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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Activist Bree Newsome On “Tearing Hatred From The Sky” And The Fight For Sustainable Social Justice Movements

Bree Newsome climbed the flagpole outside the Columbia, S.C. statehouse to remove the Confederate flag on June 27, 2015.Bree Newsome -- the activist who brought down the Confederate flag flying outside the Columbia, S.C. capitol building in 2015 -- shared a few harrowing details of that June day with a Cleveland audience rapt at attention."A supervisor came over and directed the two officers at the bottom to tase me," she recounted for a hushed crowd of more than 150 at John Carroll University. "Now, being attached to a metal pole, that could have electrocuted me. At that point, James (Tyson, a white ally) grabbed the pole and said, 'If you electrocute her, you'll have to electrocute me too.' And then they backed away." Newson took her bold action amid a renewed debate about the... Read More →

REVIEW: Paul Beatty’s “The Sellout” Deserves The Man Booker Prize And Then Some

 Paul Beatty's "The Sellout" took home the Man Booker Prize for 2016, making him the first U.S. author to win the British award. The satirical novel, whose plot kicks off from an absurd trial that puts resegregation and slavery before the Supreme Court, was a unanimous choice for the judges. Historian Amanda Foreman, jury chair of the prize, called Beatty's work "a novel for our times." “The Sellout is one of those very rare books: which is able to take satire, which is a very difficult subject and not always done well, and plunges it into the heart of contemporary American society with a savage wit of the kind I haven’t seen since Swift or Twain," Foreman said. “It manages to eviscerate every social taboo and politically correct nuance, every sacred cow. While making us... Read More →

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Salutes First Lady Michelle Obama In New York Times Style Magazine

The editors of the New York Times Style magazine invited four woman to write letters of appreciation to Michelle Obama for the October 23, 2016 issue. The first – and arguably the most powerful – letter came from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for her second novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun” in 2007. The following year she won a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” and her third novel, “Americanah,” was named one of the ten best books of 2013. Adichie’s TED talks, “We Should All be Feminist” and “The Danger of a Single Story,” have attracted more than 14 million viewers.  She splits her time between Nigeria, where she was born, and the United States.Her letter to Michelle Obama already has the feel of a classic:by Chimamanda Ngozi... Read More →

Author And Dancer Brian Seibert In Performance With Oberlin Student Chandler Browne

For the last event of the inaugural Cleveland Book Week, Brian Seibert rolled up his cuffs and gave the audience at the Beck Center for the Arts what they had been waiting for: a live tap dance performance. Seibert, a New York Times dance critic and himself a studied dancer, chronicles the roots of this uniquely American art form in What the Eye Hears, winner of our 2016 award for nonfiction.His remarks were peppered with video and audio from tap dancing's origins, including some of the earliest recorded footage from the 19th century. To cap off his reading, Oberlin student Chandler Browne accompanied Seibert for a few minutes of breathtaking hoofing, inviting the audience to soak in both improvised rhythms and their rendition of the "Shim Sham Shimmy," a tap dance classic. Take a look... Read More →

Sociologist Orlando Patterson On African-Americans’ Profound Cultural Influence: “America Is Indelibly Blackish”

Orlando Patterson, the public intellectual and Harvard University sociologist, made a deep impression on his audiences in Cleveland in September. He received a rousing standing ovation, capping the awards ceremony in the Ohio Theatre of Playhouse Square.  A few listeners walked out – which is also in keeping with the tenor of the reception to his globally influential scholarship.“At Harvard, neither personal comfort nor false harmony have ever been his goal; he has always challenged his fellow faculty with his outspoken and fearless ideas,” said Anisfield-Wolf Jurist Steven Pinker as he introduced Patterson. “As colleagues, we have all found him forthright and reliably engaged; however, his gracious manner, and the musical Jamaican lilt of his penetrating discourse, often mask the... Read More →

A Reflection On Growing Up In The Gay Revolution

by Lisa Nielson, Anisfield-Wolf SAGES Fellow at Case Western Reserve University.I was taking an internet break from my pile of books in the National Library of Jerusalem this summer when a news article caught my eye. It reported the Jerusalem Pride Parade was going to kick off in about four hours -- at 6 p.m. July 21, 2016 -- in a park not far from where I was living. A year earlier, an ultra-orthodox fanatic stabbed six people at the march. One of the victims, Shira Banki, was 16 when she died. This time, the police were taking no chances. They blocked streets so participants could only join from certain points; they kept counter-protesters off the parade route and they prevented the family of the young girl’s killer from coming to Jerusalem.Participants at the Jerusalem Pride Parade... Read More →

Author And Illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh Infuses Children’s Literature With Real World Messages

This Halloween, families can share a treat that lasts longer than candy corn: “Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras.”Author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh – his mother is Mexican; his father is American – came to Cleveland in September to accept a Norman A. Sugarman honor award in children’s biography for the appealing, 40-page picture book.It tells the story of Mexican artist and printer Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada, 1852-1913, who drew important political cartoons. The subject is best remembered for his whimsical drawings of skeletons – Calaveras – that have become synonymous with the Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival.“Skeletons riding bicycles . . . skeletons wearing fancy hats . . . skeletons dancing and strumming on guitars,” the book begins... Read More →
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