Category Archives: History

BOOK: All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw

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The latest addition to the HarlemCondoLife store was recently featured in the New York Times.

“All God’s Dangers” is an all but forgotten but critically important sharecropper’s story that won a National Book Award in 1975.

It is an oral history of an illiterate black Alabama sharecropper. Its author, the man who compiled it from extensive interviews, was writer Theodore Rosengarten.

“There are only a few American autobiographies of surpassing greatness….Now there is another one, Nate Shaw’s.” — The New York Times

“Extraordinarily rich and compelling…possesses the same luminous power we associate with Faulkner…the same marvelous idiom, the same wry, sardonic humor…[it] will stun the listener-reader, hold him in its grip, and never really quite let go of him? — Washington Post

“Eloquent and revelatory. When, finally, this big book is put down, one feels exhilarated. This is an anthem to human endurance.” — Studs Terkel, New Republic –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.



All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw (Paperback)

By (author): Theodore Rosengarten

All God's Dangers won the National Book Award in 1975.

"On a cold January morning in 1969, a young white graduate student from Massachusetts, stumbling along the dim trail of a long-defunct radical organization of the 1930s, the Alabama Sharecropper Union, heard that there was a survivor and went looking for him. In a rural settlement 20 miles or so from Tuskegee in east-central Alabama he found him—the man he calls Nate Shaw—a black man, 84 years old, in full possession of every moment of his life and every facet of its meaning. . . . Theodore Rosengarten, the student, had found a black Homer, bursting with his black Odyssey and able to tell it with awesome intellectual power, with passion, with the almost frightening power of memory in a man who could neither read nor write but who sensed that the substance of his own life, and a million other black lives like his, were the very fiber of the nation's history." —H. Jack Geiger, New York Times Book Review
 
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The richest blacks in the world

We are living at the intersection of many crossroads.  One such crossroad is  race and wealth.

One of the manifestations of which is Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.   Which is exactly what it sounds like: an interactive exploration of the world’s richest folk.

The site is an interesting blend of design, functionality and content.  It is also interesting by what it omits – exploration by race or ethnic origin.  I tried to solve this in the long term by sending the Bloomberg team an email requesting this feature (no response yet).     But in the short term, I did some plain old research using Google, and then looked for the results (also published in Forbes) in the tool.

I’m not going to spoil the results.  I am going to let you enjoy using the site to satisfy your own curiosities.

But I can tell you that of the top 10 richest blacks in the world, I found one of them in the Index.   Lower down in the list than I had hoped.  Not someone I would have expected.  A man.  The second richest black is a woman.  She is not on the list since her wealth at almost 4 billion apparently does not make the cut.  Both their fortunes originate in and emanate from Africa.

It’s interesting to note how little we hear about Africa’s slow, steady and inexorable advancement as a world economic power.  It’s no wonder that many nations and businesses – Big oil, telecom, finance and the Chinese, have set their sights on Africa, and are investing heavily there.

Sunday Jazz Corner with Jimmie Lunceford

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James Melvin “Jimmie” Lunceford (June 6, 1902 – July 12, 1947) was an American Jazz alto saxophonist and bandleader in the swing era.

Jimmie Lunceford is the odd man out in jazz history. This bandleader made no waves with his musicianship – his preferred instrument was the conductor’s baton – and he possessed neither the elegance of Ellington nor the hipster hauteur of Calloway. But Lunceford knew how to entertain an audience, and he led one of the finest jazz bands of the 1930s. When Lunceford’s ensemble took a booking at the Cotton Club, following in the footsteps of Cab and the Duke, dancers would hardly have missed a beat. “Harlem Shout” demonstrates the core virtues of this orchestra: its swinging riff-based charts, its hot and polished section work, and (another calling card of Lunceford’s bands) high-note trumpet theatrics, provided here by Paul Webster. Like a hearty band of soldiers, this ensemble always maintained discipline under fire, and there was inevitably plenty of hot stuff around when folks like Sy Oliver and Eddie Durham were handing out the parts. Perhaps if Lunceford had lived longer – he died, reportedly of a heart attack (although under suspicious circumstances), at age 45 – he might have been fêted as elder statesman of jazz. But, as it stands, he is little more than a half-remembered name for most younger jazz fans. Tis pity, ’cause this band was sublime.  Reviewer Credit: Ted Gioia

Read Wikipedia on Jimmie Lunceford stating rumors about his death (suspicious circumstances) that he was actually poisoned in Seaside, Oregon by a restaurant owner.

Tain’t What You Do – Jimmie Lunceford

Jimmie Lunceford and His Dance Orchestra 1936 (LIVE)

Harlem Shout – Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra

QUOTE: Malcolm X “Education is the passport”

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“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

– Malcolm X

* Malcolm X was born on May 19, 1925.  On February 21, 1965, he was preparing to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity in Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom when a man who was seated in the front row of the 400-person audience rushed forward and shot him.  Then two other men charged the stage and shot Malcolm X several times.  He was pronounced dead at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital at 3:30 pm.

A Public viewing was held at Harlem’s Unity Funeral Home from February 23 through February 26.  Estimates of the number of mourners attending varied from 14,000 to 30,000.  The funeral was held on February 27 at the Faith Temple of the Church of God in Christ in Harlem.  A local television station broadcast the funeral live.  Actor and activist Ossie Davis delivered the eulogy, where he described Malcolm X as “our shining black prince.”