Archive for August, 2020

American Founders called essential reading by scholars, reviewers, and trumpeters alike

Monday, August 31st, 2020 by Matthew Byrne

The variety of individuals who have called American Founders a must-read are as diverse as they are distinguished. This recently released work of historical genius from Christina Proenza-Coles traces the impact African-descended peoples have had on the American continent, beginning long before the first English ship reached our shores. It is1588383318 this wide-ranging and unique perspective that led Henry Wiencek, author of Master of the Mountain, to call American Founders an “important work” that “offers an extraordinary, compelling new narrative of the African role in creating the Americas of the Western Hemisphere.”

We were thrilled to see American Founders named a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Book Award in the category of history in June of this year. Even more recently, jazz legend and maestro trumpeter Wynton Marsalis surprised us by naming the book his personal favorite on the subject of freedom in a short video for his personal blog. What an achievement for American Founders! Marsalis expertly describes Proenza-Coles’s research and, not surprisingly, ties the significance of the work back to jazz.

Christina Proenza-Coles’s book was also the subject of a penetrating radio program for WYPR’s On the Record, Baltimore’s NPR affiliate. The author herself was a guest, offering insights and little-known stories from American history that show in what remarkable ways AfroAmericans have contributed to the character and early history of our country, including in the struggle for freedom and social justice.

Of course, history is still being made. The momentous events of this moment in the year 2020 place in bold relief the many ways in which African-descended Americans continue to shape our destiny, leading the charge toward a more equitable and just society. For more information, visit

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman offers unique political perspective in national media upon release of Stealing Our Democracy

Monday, August 10th, 2020 by Matthew Byrne

Don Siegelman, who served as Alabama’s governor from 1999 to 2003, was wrongfully convicted in proceedings he calls politically motivated. He spent more than five years in prison, including, tragically, time in solitary confinement. Now released, Siegelman has become something quite dangerous in the political game: a motivated policy genius who doesn’t need to worry about popularity or elections. Siegelman is focused on pushing forward reform for our justice system, arguing that political corruption in our courts subverts the rights of defendants and that our prisoners are not receiving the care they desperately need, particularly during this pandemic. Siegelman’s important voice has been broadcast over the airwaves following the release of his new memoir, Stealing Our Democracy, including appearances on NPR stations and Sirius XM.

429-4 SOD cover 72ppiIn an interview with On Pointa program produced by NPR affiliate WBUR, Siegelman had this to say about his experience in the justice system: “If you believe that in every situation one should find a purpose . . . I quickly found mine. My purpose now is to expose what’s going on [in the justice system] and try to change it.” If charges can falsely be brought against a sitting governor, what’s to stop the same from happening to anyone?

As governor of Alabama, Siegelman was arguably one of the most influential political leaders in the heart of both the Confederacy and civil rights movement. He shouldered the weight of Alabama’s history of racial injustice with grace, meeting with and celebrating figures like Rosa Parks, C. T. Vivian, and the late John Lewis. Talking with Joe Madison, “The Black Eagle,” on Sirius XM, Siegelman recalled walking with Lewis and then-president Bill Clinton across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where Lewis had been brutally beaten on Bloody Sunday. Siegelman called it the most impactful period of his governorship, remarking that “we all now have to share a greater burden in the struggle for truth, justice, and freedom now that John Lewis and C. T. Vivian have passed.” He agrees with President Obama that the fight continues and that the best way to ensure Lewis’s legacy is to strengthen the legislation he fought so hard for.

And Siegelman isn’t the only one who thinks his prosecution was a sham. A piece in The Washington Spectator analyzes the evidence showing that Karl Rove and other key political figures were covertly involved with prosecutors in his case. Spectator reporter Lou Dubose comments, “If I didn’t know the story . . . I might have considered the title of Siegelman’s new book—Stealing Our Democracy—broad and overstated. Which it is not.” The title of Siegelman’s memoir isn’t an overstatement; unscrupulous politicians, many of them right-wing, are threatening our core values of government through their unlawful use of the justice system. Siegelman’s book is a cautionary tale.

Read more about Stealing Our Democracy here.