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Black History Month

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  1. 9.0 hrs • 1/31/2017 • Unabridged

    Their story was almost forgotten by history. Now known as the Wereth Eleven, these brave African-American soldiers left their homes to join the Allied effort on the front lines of WWII. As members of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion, they provided crucial fire support at the Siege of Bastogne. Among the few who managed to escape the Nazis’ devastating Ardennes Offensive, they found refuge in the small village of Wereth, Belgium. A farmer and supporter of the Allies took the exhausted and half-starved men into his home. When Nazi authorities learned of their whereabouts, they did not take the soldiers prisoner, but subjected them to torture and execution in a nearby field. Despite their bravery and sacrifice, these eleven soldiers were omitted from the final Congressional War Crimes report of 1949. For seventy years, their files—marked secret—gathered dust in the National Archive. But in 1994, at the site of their execution, a memorial was dedicated to the Wereth Eleven and all African-American soldiers who fought in Europe. Drawing on firsthand interviews with family members and fellow soldiers, The Lost Eleven tells the complete story of these nearly forgotten soldiers, their valor in battle, and their tragic end.

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    The Lost Eleven by Denise George, Robert Child

    The Lost Eleven

    9.0 hrs • 1/31/17 • Unabridged
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  2. 6.4 hrs • 12/13/2016 • Unabridged

    From the recipient of the 2010 Clifton Fadiman Medal comes an unforgettable novel of one woman’s courageous coming of age. Powerful, disturbing, and stirring, Jamaica Kincaid’s novel is the deeply charged story of a woman’s life on the island of Dominica. Xuela Claudette Richardson, the daughter of a Carib mother and a half-Scottish, half-African father, loses her mother to death the moment she is born and must find her way on her own. Jamaica Kincaid takes us from Xuela’s childhood in a home where she can hear the song of the sea to the tin-roofed room where she lives as a schoolgirl in the house of Jack La Batte, who becomes her first lover. Xuela develops a passion for the stevedore Roland, who steals bolts of Irish linen for her from the ships he unloads, but she eventually marries an English doctor, Philip Bailey. Xuela’s intensely physical world is redolent of overripe fruit, gentian violet, sulfur, and rain on the road. It seethes with her sorrow, her deep sympathy for those who share her history, her fear of her father, and her desperate loneliness. But underlying all is “the black room of the world” that is Xuela’s barrenness and life without a mother. The Autobiography of My Mother is a story of love, fear, loss, and the forging of character, an account of one woman’s inexorable evolution, evoked in startling and magical poetry.

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    The Autobiography of My Mother by Jamaica Kincaid

    The Autobiography of My Mother

    6.4 hrs • 12/13/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 12.0 hrs • 8/16/2016 • Unabridged

    A fascinating and original portrait of the escaped-slave refugee camps and how they shaped the course of emancipation and black citizenship. By the end of the Civil War, nearly half a million slaves had taken refuge behind Union lines in what became known as “contraband camps.” These were crowded, dangerous places, yet some 12–15 percent of the Confederacy’s slave population took almost unimaginable risks to reach them, and they became the first places Northerners came to know former slaves en masse. Ranging from stories of individuals to those of armies on the move to the debates in Congress, Troubled Refuge probes what the camps were really like and how former slaves and Union soldiers warily united there. This alliance, which would outlast the war, helped to destroy slavery and ward off the surprisingly tenacious danger of reenslavement. But it also raised unsettling questions about the relationship between American civil and military authority and reshaped the meaning of American citizenship to the benefit as well as the lasting cost of African Americans.

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    Troubled Refuge by Chandra Manning

    Troubled Refuge

    12.0 hrs • 8/16/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 22.1 hrs • 7/12/2016 • Unabridged

    Giving voice to the voiceless, the Chicago Defender condemned Jim Crow, catalyzed the Great Migration, and focused the electoral power of black America. Robert S. Abbott founded the Defender in 1905, smuggled hundreds of thousands of copies into the most isolated communities in the segregated South, and was dubbed a “Modern Moses,” becoming one of the first black millionaires in the process. His successor wielded the newspaper’s clout to elect mayors and presidents, including Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, who would have lost in 1960 if not for the Defender’s support. Along the way, its pages were filled with columns by legends like Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, and Martin Luther King Jr. Drawing on dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, Ethan Michaeli constructs a revelatory narrative of race in America from the age of Teddy Roosevelt to the age of Barack Obama and brings to life the reporters who braved lynch mobs and policemen’s clubs to do their jobs.

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    The Defender by Ethan Michaeli

    The Defender

    22.1 hrs • 7/12/16 • Unabridged
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  5. 4.3 hrs • 7/5/2016 • Unabridged

    Jamaica Kincaid presents a haunting and provocative story of a young girl growing up on the island of Antigua. An adored only child, Annie has until recently lived an idyllic life. She is inseparable from her beautiful mother, a powerful presence at the very center of the little girl’s existence. Loved and cherished, Annie grows and thrives within her mother’s benign shadow. Looking back on her childhood, she reflects, “It was in such a paradise that I lived.” When she turns twelve, however, Annie’s life changes in ways that are often mysterious to her. She begins to question the cultural assumptions of her island world; at school she instinctively rebels against authority; and most frighteningly, her mother, seeing Annie as a “young lady,” ceases to be the source of unconditional adoration and takes on the new and unfamiliar guise of adversary. At the end of her school years, Annie decides to leave Antigua and her family, but not without a measure of sorrow, especially for the mother she once knew and never ceases to mourn. “For I could not be sure,” she reflects, “whether for the rest of my life I would be able to tell when it was really my mother and when it was really her shadow standing between me and the rest of the world.” A classic coming-of-age story in the tradition of The Catcher in the Rye and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Annie John focuses on a universal, tragic, and often comic theme: the loss of childhood. Annie’s voice―urgent, demanding to be heard―is one that will not soon be forgotten.

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    Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

    Annie John

    4.3 hrs • 7/5/16 • Unabridged
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  6. 10.5 hrs • 6/21/2016 • Unabridged

    This revelatory memoir by the mother of Michael Brown, the African American teenager killed by the police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, sheds light on one of the landmark events in recent history. “I wasn’t there when Mike Mike was shot. I didn’t see him fall or take his last breath, but as his mother, I do know one thing better than anyone, and that’s how to tell my son’s story and the journey we shared together as mother and son,” says Lezley McSpadden When Michael Orlandus Darrion Brown was born, he was adored and doted on by his aunts, uncles, grandparents, his father, and most of all by his sixteen-year-old mother, who nicknamed him Mike Mike. McSpadden never imagined that her son’s name would inspire the resounding chants of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, and ignite the global conversation about the disparities in the American policing system. In Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil, McSpadden picks up the pieces of the tragedy that shook her life and the country to their core and reveals the unforgettable story of her life, her son, and their truth. Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil is a riveting family memoir about the journey of a young woman triumphing over insurmountable obstacles and learning to become a good mother. With brutal honesty, McSpadden brings us inside her experiences being raised by a hardworking, single mother; her pregnancy at age fifteen and the painful subsequent decision to drop out of school to support her son; how she survived domestic abuse; and her unwavering commitment to raising four strong and healthy children, even if it meant doing so on her own. McSpadden writes passionately about the hours, days, and months after her son was shot to death by Officer Darren Wilson, recounting her time on the ground with peaceful protestors, how she was treated by police and city officials, and how she felt in the gut-wrenching moment when the grand jury announced that it would not indict the man who had killed her son. After the system failed to deliver justice for Michael Brown, McSpadden and thousands of others across America took it upon themselves to carry on his legacy in the fight against injustice and racism. Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil is a portrait of our time, an urgent call to action, and a moving testament to the undying bond between mothers and sons.

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    Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil by Lezley McSpadden

    Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil

    By Lezley McSpadden, with Lyah Beth LeFlore
    10.5 hrs • 6/21/16 • Unabridged
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  7. 0 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5
    20.8 hrs • 5/17/2016 • Unabridged

    The stark grief of a brother mourning a brother opens this novel with a stunning, unforgettable experience. Here, in a monumental saga of love and rage, Baldwin goes back to Harlem, to the church of his groundbreaking novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, to the homosexual passion of Giovanni’s Room, and to the political fire that inflames his nonfiction work. Here, too, the story of gospel singer Arthur Montana and his family becomes both a journey into another country of the soul and senses—and a living contemporary history of black struggle in this land.

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    Just above My Head by James Baldwin

    Just above My Head

    20.8 hrs • 5/17/16 • Unabridged
    0 reviews 0 5 3 3 out of 5 stars 3/5
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  8. 7.1 hrs • 2/1/2016 • Unabridged

    In this honest and stunning novel, James Baldwin has given America a moving story of love in the face of injustice. Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and is imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions—affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.

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    If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

    If Beale Street Could Talk

    7.1 hrs • 2/1/16 • Unabridged
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  9. 8.9 hrs • 1/4/2016 • Unabridged

    In February 1971 racial tension surrounding school desegregation in Wilmington, North Carolina, culminated in four days of violence and skirmishes between white vigilantes and black residents. The turmoil resulted in two deaths, six injuries, more than $500,000 in damage, and the firebombing of a white-owned store, before the National Guard restored uneasy peace. Despite glaring irregularities in the subsequent trial, ten young persons were convicted of arson and conspiracy and then sentenced to a total of 282 years in prison. They became known internationally as the Wilmington Ten. A powerful movement arose within North Carolina and beyond to demand their freedom, and after several witnesses admitted to perjury, a federal appeals court, also citing prosecutorial misconduct, overturned the convictions in 1980. Kenneth Janken narrates the dramatic story of the Ten, connecting their story to a larger arc of Black Power and the transformation of post–civil rights–era political organizing. Grounded in extensive interviews, newly declassified government documents, and archival research, this book thoroughly examines the events of 1971 and the subsequent movement for justice that strongly influenced the wider African American freedom struggle.

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    The Wilmington Ten by Kenneth Robert Janken

    The Wilmington Ten

    8.9 hrs • 1/4/16 • Unabridged
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  10. 1 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5 (1)
    14.9 hrs • 1/1/2015 • Unabridged

    At the height of his theatrical career, the actor Leo Proudhammer is nearly felled by a heart attack. As he hovers between life and death, Baldwin shows the choices that have made him enviably famous and terrifyingly vulnerable. For between Leo’s childhood on the streets of Harlem and his arrival into the intoxicating world of the theater lies a wilderness of desire and loss, shame and rage. An adored older brother vanishes into prison. There are love affairs with a white woman and a younger black man, each of whom will make irresistible claims on Leo’s loyalty. And everywhere there is the anguish of being black in a society that at times seems poised on the brink of total racial war. Overpowering in its vitality, extravagant in the intensity of its feeling, Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone is a major work of American literature.

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    Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone by James Baldwin

    Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone

    14.9 hrs • 1/1/16 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5 (1)
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  11. 8.0 hrs • 12/1/2015 • Unabridged

    At once incendiary and icy, mischievous and provocative, celebratory and elegiac—here is a deeply felt meditation on race, sex, and American culture through the prism of Margo Jefferson’s rarefied upbringing and education among a black elite concerned with distancing itself from whites and the black generality while tirelessly measuring itself against both. Born in upper-crust black Chicago—her father was for years head of pediatrics at Provident, at the time the nation’s oldest black hospital; her mother was a socialite—Margo Jefferson has spent most of her life among (call them what you will) the colored aristocracy, the colored elite, the blue-vein society. Since the nineteenth century, they have stood apart, these inhabitants of Negroland, “a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty.” Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments—the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of postracial America—Margo Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions. Aware as it is of heartwrenching despair and depression, this book is a triumphant paean to the grace of perseverance.

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    Negroland by Margo Jefferson

    Negroland

    8.0 hrs • 12/1/15 • Unabridged
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  12. 1 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5 (1)
    9.6 hrs • 10/27/2015 • Unabridged

    The injustices of 1940s Jim Crow America are brought to life in this extraordinary blend of military and social history, an account that pays tribute to the valor of an all-black battalion whose crucial contributions at D-day have gone unrecognized to this day. In the early hours of June 6, 1944, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, a unit of African American soldiers, landed on the beaches of France. Their orders were to man a curtain of armed balloons meant to deter enemy aircraft. One member of the 320th would be nominated for the Medal of Honor, an award he would never receive because the nation’s highest decoration was not given to black soldiers in World War II. Drawing on newly uncovered military records and dozens of original interviews with surviving members of the 320th and their families, Linda Hervieux tells the story of these heroic men charged with an extraordinary mission, whose contributions to one of the most celebrated events in modern history have been overlooked. Thousands of African Americans were sent abroad to fight for liberties denied them at home, including these members of the 320th: Wilson Monk, a jack-of-all-trades from Atlantic City; Henry Parham, the son of sharecroppers from rural Virginia; William Dabney, an eager seventeen-year-old from Roanoke, Virginia; and Samuel Mattison, a charming romantic from Columbus, Ohio. In Europe, these soldiers discovered freedom they had not known in a homeland that treated them as second-class citizens—experiences they carried back to America, fueling the budding civil-rights movement. In telling the story of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, Hervieux offers a vivid account of the tension between racial politics and national service in wartime America and a moving narrative of human bravery and perseverance in the face of injustice.

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    Forgotten by Linda Hervieux

    Forgotten

    9.6 hrs • 10/27/15 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5 (1)
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  13. 19.8 hrs • 9/9/2014 • Unabridged

    In The Half Has Never Been Told, historian Edward E. Baptist reveals the alarming extent to which slavery shaped our country politically, morally, and most of all, economically. Until the Civil War, our chief form of innovation was slavery. Through forced migration and torture, slave owners extracted continual increases in efficiency from their slaves, giving the country a virtual monopoly on the production of cotton, a key raw material of the Industrial Revolution. As Baptist argues, this frenzy of speculation and economic expansion transformed the United States into a modern capitalist nation. Based on thousands of slave narratives and plantation records, The Half Has Never Been Told offers not only a radical revision of the history of slavery but a disturbing new understanding of the origins of American power that compels listeners to reckon with the violence and subjugation at the root of American supremacy.

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    The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward E. Baptist

    The Half Has Never Been Told

    19.8 hrs • 9/9/14 • Unabridged
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  14. 6.3 hrs • 7/1/2014 • Unabridged

    Bestselling and award-winning author Sharon G. Flake delivers a mystery set in the 1950s that eerily blends history, race, culture, and family. Octobia May is girl filled with questions. Her heart condition makes her special—and, some folks would argue, gives this ten-year-old powers that make her a “wise soul.” Thank goodness for Auntie, who convinces Octobia’s parents to let her live in her boarding house that is filled with old folks. That’s when trouble and excitement and wonder begin. Auntie is nontraditional. She’s unmarried and has plans to purchase other boarding homes and hotels. At a time when children, and especially girls, are “seen, not heard,” Auntie allows Octobia May the freedom and expression of an adult. When Octobia starts to question the folks in her world, a mysterious adventure unfolds that begs some troubling questions: Who is black and who is “passing” for white? What happens when a vibrant African American community must face its own racism? And, perhaps most important: Do vampires really exist? In her most and probing novel yet, Sharon G. Flake takes us on a heart-pumping journey.

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    Unstoppable Octobia May

    6.3 hrs • 7/1/14 • Unabridged
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  15. 1 reviews 0 5 4.4 4 out of 5 stars 4.4/5 (1)
    30.1 hrs • 9/12/2013 • Unabridged

    It begins with a birth in an African village in 1750, and ends two centuries later at a funeral in Arkansas. And in that time span, an unforgettable cast of men, women, and children come to life, many of them based on the people from Alex Haley’s own family tree. When Alex was a boy growing up in Tennessee, his grandmother used to tell him stories about their family, stories that went way back to a man she called “the African” who was taken aboard a slave ship bound for Colonial America. As an adult, Alex spent twelve years searching for documentation that might authenticate what his grandmother had told him. In an astonishing feat of genealogical detective work, he discovered the name of “the African”—Kunta Kinte—as well as the exact location of the village in West Africa from where he was abducted in 1767. Roots is based on the facts of his ancestry, and the six generations of people—slaves and freemen, farmers and lawyers, an architect, a teacher—and one acclaimed author—who descended from Kunta Kinte.

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    Roots by Alex Haley

    Roots

    Introduction by Michael Eric Dyson
    Read by Avery Brooks
    30.1 hrs • 9/12/13 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4.4 4 out of 5 stars 4.4/5 (1)
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  16. 7 reviews 0 5 4.9 4 out of 5 stars 4.9/5 (7)
    7.8 hrs • 3/15/2013 • Unabridged

    In this riveting landmark autobiography that reads like a novel, Academy Award and Emmy winner Louis Gossett, Jr., masterfully transports us to 1840s New York, Louisiana, and Washington, DC, to experience the kidnapping and twelve-year bondage of Solomon Northup, a free man of color. Twelve Years a Slave, published in 1853, was an immediate bombshell in the national debate over slavery leading up to the Civil War. It validated Harriett Beecher Stowe’s fictional account of Southern slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which had become the best-selling American book in history a few years earlier, and significantly changed public opinion in favor of abolition. A major motion picture based on the book and starring Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, and Michael Fassbender released in 2013. Hard working Solomon Northup, an educated free man of color in 1841, enjoys family life with his wife and three children in Saratoga, New York. He delights his community with his fiddle playing and antic spirit and has positive expectations of everyone he meets. When he is deceived by “circus promoters” who ask him to accompany them to a musical gig in Washington, DC, his joyful life takes an unimaginable turn. He awakes in shackles to find he has been drugged, kidnapped, and bound for the slave block in the nation’s capital. After Solomon is shipped a thousand miles to New Orleans, he is assigned his slave name and quickly learns that the mere utterance of his true origin or rights as a freeman are certain to bring severe punishment, maybe even death. While he endures the brutal life of a slave in Louisiana’s isolated Bayou Boeuf plantation country, he must learn how to play the system and plot his escape home. For twelve years, his fine mind captures the reality of slavery in stunning detail, and listeners learn about the characters that populated plantation society and the intrigues of the bayou—from the collapse of a slave rebellion resulting in mass hangings due to traitorous slave Lew Cheney to the tragic abuse of his friend Patsey, brought about by Mrs. Epps’ jealousy of her husband’s sexual exploitation of the pretty young slave. When Solomon finally finds a sympathizing friend who risks his life to secret a letter to the North, a courageous rescue attempt ensues that could either compound Solomon’s suffering or get him back to the arms of his family. “[Screenwriter John] Ridley said he decided simply to stick with the facts in adapting Northup’s book for the film…[and] he was helped by voluminous footnotes and documentation that were included with Dr. Eakin’s edition of the book.”—New York Times (September 22, 2013) on the making of the film 12 Years a Slave

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    Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

    Twelve Years a Slave

    7.8 hrs • 3/15/13 • Unabridged
    7 reviews 0 5 4.9 4 out of 5 stars 4.9/5 (7)
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