Archive for the 'African American' Category

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.

Civil rights attorney Fred Gray honored by Congressional Black Caucus Foundation

Friday, October 23rd, 2015 by Lisa Harrison

Bus Ride to Justice: Changing the System by the System, the Life and Works of Fred GrayNewSouth Books salutes distinguished civil rights attorney Fred Gray, author of Bus Ride to Justice: Changing the System by the System, the Life and Works of Fred Gray, who received a Phoenix Award presented by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation at a ceremony held in Washington, D.C. recently.

Mr. Gray received the Annual Legislative Conference Co-Chairs Award, given each year to an individual who has championed civil rights and social justice issues. In reviewing award candidates, the ALC award co-chairs also seek a person who has significantly impacted on the African-American community. This year’s award co-chairs were United States House Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Terri Sewell.

Photographs courtesy Imagine Photography (top) and 609 Multi Media (bottom).

In 1955, at the age of 24, Fred Gray was the lawyer for Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, beginning the modern day civil rights movement and his own long and distinguished career as a civil rights attorney and activist. The ALC Co-Chair’s Phoenix Award is a fitting recognition of Mr. Gray’s groundbreaking work challenging racial discrimination.

Bus Ride to Justice is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

National Trust for Historic Preservation names Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee to its End of Summer Reads list

Friday, August 21st, 2015 by Lisa Harrison

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee by Ellen WeissThe National Trust for Historic Preservation named Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee: An African-American Architect Designs for Booker T. Washington, by Dr. Ellen Weiss, to its “End of Summer Reads for the Preservation Buff” list on their PreservationNation blog. The blog recommends the book for “those who like their history with a heaping helping of social context.” The list of 14 titles includes classics as well as recently published works. Inclusion as a favorite by the National Trust is an honor for Dr. Weiss.

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee interweaves the life of the first academically trained African American architect with his life’s work — the campus of Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute. In this richly illustrated architectural history, the author delves into such questions of how a black boy born in North Carolina shortly after the Civil War could earn a professional architecture degree at MIT, and how he then used his design and administrative skills to further Booker T. Washington’s agenda of community solidarity and, in defiance of strengthening Jim Crow, the public expression of racial pride and progress. The book also considers such issues as architectural education for African Americans at the turn of the twentieth century, the white donors who funded Tuskegee’s buildings, other Tuskegee architects, and Taylor’s buildings elsewhere.

Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee is available from NewSouth Books, or from your favorite bookstore.

Clifton Taulbert reflects on Charleston church tragedy in Huffington Post

Friday, June 26th, 2015 by Brian Seidman

The Invitation by Clifton TaulbertAt the same time bestselling author and motivational speaker Clifton Taulbert participated in the GlobalMindED leadership conference in Denver last week along with an audience of college students, a young man took nine lives in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. As Dylann Roof was being arraigned, Taulbert spoke to the conference about his memoir The Invitation, which recounts reconciliation between Taulbert and a South Carolina plantation owner who revives in Taulbert memories of his childhood in the Jim Crow South.

Fellow GlobalMindED participant Carol Carter shared Taulbert’s thoughts in the Huffington Post:

At Friday noon in South Carolina, young Dylann Roof would appear before the court, and in Denver, I would address the conference. I briefly spoke to the conference and the young people in particular — reading from The Invitation — the recent story of my encounter with a nearly ninety-year-old Allendale, South Carolina plantation owner whom I had met at the turn of the century. Our paths crossed for five years and during those years, I witnessed the possibilities of what can happen when the lingering lessons of race and place come face-to-face with the promising possibilities of the future. I wanted the audience of bright minds and even brighter futures to know that the tragedy in Charleston was our shared tragedy — not a news item soon to be replaced by another breaking story. I challenged the young people and the adults who listened in to embrace the idea that we have the capacity to both innovate and transform our culture. Beyond the conference venue, there was indeed another world — a world that needs not only the best of our minds, but the habits of our hearts in daily action. I know this is possible! I had witnessed transformation at work in Allendale’s Roselawn Plantation when Miss Camille Cunningham Sharp intentionally built in my presence the community that had eluded my childhood.

Read Clifton Taulbert’s full remarks in “Two Different Worlds, One Week” from the Huffington Post.

Clifton Taulbert’s The Invitation is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.