"Founded by Chance, Sustained by Courage," Brooklyn, Illinois, was a magnet for African Americans from its founding by free and fugitive Blacks in the 1820s. Initially attractive to escaped slaves and others seeking to live in a Black-majority town, Brooklyn later drew Black migrants eager to commute to jobs in East St. Louis and other industrial centers as an alternative to eking out a living in agriculture. Ultimately, however, this very proximity to the industrializing city led to a destructive economic dependency that poisoned the ground for Brooklyn's self-determination.
Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua traces Brooklyn's transformation from a freedom village into a residential commuter satellite that supplied cheap labor to the city and the region. He examines why Brooklyn remained unindustrialized while factories and industrial complexes were built in nearly all the neighboring white-majority towns. As Brooklyn's population tilted more heavily toward single young men employed in the factories and as the city's cheaper retail businesses drew the town's consumer dollars, local businesses--except those catering to nightlife and vice--withered away.
Drawing on town records, regional and African American newspapers, census data, and other sources, Cha-Jua provides a detailed social and political history of America's first Black town. He places Brooklyn in the context of Black-town development and African American nationalism and documents the dedicated efforts of its Black citizens to achieve political control and build a thriving, autonomous, Black-majority community.
America's First Black Town challenges scholarly assumptions that Black political control necessarily leads to internal unity and economic growth. Outlining dynamics that presaged the post-1960s plight of Gary, Detroit, and other Black-dominated cities, Cha-Jua confirms that, despite Brooklyn's heroic struggle for autonomy, Black control was not enough to stem the corrosive tide of internal colonialism.
The Body of Brooklyn
David Lazar University of Iowa Press, 2003 Library of Congress F128.9.J5L39 2003 | Dewey Decimal 974.723004924009
Even before the controversy that surrounded the publication of A Million Little Pieces, the question of truth has been at the heart of memoir. From Elie Wiesel to Benjamin Wilkomirski to David Sedaris, the veracity of writers' claims has been suspect. In this fascinating and timely collection of essays, leading writers meditate on the subject of truth in literary nonfiction. As David Lazar writes in his introduction, "How do we verify? Do we care to? (Do we dare to eat the apple of knowledge and say it's true? Or is it a peach?) Do we choose to? Is it a subcategory of faith? How do you respond when someone says, 'This is really true'? Why do they choose to say it then?"
The past and the truth are slippery things, and the art of non-fiction writing requires the writer to shape as well as explore. In personal essays, meditations on the nature of memory, considerations of the genres of memoir, prose poetry, essay, fiction, and film, the contributors to this provocative collection attempt to find answers to the question of what truth in nonfiction means.
John D'Agata, Mark Doty, Su Friedrich, Joanna Frueh, Ray González, Vivian Gornick, Barbara Hammer, Kathryn Harrison, Marianne Hirsch, Wayne Koestenbaum, Leonard Kriegel, David Lazar, Alphonso Lingis, Paul Lisicky, Nancy Mairs, Nancy K. Miller, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Phyllis Rose, Oliver Sacks, David Shields, and Leo Spitzer.
From its founding in the late 1800s through the 1950s, Brownsville, a section of eastern Brooklyn, was a white, predominantly Jewish, working-class neighborhood. The famous New York district nurtured the aspirations of thousands of upwardly mobile Americans while the infamous gangsters of Murder, Incorporated controlled its streets. But during the 1960s, Brownsville was stigmatized as a black and Latino ghetto, a neighborhood with one of the city's highest crime rates. Home to the largest concentration of public housing units in the city, Brownsville came to be viewed as emblematic of urban decline. And yet, at the same time, the neighborhood still supported a wide variety of grass-roots movements for social change.
The story of these two different, but in many ways similar, Brownsvilles is compellingly told in this probing new work. Focusing on the interaction of Brownsville residents with New York's political and institutional elites, Wendell Pritchett shows how the profound economic and social changes of post-World War II America affected the area. He covers a number of pivotal episodes in Brownsville's history as well: the rise and fall of interracial organizations, the struggles to deal with deteriorating housing, and the battles over local schools that culminated in the famous 1968 Teachers Strike. Far from just a cautionary tale of failed policies and institutional neglect, the story of Brownsville's transformation, he finds, is one of mutual struggle and frustrated cooperation among whites, blacks, and Latinos.
Ultimately, Brownsville, Brooklyn reminds us how working-class neighborhoods have played, and continue to play, a central role in American history. It is a story that needs to be read by all those concerned with the many challenges facing America's cities today.
From 1912 to 1916, a group of baseball players from Hawaiʻ i barnstormed the U.S. mainland. While initially all Chinese, the Travelers became more multiethnic and multiracial with ballplayers possessing Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, and European ancestries. As a group and as individuals the Travelers' experiences represent a still much too marginalized facet of baseball and sport history. Arguably, they traveled more miles and played in more ball parks in the American empire than any other group of ballplayers of their time. Outside of the major leagues, they were likely the most famous nine of the 1910s, dominating their college opponents and more than holding their own against top-flight white and black independent teams. And once the Travelers’ journeys were done, a team leader and star Buck Lai gained fame in independent baseball on the East Coast of the U.S., while former teammates ran base paths and ran for political office as they confronted racism and colonialism in Hawaiʻ i.
Across the United States marginalized communities are organizing to address social, economic, and environmental inequities through building community food systems rooted in the principles of social justice. But how exactly are communities doing this work, why are residents tackling these issues through food, what are their successes, and what barriers are they encountering? This book dives into the heart of the food justice movement through an exploration of East New York Farms! (ENYF!), one of the oldest food justice organizations in Brooklyn, and one that emerged from a bottom-up asset-oriented development model. It details the food inequities the community faces and what produced them, how and why residents mobilized to turn vacant land into community gardens, and the struggles the organization has encountered as they worked to feed residents through urban farms and farmers markets. This book also discusses how through the politics of food justice, ENYF! has challenged the growth-oriented development politics of City Hall, opposed the neoliberalization of food politics, navigated the funding constraints of philanthropy and the welfare state, and opposed the entrance of a Walmart into their community. Through telling this story, Growing Gardens, Building Power offers insights into how the food justice movement is challenging the major structures and institutions that seek to curtail the transformative power of the food justice movement and its efforts to build a more just and sustainable world.
The nation's leading minister stands accused of adultery. He vehemently denies the charge but confesses to being on "the ragged edge of despair." His alleged lover is a woman of mystical faith, nearly "Catholic" in her piety. Her husband, a famous writer, sues the minister for damages. A six-month trial ends inconclusively, but it holds the nation in thrall. It produces gripping drama, scathing cartoons, and soul-searching editorials. Trials of Intimacy is the story of a scandal that shook American culture to the core in the 1870s because the key players were such vaunted moral leaders. In that respect there has never been another case like it—except The Scarlet Letter, to which it was constantly compared.
Henry Ward Beecher was pastor of Brooklyn's Plymouth Church and for many the "representative man" of mid-nineteenth century America. Elizabeth Tilton was the wife of Beecher's longtime intimate friend Theodore. His accusation of "criminal conversation" between Henry and Elizabeth confronted the American public with entirely new dilemmas about religion and intimacy, privacy and publicity, reputation and celebrity. The scandal spotlighted a series of comic and tragic loves and betrayals among these three figures, with a supporting cast that included Victoria Woodhull, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
To readers at the time, the Beecher-Tilton Scandal was an irresistible mystery. Richard Fox puts his readers into that same reverberating story, while offering it as a timeless tale of love, deception, faith, and the confounding indeterminacy of truth. Trials of Intimacy revises our conception of nineteenth-century morals and passions. And it is an American history richly resonant with present-day dramas.