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Coming of Age in the Segregated South
When Hamilton Jordan died of peritoneal mesothelioma in 2008, he left behind a mostly finished memoir, a book on which he had been working for the last decade. Jordan’s daughter, Kathleen—with the help of her brothers and mother—took up the task of editing and completing the book. A Boy from Georgia—the result of this posthumous father-daughter collaboration—chronicles Hamilton Jordan’s childhood in Albany, Georgia, charting his moral and intellectual development as he gradually discovers the complicated legacies of racism, religious intolerance, and southern politics, and affords his readers an intimate view of the state’s wheelers and dealers.Jordan’s middle-class childhood was bucolic in some ways and traumatizing in others. As Georgia politicians battled civil rights leaders, a young Hamilton straddled the uncomfortable line between the southern establishment to which he belonged and the movement in which he believed. Fortunate enough to grow up in a family that had considerable political clout within Georgia, Jordan went into politics to put his ideals to work. Eventually he became a key aide to Jimmy Carter and was the architect of Carter’s stunning victory in the presidential campaign of 1976; Jordan later served as Carter’s chief of staff. Clear eyed about the triumphs and tragedies of Jordan’s beloved home state and region, A Boy from Georgia tells the story of a remarkable life in a voice that is witty, vivid, and honest.A Bradley Hale Fund for Southern Studies Publication
Convergence and Divergence
In the title story, La Donna is a black stripper whose white boyfriend, an actor in adult movies, insists that she stop stripping. In "Melvin in the Sixth Grade," eleven-year-old Avery has a crush on a white boy from Oklahoma who, like Avery, is an outsider in their suburban Los Angeles school. "Markers" is as much about a woman's relationship with her mother as it is about the dissolution of her relationship with an older Italian man.
Dana Johnson has an intuitive sense of character and a gift for creating authentic voices. She effortlessly captures the rhythmic vernaculars of Los Angeles, the American South, and various immigrant communities as she brings to life the sometimes heavyhearted, but always persevering, souls who live there.
My Life in Medicine
While Louis W. Sullivan was a student at Morehouse College, Morehouse president Benjamin Mays said something to the student body that stuck with him for the rest of his life. “The tragedy of life is not failing to reach our goals,” Mays said. “It is not having goals to reach.”In Breaking Ground, Sullivan recounts his extraordinary life beginning with his childhood in Jim Crow south Georgia and continuing through his trailblazing endeavors training to become a physician in an almost entirely white environment in the Northeast, founding and then leading the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, and serving as secretary of Health and Human Services in President George H. W. Bush’s administration. Throughout this extraordinary life Sullivan has passionately championed both improved health care and increased access to medical professions for the poor and people of color.At five years old, Louis Sullivan declared to his mother that he wanted to be a doctor. Given the harsh segregation in Blakely, Georgia, and its lack of adequate schools for African Americans at the time, his parents sent Louis and his brother, Walter, to Savannah and later Atlanta, where greater educational opportunities existed for blacks.After attending Booker T. Washington High School and Morehouse College, Sullivan went to medical school at Boston University—he was the sole African American student in his class. He eventually became the chief of hematology there until Hugh Gloster, the president of Morehouse College, presented him with an opportunity he couldn’t refuse: Would Sullivan be the founding dean of Morehouse’s new medical school? He agreed and went on to create a state-of-the-art institution dedicated to helping poor and minority students become doctors. During this period he established long-lasting relationships with George H. W. and Barbara Bush that would eventually result in his becoming the secretary of Health and Human Services in 1989.Sullivan details his experiences in Washington dealing with the burgeoning AIDS crisis, PETA activists, and antismoking efforts, along with his efforts to push through comprehensive health care reform decades before the Affordable Care Act. Along the way his interactions with a cast of politicos, including Thurgood Marshall, Jack Kemp, Clarence Thomas, Jesse Helms, and the Bushes, capture vividly a particular moment in recent history.Sullivan’s life—from Morehouse to the White House and his ongoing work with medical students in South Africa—is the embodiment of the hopes and progress that the civil rights movement fought to achieve. His story should inspire future generations—of all backgrounds—to aspire to great things.A Sarah Mills Hodge Fund Publication
In these stories, Dianne Nelson illuminates that vast territory of pleasure and pain created within modern families. Whether it is a father trying to kidnap his young son from his estranged ex-wife or a woman celebrating her ability to produce babies without any help from men, Nelson's characters reveal the dark, haunting and sometimes comic dilemmas of kinship.
In the title story, seventeen-year-old April is an involuntary witness to the seemingly endless parade of lovers who frequent her mother's bed. "I don't know why my mother finds no lasting peace" she muses. Opening a book and trying to find her peace in "facts, dates, the pure honesty of numbers," April is overwhelmed finally by the sounds of lovemaking from the adjoining room. "The walls of this house aren't thick enough to keep that kind of sadness contained." In "The Uses of Memory," Netta and Carlene are engaged in a different sort of mother-daughter drama. The issue at hand is the fate of Franklin, their husband and father, who lies in bed in a near comatose state, oblivious to the nurturings or pleadings of either woman.
The past, with its countless repercussion on the present, tugs relentlessly at many of the characters. In "Chocolate," the lingering pain of an impoverished childhood plagues Janice; she recalls, in particular, the birthday and Christmas celebrations, the meager gifts wrapped in the same brown twine that was used to hold the door shut. Hillary, the narrator of "Dixon," is spurred into action by the memory of her dead brother. When a local barfly with "silt for brains" persists in telling outlandish lies about Dixon, Hillary takes up karate training with an eye to defending her brother's name the truth of what she knew him to be. Dee, in "Paperweight," can pinpoint the exact moment at which she came to think of the body as an earthbound trap, "a hopeless house with the doors all locked"; she traces it back to a grade-school theatrical performance and a classmate's luckless efforts to open the cumbersome stage curtains. "If it weren't for my body," she laments, "I could fly, I could go anywhere, I could be anything."
Ranging in setting from a restaurant in St. Louis to the rain-soaked streets of San Francisco, from a boisterous family reunion beneath the broad Kansas sky to a ranch in Utah where a young father dreams of becoming a movie star, these fifteen stories show men and women pondering--and often struggling against--the mysteries of their own circumstances, especially the bonds of flesh and blood.
Cobb begins by looking at how our historical understanding of segregation has evolved since the Brown decision. In particular, he targets the tenacious misconception that racial discrimination was at odds with economic modernization--and so would have faded out, on its own, under market pressures. He then looks at the argument that Brown energized white resistance more than it fomented civil rights progress. This position overstates the pace and extent of racial change in the South prior to Brown, Cobb says, while it understates Brown’s role in catalyzing and legitimizing subsequent black protest.
Finally, Cobb suggests that the Brown decree and the civil rights movement accomplished not only more than certain critics have acknowledged but also more than the hard statistics of black progress can reveal. The destruction of Jim Crow, with its denial of belonging,” allowed African Americans to embrace their identity as southerners in ways that freed them to explore links between their southernness and their blackness. This is an important and timely reminder of what the Brown court and the activists who took the spirit of its ruling into the streets were up against, both historically and contemporaneously.”
Histories of a Hurricane
Thirty-six years before Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and southern Mississippi, the region was visited by one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the United States: Camille.
Mark M. Smith offers three highly original histories of the storm’s impact in southern Mississippi. In the first essay Smith examines the sensory experience and impact of the hurricane—how the storm rearranged and challenged residents’ senses of smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste. The second essay explains the way key federal officials linked the question of hurricane relief and the desegregation of Mississippi’s public schools. Smith concludes by considering the political economy of short- and long-term disaster recovery, returning to issues of race and class.
Camille, 1969 offers stories of survival and experience, of the tenacity of social justice in the face of a natural disaster, and of how recovery from Camille worked for some but did not work for others. Throughout these essays are lessons about how we might learn from the past in planning for recovery from natural disasters in the future.
Carkeet uproariously recaptures his stunned, youthful reaction to the novel's sleazy take on his hometown. The innocent nowhere burg where he despaired of ever getting any "action" became, in the pages of Campus Sexpot, a sink of iniquity echoing with "animal cries of delight." Blood pounded, dams of passion broke, and marriages and careers--not to mention the basics of good writing--went straight to hell.
As Carkeet relates his own romantic fumblings to the novel's clumsy twists and turns, he also evokes the urgently hushed atmosphere in which the book circulated among friends and neighbors. Eventually, Carkeet stumbles into adulthood, where he discovers a truer definition of manhood than the one in the pages of the pulp fiction of his youth. A wry look at middle-class sexual mores and a witty appreciation of the art of the hack novel, Carkeet's memoir is, above all, a poignant and hilarious coming-of-age story sure to revive our own bittersweet teenage memories.
The Masculine and Morrison
The book also considers the barriers between black men and women thrown up by their participation in a larger, historically racist culture of competition, ownership, sexual repression, and fixed ideals about physical beauty and romantic love. Black women, Morrison says, bear their crosses extremely well,” and black men, although they have been routinely emasculated by white men, period,” have managed to maintain a feisty magic” that everybody wants but nobody else has.
Understanding Morrison's treatment of her male characters, says Susan Mayberry, becomes crucial to grasping her success in countering the damage done by a spectrum of sometimes misguided isms”--including white American feminism. Morrison's version of masculinity suggests that black men have successfully retained their special vitality in spite of white male resistance” and that their connections to black women have saved their lives.” To single out her men is not to negate the preeminence of her women; rather, it is to recognize the interconnectedness and balance between them.