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Kern County Library Staff Suggests...: February Recommendations for Adults

Monday, February 1, 2010

February Recommendations for Adults

Celebrating Black History Month

Freedom By Any Means: Con Games, Voodoo Schemes, True Love and Lawsuits on the Underground Railroad by Betty DeRamus - "Much of what we think we know about African American history isn’t completely true," DeRamus states in the introduction to her extraordinary new book chronicling the ways enslaved and freed blacks used the courts to gain freedom and civil rights. Drawn from unpublished memoirs, census records, government reports, periodicals, books and other sources, DeRamus tells the stories of the African American experience before the Emancipation Proclamation. Entertaining and easy to read, DeRamus reaches beyond the famously heroic figures into the lives of the lesser known, enriching our collective knowledge on 19th-century African American daily life.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - HeLa cells were the first "immortal" human cells grown in culture. They have been used in medical research for the last 50+years, laying the foundation for a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials. The cells of Henrietta Lacks and her family were used in crucial discoveries like the polio vaccine, AIDS, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and many other medical experiments, without their knowledge, consent or financial reimbursement. The birth of modern medical science is inextricably connected to the shadowy history of experimentation on African Americans. Skloot spent decades investigating the story of the cells harvested from Henrietta Lacks, who died in the poor ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital, capturing the beauty and drama of scientific discovery as well as its human consequences.

The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations by Ira Berlin - Slavery, relocation, migration, and immigration have defined and created a complex, epic history. Berlin, one of our leading historians, offers a sweeping account of these passages and the distinct culture created by the African Americans during centuries of forcible and voluntary movement. Berlin challenges the traditional linear presentation of social change, offering instead an account of the fluidity of a dynamic culture responding to alternating eras of tradition and innovation in the quest for a sense of place and self-determination. A bold new account, exploring how a distinct black culture evolved and how those institutions in turn became global products. Certain to generate controversy on what it has meant, and means today, to be black in America.

Martin Luther King by Godfrey Hodgson - Hodgson, the director of the Reuters Foundation Programme at Oxford University, is one of Great Britain’s keenest observers of American politics. Describing King’s life as a series of struggles from the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott through the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, Hodgson has written an excellent concise biography on King’s life and legacy. Of special interest is the British perspective on King’s battles with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson over legislation and the philandering that almost destroy the nonviolent movement.

A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School by Carlotta Walls LaNier - Breaking her silence and sharing her story for the first time, Carlotta Walls and written and inspiring and thoroughly engrossing memoir, a testament to the power of one to make a difference. The journey of the "Little Rock Nine" would lead the nation on a turbulent path, breaking barriers and forever changing the social and spiritual landscape of America. Walls allows us an intimate look into the sacrifices made by families and communities as they found themselves at the heart of this watershed moment in civil rights history.


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