Wayne State University Press

African American Life Series

Published by: Wayne State University Press

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African American Life Series

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Lost Plays of the Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1940

Edited by James V. Hatch and Leo Hamalian

This compilation of sixteen plays written during the Harlem Renaissance brings together for the first time the works of Langston Hughes, George S. Schuyler, Francis Hall Johnson, Shirley Graham, and others. In the introduction, James V. Hatch sets the plays in a historical context as he describes the challenges presented to artists by the political and social climate of the time. The topics of the plays cover the realm of the human experience in styles as wide-ranging as poetry, farce, comedy, tragedy, social realism, and romance. Individual introductions to each play provide essential biographical background on the playwrights. In the continuing rediscovery of writers and works from the Harlem Renaissance, Lost Plays of the Harlem Renaissance 1920-1940 serves as essential background for contemporary readers and is a valuable contribution to African American literary and theatrical scholarship.

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Pages from a Black Radical’s Notebook

A James Boggs Reader

Edited by Stephen M. Ward With an Afterword by Grace Lee Boggs

Born in the rural American south, James Boggs lived nearly his entire adult life in Detroit and worked as a factory worker for twenty-eight years while immersing himself in the political struggles of the industrial urban north. During and after the years he spent in the auto industry, Boggs wrote two books, co-authored two others, and penned dozens of essays, pamphlets, reviews, manifestos, and newspaper columns to become known as a pioneering revolutionary theorist and community organizer. In Pages from a Black Radical’s Notebook: A James Boggs Reader, editor Stephen M. Ward collects a diverse sampling of pieces by Boggs, spanning the entire length of his career from the 1950s to the early 1990s. Pages from a Black Radical’s Notebook is arranged in four chronological parts that document Boggs’s activism and writing. Part 1 presents columns from Correspondence newspaper written during the 1950s and early 1960s. Part 2 presents the complete text of Boggs’s first book, The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook, his most widely known work. In part 3, “Black Power—Promise, Pitfalls, and Legacies,” Ward collects essays, pamphlets, and speeches that reflect Boggs’s participation in and analysis of the origins, growth, and demise of the Black Power movement. Part 4 comprises pieces written in the last decade of Boggs’s life, during the 1980s through the early 1990s. An introduction by Ward provides a detailed overview of Boggs’s life and career, and an afterword by Grace Lee Boggs, James Boggs’s wife and political partner, concludes this volume. Pages from a Black Radical’s Notebook documents Boggs’s personal trajectory of political engagement and offers a unique perspective on radical social movements and the African American struggle for civil rights in the post–World War II years. Readers interested in political and ideological struggles of the twentieth century will find Pages from a Black Radical’s Notebook to be fascinating reading.

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The Politics of Black Empowerment

The Transformation of Black Activism in Urban America

James Jennings

In analyzing Black politics since the late 1960s, James Jennings focuses on both the behavioral aspects, such as individual and group characteristics of voting and nonvoting and elections, as well a more fundamental philosophical and cultural questions regarding Black politics. This study examines how the “traditional” face of Black politics and electoral activism interacts with a growing “progressive” face of Black politics. While traditional Black political activists seek access or political incorporation, another group aims for power sharing. The traditional approach is sometimes satisfied with merely replacing white politicians with Blacks, but the progressive constituency focuses on fundamentally changing the whole economic and political pie. Activist desirous of Black empowerment are pursuing a political and economic orientation that goes beyond programs based on access to American institutional arrangements and attempting to change or alter given political arrangements and social relations between Blacks and whites on the basis of changing the social structure and the distribution of wealth and power. Based on interviews with Black and Latino activist in several big cities as well as review of the literature and the Black newspapers around the country, The Politics of Black Empowerment describes the characteristics of Black empowerment activism in America.

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Race and Remembrance

A Memoir

Arthur L. Johnson

Race and Remembrance tells the remarkable life story of Arthur L. Johnson, a Detroit civil rights and community leader, educator, and administrator whose career spans much of the last century. In his own words, Johnson takes readers through the arc of his distinguished career, which includes his work with the Detroit branch of the NAACP, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, and Wayne State University. A Georgia native, Johnson graduated from Morehouse College and Atlanta University and moved north in 1950 to become executive secretary of the Detroit branch of the NAACP. Under his guidance, the Detroit chapter became one of the most active and vital in the United States. Despite his dedicated work toward political organization, Johnson also maintained a steadfast belief in education and served as the vice president of university relations and professor of educational sociology at Wayne State University for nearly a quarter of a century. In his intimate and engaging style, Johnson gives readers a look into his personal life, including his close relationship with his grandmother, his encounters with Morehouse classmate Martin Luther King, and the loss of his sons. Race and Remembrance offers an insider’s view into the social factors affecting the lives of African Americans in the twentieth century, making clear the enormous effort and personal sacrifice required in fighting racial discrimination and poverty in Detroit and beyond. Readers interested in African American social history and political organization will appreciate this unique and revealing volume.

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The Roots of African American Drama

An Anthology of Early Plays, 1858-1938

Edited by Leo Hamalian and James V. Hatch Foreword by George C. Wolfe

While many historically significant or interesting plays by white playwrights are easily found in anthologies, few by early African American writers are equally accessible. Indeed until the 1970s, almost none of these early plays could be located outside of a library. The Roots of African American Drama fills this gap. Five of the thirteen scripts included here have never been in print, and only three others are presently available anywhere. The plays represent a variety of styles—allegory, naturalism, realism, melodrama, musical comedy, and opera. Four are full length, eight are one-acts, and one is a skit. Their subjects include slavery, share-cropping, World War I, vaudeville, religion, and legend and mythology. In making their selections, the editors used a variety of criteria to insure each play is dramatically sound and historically important. They also searched for those scripts that were unjustly consigned to obscurity. Each selection begins with headnotes that place it in its historical and cultural context. Biographic information and a bibliography of other plays follow each script, providing readers with added sources for study.

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Roses and Revolutions

The Selected Writings of Dudley Randall

Edited and with an Introduction by Melba Joyce Boyd

Collects significant poetry, short stories, and essays by celebrated African American poet and publisher Dudley Randall.

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Tell It to Women

An Epic Drama for Women

Osonye Tess Onwueme Foreword by Ngugi wa Thiong’o

Using the magic of movement, dance, and drama, and the devices of humor and metaphor, Osonye Tess Onwueme has created a post-feminist epic drama that transcends current feminist theories. An ideologically and politically powerful work, Tell It to Women offers a critical discourse on the western feminist movement from an African traditional perspective, focusing attention on the often silenced issues of intra-gender politics and class inequities.

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Untold Tales, Unsung Heroes

An Oral History of Detroit's African American Community, 1918-1967

Elaine Latzman Moon

More than one hundred individuals who lived in Detroit at some time during the period from 1918 to 1967 share stories about everyday life—families and neighborhoods, community and religious life, school and work. They also describe extraordinary events—the great migration from the South, the depression, World War II, the 1943 race riot, the civil rights movement, the civil disturbance of 1967, and the Vietnam War. Their anecdotal testimonies and reminiscences provide invaluable information about the institutions, lifestyles, relationships, and politics that constitute the black experience in Detroit. By featuring the histories of blacks living in Detroit during the first six decades of the century, this unique oral history contributes immeasurably to our understanding of the development of the city.

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Walkin’ Over Medicine

Loudell F. Snow

Representing more than twenty years of anthropological research, Walkin' over Medicine, originally published by Westview Press in 1993, presents the results of Loudell F. Snow's community-based studies in Arizona and Michigan, work in two urban prenatal clinics, conversations and correspondence with traditional healers, and experience as a behavioral scientist in a pediatrics clinic. Snow also visited numerous pharmacies, grocery stores, and specialty shops in several major cities, accompanied families to church services, and attended weddings, baptisms, graduations, and funerals.

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What Mama Said

An Epic Drama

Osonye Tess Onwueme

Renowned playwright Osonye Tess Onwueme's powerful new drama illuminates the effect of national and global oil politics on the lives of impoverished rural Nigerians. What Mama Said is set in the metaphorical state of Sufferland, whose people are starving and routinely exploited and terrorized by corrupt government officials and multinational oil companies—that is, until a voice erupts and moves the wounded women and youths to rise up and demand justice. Onwueme's powerful characters and vibrant, emotionally charged scenes bring to life a turbulent movement for change and challenge to tradition. Aggrieved youths and militant women—whose husbands and sons work in the refineries or have been slaughtered in the violent struggle—take center stage to "drum" their pain in this drama about revolution. Determined to finally confront the multinational forces that have long humiliated them, Sufferland villagers burn down pipelines and kidnap an oil company director. Tensions peak, and activist leaders are put on trial before a global jury that can no longer ignore the situation. What Mama Said is a moving portrayal of the battle for human rights, dignity, compensation, and the right of a nation's people to control the resources of their own land.

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