“I feel my work is to let people know the tradition from which I came”
E. Ethelbert Miller talks about loneliness in fatherhood
E. Ethelbert Miller, poet and literary activist, talks about advice that he would give to fathers.
E. Ethelbert Miller, 61, is a poet and a literary activist. A native of South Bronx, he has lived in Washington, D.C. since 1968, he came to the city to attend Howard University.
“I was baptized on the campus,” he said. “ Many writers were speaking or reciting their work here. That was very important to me. It affected my life.”
He remains on the Howard campus, where, since 1974, he has been the director of the African American Resource Center. Mr. Miller is also the former chair of the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C. and a former core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College.
He is the author of nine books, and he has edited four others. Among his books: How We Sleep On The Nights We Don’t Make Love (2004) and The 5th Inning (2009).
But he’s in no hurry to publish his 10th book.
“I have my blog. I can get my work out. I don’t feel the need to write a book. I don’t need a book. There is no rush for me to publish anything.”
Plus, he has too many other things to think about. He has a program scheduled for late January at the University of the District of Columbia where he’ll meet regularly with young scholars.
“I feel my work is to let people know the tradition from which I came,” he said.
Reading from “American Tapestry”
Rachel L. Swarns, a correspondent for the New York Times, in her new book “American Tapestry” brings into focus the First Lady’s black, white, and multiracial forebears, and reveals for the first time the identity of Mrs. Obama’s white great-great-great-grandfather-a man who remained hidden in her lineage for more than a century.
Michelle Obama’s family saga is a remarkable, quintessentially American story — a journey from slavery to the White House in five generations. Yet, until now, little has been reported on the First Lady’s roots. Prodigiously researched, American Tapestry traces the complex and fascinating tale of Michelle Obama’s ancestors.
By Wayne Dawkins, Black Books and Reviews.com
Is it plausible that baby-faced teenager Emmett Till whistled at a white woman in the Jim Crow South and guaranteed his grisly death? Till’s spectacular murder and related stories are in “Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement,” [University Press of Mississippi, April] Simeon Booker’s civil rights era memoir, co-written with wife Carol McCabe Booker.
Emmett “Bobo” Till, reported Booker, contracted polio but instead of paralysis, the disease marked the boy with a pronounced stutter. With years of practice, Till was able to control his impediment, except when he became nervous. His mother Mamie Till Bradley taught him to calm down by blowing through his pursed lips, which amounted to whistling.
Fast forward now to 1955 when the 14-year-old Chicagoan visited rural Mississippi and he and his cousins went to the store for candy. What were the odds that middle-school age Till whistled out of nervousness or fear – not sass or leering – during that encounter with Carolyn Bryant?
Booker gathered these clues while reporting about the disappearance of Till for Jet magazine. When the boy’s corpse was fished out of a river, it was so disfigured the face resembled an alien creature. Mississippi authorities claimed the body was not the murdered boy, but there was indisputable evidence: on the right hand middle finger was a ring with the initials “L.T.” and the date “May 25, 1943.” The ring belonged to the boy’s late father Louis, a World War II veteran. Read more →
By Tahira Brooks, Black Books and Reviews
Two thousand eleven marked the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, interstate bus trips filled with civil rights activists organized to overturn racial segregation in the Deep South. Their story of courage and commitment has inspired a new generation of social activists who participated in commemorative rides. But who will share the story of African-American history to the generation to come?
Armed with Deserie Johnson’s (aka Sanjo Jendayi) new title, NyAshia’s Freedom Ride, we can all be skillful bearers of history. The main character, 7-year-old NyAshia takes her own Freedom Ride though time. Just as the original Freedom Riders learned that anything possible, so does she. However, NyAshia’s teachers are infinitely gentler, and include Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr. & President Barack Obama. More than a bedtime story, the book lays a foundation for a love of history.
No stranger to social activism, author Deserie Johnson is an accomplished D.C.-area spoken word artist whose words speak to gender equality, family, faith and artistry. A mother, grandmother, survivor & motivational speaker, she channels her experiences into creative works for the world. We caught up with Johnson in Largo, Maryland.