI approach” to history, Dr. Williams’ six strategies tap into students’ natural curiosity and investigative instincts. Students become detectives of the past as they ghost-hunt in their neighborhoods, solve historical crimes, prepare arguments for famous court cases, and more. Dr. Williams is one of our nations premier history educators and the author of Teaching U.S. History Beyond the Textbook: Six Investigative Strategies for Grades 5-12. Registration is required.
Contact or 212-491-2234 for more information.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

James Baldwin's Nobody Knows My Name: Fifty Years

Fifty years ago James Baldwin issued Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son (1961), a new selection of essays following his brilliant and raw analysis of America and race in his first collection, Notes of a Native Son (1955).

In Nobody Knows My Name, Baldwin continued his searing review of race relationships in America and in Europe, where he lived in exile for some years. He also continued, characteristically, to focus a penetrating light into own feelings and experience, making his work both an analysis of American society and one man's honest attempt to bear witness of the experience of being an American, of being himself.

James Baldwin
In "The Discovery of What It Means to Be an American, "the first essay of Nobody Knows My Name, Baldwin makes an incisive distinction between the value of intellectual activity, as regarded by Europeans versus Americans. He pinpoints the tension in America between intellectualism and idealistic myths, such as American exceptionalism which is still touted to this day:

"A European writer considers himself to be part of an old and honorable tradition--of intellectual activity, of letters--and his choice of a vocation does not cause him any uneasy wonder as to whether or not it will cost him all his friends. But this tradition does not exist in America.
"On the contrary, [Americans] have a very deep-seated distrust of real intellecutal effort (probably because we suspect that it will destroy, as I hope it does, that myth of America to which we cling so desperately)."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Maya Angelou awarded the Medal of Freedom

Charles Dharapak/AP
Fitting tribute to Maya Angelou for her contributions to letters, uplift of Black culture and the human spirit. For millions of her readers, including me, Ms. Angelou's biographies and poetry represent the power that words have to change our lives.
2011 is also the 40th anniversary of the publication of Ms. Angelou's first book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie.

Charlotte news video clip of the Medal of Freedom award presentation to Maya Angelou from President Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday, February 15, 2011.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How do I acquire books?

Me at Charing Cross Rd, London
 From time to time people ask me how I acquire so many books (most of my inventory is not yet posted to I share my experience which is that great books in great condition can be found in numerous places-- or maybe they can be found in a few places that are numerous, such as at library sales, in charity stores-- antiquarian book dealers and secondhand shops, and even through private sellers.
Parable of the Sower

American Negro Folktales
I have bought books from all of these types of sources. I love visiting new locales to buy books: I've bought new and quality used books in various cities such as Chicago; Philadelphia; Brattleboro, New Hampshire; Baltimore; Cincinnati; Boston; Atlanta, London, England; New York City and their close environs. I am always on the lookout for books that deepen my inventory in non-fiction African and African American studies and Women’s Studies, as well as those books that expand my stock into literary genres like science fiction from Octavia Butler or collections of African and African American folklore.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Borders: Last chapter

Publishers Weekly Daily posted this item on 2/14 about Borders bookstore:

"Still waiting for Borders"
With nearly every major news organization reporting that Borders will file for bankruptcy this week, the question among publishers is becoming more and more can the chain avoid a Chapter 7 filing that would result in the liquidation of the company. Borders had virtually no contact with publishers last week on whatever plans it is working on, even though it is believed an agreement by publishers to resume shipping books to Borders will be necessary to obtain debtor-in possession financing that will allow it reorganize under Chapter 11. One publisher told PW that before his company would start doing business directly with Borders again, he would need to see a detailed turnaround plan that includes not only new strategies, but financial projections that the plan is a viable one.

Late this morning, the official position of Borders was that it "will not comment or speculate upon its future course."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Eso Won Books still going strong

One of our leading booksellers, Eso Won Books, received well deserved recognition in the Los Angeles Times "Jacket Copy" book column on January 13, 2011--congrats brothers James Fulgate (pictured below) and Thomas Hamilton!

Bookstore of the week: Eso Won Books

Owner James Fulgate and his partner, Thomas Hamilton, opened Eso Won Books in 1990. The original location was at Crenshaw and Slauson, upstairs from the shop Africana Imports. "The UPS people hated us," Fulgate laughs.
Since the fall of 2006, the store has been located at 4331 Degnan Blvd. in Leimert Park. Although Eso Won Books' current store has more than 3,200 square feet, it's a shade smaller than its previous location on La Brea.

In 1995, a young activist who'd just written a memoir came to Eso Won for a signing. There wasn't a huge crowd for Barack Obama and his book, "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," but the bookstore made him feel welcome. When he returned to Los Angeles with "The Audacity of Hope," Obama told his publishers that's where he wanted to go. The store sold more than 900 books.

Selling books at that volume is a rare bounty for Eso Won. In late 2007, news spread that rough economic times and discounts from Amazon and retail chains had brought such difficulties to the store that it might close by the end of the year. But friends rallied, including Pastor John J. Hunter of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, who called the bookstore "a treasure in the African American community." Eso Won pulled through.

- Carolyn Kellogg
Photos: Eso Won Books. Credit: Carolyn Kellogg / Los Angeles Times