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Archive for July, 2019

American Founders sparks strong response with message about role of African-descended people in shaping our democracy

Monday, July 15th, 2019 by Suzanne La Rosa

The early praise for American Founders by Christina Proenza-Coles was, quite simply, outstanding. The book, which released from NewSouth Books in April, was blurbed by leading American historians who called the work “erudite and balanced, a feat of hemispheric synthesis and understanding” (Ben Vinson III, George Washington University, Dean of Columbian College of Arts and Sciences), and said that “it stands as a model of a new kind1588383318 of hemispheric history” (Joel Dinerstein, Tulane University, Clark Chair of American Civilization), and “gives us a stirring and sweeping history that shows how an appreciation of the freedom struggles of African-descended people changes the whole story of national histories” (David Roediger, University of Kansas, Foundation Professor of American Studies). A starred Publishers Weekly review and praise from Kirkus, Booklist, and others followed. Reviews for the book have been every bit as gratifying. Most recently, The Fayetteville Observer says the book “challenges readers to rethink our national narrative” and boldly states that “African founders helped make America great.” Author Christina Proenza-Coles has been a featured guest on radio across the country, including WOCA in Florida; KPFA in California; and WUNC in North Carolina. Lapham’s Quarterly ran a lengthy excerpt from the work, and the Journal for Blacks in Higher Education spotlighted it on a recent Books of Interest list. The Charlottesville Daily Progress published a special feature on the book and its connections to Virginia. Impeccably researched, this book that proposes a radical rethinking of the American story—suggesting that the narrative about African-descended Americans starts much earlier than is previously understood, even before the founding of our country—should continue to blaze interest and change minds. Amen to that. 

Magnificent new edition of Pickett's History of Alabama released to coincide with state Bicentennial

Monday, July 8th, 2019 by Matthew Byrne

Much that we know about the years leading up to and immediately after Alabama became a state, in 1819, we take from a single source, Pickett's History of Alabama, and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi, from the Earliest Period. The work by Albert J. Pickett, first published in 1851, is considered the very first history of the state. In recent years, Pickett’s History, as it is known for short, has been available chiefly in poor facsimile editions. Even so, the book has been an invaluable resource032-PH Jacket v300 300ppi for scholars studying and writing about Southeastern Indians and the expansion of the young United States into what was known as the “Old Southwest,” the present-day states of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. To celebrate Alabama’s bicentennial, NewSouth Books has published a superb new edition of the work, The Annotated Pickett’s History of Alabama. This magnificent volume is made possible by James P. Pate, a scholar in the field, who has devoted almost two decades to a painstaking annotation of Pickett’s original two-volume work. Dr. Pate verified Pickett’s sources; elaborated on the persons, events, and places described; and enriched the work with historical detail unknown when Pickett was writing. The work has also been fully indexed for the first time. The new edition, which carries an introduction by Dr. Pate, combines the two volumes in one and is presented in an attractive and readable wide format: Pickett’s original text and his own footnotes occupy the main part of the page, with annotations in boldface given in the margins. The result pays homage to a book that was described when it appeared nine years before the Civil War as “one of the prettiest specimens of book making ever done in America.” In an article from Alabama NewsCenter, Pate details the importance of republishing Pickett’s History: “For anyone writing about the state of Alabama — and especially the colonial, territorial, or the protohistoric record — Pickett is a very critical source that is not readily available.” (https://alabamanewscenter.com/2018/10/10/picketts-history-alabama-re-released-month/) Praise for the work has come from many quarters. Dr. Ed Bridges, the former director of Alabama Department of Archives and History, graciously calls The Annotated Pickett’s History of Alabama “its own historic event.” Dr. Pate is one of a dozen writers and historians selected by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission (AL200) to speak about topics related to our state history in this Bicentennial year (https://www.al.com/life/2019/02/alabama-bicentennial-13-authors-to-offer-insights-on-state.html).