Don’t Know Much About African American History? A 2 Dope Reading List

Released in 1960, Sam Cooke sang and co-wrote the single “Wonderful World,” the first line of which is:

Don’t know much about history. . .

As Da Hype 1 and I planned our posts for Black History Month, we decided that we wanted to include a list of must-read books for the 2 Dope Sistahs blog. Of course, there are many such lists on other blogs and websites, but we still wanted to provide our recommendations as well. Between a literary scholar and a historian, this proved to be an overwhelming task. I had 48 books on my preliminary list, and I wasn’t sure how to narrow it. There were just too many books, and, of course, I thought people should read all of them.

After much agonizing, I decided to focus on books I would recommend to those who “Don’t know much about African American history.” I thought of my friend who was always wanted me to teach him because he hadn’t taken any history classes in college. I also considered books that I have chosen for my African-American history survey courses over the years. And I wanted to select books that have moved me. Finally, I thought it was best not to overwhelm readers with a long list or declare this as the definitive “must-read” list. The final product, I hope, is a list of six titles that will be helpful for those who are new to African American history and that it will encourage them to read more.

NarrativeDouglass

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, Written by Himself, 1845.

HistoryMaryPrince

Mary Prince, History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave, Related by Herself, 1831.

White_ArntIWoman

Deborah Gray White, Ar’n’t I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South, Revised Edition, 1999.

WoodsonMiseducation

Carter G. Woodson, The Miseducation of the Negro, 1933.

DuBois_Souls

W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903.

Diop_AfricanOrigin

Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, 1974.

The great thing about this list is that many of these titles available on the web free or charge or for a nominal fee for e-readers. Enjoy!

*Thanks to my colleagues and friends, Drs. Tiwanna Simpson and Cherisse Jones-Branch, whom I consulted as I was compiling this list.

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Foto Friday: Springfield Race Riot

Springfield, Illinois is the home of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Springfield was also the site of a race riot in August 1908. Sculptures commemorating the riot are located across the street from the Lincoln Museum.

A scene from the Springfield Race Riot

A scene from the Springfield Race Riot

The outrage from the riot led to the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909.

Please click here for more on the history of the race riot.

"Acts of Intolerance"

“Acts of Intolerance”

This sculpture by Preston Jackson was inspired by photographs of the riot’s aftermath.

Springfield Race Riot marker

Springfield Race Riot marker

Historical marker, Union Square Park, Springfield, Illinois.

Springfield3

Close-up of sculpture.

Springfield2

Close-up of sculpture.

Foto Friday: Sojourner Truth

In honor of Black History and Women’s History months, 2 Dope Sistahs will be posting photos of our visits to historical sites on Foto Fridays. This week’s pictures are from Battle Creek, Michigan, where anti-slavery and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth lived for more than twenty years.

Sojourner Truth carte de visite

Sojourner Truth carte de visite, sold to support herself.

Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-November 26, 1883) was born into slavery in Ulster County, New York at the end of the 18th century. Known as Isabella (or Isabella Baumfree/Bomefree), she freed herself (walked away) from slavery in 1826. An advocate for abolition and women’s rights, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843. Truth’s narrative, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, is available on the web and can be downloaded free of charge. Click here.

SojournerTruth1

Sojourner Truth Monument in Battle Creek, Michigan

12-foot statue of Sojourner Truth at Monument Park

SojournerTruth3

Sojourner Truth’s signature, from April 1880, Sojourner Truth Monument

Sojourner Truth was unable to read and write, but the above is a representation of her signature.

SojournerTruth5

Headstone, Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan

Sojourner Truth is buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery. This stone marker was installed in 1946 by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Association. It replaced the original gravestone.

SojournerTruth6

Historical marker, Oak Hill Cemetery

Several members of Truth’s family are also buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Underground Railroad Memorial

Underground Railroad Memorial

Although it honors Harriet Tubman and other Underground Railroad “conductors” rather than Sojourner Truth, I decided to include the above picture. This 14-foot statue is also located in Battle Creek.

Foto Friday: Black History Month Project

At 2 Dope Sistahs we want to support other scholars. On this last day of February, we are using our Foto Friday: Black History Month Edition to introduce the work of a budding young scholar named “Nina.” She is Da Hype 1’s daughter. While other first-graders at her school submitted poster projects on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks, Nina is an independent thinker who decided her Black History Month project would be on Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.

Nina's project

Nina’s project

As you can see, Nina has incorporated the Shirley Chisholm Black Heritage stamp into her project.

NinaProject2

I hope you have enjoyed Nina’s awesome poster. Take note; we may be looking at the work of a future artist, literary scholar, engineer, historian, or even a princess.

Did your young scholar have a Black History Month project? Well, don’t be bashful. Send us a picture on Twitter or Facebook. We’d love to see it.

Don’t Know Much About African American History? A Reading List

Released in 1960, Sam Cooke sang and co-wrote the single “Wonderful World,” the first line of which is:

Don’t know much about history. . .

As Da Hype 1 and I planned our posts for Black History Month, we decided that we wanted to include a list of must-read books for the 2 Dope Sistahs blog. Of course, there are many such lists on other blogs and websites, but we still wanted to provide our recommendations as well. Between a literary scholar and a historian, this proved to be an overwhelming task. I had 48 books on my preliminary list, and I wasn’t sure how to narrow it. There were just too many books, and, of course, I thought people should read all of them.

After much agonizing, I decided to focus on books I would recommend to those who “Don’t know much about African American history.” I thought of my friend who was always wanted me to teach him because he hadn’t taken any history classes in college. I also considered books that I have chosen for my African-American history survey courses over the years. And I wanted to select books that have moved me. Finally, I thought it was best not to overwhelm readers with a long list or declare this as the definitive “must-read” list. The final product, I hope, is a list of six titles that will be helpful for those who are new to African American history and that it will encourage them to read more.

NarrativeDouglass

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave, Written by Himself, 1845.

HistoryMaryPrince

Mary Prince, History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave, Related by Herself, 1831.

White_ArntIWoman

Deborah Gray White, Ar’n’t I a Woman? Female Slaves in the Plantation South, Revised Edition, 1999.

WoodsonMiseducation

Carter G. Woodson, The Miseducation of the Negro, 1933.

DuBois_Souls

W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903.

Diop_AfricanOrigin

Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, 1974.

The great thing about this list is that many of these titles available on the web free or charge or for a nominal fee for e-readers. Enjoy!

*Thanks to my colleagues and friends, Drs. Tiwanna Simpson and Cherisse Jones-Branch, whom I consulted as I was compiling this list.

Foto Friday: Laura Plantation

This installment of Foto Friday, Black History Month Edition, features pictures that I took at Laura Plantation (formerly Duparc Plantation), a 37-acre plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana. Named for Laura Locoul Gore, this sugar plantation was built in the early 19th century and is on the National Register of Historic Places as well as the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. There are 12 original buildings, including slave quarters. This plantation is thought to be the site where Alcée Fortier collected the folktales from African-American freedpeople that became known as the Brer Rabbit tales.

My good friend and colleague Tiwanna Simpson and I visited it in 2003, when it was in the process of being restored. (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) Since then, there has been a fire that destroyed much of the house and of course Hurricane Katrina, but the restoration was finally completed in 2011. Daily tours focus on lives and lifestyle of Creole owners of the plantation. We learned very little about the enslaved people on the plantation. (Hopefully, that has changed.) We were told that there was a different tour, “the adult tour,” which focused on the enslaved people.

Laura1

Plantation Big House, erected 1804

View from the Big House

View from the Big House

The plantation was built on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Skilled workmanship

Skilled workmanship (left)

I was so glad that Dr. Simpson encouraged me to take this picture, although I didn’t know why at the time. The exposed brick shows the original brick (left) and an addition from the late 19th century. Skilled enslaved people built this home in the early 19th century. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that enslaved people had no skills.

Slave Cabins

Slave Cabins

Enslaved people (and later freedpeople) lived in these cabins on Laura plantation.

Close-up of a cabin

Close-up of a cabin

This cabin has been restored.

Foto Friday: Sojourner Truth

In honor of Black History Month, 2 Dope Sistahs will be posting pictures of our visits to historical sites on Foto Fridays. This week’s posts are from Battle Creek, Michigan, where Sojourner Truth lived for more than twenty years.

Sojourner Truth carte de visite

Sojourner Truth carte de visite, sold to support herself.

Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-November 26, 1883) was born into slavery in Ulster County, New York at the end of the 18th century. Known as Isabella (or Isabella Baumfree/Bomefree), she freed herself (walked away) from slavery in 1826. An advocate for abolition and women’s rights, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843. Truth’s narrative, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, is available on the web and can be downloaded free of charge. Click here.

SojournerTruth1

Sojourner Truth Monument in Battle Creek, Michigan

12-foot statue of Sojourner Truth at Monument Park

SojournerTruth3

Sojourner Truth’s signature, from April 1880, Sojourner Truth Monument

Sojourner Truth was unable to read and write, but the above is a representation of her signature.

SojournerTruth5

Headstone, Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan

Sojourner Truth is buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery. This stone marker was installed in 1946 by the Sojourner Truth Memorial Association. It replaced the original gravestone.

SojournerTruth6

Historical marker, Oak Hill Cemetery

Several members of Truth’s family are also buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Underground Railroad Memorial

Underground Railroad Memorial

Although it honors Harriet Tubman and other Underground Railroad “conductors” rather than Sojourner Truth, I decided to include the above picture. This 14-foot statue is also located in Battle Creek.

Foto Friday: Springfield Race Riot

In honor of Black History Month, 2 Dope Sistahs will be posting pictures of our visits to historical sites for Foto Friday. We begin today, one day early, with photos I took in Springfield, Illinois, home of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Springfield, Illinois was the site of a race riot in August 1908. The outrage from the riot led to the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909.

A scene from the Springfield Race Riot

A scene from the Springfield Race Riot

Please click here for more on the history of the race riot.

"Acts of Intolerance"

“Acts of Intolerance”

This sculpture by Preston Jackson was inspired by photographs of the riot’s aftermath.

Springfield Race Riot marker

Springfield Race Riot marker

Historical marker, Union Square Park, Springfield, Illinois.

Springfield3

Close-up of sculpture.

Springfield2

Close-up of sculpture.