Black History Makers

This month, we celebrate the lives of those who made a difference in our world from the African American Community.  Learn more about these pioneers, leaders, and celebrities that have  made significant strides in our world.

Book Artwork for Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming by Michelle Obama ~ In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America, she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private. A deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations.

 

 

 

Book Cover Artwork for The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir by Andre Leon TalleyThe Chiffon Trenches: a Memoir by Andre Leon Talley ~ Discover what truly happens behind the scenes in the world of high fashion in this detailed, storied memoir from style icon, bestselling author, and former Vogue creative director André Leon Talley. During André Leon Talley’s first magazine job assisting Andy Warhol at Interview, a fateful meeting with Karl Lagerfeld began a decade’s long friendship with the enigmatic, often caustic designer. Propelled into the upper echelons by his knowledge and adoration of fashion, Talley moved to Paris as bureau chief of John Fairchild’s Women’s Wear Daily, befriending fashion’s most important designers. But as Talley made friends, he also made enemies. A racially tinged encounter with a member of the house of Yves Saint Laurent sent him back to New York and into the offices of Vogue under Grace Mirabella. There, he developed an unlikely but intimate friendship with Anna Wintour, and as she rose to the top of Vogue’s masthead, Talley became the most influential man in fashion. The Chiffon Trenches is a candid look at the who’s who of the last fifty years of fashion, and proof that fact is always fascinatingly more devilish than fiction. André Leon Talley’s engaging memoir tells the story of how he not only survived but thrived–despite racism, illicit rumors, and all the other challenges of this notoriously cutthroat industry–to become one of the most legendary voices and faces in fashion.

 

Book Cover Artwork for All Blood Runs Red: The Legendary Life of Eugene Bullard -- Boxer, Pilot, Soldier, SpyAll Blood Runs Red: The Legendary Life of Eugene Bullard – Boxer, Pilot, Soldier, Spy by Phil Keith ~ The incredible life story of Eugene Bullard, the first African American military pilot in WWI, who went on to become a self-taught jazz musician, a Paris nightclub impresario, a spy in the French Resistance and an American civil rights pioneer. Eugene Bullard lived one of the most fascinating lives of the twentieth century. The son of a former slave and an indigenous Creek woman, Bullard fled home at the age of eleven to escape the racial hostility of his Georgia community. His five-year journey led him to a tramp steamer bound for Europe. There he discovered boxing, climbed the ranks and garnered worldwide fame as the “Black Sparrow.” At eighteen he settled in Paris as a beloved celebrity and bon vivant. A year later World War I broke out. Bullard joined the French Foreign Legion, where he went on to become the first African American fighter pilot in history. After the war, Bullard returned to Paris a decorated war hero and leveraged his celebrity to become a fixture of Parisian nightclub society. Hemingway and Fitzgerald drank champagne at his club. A young Langston Hughes worked as a busboy. He counted Picasso, Josephine Baker and Man Ray as friends. He married a French countess and they had two daughters. At the dawn of World War II, with echoes of Casablanca, Bullard became a French spy, drawing Nazi soldiers to his club and conducting crucial surveillance for the Allies. After fleeing Paris he joined the Resistance before being safely smuggled onto a ship bound for America. He lived out the rest of his life in Harlem with his daughters, working as an assistant for Louis Armstrong. This is the dramatic untold story of an American hero, a thought-provoking survey of the twentieth century and a portrait of a man who came from nothing and by his own courage, determination, gumption, intelligence and luck forged a legendary life.

 

Book Cover Artwork for The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala HarrisThe Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala D. Harris ~ From one of America’s most inspiring political leaders, a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country. By reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her, Kamala Harris offers in The Truths We Hold a master class in problem solving, in crisis management, and leadership in challenging times. Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values. In a book rich in many home truths, not least is that a relatively small number of people work very hard to convince a great many of us that we have less in common than we actually do, but it falls to us to look past them and get on with the good work of living our common truth. When we do, our shared effort will continue to sustain us and this great nation, now and in the years to come.

 

Book Cover Artwork for Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality by Tomiko Brown-NaginCivil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Stuggle for Equality by Tomiko Brown-Nagin ~ Born to an aspirational blue-collar family during the Great Depression, Constance Baker Motley was expected to find herself a good career as a hair dresser. Instead, she became the first Black woman to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court, the first of ten she would eventually argue. The only Black woman member in the legal team at the NAACP’s Inc. Fund at the time, she defended Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham, helped to argue Brown vs. The Board of Education, and played a critical role in vanquishing Jim Crow laws throughout the South. She was the first Black woman elected to the state Senate in New York, the first woman elected Manhattan Borough President, and the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary.

 

Book Cover Artwork of White Lies: The Double Life of Walter F. White and American's Darkest Secret by A. J. BaimeWhite Lies: The Double Life of Walter White and America’s Darkest Secret by A. J. Baime ~ Walter F. White led two lives: one as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance and the NAACP in the early twentieth century; the other as a white newspaperman who covered lynching crimes in the Deep South at the blazing height of racial violence. Born mixed race and with very fair skin and straight hair, White was able to “pass” for white. He leveraged this ambiguity as a reporter, bringing to light the darkest crimes in America and helping to plant the seeds of the civil rights movement. White’s risky career led him to lead a double life. He was simultaneously a second-class citizen subject to Jim Crow laws at home and a widely respected professional with full access to the white world at work. His life was fraught with internal and external conflict–much like the story of race in America. Starting out as an obscure activist, White ultimately became Black America’s most prominent leader. A character study of White’s life and career with all these complexities has never been rendered, until now.

 

Book Cover Artwork by His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon MeachamHis Truth is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope by Jon Meacham ~ John Lewis, who at age twenty-five marched in Selma and was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, is a visionary and a man of faith. Using intimate interviews with Lewis and his family and deep research into the history of the civil rights movement, Meacham writes of how the activist and leader was inspired by the Bible, his mother’s unbreakable spirit, his sharecropper father’s tireless ambition, and his teachers in nonviolence. A believer in hope above all else, Lewis learned from a young age that nonviolence was not only a tactic but a philosophy, a biblical imperative, and a transforming reality. Integral to Lewis’s commitment to bettering the nation was his faith in humanity and in God. Meacham calls Lewis “as important to the founding of a modern and multiethnic twentieth- and twenty-first century America as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and Samuel Adams were to the initial creation of the nation-state in the eighteenth century. He did what he did–risking limb and life to bear witness for the powerless in the face of the powerful–not in spite of America, but because of America, and not in spite of religion, but because of religion.

 

Book Cover Artwork of Black Boy Out of Time by Hari ZiyadBlack Boy Out of Time: A Memoir by Hari Ziyad ~ An eloquent, restless, and enlightening memoir by one of the most thought-provoking journalists today about growing up Black and queer in America, reuniting with the past, and coming of age their own way. One of nineteen children in a blended family, Hari Ziyad was raised by a Hindu Hare Kṛiṣhṇa mother and a Muslim father. Through reframing their own coming-of-age story, Ziyad takes readers on a powerful journey of growing up queer and Black in Cleveland, Ohio, and of navigating the equally complex path toward finding their true self in New York City. Exploring childhood, gender, race, and the trust that is built, broken, and repaired through generations, Ziyad investigates what it means to live beyond the limited narratives Black children are given and challenges the irreconcilable binaries that restrict them. Heartwarming and heart-wrenching, radical and reflective, Hari Ziyad’s vital memoir is for the outcast, the unheard, the unborn, and the dead. It offers us a new way to think about survival and the necessary disruption of social norms. It looks back in tenderness as well as justified rage, forces us to address where we are now, and, born out of hope, illuminates the possibilities for the future.

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