Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Book Of Negroes

As February rolls to an end, this forum would be remiss in not acknowledging Black History Month, although we make it a duty to cover a wide range of topics concerning all people, it is important that we continue to celebrate out lived experiences, historical contributions as well as being
cognizant of our current barriers such as generational wealth, access to capital, and poverty to challenges of both crime and urban blight in our neighborhoods that must continued to be addressed.

Beginning with the December release of "Selma", which recalled the historic Pettis bridge march those who dared to do it, through January in which there were numerous programs profiled on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and other local activities presented throughout the month which offered interesting perspectives as well as thought provoking discussions that would do much to educate most anyone. I found myself among such an array that, there was no way to catch them all. But of the many, one of the most interesting was BET's production of The Book of Negroes which had the backdrop of those enslaved, yet the soul of the production was from the viewpoint of its central character Aminata Diallo.

This beautifully told story captured me with its survival spirit as she recounted that her will and persistence was not to die a slave and to remember her fathers words of "find your way home." Even as this series has been already shown, in true BET fashion and due to its receptive audience, I am sure that it will be repeated. When announced, this forum will share that info. Below is a snapshot of a review of the show and some assorted facts in recognition of this heritage month.

Admiring Aminata Diallo comes easy in “The Book of Negroes.”

The hard part is is absorbing all she had to overcome after she was kidnapped as a child in 18th century Africa and sold into slavery.

“Book of Negroes,” a six-hour Black History Month miniseries, will be fairly compared to “Roots,” though it focuses on the life and times of Diallo rather than covering many generations.
Marvelously played by Aunjanue Ellis, Diallo is wrenched from a happy childhood to face the
untender mercies of a world where she is assumed to be no more than someone’s property.
It’s a cruel, cold awakening, and even some of the most well-meaning sympathizers fail to honor her human dignity.

Diallo finally flees to New York where she is caught in the whirlwind of the American Revolution and forced along with others to make a fateful choice.

Do they side with the British, who offer freedom from slavery, or with the rebels, whose own concept of freedom doesn’t seem to extend to black folks?
A powerful theme of “Book” stems from one of the last things Aminata’s father said: that she must always find her way home.

That’s the goal of almost everyone here, with a cast that includes Louis Gossett Jr. and Cuba Goodings Jr. But the path is never easy, and the news is never all good.
In a world where survival is victory, Aminata helps others survive as well. It’s an achievement as remarkable as the obstacles are chilling.

The Book of Negroes is a 2007 award-winning novel from Canadian writer Lawrence Hill. In the United States, Australia and New Zealand, the novel was published under the title Someone Knows My Name.

And from the Writer: Mr.Lawrence Hill

"I used The Book of Negroes as the title for my novel, in Canada, because it derives from a historical document of the same name kept by British naval officers at the tail end of the American Revolutionary War. It documents the 3,000 blacks who had served the King in the war and were fleeing Manhattan for Canada in 1783.

Unless you were in The Book of Negroes, you couldn't escape to Canada. My character, an African woman named Aminata Diallo whose story is based on this history, has to get into the book before she gets out.

In my country, few people have complained to me about the title, and nobody continues to do so after I explain its historical origins. I think it's partly because the word 'Negro' resonates differently in Canada. If you use it in Toronto or Montreal, you are probably just indicating publicly that you are out of touch with how people speak these days. But if you use it in Brooklyn or Boston, you are asking to have your nose broken. When I began touring with the novel in some of the major US cities, literary African-Americans kept approaching me and telling me it was a good thing indeed that the title had changed, because they would never have touched the book with its Canadian title."[1]

History Then & Now...

George Washington Carver (1864-1943)
George Washington Carver was born into slavery in southwestern Missouri during the Civil War. A only African-American student, eventually joining the faculty after graduating. He would then head the agriculture department at Tuskegee University, where he devised agricultural innovations, including new uses for peanuts and sweet potatoes, including oil, flour, and ink. His work paved the way for modern advances in biofuels and cleaning products. Gay rumors followed Carver at Tuskegee, which were not dispelled when he and his research assistant, Austin Wingate Curtis, Jr., began living together. Curtis worked hard after Carver's death to preserve his companion's legacy.
sickly child, Carver threw himself into education and was admitted to Iowa's Simpson College as the

Bayard Rustin (1912-1987)
Bayard Rustin was a leader in civil rights movement of the 20th century. In 1947 he planned the first awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Freedom Ride, which challenged segregation on interstate bus systems and inspired further such rides in the 1960s. Rustin combined his organizational skills with support for nonviolent resistance and
became a key adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. He was often arrested for his stances and spent two years in prison for refusing to register for the draft. Widely known as gay to his contemporaries, Rustin was also jailed for homosexual activity in 1953 and often attacked as a “pervert” by his political opponents. Although he rarely served as a public spokesman, his influence on civil rights never dimmed. Rustin died in 1987; 26 years later, President Obama

Dee Rees
Film director Dee Rees is behind the movie "Pariah," which follows a 17-year-old African American teenager struggling with her sexuality. The film was a hit at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

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