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Cultural Heritage

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  1. 8.6 hrs • 9/13/2016 • Unabridged

    For an undocumented immigrant, what is the true cost of the American Dream? Julissa Arce shares her story in a riveting memoir. When she was 11 years old Julissa Arce left Mexico and came to the United States on a tourist visa to be reunited with her parents, who dreamed the journey would secure her a better life. When her visa expired at the age of 15, she became an undocumented immigrant. Thus began her underground existence, a decades long game of cat and mouse, tremendous family sacrifice, and fear of exposure. After the Texas Dream Act made a college degree possible, Julissa’s top grades and leadership positions landed her an internship at Goldman Sachs, which led to a full time position—one of the most coveted jobs on Wall Street. Soon she was a Vice President, a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties, yet still guarding her “underground” secret. In telling her personal story of separation, grief, and ultimate redemption, Arce shifts the immigrant conversation, and changes the perception of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant.

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    My (Underground) American Dream

    8.6 hrs • 9/13/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 11.3 hrs • 9/13/2016 • Unabridged

    The late Grammy-winning founder of the legendary pop/R&B/soul/funk/disco group tells his story and charts the rise of his legendary band in this sincere memoir that captures the heart and soul of an artist whose groundbreaking sound continues to influence music today. With its dynamic horns, contrasting vocals, and vivid stage shows, Earth, Wind & Fire was one of the most popular acts of the late twentieth century—the band “that changed the sound of black pop” (Rolling Stone)—and its music continues to inspire modern artists including Usher, Jay-Z, Cee-Lo Green, and Outkast. At last, the band’s founder, Maurice White, shares the story of his success. White reflects on the great blessings music has brought to his life and the struggles he’s endured: his mother leaving him behind in Memphis when he was four; learning to play the drums with Booker T. Jones; moving to Chicago at eighteen and later Los Angeles after leaving the Ramsey Lewis Trio; forming EWF, only to have the original group fall apart; working with Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond; his diagnosis of Parkinson’s; and his final public performance with the group at the 2006 Grammy Awards. Through it all, White credits his faith for his amazing success and guidance in overcoming his many challenges. My Life with Earth, Wind, and Fire is an intimate, moving, and beautiful memoir from a man whose creativity and determination carried him to great success, and whose faith enabled him to savor every moment.

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    My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire by Maurice White, Herb Powell

    My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire

    11.3 hrs • 9/13/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 5.7 hrs • 9/6/2016 • Unabridged

    A memoir of growing up with blind, African-American parents in a segregated cult preaching the imminent end of the world When The World in Flames begins, in 1970, Jerald Walker is six years old. His consciousness revolves around being a member of a church whose teachings he finds confusing and terrifying. Composed of a hodgepodge of religious beliefs, the underlying tenet of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God was that members were God’s chosen race and all others would perish in just a few years’ time. The next life, according to Armstrong, would arrive in 1975, three years after the Great Tribulation. Walker would be eleven years old. Walker’s parents were particularly vulnerable to the promise of relief from this world’s hardships. They were living in a two-room apartment in a dangerous Chicago housing project with their four children. Both were blind, having lost their sight to childhood accidents, and took comfort in the belief that they had been chosen for a better afterlife. When the initial prophecy of the 1972 Great Tribulation does not materialize, Walker is considerably less disappointed than relieved. When the End-Time 1975 prophecy also fails, he finally begins to question his faith and to see a potential future for himself.

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    The World in Flames

    5.7 hrs • 9/6/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 2.5 hrs • 7/8/2016 • Unabridged

    Bestselling author and NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar takes listeners on a tour through the segregated days of early basketball. Along the way, hoops icons like Charles Barkley, Julius Erving, and John Wooden share their thoughts, while broadcast legend Bob Costas narrates.

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    On the Shoulders of Giants, Vol. 3

    2.5 hrs • 7/8/16 • Unabridged
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  5. 5.6 hrs • 6/28/2016 • Unabridged

    Negin Farsad is an Iranian-American-Muslim female stand-up comedian who believes she can change the world, one joke at a time. In HOW TO MAKE WHITE PEOPLE LAUGH, Farsad shares her personal experiences growing up as the "Other" in an American culture that has no time for nuance. Speaking bluntly and hilariously about the elements of race we are often too politically correct to discuss, Farsad takes a long hard look at the iconography that still shapes our concepts of "black," "white," and "Muslim" in America today and examines what it means when white culture defines the culture. Here she asks, what does it mean to have a hyphenated identity and how can we combat the racism, stereotyping, and exclusion that happens every day? HOW TO MAKE WHITE PEOPLE LAUGH tackles these questions and more with wit, humor, and incisive intellect.

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    How to Make White People Laugh

    5.6 hrs • 6/28/16 • Unabridged
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  6. 8.4 hrs • 6/28/2016 • Unabridged

    From bestselling author and beloved New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin, a deeply resonant collection from fifty years of reporting on race and racism across the country. In this collection, Calvin Trillin returns to the early years of his storied career, when he was a young journalist posted in a fitfully-desegregating Georgia. The people he met there, the country-shaking events he covered, and the changes he saw being made—or blocked—would impact him deeply, and for the next fifty years, Trillin would return to stories about race, racism, and segregation across the entire country. Now, for the first time, the best of Trillin’s pieces on this period and its legacy in the years that followed are collected in one volume.

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    Jackson, 1964

    Read by Robert Fass
    Introduction read by Calvin Trillin
    8.4 hrs • 6/28/16 • Unabridged
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  7. 8.1 hrs • 6/27/2016 • Unabridged

    A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Betty DeRamus is an award-winning journalist who rummaged through musty records and forgotten memoirs to resurrect this book's unsung heroes. Despite the risks, some American slaves partook of the "forbidden fruit" of marriage. And when the dreaded separation inevitably occurred, slave spouses grieved deeply and sometimes made Herculean efforts to re-unite. DeRamus recounts the tales of soulmates who braved bloodhounds, bounty hunters, and bullets to preserve their vows of love.

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    Forbidden Fruit

    Read by Various
    8.1 hrs • 6/27/16 • Unabridged
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  8. 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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  9. 12.2 hrs • 6/14/2016 • Unabridged

    Baby Boy Fisher was raised in institutions from the moment of his birth in prison to a single mother. He ultimately came to live with a foster family, where he endured near-constant verbal and physical abuse. In his mid-teens he escaped and enlisted in the navy, where he became a man of the world, raised by the family he created for himself. Finding Fish shows how, out of this unlikely mix of deprivation and hope, an artist was born—first as the child who painted the feelings his words dared not speak, then as a poet and storyteller who would eventually become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after screenwriters. A tumultuous and ultimately gratifying tale of self-discovery written in Fisher’s gritty yet melodic literary voice, Finding Fish is an unforgettable listening experience.

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    Finding Fish

    12.2 hrs • 6/14/16 • Unabridged
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  10. 5.8 hrs • 5/31/2016 • Unabridged
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    Double Cup Love

    5.8 hrs • 5/31/16 • Unabridged
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  11. 9.4 hrs • 4/19/2016 • Unabridged

    Debby Irving is an emerging voice in the national racial justice community. Combining her organization development skills, classroom teaching experience, and understanding of systemic racism, Irving educates and consults with individuals and organizations seeking to create racial equity at both the personal and institutional level. Irving grew up in Winchester, Massachusetts, during the socially turbulent 1960s and '70s. After a blissfully sheltered, upper-middle-class suburban childhood, she found herself simultaneously intrigued and horrified by the racial divide she observed in nearby Boston. Her career began in a variety of urban performance-art and community-based non-profits, where she repeatedly found that her best efforts to "help" caused more harm than the good she intended. Her one-step-forward-two-steps-back experience of racial understanding eventually lead her to dig deeply into her own white privilege, where she found truths she never knew existed. Waking Up White describes that journey and the lessons learned along the way. Now a racial justice educator and writer, Irving works with other white people to transform confusion into curiosity and anxiety into action. She's worked in private and public urban schools, both in the classroom and at the board level, to foster community among students, teachers, staff, and families by focusing on honest dialog that educates and connects people through shared interests and divergent backgrounds. A graduate of the Winsor School in Boston, she holds a BA from Kenyon College and an MBA from Simmons College. Waking Up White is her first book.

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  12. 9.0 hrs • 4/5/2016 • Unabridged

    National Book Award winner James McBride goes in search of the “real” James Brown—and his surprising journey illuminates the ways in which our cultural heritage has been shaped by Brown’s legacy. A product of the complicated history of the American South, James Brown was a cultural shape-shifter who arguably had the greatest influence of any artist on American popular music. Brown was long a figure of fascination for James McBride, a noted professional musician as well as a writer. When he received a tip that promised to uncover the man behind the myth, McBride set off to follow a trail that revealed the personal, musical, and societal influences that created this immensely troubled, misunderstood, and complicated soul genius. Kill ’Em and Leave is more than a book about James Brown. Brown’s rough-and-tumble life, through McBride’s lens, is an unsettling metaphor for American life: the tension between North and South, black and white, rich and poor. McBride’s travels take him to forgotten corners of Brown’s never-before-revealed history: the country town where Brown’s family and thousands of others were displaced by America’s largest nuclear power bomb-making facility; a South Carolina field where a long-forgotten cousin reveals, in the dead of night, a fuller history of Brown’s sharecropping childhood, which until now has been a mystery. McBride seeks out the American expatriate in England who cocreated the James Brown sound, visits the trusted right-hand manager who worked with Brown for forty-one years, and sits at the feet of Brown’s most influential nonmusical creation, his “adopted son,” the Reverend Al Sharpton. He reveals the stirring visit of Michael Jackson to the Augusta, Georgia, funeral home where the King of Pop sat up all night with the body of his musical godfather, spends hours talking with Brown’s first wife, and reveals the Dickensian legal contest over James Brown’s valuable estate, a fight that has destroyed careers, cheated children out of their educations, cost Brown’s estate millions in legal fees, sent Brown’s trusted accountant, David Cannon, to jail for a crime for which he was not convicted, and has left James Brown’s body to lie for more than eight years in a gilded coffin on his daughter’s front lawn in South Carolina. James McBride is one of the most distinctive and electric literary voices in America today, and Kill ’Em and Leave is a song unearthing and celebrating James Brown’s great legacy: the cultural landscape of America today.

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    Kill ’Em and Leave

    9.0 hrs • 4/5/16 • Unabridged
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  13. 10.2 hrs • 2/9/2016 • Unabridged

    An intimate and vivid look inside Nina Simone’s legendary life as a fiery singer, demanding mother, and tirelessly committed civil-rights activist, told using previously buried material from the Netflix/Radical Media documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? From music journalist and former Spin and Vibe editor-in-chief Alan Light comes a biography of incandescent soul icon and activist Nina Simone, drawn from a trove of rare archival materials, including Simone’s remarkable private diaries, published alongside Radical Media’s much buzzed-about documentary of the same name, which debuted to great acclaim at Sundance in January 2015 and will premiere on Netflix this summer. What Happened, Miss Simone? explores the many facets of this complicated and gifted woman, excavating her lifelong passion for classical music and painful rejection from that field, along with her soaring success as a soul singer and the stresses put upon her as an African American pushing against the tide of racial discrimination in civil rights battles. Harnessing the singular voice of Miss Simone herself through her private correspondence and incorporating candid reflections from those who knew her best, including her only daughter, Light brings us face to face with a legend, examining the very public persona and very private struggles of one of our greatest artists.

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    What Happened, Miss Simone?

    Reader to be announced
    10.2 hrs • 2/9/16 • Unabridged
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  14. 5.4 hrs • 2/4/2016 • Unabridged

    Acclaimed author Marita Golden is a respected voice in both fiction and nonfiction. She is also the founder and CEO of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, whose mission is to develop, nurture and sustain the world community of writers of African descent. In this thoughtful and personal work, Golden tackles the dangerous notion that it is preferable for African Americans to have lighter instead of darker complexions.

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    Don’t Play in the Sun

    5.4 hrs • 2/4/16 • Unabridged
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  15. 13.0 hrs • 2/2/2016 • Unabridged

    A history of African Americans in New York City from the 1910s to 1960, told through the life of Samuel Battle, the New York Police Department’s first black officer. When Samuel Battle broke the color line as New York City’s first African American cop in the second decade of the twentieth century, he had to fear his racist colleagues as much as criminals. He had to be three times better than his white peers, and many times more resilient. His life was threatened. He was displayed like a circus animal. Yet, fearlessly claiming his rights, he prevailed in a four-decade odyssey that is both the story of one man’s courageous dedication to racial progress and a harbinger of the divisions between police and the people they serve that plague twenty-first-century America. By dint of brains, brawn, and an outsized personality, Battle rode the forward wave of African American history in New York. He circulated among renowned turn-of-the-century entertainers and writers. He weathered threatening hostility as a founding citizen of black Harlem. He served as “godfather” to the regiment of black soldiers that won glory in World War I as the “Hellfighters of Harlem.” He befriended sports stars like Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, and Sugar Ray Robinson, and he bonded with legendary tap dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Along the way, he mentored an equally smart, equally tough young man in a still more brutal fight to integrate the New York Fire Department. At the close of his career, Battle looked back proudly on the against-all-odd journey taken by a man who came of age as the son of former slaves in the South. He had navigated the corruption of Tammany Hall, the treachery of gangsters like Lucky Luciano and Dutch Schultz, the anything-goes era of Prohibition, the devastation of the Depression, and the race riots that erupted in Harlem in the 1930s and 1940s. By then he was a trusted aide to Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and a friend to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Realizing that his story was the story of race in New York across the first half of the century, Battle commissioned a biography to be written by none other than Langston Hughes, the preeminent voice of the Harlem Renaissance. But their eighty-thousand-word collaboration failed to find a publisher, and has remained unpublished since. Using Hughes’s manuscript, which is quoted liberally throughout this book, as well as his own archival research and interviews with survivors, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Arthur Browne has created an important and compelling social history of New York, revealed a fascinating episode in the life of Langston Hughes, and delivered the riveting life and times of a remarkable and unjustly forgotten man, setting Samuel Battle where he belongs in the pantheon of American civil rights pioneers.

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    One Righteous Man

    13.0 hrs • 2/2/16 • Unabridged
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  16. 10.2 hrs • 1/26/2016 • Unabridged

    The earliest known prison memoir by an African American writer—recently discovered and authenticated by a team of Yale scholars—sheds light on the longstanding connection between race and incarceration in America. In 2009, scholars at Yale University came across a startling manuscript: the memoir of Austin Reed, a free black man born in the 1820s who spent most of his early life ricocheting between forced labor in prison and forced labor as an indentured servant. Lost for more than one hundred and fifty years, the handwritten document is the first known prison memoir written by an African American. Corroborated by prison records and other documentary sources, Reed’s text gives a gripping first-person account of an antebellum Northern life lived outside slavery that nonetheless bore, in its day-to-day details, unsettling resemblances to that very institution. Now, for the first time, we can hear Austin Reed’s story as he meant to tell it. He was born to a middle-class black family in the boomtown of Rochester, New York, but when his father died, his mother struggled to make ends meet. Still a child, Reed was placed as an indentured servant to a nearby family of white farmers near Rochester. He was caught attempting to set fire to a building and sentenced to ten years at Manhattan’s brutal House of Refuge, an early juvenile reformatory that would soon become known for beatings and forced labor. Seven years later, Reed found himself at New York’s infamous Auburn State Prison. It was there that he finished writing this memoir, which explores America’s first reformatory and first industrial prison from an inmate’s point of view, recalling the great cruelties and kindnesses he experienced in those places and excavating patterns of racial segregation, exploitation, and bondage that extended beyond the boundaries of the slaveholding South, into free New York. Accompanied by fascinating historical documents (including a series of poignant letters written by Reed near the end of his life), The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict is a work of uncommon beauty that tells a story of nineteenth-century racism, violence, labor, and captivity in a proud, defiant voice. Reed’s memoir illuminates his own life and times—as well as ours today.

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    The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict

    Edited and with an introduction by Caleb Smith
    Foreword by David W. Blight and Robert B. Stepto
    10.2 hrs • 1/26/16 • Unabridged
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