Book & AV Reviews on topics of interest to the NAALA Group

Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience
Edited by: Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (1999)
Published by Basic Civitas Books / Perseus Books Group: New York (2,095 pages)

This is an invaluable, powerful and beautiful one-volume encyclopedia of all things African and African American -- taking as its scope the entire history of Africa and the African Diaspora. With over 3,000 articles and hundreds of maps, photographs and charts, "Africana is a unique testament to the remarkable legacy of the peoples of a great and varied continent and their descendants around the world."
I cannot say enough about this fabulous book. An Encyclopedia Africana was the dream of W.E.B. DuBois, who wrote the essay, "The Need for an Encyclopedia of the Negro" in 1945. DuBois believed this book would be a most valuable tool in the struggle against racism. But while the encyclopedia was not accomplished in his lifetime, today it is a reality! And it is an indispensable resource for all educators. Hundreds of notable contributors share their expertise in thousands of articles, on topics starting with Henry Louis (Hank) Aaron, Sani Abacha, Abakuás and Diane Abbott -- and continuing through to Youssou N'Dour, Albert Zafy, Isabelo Zenón Cruz, Zumbi and Zydeco.

We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible: A Reader in Black Women's History

Edited by Darlene Clark Hine, Wilma King, and Linda Reed (1995)
Published by Carlson Publishing: Brooklyn, NY (571 pages)

This book's title is a quote from Nannie Helen Burroughs, who founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, D.C. in 1909. This is one of her mottos for the school. "Here, in a single volume, is a sweeping panorama of Black women's experience throughout history and across classes and continents. The book is divided into six sections: Theory; Africa; the Caribbean and Canada; 18th-Century United States; 19th-Century United States; and 20th-Century United States." There are over 30 essays by some of the most influential and prominent scholars in this field of study. As the editors state in the Introduction: "This book was put together to reclaim, and to create heightened awareness about, individuals, contributions, and struggles that have made African-American survival and progress possible...We also owe it to ourselves to experience the thrill of knowing about Black women's accomplishments...The realities of history as unearthed and presented in these essays promise to liberate us all from ignorance, intolerance, and apathy, our most formidable enemies in the postmodern world."

Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America - The Classic Account of the Struggles and Triumphs of Black Americans (5th Edition)

Lerone Bennett, Jr. (662 pages)
Published by Penguin Books, New York (1982)

As stated in the title of this book, people of African ancestry have been present in what is today the United States prior to the landing of the Mayflower. In British America, for example, "a year before the arrival of the celebrated Mayflower, 113 years before the birth of George Washington, 244 years before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, this ship sailed into the harbor at Jamestown, Virginia, and dropped anchor into the muddy waters of history ... Antoney, Isabella, Pedro, and seventeen other Africans stepped ashore in August, 1619. The history of Black America began ... In 1623 or 1624 Isabella gave birth to the first Black child (William) born in English America."
In this classic history we read a new perspective on the US Revolutionary War (p. 68): "Every school(child) knows that Lafayette and Kosciusko answered America's call for help. Not so well known is the fact that Blacks from Haiti came to America to fight. The Haitians, called the Fontages Legion, were in the front ranks at the siege of Savannah and helped prevent a rout of the American forces."

And furthermore (p. 116), "there were, according to Herbert Aptheker (American Negro Slave Revolts, published by Columbia University Press, in 1943) and other students of slave resistance, some 250 revolts and conspiracies in America during the slave era ... the first slave revolt occurred in a settlement of some five hundred Spaniards and one hundred slaves, located in all probability on the Pedee River in contemporary South Carolina. When, around November, 1526, the slaves rebelled and settled in nearby Indian camps, the Spaniards returned to Haiti, ‘leaving,' as Aptheker said, ‘the rebel Negroes with their Indian friends - as the first permanent inhabitants, other than the Indians, in what was to be the United States.'"

This book lives in the grand tradition of the great African American labor leader, Asa Philip Randolph, who in the years after World War I would often state in his speeches, "I want to congratulate you for doing your bit to make the world safe for democracy - and unsafe for hypocrisy." (p. 352)

From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans (6th Ed.)

John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr. (538 pages)
Fortieth Anniversary Edition published by McGraw-Hill (1988)
First edition published on 22 September, 1947

Since its original publication in 1947, From Slavery to Freedom has maintained its preeminence as the most authoritative history of Black Americans. This important Fortieth Anniversary Edition, in which Professor Moss has joined Professor Franklin as co-author, has a freshness that fully justifies its continued leadership as it spans more that a thousand years vividly detailing the journey of Black Americans from their origin in the civilizations of Africa, through slavery in the Western Hemisphere, to the successful struggle for freedom in the West Indies, Latin America, and the United States ... extended into the 1980's.

Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices of Resistance, Reform, and Renewal An African American Anthology

Edited by Manning Marable and Leith Mullings (642 pages)
Rowman and Littlefield Publishers (2000)

One of America's prominent historians and a noted feminist bring together the most important political writings and testimonials from African Americans over three centuries ... This collection of essays, manifestos, interviews, oral testimonies, and historical documents, enhanced by the editors' vivid introductions, highlights the character and important controversies of each period, from the early days of slavery to the end of the twentieth century. This book contains over 100 eloquent and important contributions which are organized into five historical periods, beginning with the words of Olaudah Equiano (1789) and Prince Hall (1797) and ending with Mumia Abu-Jamal (1998) and the Black Radical Congress (1999). As Johnnetta B. Cole, of Emory University says, "No other anthology so fully incorporates views from African American women as well as men, workers as well as intellectuals, and individuals from diverse political perspectives."

Thinking and Rethinking U.S. History

Edited by Gerald Horne (389 pages)
Compiled and researched by Madelon Bedell and Howard Dodson
Published by the Council on Interracial Books for Children (CIBC): New York (1988)
ISBN# 0-930040-673-5

This is one of the many pathbreaking works published by the CIBC from the late 1960's into the early 1990's. While the CIBC no longer exists and their works are out of print, you can still typically find this on the internet as a used book.
Thinking and Rethinking U.S. History is still, today, an extraordinary critique of the typical US history overview -- with a focus on six basic social justice issues: Racism and "People of Color"; Colonialism; Sexism; Militarism; Classism; and Social Change Movements. As one brief example of Thinking and Rethinking U.S. History, (page 41) in "Part II: Precolonial and Colonial America": "All text(books) rule out of discussion the wider question of the African presence in pre-Columbian America. They are over-cautious in ignoring the distinct possibility that Africans sailed to the Americas and entered into contact with Native American peoples long before 1492. Carbon-dated artifacts, plus the findings of scholars in many fields ... indicate that such contacts were likely.... If this theory is accepted, the first Africans were neither slaves nor indentured servants. They were explorers and traders who interacted with the indigenous populations and left their cultural imprint."

The Promised Land

Co-Produced by the BBC and Discovery Productions (video --1995)
3 - 90 minute videos, narrated by Morgan Freeman
"Take Me to Chicago" - "A Dream Deferred" - "Strong Men Keep A-Comin' On"

An in-depth documentary of "The Great Migration" of African Americans to the northern US cities, with a focus on Chicago, Illinois. This is an excellent documentary of this important history, with insightful commentary and engaging interviews, as well as compelling video footage.

Africans in America: America's Journey Through Slavery

Produced by WGBH in Boston, MA (video -- 1998)
4 - 90 minute videos, narrated by Angela Bassett
"The Terrible Transformation" - "Revolution" -
"Brotherly Love" - "Judgement Day"
WGBH Boston Video --

This six-hour film series exposes the truth of African American history through surprising revelations, dramatic recreations, rare archival photography, and riveting first-person accounts. Africans in America helps define the reality of slavery's past through the insightful commentary of a wide range of voices and leading scholars. These films offer unparalleled understanding of US history from slavery's birth in the early 1600's through the violent onset of civil war in 1860.

Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years

Produced by Blackside Inc. (Boston, MA)
PBS Home Video and Turner Home Entertainment (video -- 1995)
14 - one hour documentary videos

This is a definitive video documentary of the US Civil Rights movement with compelling narration, interviews, footage and powerful realities portrayed throughout the entire 14 hours of video. Segments are titled:

  • Volume 1 - "Awakenings" (1954-1956); "Fighting Back" (1957-1962);
  • Volume 2 - "Ain't Scared of Your Jails" (1960-1961); "No Easy Walk" (1961-1963)
  • Volume 3 - "Mississippi: Is This America?" (1962-1964); "Bridge to Freedom" (1965)
  • Volume 4 - "The Time Has Come" (1964-1966); "Two Societies" (1965-1968)
  • Volume 5 - "Power!" (1966-1968); "The Promised Land" (1967-1968)
  • Volume 6 - "Ain't Gonna Shuffle No More" (1964-1972); "A Nation of Law?" (1968-1971)
  • Volume 7 - "The Keys to the Kingdom" (1974-1980); "Back to the Movement" (1979-mid-1980's)

Beyond Heroes & Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education & Staff Development
Edited by: Enid Lee, Deborah Menkart, and Margo Okazawa-Rey (434 pages)
Published by Network of Educators on the Americas (NECA) and Teaching for Change (1998; updated edition 2004)

This is an incredible resource for all of us who are dedicated to addressing racism and promoting multicultural respect and realities. It's a power-packed resource and has more information per ounce than any other resource I have ever read. The ideas, histories, activities and challenges sing out from every page. This is one of the "must have" books for every educator's library. It will take us to a higher level and help guide us - as well as our colleagues and students - as we continue our journeys as educators and life-long learners. Go to the website for "Teaching for Change" for a variety of additional resources and educational opportunities.

Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race in School

Edited by Mica Pollock (380 pages)
Published by The New Press (2008)

Everyday Antiracism is a wonderful book for thoughtful, but busy, teachers. Each selection is typically about 3-4 pages long. As Mica Pollock notes in her "Suggestions for Using This Book" (page xiii), "I asked each author to propose a single action an educator could take on an everyday basis to help counteract racial inequality and racism in schools and society." This book has 64 contributions from a fabulous group of educational leaders, including:

  • Carol Mukhopdahyay "Getting Rid of the Word Caucasian";
  • Thea Abul El-Haj "Arab Visibility and Invisibility"; 
  • Eduardo Bonilla-Silva & David Embrick "Recognizing the Likelihood of Reproducing Racism"; 
  • Ron Ferguson "Helping Students of Color Meet High Standards"; 
  • Patricia Gandara "Strengthening Student Identity in School Programs";
  • Beverly Daniel Tatum "Cultivating the Trust of Black Parents";
  • Angela Valenzuela "Uncovering Internalized Oppression";
  • Mica Pollock "No Brain is Racial" and "Talking Precisely about Equal Opportunity";
  • Paul Ongtooguk and Claudia Dybdahl "Teaching Facts, Not Myths, about Native Americans"; 
  • Sonia Nieto "Nice Is Not Enough: Defining Caring for Students of Color";
  • Pedro Noguera "What Discipline is For: Connecting Students to the Benefits of Learning";
  • Sanjay Sharma "Teaching Representations of Cultural Difference Through Film";
  • Christine Sleeter "Involving Students in Selecting Reading Materials";
  • John Baugh "Valuing Nonstandard English";
  • Jeff Duncan-Andrade "Teaching Critical Analysis of Racial Oppression";
  • Mara Tieken "Making Race Relevant in All-White Classrooms: Using Local History";
  • Priya Parmar and Shirley Steinberg "Locating Yourself for Your Students."

This book ends with a 20-page Reference List of several hundreds of resources for further reading and knowledge.

Rethinking Multicultural Education: Teaching for Racial and Cultural Justice

Edited by Wayne Au (372 pages)
Published by Rethinking Schools (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Since the 1980's, Rethinking Schools (a quarterly journal) has been renowned for its commitment to racial equality in education. Based in Milwaukee and created by currently teaching public school teachers throughout the past three decades, Rethinking Schools offers a powerful and informed voice for quality education for all. Each and every one of the 40 selections in this book is a masterpiece. They are grouped into four sections: "Anti-Racist Orientations," "Language, Culture, and Power," "Transnational Identities, Multicultural Classrooms," and "Confronting Race in the Classroom." The 40 contributions are written by an amazing array of education's brightest stars, such as Bill Bigelow, Asa G. Hilliard III, Geneva Smitherman, Christine Sleeter, Linda Christensen, Rita Tenorio, Bob Peterson, Kate Lyman, Heidi Tolentino, Wayne Au, Berta Rosa Berriz, Enid Lee, Barbara Miner, Lisa Delpit, and many more. Meanwhile, the Rethinking Schools website offers a complete list of other books, resources, links and journals offered by this invaluable organization.

Race: The Color of an Illusion (Video)

3-episode video (56 minutes each) with accompanying resources, teacher guides, links, and more

  • "By far the best documentary series on race of the last decade." --Troy Duster, former president, American Sociological Association
  • "This eye-opening look at why race is not biologically meaningful yet nonetheless very real needs to be seen by all scientists and the general public." --Donald Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief, SCIENCE
  • "One of the most honest and compelling documentary series I've ever seen on race and its impact on this nation's culture and politics, as well as on the economic status of nonwhite citizens." --Acel Moore, Philadelphia Inquirer
  • "A marvelously intelligent documentary. A timely reminder that social divisions are made, not inevitable."--Patricia Williams, The Nation

The division of the world's peoples into distinct groups - "red," "black," "white" or "yellow" peoples - has became so deeply imbedded in our psyches, so widely accepted, many would promptly dismiss as crazy any suggestion of its falsity. Yet, that's exactly what this provocative, new three-hour series by California Newsreel claims. Race - The Power of an Illusion questions the very idea of race as biology, suggesting that a belief in race is no more sound than believing that the sun revolves around the earth. Yet race still matters. Just because race doesn't exist in biology doesn't mean it isn't very real, helping shape life chances and opportunities.

  • Episode 1- The Difference Between Us examines the contemporary science - including genetics - that challenges our common sense assumptions that human beings can be bundled into three or four fundamentally different groups according to their physical traits.
  • Episode 2- The Story We Tell uncovers the roots of the race concept in North America, the 19th century science that legitimated it, and how it came to be held so fiercely in the western imagination. The episode is an eye-opening tale of how race served to rationalize, even justify, American social inequalities as "natural."
  • Episode 3- The House We Live In asks, If race is not biology, what is it? This episode uncovers how race resides not in nature but in politics, economics and culture. It reveals how our social institutions "make" race by disproportionately channeling resources, power, status and wealth to white people. 

(Quoted from )
California Newsreel
"Race: The Power of an Illusion" (video) is produced by California Newsreel.
California Newsreel produces and distributes cutting edge, social justice films that inspire, educate and engage audiences. Founded in 1968, Newsreel is the oldest non-profit, social issue documentary film center in the country, the first to marry media production and contemporary social movements. California Newsreel is a leading resource center for the advancement of racial justice and diversity, and the study of African American life and history as well as African culture and politics.

She Would Not Be Moved: How We Tell the Story of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

By Herbert Kohl
(intro by Marian Wright Edelman)
Published by New Press (2005)

December 1st is the 55th anniversary of Ms. Rosa Parks' refusal to comply with racist laws in Montgomery, Alabama, and common throughout the US. The women and men of Montgomery's African American community had been doing extensive organizing to address issues of racial discrimination for years. This lead to the year-long Montgomery Bus boycott and the emergence of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national civil rights leader. Ms. Parks' actions and the Montgomery Bus Boycott are legendary, but the facts are rarely known or appreciated, and a myth of a "tired" Ms. Parks is all many of us know. This book is essential reading, inspiring and tells "the rest of the story" - which we all need to know!

AMERICAN SCHOOL BOARD JOURNAL: She Would Not Be Moved gives teachers a richer, more accurate way to tell the story of Rosa Parks-not just emphasizing her personal bravery and political activism but also underscoring the role of the wider African-American community in an organized struggle for freedom.

The New York Times Book Review praised this book when it was first published as having "the transcendent power that allows us to see . . . alternate ways of viewing our history and understanding what is going on in our classrooms."

Chicago Tribune:The newly expanded, paperback version of Kohl's original groundbreaking discussion "deftly catalogs problems with the prevailing presentations of Parks and offers [a] more historically accurate, politically pointed and age-appropriate alternative."

Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work

By Ms. Edwidge Danticat
-- The Toni Morrison Lecture Series --
Princeton University Press (2010)

Ms. Edwidge Danticat is from a country we need to hear from. Which country? The country that was the second colony in the western hemisphere - after the United States - to gain its independence from a European colonial empire in 1804. The answer: HAITI. As Ms. Danticat writes, in the selection, "Bicentennial" (page 97): "Two hundred years had passed since the Western Hemisphere's second republic was created. Back then, there were no congratulatory salutes from the first, the United States of America. The new republic, Haiti, had gained its independence through a bloody twelve-year slave uprising, the only time in the history of the world that bond servants successfully overthrew their masters and formed their own state." Haiti's independence was seen as dangerous by the government of the United States and President Thomas Jefferson. The US actually offered assistance to France to re-take its colony, and refused to acknowledge Haiti's independence until 1862 -- when President Lincoln finally did so.

With Haiti suffering a series of devastations in this past year, it is perhaps most important to hear directly from one of Haiti's most notable young writers. Ms. Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and moved to the US when she was 12. She has written several books, both fiction and non-fiction. One non-fiction book, Brother, I'm Dying was a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. This is a deeply moving, powerful book. As noted in one review, "Create Dangerously is an eloquent and moving expression of Danticat's belief that immigrant artists are obliged to bear witness when their countries of origin are suffering from violence, oppression, poverty, and tragedy."
Danticat states: "Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I've always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them."

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

Adopted by the United Nations on December 10. 1948 -

December 10th is annually declared to be International Human Rights Day by the United Nations to highlight the rights all of us deserve to live with - and now there is a beautifully designed poster listing the 30 fundamental rights of the UDHR which can inspire and educate people throughout your workplace or anyplace! For this poster, plus numerous other resources go to: Syracuse Cultural Workers (at ). Also available at this site are posters highlighting: The Rights of the Child - in Spanish and English - detailing the United Nations' ratified document (1989) which heralds the rights to be guaranteed to all children on Earth; FDR's "Economic Bill of Rights" -- from his 1944 State of the Union speech; UN's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;  "How Big is Africa?" - and the answer is that the US, China and Europe would ALL fit inside Africa, with room to spare!; How to Build Community; How to Build Global Community; Images of Haiti (set of posters in Creole and English)