Browse Tag


4 mins read

Crafting Words and Connections: Join Jnane Tamsna’s 2nd Writing Retreat in Morocco

If you’re a writer looking for an opportunity to connect with other like-minded creatives and explore the beauty of Marrakech, Morocco, then the PhiloXenia Creative Writing Retreat: Writing as a Catalyst for Community is the perfect event for you.

The retreat will be held on the grounds of the luxurious Jnane Tamsna resort, the only Black woman-owned luxury hotel resort in Marrakech. Set in the lush date palm oasis, the resort offers a serene and inspiring setting for the creative process.

Held from March 28th to April 2nd, this event is a chance to participate in generative creative writing workshops led by esteemed authors, learn about the editorial and publishing world, and delve into the true life of a writer.

The retreat will be led by three renowned writing professionals: Glory Edim, founder of Well-Read Black Girl, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tyehimba Jess, and Senior Editor Yahdon Israel. Together, they will guide participants through a series of workshops that explore how we can use writing to create strong community bonds.


Glory Edim

Author and activist Glory Edim founded Well-Read Black Girl, a nationwide book club-turned-literacy non-profit that celebrates literature’s life-changing power. Well-Read Black Girl advocates and empowers through storytelling. Glory received the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes Innovator’s Award and the Hurston/Wright Foundation Madam C.J. Walker Award for her literary advocacy.

Yahdon Israel

Yahdon Israel, a senior editor at Simon Schuster, founded Literaryswag to make books accessible through fashion and literature. He writes for The New Inquiry, LitHub, Poets and Writers, Vanity Fair, and The Atlantic. He founded the Literaryswag Book Club, a Brooklyn subscription service and book club that meets every last Wednesday of the month, and teaches Creative Writing at City College’s MFA Program.

Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess is the author of two books of poetry, Leadbelly and Olio. Olio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry, and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Jean Stein Book Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Leadbelly was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.”

jnane tamsna

But the retreat isn’t just about writing. It’s an opportunity to discover Marrakech and its surrounding areas with private tours of the city’s majestic medina and sojourns to secret gardens and the Atlas Mountains.

Throughout the retreat, participants will have the chance to engage in cultural activities and develop relationships with people from different backgrounds, cultures, and countries. This is a space to connect, create, and reflect on the craft of writing in a supportive and inspiring environment.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced writer, this is an incredible opportunity to hone your craft, connect with fellow writers, and experience the vibrant culture of Marrakech.


Please contact for more information.


4 mins read

Ann Petry: The First Black Woman to Sell Over a Million Copies of a Book

Ann Petry was an accomplished African American author and pharmacist who broke barriers in the literary world with her first novel, The Street.

Published in 1946, The Street became the first book written by an African American woman to sell over one million copies and cemented Petry’s place in history as a trailblazer in both the literary and African American communities.

Ann Petry was born on October 12, 1908, in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, to a family of pharmacists. Her father owned a drugstore, and Petry’s early exposure to the world of medicine and literature laid the foundation for her future career as a pharmacist and author. After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in pharmacy, Petry worked in her family’s drugstore and eventually opened her own pharmacy in Harlem, New York.

ann petry

It was in Harlem where Petry began to see the harsh realities of poverty and racism first-hand, experiences that would later influence her writing. In the 1930s and 1940s, Harlem was a hub of cultural and political activity, with artists, writers, and activists coming together to challenge the status quo. Petry was part of this community, and her own experiences as a black woman in America, combined with her observations of the lives of others in Harlem, provided the inspiration for The Street.

The Street tells the story of Lutie Johnson, a single mother living in Harlem who is struggling to raise her son and make ends meet. The novel is a powerful depiction of the challenges faced by African Americans in the mid-20th century, including poverty, racism, and sexism. Through Lutie’s story, Petry explores the effects of these societal ills on individuals and communities, showing how they can be both oppressive and empowering at the same time.

The Street was an instant success, receiving critical acclaim and commercial success. Petry’s powerful writing style, combined with her unique perspective as an African American woman, resonated with readers, and the novel quickly became a bestseller. With its publication, Petry became the first African American woman to sell over one million copies of a book, a remarkable achievement that cemented her place in literary history.

ann holt

Petry continued to write throughout her life, producing several more novels, including Country Place (1947) and The Narrows (1953), as well as a number of short stories and essays. Although her later works did not achieve the same level of commercial success as The Street, they nonetheless earned her critical acclaim and cemented her legacy as one of the most important African American writers of the 20th century.

In addition to her writing, Petry was also a prominent activist and advocate for social justice. Throughout her life, she spoke out against racial and gender inequality, and her works continue to be relevant today, serving as powerful reminders of the ongoing struggles for justice and equality in America.

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3 mins read

Exploring the Roots of Africa’s Underdevelopment in Walter Rodney’s ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’

“How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” was released in 1972. In his book, author Walter Rodney asserts that Europe, both during and after colonial rule, deliberately stunted Africa’s economic, political, and cultural development through a variety of means.

The first part of the book provides an overview of Africa’s pre-colonial history, stressing that the continent was not a “blank slate” when Europeans began colonizing it. Rodney goes on to discuss the many ways in which Europe stole wealth and resources from Africa, including the slave trade, land expropriation, and the exploitation of natural resources.

The author makes the central claim that European development was built on the underdevelopment of Africa. According to Rodney, the wealth and resources extracted from Africa were critical to the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent economic growth of Europe. Moreover, he claims that the structural adjustment programs of the IMF and World Bank, along with other European economic policies imposed on Africa, have hampered the continent’s progress.

Rodney elaborates on the cultural effects of colonialism in Africa, highlighting the imposition of European ideologies and the denigration and suppression of African cultures. He argues that many Africans’ lack of self-assurance and self-determination can be traced back to Europe’s cultural dominance, which in turn has contributed to the continent’s ongoing underdevelopment.

The history of Africa and its relationship with Europe is explored in “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,” which is a powerful and thought-provoking book as a whole. Rodney’s critique of Europe’s marginalization and exploitation of Africa is compelling and well-supported by historical evidence. Those curious about Africa’s past and present will find this book to be essential reading.


Born in Guyana in 1942, Dr. Walter Rodney was a scholar, politician, and historian. After finishing his undergraduate degree, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in African History from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

Additionally, he took part in liberation movements in the Caribbean and Africa.

He was only 38 years old when he was assassinated in Guyana. Decades after his passing, people continue to honor his contributions to politics and history.

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4 mins read

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

Elevate your living space with coffee table books that add color, texture, and layers to your decor, all while showcasing your unique interests.

Discover a curated selection of coffee table books by Black authors, offering captivating narratives and stunning visuals that enrich your space and celebrate diverse perspectives.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

“Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style” by Shantrelle P. Lewis 

Described as “high-styled rebels” by author Shantrelle P. Lewis, Black men with a penchant for color and refined fashion, both new and vintage, have gained popular attention in recent years, influencing mainstream fashion.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

“We Are Present: 2020 in Portraits” by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn 

We Are Present: 2020 in Portraits chronicles one of the most dynamic years in recent history through a series of delicate yet confrontational portraiture.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

“AphroChic: Celebrating the Legacy of the Black Family Home” by Jeanine Hays and Bryan Hays

A powerful, visually stunning celebration of Black homeownership, featuring inspiring homes and family histories of notable Black American

“The Modern Day Black Alphabet,” by Arial Robinson

The Modern Day Black Alphabet is a children’s photo book by Arial Robinson. This book started as a simple photo series to keep Arial occupied while being quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic but now has blossomed into a full book.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

In this stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, Bryant Terry captures the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora through the prism of food. Includes contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaries from around the globe.

“Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion,” by Marcellas Reynolds

To date, there has never been a book devoted exclusively to top black models. Supreme Models fills that void, paying tribute to black models past and present.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

“BLACK FUTURES” By Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham

A collection of work—images, photos, essays, memes, dialogues, recipes, tweets, poetry, and more—to tell the story of the radical, imaginative, provocative, and gorgeous world that Black creators are bringing forth today.

“Black Is Beautiful” by Kwame Brathwaite

In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Kwame Brathwaite used his photography to popularize the political slogan “Black Is Beautiful.” This monograph—the first ever dedicated to Brathwaite’s remarkable career—tells the story of a key, but under-recognized, figure of the second Harlem Renaissance.

“The Black Joy Project Hardcover” by Kleaver Cruz 

The Black Joy Project features stunning photography and essays celebrating Black joy around the world. It has been compared to “Humans of New York” and “The Black Book” and is described as a powerful and uplifting exploration of resilience, resistance, and Black culture.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

“Justice of The Pies” by Maya-Camille Broussard”

Justice of the Pies offers over 85 sweet and savory recipes inspired by 20 social justice “stewards,” celebrating flavors and making a difference with every bite. Chef-owner Maya-Camille Broussard honors her father, a criminal defense attorney, through delicious pies and community upliftment.

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1 min read

Inauguration Poet Amanda Gorman Partners With Estée Lauder on a New Literacy Initiative

Amanda Gorman, activist, award-winning writer, and the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history has partnered with Estée Lauder to acknowledge and celebrate a new generation of leaders inspiring change.

As part of this partnership, The Estée Lauder Companies will contribute $3M over three years to support “Writing Change”, a special initiative to advance literacy as a pathway to equality, access, and social change.

amanda gorman
Amanda Gorman via Estée Lauder

In addition, Amanda will bring her voice of change to the Estée Lauder brand through campaigns debuting in Spring 2022.

“I am honored to partner with The Estée Lauder Companies to activate change through literacy, and to represent a brand founded by such an inspiring and daring woman,” said Amanda Gorman. “I am delighted that our partnership will help inspire women, girls, and all people around the world to do great things, to disrupt, to be confident, and to be future leaders in whatever path they take.”

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8 mins read

Why Octavia Butler’s Novels Are So Relevant Today

It’s campaign season in the US, and a charismatic dark horse is running with the slogan ‘make America great again’. According to his opponent, he’s a demagogue; a rabble-rouser; a hypocrite. When his supporters form mobs and burn people to death, he condemns their violence “in such mild language that his people are free to hear what they want to hear”.

He accuses, without grounds, whole groups of people of being rapists and drug dealers. How much of this rhetoric he actually believes and how much he spouts “just because he knows the value of dividing in order to conquer and to rule” is at once debatable, and increasingly beside the point, as he strives to return the country to a “simpler” bygone era that never actually existed.

octavia butler
Art by Makeba Rainey (@justkeebs)

You might think he sounds familiar – but the character in question is Texas Senator Andrew Steele Jarret, the fictional presidential candidate who storms to victory in a dystopian science-fiction novel titled Parable of the Talents. Written by Octavia E Butler, it was published in 1998, two decades before the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States.

Like much of her writing, Butler’s book was a warning about where the US and humanity in general might be heading. In some respects, we’ve beaten her to it: a sequel to 1993’s Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents is set in what is still the future, 2032. While its vision is extreme, there is plenty that feels within the bounds of possibility: resources are increasingly scarce, the planet is boiling, religious fundamentalism is rife, the middle classes live in walled-off enclaves. The novel’s protagonist, a black woman like the author herself, fears that Jarret’s authoritarianism will only worsen matters.
octavia butler

Fourteen years after her early death, Butler’s reputation is soaring. Her predictions about the direction that US politics would take, and the slogan that would help speed it there, are certainly uncanny. But that wasn’t all she foresaw. She challenged traditional gender identity, telling a story about a pregnant man in Bloodchild and envisaging shape-shifting, sex-changing characters in Wild Seed. Her interest in hybridity and the adaptation of the human race, which she explored in her Xenogenesis trilogy, anticipated non-fiction works by the likes of Yuval Noah Harari. Concerns about topics including climate change and the pharmaceutical industry resonate even more powerfully now than when she wove them into her work.

octavia butler

And of course, by virtue of her gender and ethnicity, she was striving to smash genre assumptions about writers – and readers – so ingrained that in 1987, her publisher still insisted on putting two white women on the jacket of her novel Dawn, whose main character is black. She also helped reshape fantasy and sci-fi, bringing to them naturalism as well as characters like herself. And when she won the prestigious MacArthur ‘genius’ grant in 1995, it was a first for any science-fiction writer.

Octavia Estelle Butler was born on 22 June 1947. Her father, a shoeshiner, died when she was very young, and she was raised by her mother, a maid, in Pasadena, California. As an only child, Butler began entertaining herself by telling stories when she was just four. Later, tall for her age and painfully shy, growing up in an era of segregation and conformity, that same storytelling urge became an escape route. She read, too, hungrily and in spite of her dyslexia. Her mother – who herself had been allowed only a scant few years of schooling – took her to get a library card, and would bring back cast-off books from the homes she cleaned.

An alternate future

Through fiction, Butler learnt to imagine an alternate future to the drab-seeming life that was envisioned for her: wife, mother, secretary. “I fantasised living impossible, but interesting lives – magical lives in which I could fly like Superman, communicate with animals, control people’s minds”, she wrote in 1999. She was 12 when she discovered science fiction, the genre that would draw her most powerfully as a writer. “It appealed to me more, even, than fantasy because it required more thought, more research into things that fascinated me,” she explained. Even as a young girl, those sources of fascination ranged from botany and palaeontology to astronomy. She wasn’t a particularly good student, she said, but she was “an avid one”.

After high school, Butler went on to graduate from Pasadena City College with an Associates of Arts degree in 1968. Throughout the 1970s, she honed her craft as a writer, finding, through a class with the Screen Writers’ Guild Open Door Program, a mentor in sci-fi veteran Harlan Ellison, and then selling her first story while attending the Clarion Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop. Supporting herself variously as a dishwasher, telemarketer and inspector at a crisp factory, she would wake at 2am to write. After five years of rejection slips, she sold her first novel, Patternmasterin 1975, and when it was published the following year, critics praised its well-built plot and refreshingly progressive heroine. It imagines a distant future in which humanity has evolved into three distinct genetic groups, the dominant one telepathic, and introduces themes of hierarchy and community that would come to define her work. It also spawned a series, with two more books, Mind of My Mind and Survivor, following before the decade’s end.

With the $1,750 advance that Survivor earnt her, Butler took a trip east to Maryland, the setting for a novel she wanted to write about a young black woman who travels back in time to the Deep South of 19th-Century America. Having lived her entire life on the West Coast, she travelled by cross-country bus, and it was during a three-hour wait at a bus station that she wrote the first and last chapters of what would become Kindred. It was published in 1979 and remains her best-known book.

The 1980s would bring a string of awards, including two Hugos, the science-fiction awards first established in 1953. They also saw the publication of her Xenogenesis trilogy, which was spurred by talk of ‘winnable nuclear war’ during the arms race, and probes the idea that humanity’s hierarchical nature is a fatal flaw.The books also respond to debates about human genetic engineering and captive breeding programs for endangered species.


Read the rest at BBC Culture

3 mins read

10 Toni Morrison Quotes That Show Why She Was A Literary Genius

Toni Morrison, the literary GIANT, who manipulated the English language to illustrate and punctuate our humanity as Black people, children of the Sun, has joined our ancestors.

She was a force to reckon with on this side, she will be indomitable in the other. Thank you for Sula, for Milkman, for Pecola, for Baby Suggs, for Beloved. May we never let your work be in vain. Walk in light.

Here are just a few of our favorite Toni Morrison quotes:

Toni Morrison Quotes

“If there is a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.”

“Now he knew why he loved her so. Without ever leaving the ground, she could fly.”

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

Credit: Jack Mitchell/Getty Images

“All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”

“Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.”

toni morrison quotes
Credit: The Guardian

“The function of freedom is to free someone else.”

“I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.’”

toni morrison quotes
Credit: Glamour

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”

“Perhaps that’s what all human relationships boil down to: Would you save my life? or would you take it?”

“if you can only be tall because somebody’s on their knees, you have a serious problem.”

Photo illustration by Lisa Larson-Walker. Photo by Bettman/Corbis



-Tony O. Lawson (IG @thebusyafrican)

10 mins read

(Re)presenting the Color Line as Told By Du Bois’s Data Portraits

Much has been written on W. E. B. Du Bois and the 1900 Paris Exposition, much of it repetitive, lacking new or innovative considerations of what can be explored and how to critically engage further the work of Du Bois and his team.

Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois on an identification card for the 1900 Exposition Universelle (via Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries)

The editors – Whitney Battle-Baptiste and Britt Rusert, both scholars at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst – of this present volume W. E. B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America, The Color Line at the Turn of the Twentieth Century – on the 150th anniversary year of the scholar’s birth – collects and publishes in a single volume, Du Bois’s attempt at voicing the progress and conditions blacks in the United States at the turn of the century through the charts and graphs of the American Negro Exhibit.

“Assessed value of household and kitchen furniture owned by Georgia Negroes,” from W. E. B. Du Bois’s ‘The Georgia Negro: A Study’ (1900) (via Library of Congress)

They give renewed attention to the possible impacts this (re)production might have on knowledge production and transformation in social science discourse. As they note in the introduction, “this is the first time that the data visualizations are collected together in book form and reproduced in full color” (p. 12). Thus, the volume is an offering and a celebration of the work to remind us of the continued necessity to give voice to the progress and struggle for place in the larger narrative of world history.

“City and rural population. 1890,” from W. E. B. Du Bois’s ‘The Georgia Negro: A Study’ (1900) (via Library of Congress)


Before we are allowed to encounter or examine the infographics, there are two short essays by Aldon Morris, the Leon Forrest Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Northwestern University, and Mabel O. Wilson, Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and Senior Fellow in the Institute for Research and African American Studies at Columbia University, offering, in part, a history of the 1900 exposition in Paris.

However, considerable departures suggesting other motives, strategies and techniques Du Bois used to complete the exhibit and engage his audience. Moreover, the essays speak to the meaning of his work to the academy and the culture.

Morris suggests that Du Bois’s innovations might inspire an upscaling of research and theorization in contemporary visual sociology, as Wilson focuses primarily on the history and geographic thinking that Du Bois and his team dared to proffer about African Americans on the world stage.

As Morris writes, “The exhibit violated white thoughts about black people, especially Americans only three decades removed from slavery” (p. 24).

Diagram of routes of the African slave trade with the state of Georgia starred, from W. E. B. Du Bois’s ‘The Georgia Negro: A Study’ (1900) (via Library of Congress)

The display in and of itself was a challenge to white supremacy and calls for continued growth and uplift of African people. Wilson discusses Du Bois’s use cartography (“Western methods”) as a way of “inscribing the black world back into history and geography.” The display of the infographics in such a manner, tackling such subjects with such a radicalized visual voice, is consequential of Du Bois having been among the top social scientists of the day, as Morris asserts.

“Occupations of negroes and whites in Georgia,” from W. E. B. Du Bois’s ‘The Georgia Negro: A Study’ (1900) (via Library of Congress)

The essays sufficiently guide, or better, give us a proper footing with which to examine the diagrams and charts introduced by Silas Munro, Assistant Professor at the Otis College of Art and Design. Munro, as did Morris and Wilson, discusses Du Bois’s innovations with using the “visual form to make arguments for the equality and sophistication of black Americans living under Jim Crow and the shadow of enslavement” (p. 46), and his place in the overall history of data visualization techniques.

It is noted that although the exhibit was award winning, it was not successful in impacting the audience in attendance, given the lack of discussion of the African American exhibit in the newspapers, at home and abroad.

“The rise of the negroes from slavery to freedom in one generation,” from W. E. B. Du Bois’s ‘The Georgia Negro: A Study’ (1900) (via Library of Congress)

However, we find here in Munro’s introduction that Du Bois and his students’ graphics might have influenced the rise of artistic movements and the use of data visualizations in Europe and Russia. Munro noted, “The colors, shapes, and typography of the charts also foreshadow critical developments in the history of data visualization, including simplified pictographic form defined in the Isotype picture language, minimal typographic palettes used by the International Typographic Style, and visual narratives in chart form explained in the research of Edward Tufte” (p. 47 & 49).

A series of statistical charts illustrating the condition of the descendants of former African slaves now in residence in the United States of America. Drawing, ca. 1900.

As such, the (re)presentation of the The Georgia Negro: A Social Study by W. E. B. Du Bois follows with a descriptive blurb for each graphic also by Munro. Munro’s descriptions are sufficient; however, of those that he cannot describe and struggle to find meaning is more indicative of the need for a return to Du Bois’s infographics. Inquiries are needed to decipher, explain, and, perhaps, replicate these findings in scientific investigations.

“Slaves and free negroes,” graphed between 1790 and 1870, from W. E. B. Du Bois’s ‘The Georgia Negro: A Study’ (1900) (via Library of Congress)

Battle-Baptiste and Rusert conclude their introductory chapter discussing the intellectual impacts of the graphics used for the American Negro exhibit, writing “While we can’t know what future plans Du Bois had for the infographics, we do know that they might take on a new life today, from inspiring forms of design and art-making connected to social justice work to their traction within digital projects and other initiatives that are, like Du Bois and his collaborators, envisioning how data might be re-imagined as a form of accountability and even protest in the age of Black Lives Matter” (p. 22).

Then, this offering of the data portraits at this time is a call to contemporary scholars in the academy to study and engage Du Bois’s methods deeply for improved analyses, meaning making, and social action toward the improvement of the lives of people of African descent as Du Bois intended.


Contributed by Weckea Dejura Lilly

Mr. Lilly is a Research Archivist at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. In his free time, he experiments with writing short stories and (auto)biographical essays.

6 mins read

The Brownies’ Book is a Black Children’s Magazine from almost 100 years ago

Every revolutionary magazine needs a striking cover, and in January 1920, one appeared. It was a photograph of an African-American girl donning a fairy costume and crown. The title page of that issue contained an even bolder statement: “This is The Brownies’ Book,” it proclaimed in large font, “A Monthly Magazine For the Children of the Sun. Designed for All Children, But Especially For Ours.”

When The Brownies’ Book first hit presses in 1920, stories for or about Black children were largely missing from the landscape of children’s literature. And what did exist, from The Story of Little Black Sambo to poems like Ten Little Niggers that could be found in popular children’s magazines like St. Nicholas, was riddled with grotesque caricatures and stereotypes. As the creators of The Brownies’ Book, including the scholar and visionary W.E.B. Du Bois, put it: “All of the Negro child’s idealism, all his sense of the good, the great and the beautiful is associated with White people … He unconsciously gets the impression that the Negro has little chance to be great, heroic or beautiful.”

The Brownies’ Book, which cost 15 cents per copy, set out to do just that: to give the “Children of the Sun” the chance to see positive, heroic and beautiful impressions of themselves — and to help build up an armor of pride to protect them from the racism they were sure to encounter in their lives. And in doing that, the magazine not only helped alter the perspectives of its young readers but also lay the foundation for a century of Black children’s literature to follow.

Du Bois and author Jessie Redmon Fauset, who served as the magazine’s literary editor, were the driving forces behind the project, which was a spinoff of The Crisis, the official magazine of the NAACP. They wanted to promote self-esteem, racial identity and leadership skills in Black children. It was part of the broader flowering of the Harlem RenaissanceBlack culture and DuBois’ own efforts to cultivate the “Talented Tenth” — those who he felt were destined to be exceptional leaders — in the African-American community.

The magazine featured stories, fairy tales, poems, games, songs, African folktales, and illustrated images of all types of Black girls and boys. It featured letters from the young readers themselves and a section entitled “As the Crow Flies,” which reported significant news and events from all over the world. The features were both entertaining and instructive. In “Dolly’s Dream,” for example, a 6-year-old girl wishes to have blonde curls just like her favorite doll, and she is given them by a fairy godmother in a dream, only to realize that nobody recognizes her as a result. When she awakens, she is happy to discover that she still has her black curls.

The Brownies’ Book also provided a forum for showcasing the art of aspiring Black writers and illustrators, including works from a 19-year-old Langston Hughes. Message books that are not also good literature do not work nearly as well, argues Dianne Johnson-Feelings, a professor of African-American literature at the University of South Carolina and editor of The Best of The Brownies’ Book. “It did start focusing people at creating literature aimed primarily at a Black audience,” says Johnson-Feelings, “but it was not only for Black readers. Good literature is for everybody.”

The Brownies’ Book

The Brownies’ Book ran from just January 1920 to December 1921 before encountering financial difficulties and ceasing to publish, but it helped foster a much longer lasting sense of pride and self-identity in its young readers and played a key part in sparking the development of African-American children’s literature. Du Bois claimed in his autobiography that The Brownies’ Book was one of the most satisfying efforts of his life.

The magazine was in many ways ahead of its time — and even our own, in which stories for Black children and by Black authors and illustrators continue to be underrepresented in children’s literature. But it was nonetheless an important and impactful effort. “If you wait until you think society is ready, then strides would never be taken,” says Johnson-Feelings. “If you wait for everyone’s hearts to change, then nothing ever changes on a big scale. So big thinkers do their thing and hope that everyone else catches up.”


Source: OZY

2 mins read

28 Black Owned Bookstores You Should Know

The number of Black owned bookstores has declined significantly since 1999. That year, there were reportedly more than 325. But, by 2012 had dropped to about 50.  In 2017, the number rose to about 70. We’d like to acknowledge some of the stores that are still going strong.

Black Owned Bookstores

Hakim’s Bookstore (Philadelphia, PA)

Everyone’s Place (Baltimore, MD)

Eso Won (Los Angeles, CA)

Mahogany Books (Washington, DC)

mahogany books

Sankofa (Washington, DC)

Pyramid Art, Books and Custom Framing (Little Rock, AR)

Dare Books (Longwood, FL)

Pyramid Books  (Boynton Beach, FL)

Nubian Bookstore ( Morrow, GA)

Source Booksellers (Detroit, MI)

source booksellers

Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe’ (Highland Park, MI)

Eyeseeme (University City, MO)


La Unique African American Books & Cultural Center(Camden, NJ)

The Community Book Center (New Orleans, LA)

Cafe con Libros (Brooklyn, NY)

cafe con libros
sisters uptown bookstore

Sisters Uptown Bookstore (New York, NY)

Grandma’s Place (Harlem, NY)

Black Art Plus (Columbus, OH)

Black and Nobel (Philadelphia, PA)

black and nobel

Uncle Bobbies Coffee & Books (Philadelphia, PA)

black owned bookstores
uncle bobbies

Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse (Philadelphia, PA)

black owned bookstores
amalgam comics

Color Book Gallery (Philadelphia, PA)

The Pan African Connection (Dallas, TX)

The Dock Bookshop (Fort Worth, TX)

Black W0rld Books (Kileen, TX)

Harambee Books and Artworks (Alexandria, VA)


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