Michael Archie is (a Girl Power Academy) featured Comic Book Artist recommendation

Michael Archie, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and the Creator of WorkForce Comics.
Michael Archie, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and the Creator of WorkForce Comics.

Michael Archie is a Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and the Creator of WorkForce Comics. An Atlanta native, he elected to attend Georgia Southern University where he earned a BFA in Graphic Design. In 2007, Archie began creating freelance artwork under his privately owned art company Perfect Man Designs. Chasing a childhood dream, Archie began developing a comic series in 2012. His dream came to fruition in 2014 when he Self-Published WorkForce Comics: Vol. 1.

You can check out more work by Michael Archie and buy Workforce Comics at:

https://perfectman.wordpress.com

Archie’s influential WorkForce Comics and coveted T-shirts as well as his music inspirations have a devoted audience in Portland, Oregon spanning Mt. Tabor to Goose Hollow, East Burnside to the skirts of Beaverton and Hillsboro.  His comics are making rounds in Vancouver and Seattle, Washington. New Jersey peeps have delivered his good news to Virginia.  New York received him and took him to Ferguson… So, if you ain’t familiar with Mykel yet… NOW is the time to get on board!!!  

a Girl Power Academy is honored to present a few choice works and WorkForce Comic strips with permission from the artist:

"Cosmic Chilln" colored pencil 24x18 2014 illustration by Michael Archie
“Cosmic Chilln” colored pencil 24×18 2014 illustration by Michael Archie
"Critical Beat Down" excerpt from WorkForce Comics Volume 1 by Michael Archie
“Critical Beat Down” excerpt from WorkForce Comic Volume 1 by Michael Archie
"What About Landlines" excerpt from WorkForce Comic Volume 4 by Michael Archie
“What About Landlines” excerpt from WorkForce Comic Volume 4 by Michael Archie

THE INTERVIEW PART 1 (D@MN A SETH ROGAN)
Posted on January 7, 2015

Polite Conversation Interviews Michael Archie about Workforce Comics

THE INTERVIEW PART 2 (D@MN A SETH ROGAN)
Posted on January 9, 2015

Polite Conversation interviews Michael Archie about Workforce Comics (continued)

"Stop Police Terror" Nov. 2010 illustration by Michael Archie "I did this piece as tribute to resistance. Also to pay respects for Derrick Jones, Oscar Grant, Leonard Bradley Jr. and anyone else who has been murdered by the hands of law enforcement." (~M.A.)
“Stop Police Terror” Nov. 2010 illustration by Michael Archie
“I did this piece as tribute to resistance. Also to pay respects for Derrick Jones, Oscar Grant, Leonard Bradley Jr. and anyone else who has been murdered by the hands of law enforcement.” (~M.A.)
"Revolutionary Spirit" colored pencil, 22x18, Jan 2014, by Michael Archie
“Revolutionary Spirit” colored pencil, 22×18, Jan 2014, by Michael Archie

workforce-comic-business-cards-by-michael-archie

Portland fans can buy WorkForce comics at Music Millennium on Burnside.
Portland fans can buy WorkForce comics at Music Millennium on Burnside.
Music Millennium endorses WORKFORCE COMICS by Michael Archie!
a Book Club Logo (sold) by Michael Archie
a Book Club Logo (*sold) by Michael Archie

bell hooks is (a Girl Power Academy) featured Feminist, Activist, Author recommendation

bell hooks (New School lecture series) photo
bell hooks (New School lecture series) photo

Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression. This was a definition of feminism I offered in Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center more than 10 years ago. It was my hope at the time that it would become a common definition everyone would use. I liked this definition because it did not imply that men were the enemy. By naming sexism as the problem it went directly to the heart of the matter. Practically, it is a definition which implies that all sexist thinking and action is the problem, whether those who perpetuate it are female or male, child or adult. It is also broad enough to include an understanding of systemic institutionalized sexism. As a definition it is open-ended. To understand feminism it implies one has to necessarily understand sexism.

bell-hooks-book-cover-1As all advocates of feminist politics know, most people do not understand sexism, or if they do, they think it is not a problem. Masses of people think that feminism is always and only about women seeking to be equal to men. And a huge majority of these folks think feminism is anti-male. Their misunderstanding of feminist politics reflects the reality that most folks learn about feminism from patriarchal mass media.”  (~quotes from bell hooks, chapter 1 ‘FEMINIST POLITICS Where We Stand’ in Feminism is for Everybody)

To Read the complete chapter or read the book Feminism is for Everybody go to:  Feminism is for Everybody by bell hooks PDF

bell-hooks-quote-with-photo-of-malcolmx

May 11, 2016

“The issue is really one of standpoint. From what political perspective do we dream, look, create, and take action? For those of us who dare to desire differently, who seek to look away from the conventional ways of seeing blackness and ourselves, the issue of race and representation is not just a question of critiquing the status quo. It is also about transforming the image, creating alternatives, asking ourselves questions about what types of images subvert, pose critical alternatives, transform our world views and move us away from dualistic thinking about good and bad. Making a space for the transgressive image, the outlaw rebel vision, is essential to any effort to create a context for transformation. And even then little progress is made if we transform images without shifting paradigms, changing perspectives, and ways of looking.” (~ from Black Looks: Race and Representation)

To read more of bell hooks blog check out the bell hooks Institute at: http://www.bellhooksinstitute.com

cinematographer Arthur Jafa and bell hooks New School lecture series photo
cinematographer Arthur Jafa and bell hooks New School lecture series photo

This is one of the best in the lecture series by bell hooks at the New School.  Cinematographer Arthur Jafa discusses Transgressions in Public Spaces, ‘who is looking’, and the common ground of racism and sexism with bell hooks as well as shares some of his stellar film work.

bell-hooks-quote

“Poetry is a useful place for lamentation…poems are a place where we can cry out.” ― bell hooks, Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place

“The Woman’s Mourning Song”

i cry
i cry high
this mourning song
my heart rises
sun in hand
to make the bread
i rise
my heavy work hand
needs
the voice of many singers
alone
the warmth of many ovens comfort
the warrior in me returns
to slay sorrow
to make the bread
to sing the mourning song
i cry high
i cry high
the mourning song
go away death
go from love’s house
go make your empty bed
by bell hooks

“sometimes falling rain
carries memories of betrayal
there in the woods
where she was not meant to be
too young she believes
in her right to be free
in her body
free from harm
believing nature
a wilderness she can enter
be solaced
believing the power
that there be sacred place
that there can be atonement now
she returns with no fear
facing the past
ready to risk
knowing these woods now
hold beauty and danger”
quote from bell hooks, Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place

bell-hooks-quote-not-bowing-down-2
Those who have influenced bell hooks include African-American abolitionist and feminist Sojourner Truth (whose speech Ain’t I a Woman? inspired her first major work), Brazilian educator Paulo Freire (whose perspectives on education she embraces in her theory of engaged pedagogy), Peruvian theologian and Dominican priest Gustavo Gutierrez, psychologist Erich Fromm, playwright Lorraine Hansberry, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, African-American writer James Baldwin, Guyanese historian Walter Rodney, African-American black nationalist leader Malcolm X, and African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr (who addresses how the strength of love unites communities). As bell hooks says of Martin Luther King’s notion of a beloved community, “he had a profound awareness that the people involved in oppressive institutions will not change from the logics and practices of domination without engagement with those who are striving for a better way.”

Komozi Woodard is (a Girl Power Academy) featured African American History Professor recommendation

Komozi Woodard
Komozi Woodard

“No profit in poetry, right?  That’s a nation that’s going to hell.  What will happen to generations who don’t have poetry?  Even illiterate cultures have poetry.  Poetry is part of the soul.” (quote from Komozi Woodard March 1990, SLC “Key Issues in African American History” course.)

Komozi Woodard is a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence College. He is the author of A Nation Within a Nation; a co-editor, with Sylviane A. Diouf, of Black Power 50 (The New Press); and the editor of The Black Power Movement, Part I; Freedom North; Groundwork; and Want to Start a Revolution?  

During the Black Power Movement, Komozi Woodard served as head of economic development for the Temple of Kawaida in Newark, New Jersey and as editor of Unity and Struggle, the organ of the Congress of African People.

Black Power 50
Edited by:
Sylviane A. Diouf Komozi Woodard
With a foreword by Khalil Gibran Muhammad

black-power-50-bookcover-komizi-woodardThe fully illustrated companion to a major exhibit at New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a sweeping fiftieth-anniversary retrospective of Black Power in America and around the world

Black Power burst onto the world scene in 1966 with ideas, politics, and fashion that opened the eyes of millions of people across the globe. In the United States, the movement spread like wildfire: high school and college youth organized black student unions; educators created black studies programs; Black Power conventions gathered thousands of people from all walks of life; and books, journals, bookstores, and publishing companies spread Black Power messages and imagery throughout the country and abroad.

The Black Arts Movement inspired the creation of some eight hundred black theaters and cultural centers, where a generation of writers and artists forged a new and enduring cultural vision.

Black Power 50 includes original interviews with key figures from the movement, essays from today’s leading Black Power scholars, and over one hundred stunning images, offering a beautiful and compelling introduction to this pivotal movement.

To purchase the Black Power 50 book go to: The New Press (Books) “Black Power 50”

a-nation-within-a-nation-komozi-woodardPoet and playwright Amiri Baraka is best known as one of the African American writers who helped ignite the Black Arts Movement. This book examines Baraka’s cultural approach to Black Power politics and explores his role in the phenomenal spread of black nationalism in the urban centers of late-twentieth-century America, including his part in the election of black public officials, his leadership in the Modern Black Convention Movement, and his work in housing and community development.
Komozi Woodard traces Baraka’s transformation from poet to political activist, as the rise of the Black Arts Movement pulled him from political obscurity in the Beat circles of Greenwich Village, swept him into the center of the Black Power Movement, and ultimately propelled him into the ranks of black national political leadership. Moving outward from Baraka’s personal story, Woodard illuminates the dynamics and remarkable rise of black cultural nationalism with an eye toward the movement’s broader context, including the impact of black migrations on urban ethos, the importance of increasing population concentrations of African Americans in the cities, and the effect of the 1965 Voting Rights Act on the nature of black political mobilization.

To purchase the Nation within a Nation  book go to:

UNC PRESS (Book) A Nation within a Nation

This collection of Amiri Baraka materials was made available by Dr. Komozi Woodard. The collection consists of rare works of poetry, organizational records, print publications, over one hundred articles, poems, plays, and speeches by Baraka, a small amount of personal correspondence, and oral histories. The collection has been arranged into eighteen series. These series are: (1) Black Arts Movement; (2) Black Nationalism; (3) Correspondence; (4) Newark (New Jersey); (5) Congress of African People; (6) National Black Conferences and National Black Assembly; (7) Black Women’s United Front; (8) Student Organization for Black Unity; (9) African Liberation Support Committee; (10) Revolutionary Communist League; (11) African Socialism; (12) Black Marxists; (13) National Black United Front; (14) Miscellaneous Materials, 1978-1988; (15) Serial Publications; (16) Oral Histories; (17) Woodard’s Office Files; and (18) Audio Visual. Dr. Woodard collected these documents during his career as an activist in Newark, New Jersey.

“Incident” (Poem) BY AMIRI BARAKA
He came back and shot. He shot him. When he came
back, he shot, and he fell, stumbling, past the
shadow wood, down, shot, dying, dead, to full halt.

At the bottom, bleeding, shot dead. He died then, there
after the fall, the speeding bullet, tore his face
and blood sprayed fine over the killer and the grey light.

Pictures of the dead man, are everywhere. And his spirit
sucks up the light. But he died in darkness darker than
his soul and everything tumbled blindly with him dying

down the stairs.

We have no word

on the killer, except he came back, from somewhere
to do what he did. And shot only once into his victim’s
stare, and left him quickly when the blood ran out. We know

the killer was skillful, quick, and silent, and that the victim
probably knew him. Other than that, aside from the caked sourness
of the dead man’s expression, and the cool surprise in the fixture

of his hands and fingers, we know nothing.

Amiri Baraka, “Incident” from Black Magic (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1969). Copyright © 1969 by Amiri Baraka. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.
Source: Black Magic (1969)

For a basic biography of Amiri Baraka visit the: Poetry Foundation

To Check out Komozi Woodard’s course list at SLC visit:  

SLC faculty Komozi Woodard

Maya Angelou is (a Girl Power Academy) featured Author recommendation

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou

MAYA ANGELOU: 1928-2014

Maya Angelou felt particularly connected with the work of William Shakespeare. After reading his Sonnet 29, she was known to say, “Shakespeare must be a black girl,” as he so perfectly articulated her experiences:

William Shakespeare’s SONNET 29:

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Visit the Angelou Johnson Family website to learn more about:  The Legacy of Dr. Maya Angelou

i-know-why-the-caged-bird-sings-book-coverIn an interview with Maya Angelou by David Frost for The New Sun, David Frost asked…
DF: Where did Caged Bird come from, that title?

MA: It came from a poem written by Sir Lawrence Dunbar, a black male poet writing in the 1800s.

DF: Do you remember that?

MA: Yes. It’s called Sympathy — the poem.

I know what the caged bird feels.
Ah me, when the sun is bright on the upland slopes,
when the wind blows soft through the springing grass
and the river floats like a sheet of glass,
when the first bird sings and the first bud ops,
and the faint perfume from its chalice steals.
I know what the caged bird feels
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
till its blood is red on the cruel bars,
for he must fly back to his perch and cling
when he fain would be on the bow aswing.
And the blood still throbs in the old, old scars
and they pulse again with a keener sting.
I know why he beats his wing.
I know why the caged bird sings.
Ah, me, when its wings are bruised and is bosom sore.
It beats its bars and would be free.
It’s not a carol of joy or glee,
but a prayer that it send from its heart’s deep core,
but a plea that upward to heaven it flings.
I know why the caged bird sings.

Maya Angelou, The Art of Fiction No. 119
issue 116, Fall 1990 (the Paris Review)
Interviewed by George Plimpton

This interview was conducted on the stage of the YMHA on Manhattan’s upper East Side. A large audience, predominantly women, was on hand, filling indeed every seat, with standees in the back . . . a testament to Maya Angelou’s drawing power. Close to the stage was a small contingent of black women dressed in the white robes of the Black Muslim order. Her presence dominated the proceedings. Many of her remarks drew fervid applause, especially those which reflected her views on racial problems, the need to persevere, and “courage.” She is an extraordinary performer and has a powerful stage presence. Many of the answers seemed as much directed to the audience as to the interviewer so that when Maya Angelou concluded the evening by reading aloud from her work—again to a rapt audience—it seemed a logical extension of a planned entertainment.

INTERVIEWER
You once told me that you write lying on a made-up bed with a bottle of sherry, a dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, yellow pads, an ashtray, and a Bible. What’s the function of the Bible?
MAYA ANGELOU
The language of all the interpretations, the translations, of the Judaic Bible and the Christian Bible, is musical, just wonderful. I read the Bible to myself; I’ll take any translation, any edition, and read it aloud, just to hear the language, hear the rhythm, and remind myself how beautiful English is. Though I do manage to mumble around in about seven or eight languages, English remains the most beautiful of languages. It will do anything.
INTERVIEWER
Do you read it to get inspired to pick up your own pen?
ANGELOU
For melody. For content also. I’m working at trying to be a Christian and that’s serious business. It’s like trying to be a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Buddhist, a good Shintoist, a good Zoroastrian, a good friend, a good lover, a good mother, a good buddy—it’s serious business. It’s not something where you think, Oh, I’ve got it done. I did it all day, hotdiggety. The truth is, all day long you try to do it, try to be it, and then in the evening if you’re honest and have a little courage you look at yourself and say, Hmm. I only blew it eighty-six times. Not bad. I’m trying to be a Christian and the Bible helps me to remind myself what I’m about.
INTERVIEWER
Do you transfer that melody to your own prose? Do you think your prose has that particular ring that one associates with the King James version?
ANGELOU
I want to hear how English sounds; how Edna St. Vincent Millay heard English. I want to hear it, so I read it aloud. It is not so that I can then imitate it. It is to remind me what a glorious language it is. Then, I try to be particular and even original. It’s a little like reading Gerard Manley Hopkins or Paul Laurence Dunbar or James Weldon Johnson.
INTERVIEWER
And is the bottle of sherry for the end of the day or to fuel the imagination?
ANGELOU
I might have it at six-fifteen a.m. just as soon as I get in, but usually it’s about eleven o’clock when I’ll have a glass of sherry.
INTERVIEWER
When you are refreshed by the Bible and the sherry, how do you start a day’s work?
ANGELOU
I have kept a hotel room in every town I’ve ever lived in. I rent a hotel room for a few months, leave my home at six, and try to be at work by six-thirty. To write, I lie across the bed, so that this elbow is absolutely encrusted at the end, just so rough with callouses. I never allow the hotel people to change the bed, because I never sleep there. I stay until twelve-thirty or one-thirty in the afternoon, and then I go home and try to breathe; I look at the work around five; I have an orderly dinner—proper, quiet, lovely dinner; and then I go back to work the next morning. Sometimes in hotels I’ll go into the room and there’ll be a note on the floor which says, Dear Miss Angelou, let us change the sheets. We think they are moldy. But I only allow them to come in and empty wastebaskets. I insist that all things are taken off the walls. I don’t want anything in there. I go into the room and I feel as if all my beliefs are suspended. Nothing holds me to anything. No milkmaids, no flowers, nothing. I just want to feel and then when I start to work I’ll remember. I’ll read something, maybe the Psalms, maybe, again, something from Mr. Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson. And I’ll remember how beautiful, how pliable the language is, how it will lend itself. If you pull it, it says, OK.” I remember that and I start to write. Nathaniel Hawthorne says, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” I try to pull the language in to such a sharpness that it jumps off the page. It must look easy, but it takes me forever to get it to look so easy. Of course, there are those critics—New York critics as a rule—who say, Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer. Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language. On an evening like this, looking out at the auditorium, if I had to write this evening from my point of view, I’d see the rust-red used worn velvet seats and the lightness where people’s backs have rubbed against the back of the seat so that it’s a light orange, then the beautiful colors of the people’s faces, the white, pink-white, beige-white, light beige and brown and tan—I would have to look at all that, at all those faces and the way they sit on top of their necks. When I would end up writing after four hours or five hours in my room, it might sound like, It was a rat that sat on a mat. That’s that. Not a cat. But I would continue to play with it and pull at it and say, I love you. Come to me. I love you. It might take me two or three weeks just to describe what I’m seeing now.
INTERVIEWER
How do you know when it’s what you want?
ANGELOU
I know when it’s the best I can do. It may not be the best there is. Another writer may do it much better. But I know when it’s the best I can do. I know that one of the great arts that the writer develops is the art of saying, “No. No, I’m finished. Bye.” And leaving it alone. I will not write it into the ground. I will not write the life out of it. I won’t do that.
INTERVIEWER
How much revising is involved?
ANGELOU
I write in the morning and then go home about midday and take a shower, because writing, as you know, is very hard work, so you have to do a double ablution. Then I go out and shop—I’m a serious cook—and pretend to be normal. I play sane—Good morning! Fine, thank you. And you? And I go home. I prepare dinner for myself and if I have houseguests, I do the candles and the pretty music and all that. Then after all the dishes are moved away I read what I wrote that morning. And more often than not if I’ve done nine pages I may be able to save two and a half or three. That’s the cruelest time you know, to really admit that it doesn’t work. And to blue pencil it. When I finish maybe fifty pages and read them—fifty acceptable pages—it’s not too bad. I’ve had the same editor since 1967. Many times he has said to me over the years or asked me, Why would you use a semicolon instead of a colon? And many times over the years I have said to him things like: I will never speak to you again. Forever. Goodbye. That is it. Thank you very much. And I leave. Then I read the piece and I think of his suggestions. I send him a telegram that says, OK, so you’re right. So what? Don’t ever mention this to me again. If you do, I will never speak to you again. About two years ago I was visiting him and his wife in the Hamptons. I was at the end of a dining room table with a sit-down dinner of about fourteen people. Way at the end I said to someone, I sent him telegrams over the years. From the other end of the table he said, And I’ve kept every one! Brute! But the editing, one’s own editing, before the editor sees it, is the most important.
INTERVIEWER
The five autobiographical books follow each other in chronological order. When you started writing I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings did you know that you would move on from that? It almost works line by line into the second volume.
ANGELOU
I know, but I didn’t really mean to. I thought I was going to write Caged Bird and that would be it and I would go back to playwriting and writing scripts for television. Autobiography is awfully seductive; it’s wonderful. Once I got into it I realized I was following a tradition established by Frederick Douglass—the slave narrative—speaking in the first-person singular talking about the first-person plural, always saying I meaning we. And what a responsibility! Trying to work with that form, the autobiographical mode, to change it, to make it bigger, richer, finer, and more inclusive in the twentieth century has been a great challenge for me. I’ve written five now and I really hope—the works are required reading in many universities and colleges in the United States—that people readmy work. The greatest compliment I receive is when people walk up to me on the street or in airports and say, Miss Angelou, I wrote your books last year and I really—I mean I read . . . That is it—that the person has come into the books so seriously, so completely, that he or she, black or white, male or female, feels, That’s my story. I told it. I’m making it up on the spot. That’s the great compliment. I didn’t expect, originally, that I was going to continue with the form. I thought I was going to write a little book and it would be fine and I would go on back to poetry, write a little music.
INTERVIEWER
What about the genesis of the first book? Who were the people who helped you shape those sentences that leap off the page?
ANGELOU
Oh well, they started years and years before I ever wrote, when I was very young. I loved the black American minister. I loved the melody of the voice and the imagery, so rich and almost impossible. The minister in my church in Arkansas, when I was very young, would use phrases such as “God stepped out, the sun over his right shoulder, the moon nestling in the palm of his hand.” I mean, I just loved it, and I loved the black poets, and I loved Shakespeare, and Edgar Allan Poe, and I liked Matthew Arnold a lot—still do. Being mute for a number of years, I read and memorized, and all those people have had tremendous influence . . . in the first book and even in the most recent book.
INTERVIEWER
Mute?
ANGELOU
I was raped when I was very young. I told my brother the name of the person who had done it. Within a few days the man was killed. In my child’s mind—seven and a half years old—I thought my voice had killed him. So I stopped talking for five years. Of course I’ve written about this in Caged Bird.
INTERVIEWER
When did you decide you were going to be a writer? Was there a moment when you suddenly said, This is what I wish to do for the rest of my life?
ANGELOU
Well, I had written a television series for PBS, and I was going out to California. I thought I was a poet and playwright. That was what I was going to do the rest of my life. Or become famous as a real estate broker. This sounds like name-dropping, and it really is, but James Baldwin took me over to dinner with Jules and Judy Feiffer one evening. All three of them are great talkers. They went on with their stories and I had to fight for the right to play it good. I had to insert myself to tell some stories too. Well, the next day Judy Feiffer called Bob Loomis, an editor at Random House, and suggested that if he could get me to write an autobiography, he’d have something. So he phoned me and I said, No, under no circumstances; I certainly will not do such a thing. So I went out to California to produce this series on African and black American culture. Loomis called me out there about three times. Each time I said no. Then he talked to James Baldwin. Jimmy gave him a ploy which always works with me—though I’m not proud to say that. The next time he called, he said, Well, Miss Angelou. I won’t bother you again. It’s just as well that you don’t attempt to write this book, because to write autobiography as literature is almost impossible. I said, What are you talking about? I’ll do it. I’m not proud about this button that can be pushed and I will immediately jump.
INTERVIEWER
Do you select a dominant theme for each book?
ANGELOU
I try to remember times in my life, incidents in which there was the dominating theme of cruelty, or kindness, or generosity, or envy, or happiness, glee . . . perhaps four incidents in the period I’m going to write about. Then I select the one that lends itself best to my device and that I can write as drama without falling into melodrama.
INTERVIEWER
Did you write for a particular audience?
ANGELOU
I thought early on if I could write a book for black girls it would be good because there were so few books for a black girl to read that said this is how it is to grow up. Then, I thought, I’d better, you know, enlarge that group, the market group that I’m trying to reach. I decided to write for black boys and then white girls and then white boys.
But what I try to keep in mind mostly is my craft. That’s what I really try for; I try to allow myself to be impelled by my art—if that doesn’t sound too pompous and weird—accept the impulse and then try my best to have a command of the craft. If I’m feeling depressed and losing my control then I think about the reader. But that is very rare—to think about the reader when the work is going on.
INTERVIEWER
So you don’t keep a particular reader in mind when you sit down in that hotel room and begin to compose or write. It’s yourself.
ANGELOU
It’s myself . . . and my reader. I would be a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool—and I’m not any of those—to say that I don’t write for the reader. I do. But for the reader who hears, who really will work at it, going behind what I seem to say. So I write for myself and that reader who will pay the dues. There’s a phrase in West Africa, in Ghana; it’s called “deep talk.” For instance, there’s a saying: “The trouble for the thief is not how to steal the chief’s bugle but where to blow it.” Now, on the face of it, one understands that. But when you really think about it, it takes you deeper. In West Africa they call that “deep talk.” I’d like to think I write “deep talk.” When you read me, you should be able to say, Gosh, that’s pretty. That’s lovely. That’s nice. Maybe there’s something else? Better read it again. Years ago I read a man named Machado de Assis who wrote a book called Dom Casmurro. Machado de Assis is a South American writer—black father, Portuguese mother—writing in 1865, say. I thought the book was very nice. Then I went back and read the book and said, Hmm. I didn’t realize all that was in that book. Then I read it again, and again, and I came to the conclusion that what Machado de Assis had done for me was almost a trick: he had beckoned me onto the beach to watch a sunset. And I had watched the sunset with pleasure. When I turned around to come back in I found that the tide had come in over my head. That’s when I decided to write. I would write so that the reader says, That’s so nice. Oh boy, that’s pretty. Let me read that again. I think that’s why Caged Bird is in its twenty-first printing in hardcover and its twenty-ninth in paper. All my books are still in print, in hardback as well as paper, because people go back and say, Let me read that. Did she really say that?
INTERVIEWER
The books are episodic, aren’t they? Almost as if you had put together a string of short stories. I wondered if as an autobiographer you ever fiddled with the truth to make the story better.
ANGELOU
Well, sometimes. I love the phrase “fiddle with.” It’s so English. Sometimes I make a character from a composite of three or four people, because the essence in any one person is not sufficiently strong to be written about. Essentially though, the work is true though sometimes I fiddle with the facts. Many of the people I’ve written about are alive today and I have them to face. I wrote about an ex-husband—he’s an African—in The Heart of a Woman. Before I did, I called him in Dar-es-Salaam and said, I’m going to write about some of our years together. He said, Now before you ask, I want you to know that I shall sign my release, because I know you will not lie. However, I am sure I shall argue with you about your interpretation of the truth.
INTERVIEWER
Did he enjoy his portrait finally or did you argue about it?
ANGELOU
Well, he didn’t argue, but I was kind too.
INTERVIEWER
I would guess this would make it very easy for you to move from autobiography into novel, where you can do anything you want with your characters.
ANGELOU
Yes, but for me, fiction is not the sweetest form. I really am trying to do something with autobiography now. It has caught me. I’m using the first-person singular and trying to make that the first-person plural, so that anybody can read the work and say, Hmm, that’s the truth, yes, uh-huh, and live in the work. It’s a large, ambitious dream. But I love the form.
INTERVIEWER
Aren’t the extraordinary events of your life very hard for the rest of us to identify with?
ANGELOU
Oh my God, I’ve lived a very simple life! You can say, Oh yes, at thirteen this happened to me and at fourteen . . . But those are facts. But the facts can obscure the truth, what it really felt like. Every human being has paid the earth to grow up. Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That’s the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don’t grow up. Not really. They get older. But to grow up costs the earth, the earth. It means you take responsibility for the time you take up, for the space you occupy. It’s serious business. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed. What it costs, in truth. Not superficial costs—anybody can have that—I mean in truth. That’s what I write. What it really is like. I’m just telling a very simple story.
INTERVIEWER
Aren’t you tempted to lie? Novelists lie, don’t they?
ANGELOU
I don’t know about lying for novelists. I look at some of the great novelists, and I think the reason they are great is that they’re telling the truth. The fact is they’re using made-up names, made-up people, made-up places, and made-up times, but they’re telling the truth about the human being—what we are capable of, what makes us lose, laugh, weep, fall down, and gnash our teeth and wring our hands and kill each other and love each other.

James Baldwin with Maya Angelou. He encouraged Maya to write her first autobiography.
James Baldwin with Maya Angelou. He encouraged Maya to write her first autobiography.

INTERVIEWER
James Baldwin, along with a lot of writers in this series, said that “when you’re writing you’re trying to find out something you didn’t know.” When you write do you search for something that you didn’t know about yourself or about us?
ANGELOU
Yes. When I’m writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness. I’m trying for that. But I’m also trying for the language. I’m trying to see how it can really sound. I really love language. I love it for what it does for us, how it allows us to explain the pain and the glory, the nuances and the delicacies of our existence. And then it allows us to laugh, allows us to show wit. Real wit is shown in language. We need language.
INTERVIEWER
Baldwin also said that his family urged him not to become a writer. His father felt that there was a white monopoly in publishing. Did you ever have any of those feelings—that you were going up against something that was really immensely difficult for a black writer?
ANGELOU
Yes, but I didn’t find it so just in writing. I’ve found it so in all the things I’ve attempted. In the shape of American society, the white male is on top, then the white female, and then the black male, and at the bottom is the black woman. So that’s been always so. That is nothing new. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t shock me, shake me up . . .
INTERVIEWER
I can understand that in various social stratifications, but why in art?
ANGELOU
Well, unfortunately, racism is pervasive. It doesn’t stop at the university gate, or at the ballet stage. I knew great black dancers, male and female, who were told early on that they were not shaped, physically, for ballet. Today, we see very few black ballet dancers. Unfortunately, in the theater and in film, racism and sexism stand at the door. I’m the first black female director in Hollywood; in order to direct, I went to Sweden and took a course in cinematography so I would understand what the camera would do. Though I had written a screenplay, and even composed the score, I wasn’t allowed to direct it. They brought in a young Swedish director who hadn’t even shaken a black person’s hand before. The film was Georgia, Georgia with Diana Sands. People either loathed it or complimented me. Both were wrong, because it was not what I wanted, not what I would have done if I had been allowed to direct it. So I thought, Well, what I guess I’d better do is be ten times as prepared. That is not new. I wish it was. In every case I know I have to be ten times more prepared than my white counterpart.
INTERVIEWER
Even as a writer where . . .
ANGELOU
Absolutely.
INTERVIEWER
Yet a manuscript is what arrives at the editor’s desk, not a person, not a body.
ANGELOU
Yes. I must have such control of my tools, of words, that I can make this sentence leap off the page. I have to have my writing so polished that it doesn’t look polished at all. I want a reader, especially an editor, to be a half-hour into my book before he realizes it’s reading he’s doing.
INTERVIEWER
But isn’t that the goal of every person who sits down at a typewriter?
ANGELOU
Absolutely. Yes. It’s possible to be overly sensitive, to carry a bit of paranoia along with you. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It keeps you sharp, keeps you on your toes.
INTERVIEWER
Is there a thread one can see through the five autobiographies? It seems to me that one prevailing theme is the love of your child.
ANGELOU
Yes, well, that’s true. I think that that’s a particular. I suppose, if I’m lucky, the particular is seen in the general. There is, I hope, a thesis in my work: we may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. That sounds goody-two-shoes, I know, but I believe that a diamond is the result of extreme pressure and time. Less time is crystal. Less than that is coal. Less than that is fossilized leaves. Less than that it’s just plain dirt. In all my work, in the movies I write, the lyrics, the poetry, the prose, the essays, I am saying that we may encounter many defeats—maybe it’s imperative that we encounter the defeats—but we are much stronger than we appear to be and maybe much better than we allow ourselves to be. Human beings are more alike than unalike. There’s no real mystique. Every human being, every Jew, Christian, backslider, Muslim, Shintoist, Zen Buddhist, atheist, agnostic, every human being wants a nice place to live, a good place for the children to go to school, healthy children, somebody to love, the courage, the unmitigated gall to accept love in return, someplace to party on Saturday or Sunday night, and someplace to perpetuate that God. There’s no mystique. None. And if I’m right in my work, that’s what my work says.
INTERVIEWER
Have you been back to Stamps, Arkansas?
ANGELOU
About 1970, Bill Moyers, Willie Morris, and I were at some affair. Judith Moyers as well—I think she was the instigator. We may have had two or three scotches, or seven or eight. Willie Morris was then with Harper’s magazine. The suggestion came up: Why don’t we all go back South? Willie Morris was from Yazoo, Mississippi. Bill Moyers is from Marshall, Texas, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump—about as far as you can throw a chitterling—from Stamps, my hometown. Sometime in the middle of the night there was this idea: Why don’t Bill Moyers and Maya Angelou go to Yazoo, Mississippi to visit Willie Morris? Then why don’t Willie Morris and Maya Angelou go to Marshall, Texas, to visit Bill Moyers? I said, Great. I was agreeing with both. Then they said Willie Morris and Bill Moyers would go to Stamps, Arkansas to visit Maya Angelou, and I said, No way, José. I’m not going back to that little town with two white men! I will not do it! Well, after a while Bill Moyers called me—he was doing a series on “creativity”—and he said, Maya, come on, let’s go to Stamps. I said, No way. He continued, I want to talk about creativity. I said, You know, I don’t want to know where it resides. I really don’t, and I still don’t. One of the problems in the West is that people are too busy putting things under microscopes and so forth. Creativity is greater than the sum of its parts. All I want to know is that creativity is there. I want to know that I can put my hand behind my back like Tom Thumb and pull out a plum. Anyway, Moyers went on and on and so did Judith and before I knew it, I found myself in Stamps, Arkansas. Stamps, Arkansas! With Bill Moyers, in front of my grandmother’s door. My God! We drove out of town—me with Bill and Judith. Back of us was the crew, a New York crew, you know, very “Right, dig where I’m comin’ from, like, get it on,” and so forth. We got about three miles outside of Stamps and I said, Stop the car. Let the car behind us pull up. Get those people in with you and I’ll take their car. I suddenly was taken back to being twelve years old in a Southern, tiny town where my grandmother told me, Sistah, never be on a country road with any white boys. I was two hundred years older than black pepper, but I said, Stop the car. I did. I got out of the car. And I knew these guys—certainly Bill. Bill Moyers is a friend and brother-friend to me; we care for each other. But dragons, fears, the grotesques of childhood always must be confronted at childhood’s door. Any other place is esoteric and has nothing to do with the great fear that is laid upon one as a child. So anyway, we did Bill Moyers’s show. And it seems to be a very popular program, and it’s the first of the “creativity” programs . . .
INTERVIEWER
Did going back assuage those childhood fears?
ANGELOU
They are there like griffins hanging off the sides of old and tired European buildings.
INTERVIEWER
It hadn’t changed?
ANGELOU
No, worse if anything.
INTERVIEWER
But it was forty years before you went back to the South, to North Carolina. Was that because of a fear of finding griffins everywhere, Stamps being a typical community of the South?
ANGELOU
Well, I’ve never felt the need to prove anything to an audience. I’m always concerned about who I am to me first—to myself and God. I really am. I didn’t go south because I didn’t want to pull up whatever clout I had, because that’s boring, that’s not real, not true; that doesn’t tell me anything. If I had known I was afraid, I would have gone earlier. I just thought I’d find the South really unpleasant. I have moved south now. I live there.
INTERVIEWER
Perhaps writing the autobiographies, finding out about yourself, would have made it much easier to go back.
ANGELOU
I know many think that writing sort of “clears the air.” It doesn’t do that at all. If you are going to write autobiography, don’t expect that it will clear anything up. It makes it more clear to you, but it doesn’t alleviate anything. You simply know it better, you have names for people.
INTERVIEWER
There’s a part in Caged Bird where you and your brother want to do a scene from The Merchant of Venice, and you don’t dare do it because your grandmother would find out that Shakespeare was not only deceased but white.
ANGELOU
I don’t think she’d have minded if she’d known he was deceased. I tried to pacify her—my mother knew Shakespeare but my grandmother was raising us. When I told her I wanted to recite—it was actually Portia’s speech—Mama said to me, Now, sistah, what are you goin’ to render? The phrase was so fetching. The phrase was “Now, little mistress Marguerite will render her rendition.” Mama said, Now, sistah, what are you goin’ to render? I said, Mama, I’m going to render a piece written by William Shakespeare. My grandmother asked me, Now, sistah, who is this very William Shakespeare? I had to tell her that he was white, it was going to come out. Somebody would let it out. So I told Mama, Mama, he’s white but he’s dead. Then I said, He’s been dead for centuries, thinking she’d forgive him because of this little idiosyncrasy. She said, No Ma’am, little mistress you will not. No Ma’am, little mistress you will not. So I rendered James Weldon Johnson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes.
INTERVIEWER
Were books allowed in the house?
ANGELOU
None of those books were in the house; they were in the school. I’d bring them home from school, and my brother gave me Edgar Allan Poe because he knew I loved him. I loved him so much I called him EAP. But as I said, I had a problem when I was young: from the time I was seven and a half to the time I was twelve and a half I was a mute. I could speak but I didn’t speak for five years and I was what was called a “volunteer mute.” But I read and I memorized just masses—I don’t know if one is born with photographic memory but I think you can develop it. I just have that.
INTERVIEWER
What is the significance of the title All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes?
ANGELOU
I never agreed, even as a young person, with the Thomas Wolfe title You Can’t Go Home Again. Instinctively I didn’t. But the truth is, you can never leave home. You take it with you; it’s under your fingernails; it’s in the hair follicles; it’s in the way you smile; it’s in the ride of your hips, in the passage of your breasts; it’s all there, no matter where you go. You can take on the affectations and the postures of other places and even learn to speak their ways. But the truth is, home is between your teeth. Everybody’s always looking for it: Jews go to Israel; black Americans and Africans in the Diaspora go to Africa; Europeans, Anglo-Saxons go to England and Ireland; people of Germanic background go to Germany. It’s a very queer quest. We can kid ourselves; we can tell ourselves, Oh yes, honey, I live in Tel Aviv, actually . . . The truth is a stubborn fact. So this book is about trying to go home.
INTERVIEWER
If you had to endow a writer with the most necessary pieces of equipment, other than, of course, yellow legal pads, what would these be?
ANGELOU
Ears. Ears. To hear the language. But there’s no one piece of equipment that is most necessary. Courage, first.
INTERVIEWER
Did you ever feel that you could not get your work published? Would you have continued to write if Random House had returned your manuscript?
ANGELOU
I didn’t think it was going to be very easy, but I knew I was going to do something. The real reason black people exist at all today is because there’s a resistance to a larger society that says you can’t do it—you can’t survive. And if you survive, you certainly can’t thrive. And if you thrive, you can’t thrive with any passion or compassion or humor or style. There’s a saying, a song that says, “Don’t you let nobody turn you ’round, turn you ’round. Don’t you let nobody turn you ‘round.” Well, I’ve always believed that. So knowing that, knowing that nobody could turn me ’round, if I didn’t publish, well, I would design this theater we’re sitting in. Yes. Why not? Some human being did it. I agree with Terence. Terence said homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto. I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me. When you look up Terence in the encyclopedia, you see beside his name, in italics, sold to a Roman senator, freed by that Senator. He became the most popular playwright in Rome. Six of his plays and that statement have come down to us from 154 b.c. This man, not born white, not born free, without any chance of ever receiving citizenship, said, I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me. Well, I believe that. I ingested that, internalized that at about thirteen or twelve. I believed if I set my mind to it, maybe I wouldn’t be published but I would write a great piece of music or do something about becoming a real friend. Yes, I would do something wonderful. It might be with my next-door neighbor, my gentleman friend, with my lover, but it would be wonderful as far as I could do it. So I never have been very concerned about the world telling me how successful I am. I don’t need that.
INTERVIEWER
You mentioned courage . . .
ANGELOU
. . .the most important of all the virtues. Without that virtue you can’t practice any other virtue with consistency.
INTERVIEWER
What do you think of white writers who have written of the black experience—Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury or William Styron’s Confessions of Nat Turner?
ANGELOU
Well, sometimes I am disappointed—more often than not. That’s unfair, because I’m not suggesting the writer is lying about what he or she sees. It’s my disappointment, really, in that he or she doesn’t see more deeply, more carefully. I enjoy seeing Peter O’Toole or Michael Caine enact the role of an upper-class person in England. There the working class has had to study the upper-class, has been obliged to do so, to lift themselves out of their positions. Well, black Americans have had to study white Americans. For centuries under slavery, the smile or the grimace on a white man’s face or the flow of a hand on a white woman could inform a black person that you’re about to be sold or flogged. So we have studied the white American, where the white American has not been obliged to study us. So often it is as if the writer is looking through a glass darkly. And I’m always a little—not a little—saddened by that poor vision.
INTERVIEWER
And you can pick it up in an instant if you . . .
ANGELOU
Yes, yes. There are some who delight and inform. It’s so much better, you see, for me, when a writer like Edna St. Vincent Millay speaks so deeply about her concern for herself and does not offer us any altruisms. Then when I look through her eyes at how she sees a black or an Asian my heart is lightened. But many of the other writers disappoint me.
INTERVIEWER
What is the best part of writing for you?
ANGELOU
Well, I could say the end. But when the language lends itself to me, when it comes and submits, when it surrenders and says, I am yours, darling—that’s the best part.
INTERVIEWER
You don’t skip around when you write?
ANGELOU
No, I may skip around in revision, just to see what connections I can find.
INTERVIEWER
Is most of the effort made in putting the words down onto the paper or is it in revision?
ANGELOU
Some work flows and, you know, you can catch three days. It’s like . . .I think the word in sailing is scudding—you know, three days of just scudding. Other days it’s just awful—plodding and backing up, trying to take out all the ands, ifs, tos, fors, buts, wherefores, therefores, howevers; you know, all those.
INTERVIEWER
And then, finally, you write “The End” and there it is; you have a little bit of sherry.
ANGELOU
A lot of sherry then.

maya-angelou-phenomenal-woman-poem

In May 2014, after Maya Angelou’s death Joanna Connors on The Plain Dealer wrote:

When she was 8 years old, Maya Angelou stopped speaking. She silenced her voice because she thought her voice had killed a man. For almost five years, she spoke to no one but her beloved brother, Bailey.

The man she believed she had killed with her voice — her mother’s boyfriend, Mr. Freeman — had raped her. After she testified against him in his trial, he was convicted and sentenced, but released from jail. Four days later, he was found dead. Murdered. Probably by Angelou’s uncles, her memoir implies.

Malcolm X with Maya Angelou
Malcolm X with Maya Angelou

Her work and her life offer readers a personal journey through the African American experience of the 20th century, an experience that included friendships with Malcolm X, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and James Baldwin. She wrote with blazing honesty about racism, rape, her pregnancy at 16 and the deep fractures in her own family. Her strong voice spoke to countless readers, particularly black readers, who in 1969 were starved for literature by black authors writing intimately and truthfully about growing up and living in the “other” America.

But in “Caged Bird,” Angelou’s voice especially spoke to young women – young black women, but also young white women, who, even if they had not been raped or assaulted, always lived with the knowledge and fear of that trauma.

Many of us read “Caged Bird” in high school, an age when its themes of finding identity, strength and courage carry deep resonance. Angelou spoke to me, a middle-class white girl from the suburbs, in a voice that, once she started using it again, had a power that will live on long after her death.

maya-angelou-quote-2

Maya Angelou’s autobiographies:

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” (1969)

“Gather Together in My Name” (1974)

“Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas” (1976)

“The Heart of a Woman” (1981)

“All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes” (1986)

“A Song Flung Up to Heaven” (2002)

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou” (2004)

“Mom & Me & Mom” (2013)

Marley Dias and her #1000 Black Girl Books is (a Girl Power Academy) featured recommendation

Marley Dias at Lingelbach Elementary School in Germantown, collecting books as part of her #1000BlackGirlBooks social action project. Dias cited Mildred Taylor's "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" as a book she's been happy to discover since starting her project. JANUARY 19, 2016
Marley Dias at Lingelbach Elementary School in Germantown, collecting books as part of her #1000BlackGirlBooks social action project. Dias cited Mildred Taylor’s “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” as a book she’s been happy to discover since starting her project. JANUARY 19, 2016

In the past year, Philadelphia native Marley Dias has successfully written a proposal for (and received) a Disney Friends for Change grant, served food to orphans in Ghana and recently launched a book club.

Dias is 11 years old.

“I’m hoping to show that other girls can do this as well,” Dias told PhillyVoice. “I used the resources I was given, and I want people to pass that down and use the things they’re given to create more social action projects — and do it just for fun, and not make it feel like a chore.”

Dias’ latest social action project is the “#1000BlackGirlBooks” book drive. Frustrated with many of the books she’s assigned in school, she confessed to her mother during dinner one night that she was unhappy with how monochromatic so many stories felt.

“I told her I was sick of reading about white boys and dogs,” Dias said, pointing specifically to “Where the Red Fern Grows” and the “Shiloh” series. “‘What are you going to do about it?’ [my mom] asked. And I told her I was going to start a book drive, and a specific book drive, where black girls are the main characters in the book and not background characters or minor characters.”

So far, she said, she’s collected about 400 books — nearly halfway to her goal of 1,000 by Feb. 1. The project is part of an annual social action effort she makes as part of the Philadelphia-founded GrassROOTS Community Foundation Super Camp for young girls, designed to empower and improve the health of ‘impoverished’ girls middle-school-aged and younger. Dias’ mother, Janice, cofounded the organization seven years ago with lead MC of The Roots, Tariq Trotter (aka, Black Thought).
Janice, who grew up in Jamaica, calls watching her daughter grow up with such an investment in giving back a surreal experience. She further explained that her daughter’s “#1000BlackGirlBooks” project has been eye-opening even for her.

“I didn’t need identification, or I didn’t desire it because I grew up in an all-black country,” Janice told PhillyVoice. “She’s not growing up in an all-black country; she’s growing up in a fairly white suburb, in a country that only has 12.6 percent of blacks. For her, identification is a bigger deal. … For young black girls in the U.S., context is really important for them — to see themselves and have stories that reflect experiences that are closer to what they have or their friends have.

“And it doesn’t have to be the only thing they get, but the absence of it is clearly quite noticeable.”

The two just wrapped up a book drive at Lingelbach Elementary School in Germantown but are still on their way to hitting the 1,000-book mark. By the end of the drive, they’ll put together a reference guide that compiles the book titles, authors and age groups. Books collected will be donated to a low-resources library in St. Mary, Jamaica, where Janice grew up — in the spirit of giving back to their roots.

And in case you’re wondering what Dias wants to be when she grows up:

“I want to be a magazine editor for my own magazine,” she explained, without hesitation. “And I’d also like to continue social action. For the rest of my life.”

(Interview article written by BY BRANDON BAKER
PhillyVoice Contributor) 

marley-dias-1000-black-girls-resource-guide

1000 Black Girl Books Resource Guide:

http://grassrootscommunityfoundation.org/1000-black-girl-books-resource-guide/

This resource guide was created from the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign led by Marley Dias who has now collected over 9000 books. The guide includes some of those books that have been catalogued into an easy to find database. This information here is appropriate for youth, parents, educators, schools, and libraries.

Each month we will update the list and continue to serve as an information repository for Black Girl Books.

If you know of a black girl book, not listed here, please send us a copy so we can add it to our collection. We would like to see this list grow. Their address is:

GrassROOTS Community Foundation
59 Main Street
Suite 323
West Orange, NJ 07052

Financial donations are always welcomed. All donations are tax-deductible.

photo of the Marley Dias #BlackGirlBooks Movement

Carla Hayden: The new librarian of Congress

Librarians are more freedom fighters than shushers” – Carla Hayden, Ms. Magazine

carla-hayden

The new librarian of Congress on the value of ‘free information’

According to Hayden, the profession was “feminized” when Melvil Dewey, who created the Dewey decimal system, said “it was time to let women in because there was a lot of monotonous work to do. And he also said women in public libraries could be hostesses because they were part of the home”.

“Oh he was quite the fellow,” Hayden said, laughing. “So for a woman to be actual manager, CEO, is poetic justice.”

Hayden says she’s even more proud of her role as the first African American Librarian of Congress.

“I’ve talked for years and cited how slaves were forbidden to read, you could get your hand chopped off, or people who taught slaves to read were punished, that’s Fredrick Douglass’s thing,” Hayden said. “So to have an African American heading up the world’s largest library is not quite an oxymoron, but it speaks to the history.” (source: Baynard Woods, The Guardian 9-15-16 article)

PBS NEWS HOUR (video) The Library of Congress has a new chief: Carla Hayden. Jeffrey Brown speaks with Hayden about the continuing importance of the library in the digital age.carla-hayden-on-cover-of-library-journal

Hayden first came to national prominence in 2003 when she spoke out against certain elements of the Patriot Act as the head of the American Library Association. Attorney general John Ashcroft attacked Hayden for sowing “hysteria” about the provision of the act that would allow the government to search library and bookstore records.

Hayden shot back.

“We are deeply concerned that the attorney general should be so openly contemptuous of those who seek to defend our Constitution,” she said. “Rather than ask the nation’s librarians and Americans nationwide to ‘just trust him,’ Ashcroft could allay concerns by releasing aggregate information about the number of libraries visited using the expanded powers created by the USA Patriot Act.”

At the time, there was political risk in such statements, but Hayden said she never considered that.

“It wasn’t an either or – it was a how do we do both. How do ensure national security and protect a person’s right to know,” she said. “What was happening at that time was people wanted to know what are these groups [like Al Qaeda and the Taliban], a lot of people didn’t know what jihad meant or anything like that and they were seeking information and the concern was just because you want to know, you don’t intend to do anything. You just want to know.” (source: Baynard Woods, The Guardian 9-15-16 article)

Carla Hayden Sworn In as 14th Librarian of Congress (9/14/16, 12PM) Ceremony (video) Streamed live on Sep 14, 2016: Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr. in the Great Hall of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, September 14 at noon. Hayden is the first woman and the first African-American to serve as Librarian of Congress. Hayden was nominated by President Barack Obama and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate.carla-hayden-in-baltimore-library

Today, I’m nominating Dr. Carla Hayden to be our 14th Librarian of Congress. Michelle and I have known Carla since her days working at the Chicago Public Library, and her dedication to learning and education is unparalleled. More recently, she’s been hard at work revitalizing Baltimore’s struggling library system as the CEO of Enoch Pratt Free Library. Last year, during the unrest in Baltimore, Dr. Hayden kept the doors of the Pratt open as a beacon for the community. Her understanding of the pivotal role that emerging technologies play in libraries will be essential in leading the Library of Congress as it continues to modernize its infrastructure and promote open access and full participation in today’s digital world. Finally, Dr. Hayden will be the first woman and the first African-American to hold this position in its 214 year history – both of which are long overdue. (from President Barack Obama’s Facebook)

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. https://www.loc.gov/

Hayden was the head of Baltimore’s library system since 1993 until she resigned earlier this year, after her nomination. When unrest erupted in the city after the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died in police custody, Hayden kept the libraries open, even though almost everything else was closed.

“My thinking was that at a time of crisis the library should try to be open,” she said. “And it was heartening that the staff members were willing.”

She tells the story of one young man who was there the morning after the riots to fill out job applications. When he returned two days later to tell her he had three interviews “It really reinforced the fact that the community needed us open”, she said. (source: Baynard Woods, The Guardian 9-15-16 article)

carla-hayden-promoting-early-literacy