Tag Archives: Jim Crow

Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth Book Review

The Alamo is one of the iconic and problematic events in American history. The defeat of the Mexican army by a small band of rebels in Texas is emblematic of the idea of freedom and independence that is the United States. But that does not mean that the story that we know today has been told in its entirety.

Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth was published in June. Written by Bryan Burroughs, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford, the book explores not just the narrative of the battle at the Alamo, but how it has been changed over time. After telling the story as it was experienced by those who were there, the authors delve into how it was reshaped to match the perspective of the majority Caucasian population. The fact that the Americans were aided by Tejano fighters and that the war was about keeping slavery legal when it was outlawed in Mexico was conveniently forgotten.

This book is uncomfortable to read, in a good way. It forces the reader to take a hard look at not just this event, but our history as a whole. Are we being told of the facts or those that are convenient to those in power? A well written chronicle makes the reader think. If nothing else, Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth, starts to turn the wheels and ask questions that have remained unanswered for far too long.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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RIP Little Richard

Music and art in general, has a way of bringing different people together.

Music pioneer and legend Little Richard passed away earlier today. Known for such classic songs as “Tutti Frutti“, “Lucille“, and “Good Golly Miss Molly”, his music personified the rock and roll of the 1950s. But his music was much than the songs he introduced the world.

He was an African-American musician in an America in which segregation was the name of the game in every sense possible. Jim Crow and separate but equal was the law of the land. He was just one musician, but the mark he made on the world of music and towards racial equality was undeniable.

RIP sir. Your physical being may be gone, but your music will last forever.

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Enemies in Love: A German POW, a Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance Book Review

It has been said that the heart wants what the heart wants. Even if that goes against the political and cultural norms of the day.

In Enemies in Love: A German POW, a Black Nurse, and an Unlikely Romance, by Alexis Clark, Elinor Powell and Frederick Albert met in a way that only comes from war.

Elinor Powell was an African-American nurse who was raised in the Northeast and had her first bitter taste of Jim Crow when she was stationed in Arizona during World War II. Frederick Albert was a German POW who was captured by the Allies in Italy and sent to the POW camp in Arizona where Elinor was stationed. While Frederick outwardly acted as any youth of that time period would act, he internally did not subscribe to the beliefs of Nazi Germany.

It was love at first night for Frederick. Elinor took a little longer, but she too was soon in love. In another time and place, no one would have thought twice about their relationship. But the fact was that she was African-American and he was a German soldier who was a wartime captive. It wasn’t the ideal start to a relationship, but somehow, their relationship and their marriage lasted.

I loved this book. It was not just the story of love against all odds, but it was the story of a real marriage with all of the ups and downs that marriage brings.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

 

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Warriors Don’t Cry Book Review

In 1957, Melba Pattillo Beals did not intend to make history. She simply wanted an education. But like every other African-American in the  Jim Crow south, she was considered to be second class and did not deserve the same education as her white peers.  A member of the of Little Rock Nine, she was one of the first African-American students to enroll at the historically all white Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Her memoir, Warriors Don’t Cry, was last updated in 2007. Told in a first person, the reader is taken directly into the writer’s head and experiences the Civil Rights Movement through Ms. Beals’s perspective and memories.

The main message I got from reading this book is that it doesn’t take place in another world and another era. It takes place in America, not too long ago. If nothing else, it is a stark reminder of the ugly underbelly of American culture and how we must continue to fight for the equality of all citizens. Ms. Beals got the ball rolling, it is of the utmost importance that we continue what she and the other members of the Little Rock Nine started.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

 

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Bella Abzug: A Real Broad

Bella Abzug is a political and feminist icon. Not just among her New York City constituents whom she  represented in the 1970’s, but the world over. Bella was a true politician, unlike many of those who are in the government today. She meant what she said and said what she meant. She stood behind her convictions, even if they made her unpopular.

The 2008 biography by Suzanne Braun Levine and Mary Thom, Bella Abzug: How One Tough Broad from the Bronx Fought Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy, Pissed Off Jimmy Carter, Battled for the Rights of Women and … Planet, and Shook Up Politics Along the Way, is not the standard biography.

Born in 1920 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Bella Abzug (nee Savitsky) was a born fighter. Her first brush with feminism when was her father died when she was a young girl. Traditional Judaism dictates that a son should say kaddish (prayers for mourning) for his father. But Bella, the youngest of two girls, had no brothers. So she said kaddish for her father.

Most biographies have a typical cut and dry style. The person profiled was born on this date, accomplished x,y and z during their lifetime and died on this date.  But not this biography. What I enjoy about this book is that instead of being just another impersonal and historical biography, is the interviews. Not just with the subject herself, but with the those who knew her best. Her family, her friends, her colleagues. I feel like, as a reader, that even though I never met her, that I knew who she was, as a human being, warts and all.

I recommend this book.

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