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Archive for the 'African American' Category

Jacqueline Trimble wins 2016 Balcones Poetry Prize for debut collection, American Happiness

Friday, July 14th, 2017 by Randall Williams

In a bit of great news, American Happiness, recently published by NewSouth Books, wowed the judges of the Balcones Prize, winning the 2016 award for Jacqueline Allen Trimble in the poetry category. The judges at Austin Community College said of her work, “Hers is a refreshing voice. Her poetry is intimate and irony-filled.” They add, “Trimble should never be taken lightly — but, darn it, her poems are so often funny.” Certainly, Jackie Trimble does not take receipt of the award lightly. She was overjoyed about it, especially given the caliber of the poetry award finalists — Claudia Rankine, Bryce Milligan, James Galvin, and Martin Espada — sevand the many greats who were previous winners (Natalie Diaz and Mark Jarmon, to name just two). For Jackie Trimble, the Balcones Award follows receipt of the 2016 Seven Sisters Book Award in the poetry category. The Seven Sisters Book Awards recognize “the stories of women and those who tell them.” The award was established by author Lynne Hinton in 2015.

American Happiness is available from NewSouth Books, or your favorite bookstore.

Frye Gaillard adds Jefferson Cup Honor Book for Go South to Freedom, film documentary about Journey to the Wilderness to list of credits

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 by Randall Williams

Award-winning author Frye Gaillard is enjoying a banner year: his book Go South to Freedom has just been named a Jefferson Cup Honor Book for young adult readers by the Virginia Library Association. The Jefferson Cup honors a distinguished biography, work of historical fiction or American history book for young people. Presented since 1983, the Jefferson Cup Committee’s goal is to promote reading about America’s past; to encourage the quality writing of United States history, biography, and historical fiction for young people; and to recognize authors in these disciplines.

News of the award reached Frye as he was on the road filming a television documentary based on his book Journey to the Wilderness: War, Memory, and a Southern Family’s Civil War Letters. Produced by Mike Letcher of Dragonfly Public Media, the program follows the footsteps of Gaillard’s ancestors who fought in the Civil War. In the film Gaillard reflects on the Civil War letters written by his great-great-grandfather and other family members, noting, “My own generation was perhaps the last that was raised on those stories of gallantry and courage. Oddly, mine was also one of the first to view the Civil War through the lens of civil rights.” The film is being produced in partnership with The Center for War and Memory at The University of South Alabama for public television.

In other news, Frye Gaillard has just put the final touches on his forthcoming memoir A Hard Rain: America in the 1960s, Our Decade of Hope and Innocence Lost. In this book, Gaillard gives us a deeply personal history, bringing his keen storyteller’s eye to this pivotal time in American life. A Hard Rain is due out from NewSouth Books in spring 2018. He is presently at work researching the life of Benjamin Turner for his first illustrated children’s book, a project he’s collaborating on with Marti Rosner. The Slave Who Went to Congress will be released by NewSouth Books in fall 2018.

Go South to Freedom is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

NewSouth author Richard Bailey honors African American heroes Horace King and Lillie Mae Bradford

Friday, March 31st, 2017 by Lisa Harrison

Neither Carpetbaggers Nor Scalawags: Black Officeholders During the Reconstruction of Alabama 1867-1878 by Richard BaileyRichard Bailey, author of Neither Carpetbaggers Nor Scalawags: Black Officeholders During the Reconstruction of Alabama 1867-1878, honored the legacies of two influential African Americans recently.

In February he helped to unveil a portrait of Horace King, a former slave who became an architect and designed the distinctive spiral staircase of the Alabama Capitol building. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, King used bridge-building techniques to design the staircase so that a central support was not required. King later served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives, from 1868-71. Bailey notes that this is the first portrait of an African American that will be on permanent display in the Capitol.

Bailey also helped to dedicate the gravesite of King in LaGrange, Georgia, at the Mulberry Street Cemeteries. He told the LaGrange News that King was “a man who did so much and asked for so little,” noting that the builder helped construct the bridge that connected Columbus, Georgia and Phoenix City, Alabama.

More recently Richard Bailey spoke at the funeral of Lillie Mae Bradford, who refused to move from the front section of a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and was arrested for disorderly conduct years before Rosa Parks. Bailey told the Montgomery Advertiser, “She wasn’t part of any movement, and that makes her action more outstanding.”

Neither Carpetbaggers Nor Scalawags is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Attorney Fred Gray at DNC convention reflects on our political history

Thursday, August 4th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Bus Ride to Justice: Changing the System by the System by Fred GrayLegendary civil rights attorney Fred Gray spoke to the Montgomery Advertiser about his experience as a delegate for Hillary Clinton at the recent Democratic National Convention.

Of his experience winning ground-breaking cases against racial discrimination, Attorney Gray said, “It has contributed toward having an African-American president and then a female president, and who knows where the Lord may permit us to go after we elect Mrs. Clinton.”

Fred Gray’s memoir Bus Ride to Justice: Changing the System by the System, the Life and Works of Fred Gray is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

The Integration of Tuskegee High School: new play highlights role in history played by attorney Fred Gray

Thursday, April 28th, 2016 by Brian Seidman

Legendary civil rights attorney Fred Gray has received accolades from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, American Bar Association, and the NAACP, among many others. Now he is honored with a play that brings the history related to the integration of the Tuskegee High School, with which he was much involved, to dramatic life. Written and directed by Dr. Tessa Carr on the faculty at Auburn University and presented by the Mosaic Theatre Company, The Integration of Tuskegee High School tells the story of Attorney Gray’s role in the pivotal 1963 desegregation lawsuit.

Civil rights attorney Fred Gray and London Carlisle, the actor who plays Gray in The Integration of Tuskegee High School

Civil rights attorney Fred Gray and London Carlisle, the actor who plays Gray in The Integration of Tuskegee High School.

The play was the inspiration of Dr. Mark Wilson at Auburn’s Carolyn Marshall Draughon Center, who believed that a series of interviews with students and community leaders who had lived through school desegregation would be a good basis for a dramatic work. Dr. Carr, Artistic Director of the Mosaic Theatre Company, was equally inspired in the writing of it. In her research she says she was struck by the extraordinary difference in the experiences of Caucasian and African American students involved in the events. It was her aim, she told Auburn University’s Perspectives “to put their voices in conversation — voices that had never had the opportunity to be in conversation before.”

The play was first performed in 2014. The new production includes the voice of Attorney Gray as a guiding narrator. After the premiere, Dr. Mark Wilson told The Plainsman it was so powerful he was left speechless. He noted that the performance would be available for online viewing.

Attorney Gray attended a special invitation-only performance on April 16, where he met London Carlisle, the actor playing himself. In an interview with the Opelika-Auburn News, Gray wryly remarked, “The stage presentation was a good enactment of quite a bit of what you just didn’t see in every day life.” After the performance, Attorney Gray told the Plainsman, “We still have a lot of problems. We need to work on them and not take 50 more years to solve them.”

Fred Gray’s memoir, Bus Ride to Justice: Changing the System by the System, The Life and Works of Fred Gray, is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Award-winning book Eugene Bullard: World’s First Black Fighter Pilot now available in paperback

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Eugene Bullard: World’s First Black Fighter Pilot by Larry Greenly

The award-winning book Eugene Bullard: World’s First Black Fighter Pilot by Larry Greenly is now available in paperback. This first YA biography of the trailblazing aviator has garnered many honors. In addition to receiving two awards for YA literature — the New Mexico/Arizona Literary Award and the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award — the book was acclaimed by Booklist magazine as one of the 10 Best Multicultural Titles for Youth in the Nonfiction category.

In recognizing the book for its award, Booklist noted, “The incredible story of Bullard, an African American pilot honored by the French yet shunned by Americans, receives a moving treatment here.” The magazine’s earlier starred review said, “Greenly crafts a moving, novelistic biography that portrays Bullard’s undying fortitude throughout his life. Meanwhile, the black-and-white photos, of everything from a teenage Bullard boxing to wartime aircrafts, add plenty of historical flavor.”

The story of pioneering aviator Eugene Bullard is known to military history and aviation enthusiasts, but is not as familiar to the general public. Eugene Bullard recounts Bullard’s story from his birth in 1895 in the segregated Deep South through his combat experiences as as expatriate pilot in World War I and World War II, to his return to America.

Kirkus Reviews said of the book, “Eugene Bullard had many fascinating adventures that will engage readers. A worthwhile introduction to a decorated hero of two world wars who overcame obstacles in difficult times.”

Eugene Bullard is available directly from NewSouth Books or your favorite book retailer.

Country Bookshop staffer Bill Maher on Forsaken: “Has heart and wisdom of To Kill a Mockingbird”

Friday, February 5th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Forsaken receives a beautiful endorsement from bookseller Bill Maher at The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC. With poetic simplicity, he calls Forsaken “haunting, riveting. Has heart and wisdom of To Kill a Mockingbird.” The photo he sent to us is a lagniappe.

Forsaken author Ross Howell Jr. will read from and sign copies of his new novel at The Country Bookshop on February 11, 2016 at 5:30pm.

AJC, Richmond Times-Dispatch review Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr.: “An unforgettable debut novel”

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr.Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr. had an auspicious publishing debut this week, with stellar reviews from the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in addition to being featured in O. Henry Magazine and The Charlotte Observer. The outstanding notices herald Ross Howell Jr.’s author tour; he will stop at dozens of bookstores and libraries throughout the South, and will be a guest presenter at several book festivals, beginning February 4.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch calls Forsaken, “An example of historical fiction at its best — and proof that fiction sometimes can reveal truth to greater effect than journalism or history. Forsaken generates anger, and pity, and ultimately hope. And it will leave you in awe of Howell’s deft hand in rendering a story of the benighted past that finds resonance in the present.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution adds, “A story unearthed from old newspapers, a searching look at the facts, eloquent testimony and behind-the-scenes evidence: Forsaken is the fair trial Virginia Christian never had, in which the innocent are justly treated, the guilty finally charged. Ross Howell Jr. captures the atmosphere of early 20th-century Hampton, Virginia, from courthouse to countryside, as vividly as he does its seething, racial inequities. An unforgettable debut novel.”

O. Henry Magazine’s Bookshelf column featured a profile of Ross Howell Jr. In the piece Howell recalls growing up in segregated Floyd County, Virginia. He talks about coming across the case of Virginia Christian while researching another crime, and discovering the dissertation of Dr. Derryn Moten, now acting chair of the history department at Alabama State University. An excerpt from Forsaken follows the interview with Howell.

The Charlotte Observer features a quote from novelist Jill McCorkle, who says that in Forsaken Howell has “vividly recreated a sensational crime firmly rooted in history.”

Forsaken is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

New novel Forsaken named 2016 Okra Pick by Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr.The historical novel Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr., due for release on February 1, has been named a Winter 2016 Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. The Picks recognize “the best in forthcoming Southern lit, according to the people who would know.” Selections are made from titles nominated by employees of independent bookstores throughout the region. Featured titles highlight up-and-coming authors whose books are likely to become bestsellers.

Forsaken tells the story of the sensational crime committed by Virginia Christian, a young black girl who, in 1912 Virginia, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair. She was the only juvenile to be executed in the history of the state. News of her crime made national headlines. Many rallied around her cause. Included among them was a young newspaperman, Charlie Mears, whose own life is indelibly altered when he crosses the color line in reporting on her case.

2016 promises to be an eventful year for Forsaken, a book SIBA says should be on every bookstore’s “To Be Read” list!

Forsaken is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Civil rights pioneer Fred Gray shares podium with Hillary Clinton at Montgomery Bus Boycott commemorative event

Monday, December 7th, 2015 by Lisa Harrison

Bus Ride to Justice: Changing the System by the System by Fred GrayFred Gray was among the civil rights pioneers honored by a new state historical marker to be unveiled at Alabama State University. Attorney Gray spoke at a ceremony on December 1 at 3:00 pm, joining ASU President Gwendoyn Boyd and Joe L. Reed. The ceremony in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott honored ASU alumni and employees who played a major role in the effort.

Later, Attorney Gray spoke at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, preceding special guest Hillary Clinton, whom he called “the next president of the United States.”

Fred Gray’s memoir Bus Ride to Justice: Changing the System by the System, the Life and Works of Fred Gray is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.