Black History Month Titles

1. Reimagining the Middle Passage: black resistance in literature, television, and song 
Green, Tara T. Ohio State, 2018

Green (Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro) sets out to explore the way artists who are descended from African slaves have presented “the historical and symbolic meaning and legacy of the Middle passage.” As the author acknowledges, this book joins works such as Orlando Patterson’s Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (CH, Feb’83), Abdul JanMohamed’s The Death-Bound-Subject: Richard Wright’s Archaeology of Death (CH, Dec’05, 43-2045), and Annisa Janine Wardi’s Water and African American Memory: An Ecocritical Perspective (CH, May’12, 49-4936). Green analyzes imaginings of the Middle Passage in works by such established figures as Olaudah Equiano, Alex Haley, Charles Johnson, Jewell Parker Rhodes, and Richard Wright, and also in contemporary work, such as HBO’s Treme and Spike Lee’s documentary films.
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2. Graphic memories of the Civil Rights Movement: reframing history in comics
Santos, Jorge. Texas, 2019

Through five case studies, this book refashions how the Civil Rights Movement can (and should) be remembered more accurately and completely through graphic novels. Santos (College of Holy Cross) contests concepts such as consensus memory, “great man of history,” the U.S. as a post-racial culture, the “implicit authenticity of photographs,” memory as a historical source, and an author’s intended meaning against readers’ understanding of the work. He contends that graphic novels such as March by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin can make the absent appear and provide alternatives to “great man” thinking; that Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White by Lila Quintero Weaver shows the photograph as “artifice as much as artifact” and not capable of portraying the entirety of civil rights campaigns; that The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long tries to cope with the exclusion of individual remembrances from the making of national histories because of the subjectivity of memory; that Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse historically appropriates civil rights rhetoric for sympathetic portrayal of the LGBTQ movement; and that X-Men is interpreted differently from meanings given by its creators.
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3. The Racial divide in American medicine: black physicians and the struggle for justice in health care
ed. by Richard D. deShazo University Press of Mississippi, 2018

The Civil Rights Act legally eliminated discrimination through Title VI, which required that any individual or institution receiving federal funding must practice racial integration. However, a racial divide and remnants of social injustices in the American healthcare system remain with us today. The Racial Divide in American Medicine, incorporating writings from an interdisciplinary group of experts, does an excellent job in chronicling the history of healthcare for American blacks, beginning with slave healthcare. The focus, however, is on the Civil Rights era and its link to past and present struggles and disparities.The book provides a historical and social context to the Civil Rights Movement by describing how black physicians in the state of Mississippi contributed to the movement, and by considering the progress that has been made since passage of the landmark legislation. The book is both interesting and easy to read; it will add to a library’s collection in the areas of civil rights, medicine, public health, and American history.
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4. Uncle Tom: from martyr to traitor
Spingarn, Adena. Stanford, 2018

Spingarn’s ambitious volume traces how “Uncle Tom,” first seen as a revolutionary exemplar of black dignity and spiritual power, became a potent racial slur. Spingarn (Stanford) asserts that the myriad versions of Stowe’s 1852 novel/character were the sites of foundational debates about slavery and African American identity/rights during the 19th and 20th centuries. Drawing on her extensive research in digitized archives of periodicals and adaptations of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Spingarn unfolds ambivalent responses to the Uncle Tom figure by both white and African Americans. Stagings of happy, singing slaves notwithstanding, these plays consistently conveyed both an antislavery message and Tom’s spiritual dignity, both of which were anathema to Southern audiences, who feared that blacks would link the play’s revolutionary implications to post-Reconstruction debt peonage, convict labor, and Jim Crow laws.
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