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Monthly Archives: June 2015

Meeting In The Middle: Intersectionality At The Foundation Center’s “Rising Tide: Remix”

A "graphic recording" of the Foundation Center's discussion at Rising Tide: Remix on intersectionality by Johnine Byrne of SeeYourWords.com LaTosha Brown, jazz singer and project director of Grantmakers for Southern Progress, told a story on herself:  Having gleefully decided to break her diet, she passed a homeless man eating outside the Atlanta restaurant she had chosen. Brown went in, savored her fried chicken and saved half for later. When she exited, the man asked her for her leftovers. On a stage in the Louis Stokes wing of the Cleveland Public Library, Brown stamped her foot, mimicking her frustration. “I get this from my grandmother: if somebody tells me they are hungry, I don’t ask questions, I give them food,” she said. “But I had saved that chicken wing and I wanted... Read More →

Henry Louis Gates Jr. Remembers Rev. Clementa Pinckney

  In a poignant op-ed for The New York Times, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. recalls his time spent with Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the South Carolina state senator and leader of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church who was among the nine people gunned down in his historic church. Gates, who chairs the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards jury, interviewed Pinckney three years ago for his PBS series' "The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross," on the legacy of black leaders in the post-Civil War South. A small snippet: To know him, even over the course of an autumn Carolina afternoon, was to know a man who cherished the values on which our republic was founded, and who held an abiding faith that the great promise of America could, one day, be fulfilled. He was a... Read More →

Poet Richard Blanco And Activist Ruth Behar Work To Lift Cuba’s “Emotional Embargo”

Writer Ruth Behar and poet Richard Blanco have launched Bridges to/from Cuba, an ambitious collaborative fueled by 20 years of friendship. The duo has started an online forum for poets, authors and scholars to "lay bare the laughter and sorrow of being Cuban." As geopolitics shift, these two Cuban Americans call out for literature, writing, “For it is not simply a political and economic embargo that needs to be 'lifted,' but also the weight of an emotional embargo that has kept Cubans collectively holding their breath for over fifty years." The two are uniquely positioned to lead. Blanco, inaugural poet for President Barack Obama's second inauguration, has brought out two memoirs on his life as a young, gay, Latino immigrant. Born to Cuban-exiled parents and raised in Miami... Read More →

East Cleveland Women Use Poetry On The Path To Healing

by Ann Kowal Smith + Rachel Burstein This post was originally published on the Books@Work blog. Reading, writing and discussing poetry has the power to open windows in life-changing ways, giving readers the freedom to tell their own stories and view themselves as capable learners and contributors. Our current partnership with the East Cleveland Municipal Court and From Lemons to Lemonade (FL2L) bring Books@Work to a group of single mothers and other women whose lives rarely afford them the opportunity to read, let alone reflect. The majority of the women in the group have suffered extraordinary personal hardships; they often struggle to provide for their children. But these women’s stories don’t have to end there; with the right support, single mothers and other women finding... Read More →

Author Isabel Wilkerson Brings Cleveland Connection To “The Warmth Of Other Suns”

Additional reporting by Tara Jefferson When Isabel Wilkerson comes to Cleveland, she sees Alabama. An authority on the Great Migration—the departure of six million African-Americans from a South lynching them at a rate of one every four days over six decades of the 20th-century—Wilkerson is steeped in the ways of movement. She can pinpoint the families that “left along three beautifully predictable streams: up the East coast, into the Midwest and Far West.” She is conversant in the food, folkways and the names of churches that traveled with them.   “I am thrilled to be back in Ohio, one of the receiving stations of the Great Migration, one of the places people dreamt about when dreaming about living their lives in freedom,” she said to a gathering celebrating the tenth... Read More →

Protests Over Chinese Censorship Target Book Expo America Events

Cui Tiankai (left), the Chinese ambassador to the United States, at BookExpo in Manhattan This year, two strikingly opposed vistas marked Book Expo America, the largest annual book industry trade show. Shiny black stretch limos deposited representatives of dozens of Chinese publishing houses onto the sidewalk of the cavernous Javits Convention Center, where Ambassador Cui Tiankai, China’s lead representative to the United States, joined a 500-member delegation spread across almost 25,000 feet of floor space. Amid bamboo and soft light, 10,000 books were featured, and 26 prominent authors from the mainland flew halfway around the globe to attend. Another 50 events highlighting Chinese literature—readings, films, panels—were sprinkled around Manhattan. But on the steps of the New... Read More →

Four Keys For HBCUs Of The Future To Thrive

Photo by Robert Muller | City Club panel on HBCUs: Moderator Maxie C. Jackson III, Robert Michael Franklin, Jr., Ph.D. (Morehouse) Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, Ph.D. (Central State University), Claude G. Perkins, Ph.D. (Virginia Union University) A crowd thick with alumni packed the City Club of Cleveland to hear from leaders at their beloved alma maters: What, exactly, will be the future of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)? Panelists Robert Michael Franklin, Jr., president emeritus of Morehouse College; Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, president of Central State University; and Claude G. Perkins, president of Virginia Union University, gave their best prognoses. The 107 HBCUs in the United States have a storied history, small but mighty. Representing only 3 percent of U.S... Read More →

Does Diversity Matter In Book Reviewing? (Hint: Yes, It Does)

New York, NY – Some 20 years ago, when novelist Alexander Chee was working for Out magazine, its owners commissioned a study of American book buying habits. The results: on average, lesbians bought 22 books each year, straight women, 14; gay men, 10; and straight men, one. Although the data is outdated, there was a sense at the Center for Fiction that the portrait hasn’t changed that much. Critics and writers gathered for a panel on “Race, Gender, and Book Reviews” nodded in recognition. With blue-chip reviewing outlets, said Hawa Allan, a lawyer, critic and contributing editor for Tricycle magazine, “the readership they imagine is not the readership that exists.” Noting the 2013 Pew Research study that found the most likely person to read a book was a college-educated black... Read More →
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