MGJR Mind Food: Books and films we recommend

L-R%3A+Journalist%2Fauthors+Angela+Dodson%2C+Maudlyne+Ihejirika+and+Herb+Boyd+discuss+their+books+in+August+at+the+convention+of+the+National+Association+of+Black+Journalists+in+New+Orleans.
L-R: Journalist/authors Angela Dodson, Maudlyne Ihejirika and Herb Boyd discuss their books in August at the convention of the National Association of Black Journalists in New Orleans.

L-R: Journalist/authors Angela Dodson, Maudlyne Ihejirika and Herb Boyd discuss their books in August at the convention of the National Association of Black Journalists in New Orleans.

E.R. Shipp

E.R. Shipp

L-R: Journalist/authors Angela Dodson, Maudlyne Ihejirika and Herb Boyd discuss their books in August at the convention of the National Association of Black Journalists in New Orleans.


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BOOKS

Howard W. French

Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power (Penguin Random House)

A former New York Times bureau chief in Central America and the Caribbean, West and Central Africa, Japan, and China, Mr. French previously wrote the well-received China’s Second Continent. This latest book, according to The Wall Street Journal, “is a reminder that China’s international relations take place in a historical context going back centuries if not millennia, and Mr. French is an engaging guide through that deeper history.”

Stacey Patton

Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America (Beacon Press)

Dr. Stacey Patton, a product of the foster care system and an abusive adoptive home in New Jersey, is an award-winning journalist, author, child advocate and an assistant professor of multimedia journalism at Morgan State University. She is also the author of a memoir, That Mean Old Yesterday, and the creator of the anti–corporal punishment online portal Spare the Kids. About this book, David Levering Lewis, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for biographies on W. E. B. Du Bois, said: “The impact on child-rearing among so many black families of Stacey Patton’s Spare the Kids may well prove as powerfully corrective as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was upon the acceptance of chattel slavery.”

April Ryan

At Mama’s Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White (Rowman & Littlefield)

The graduate of Morgan State University who gained notoriety when President Trump strangely asked her, in the middle of a White House news conference, to set up a meeting for him with the Congressional Black Caucus and later was chided by his press secretary, Sean Spicer, for shaking her head in disagreement with him, has written a book about which Publisher’s Weekly says: “Ryan, a member of the White House press corps, lends her voice as an African-American mother to debates about divorce, community, death, and politics. Her journalistic chops are evident in her keen eye for an important topic, and she also shows a willingness to stake out strong and even unpopular opinions, such as in her stringent critique of the reclamation and use of anti-black slurs by African-Americans.”

Herb Boyd

Black Detroit: A People’s History of Determination (Amistad)

The author or editor of 22 books on topics ranging from x to y, Boyd has turned his attention to his hometown. Says Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World and Me: “Detroit has become a code for urban failure, which is to say, black failure. Herb Boyd’s riveting new history gives us, Black Detroit, and turns an oft caricatured community into a world of actual, struggling human beings. This is not easy work. But Boyd, with his Detroit roots and lucid prose, performs the labor as though he were born to do so.”

Angela P. Dodson

Remember the Ladies: Celebrating Those Who Fought for Freedom at the Ballot Box  (Center Street)

A former editor at the New York Times and a longtime book editor herself, Angela Dodson decided to pursue her curiosity when she realized that even as a feminist and a voracious reader she “knew very little of the suffrage movement and the women behind it.” The approaching centennial of the 19th Amendment provided impetus for her project. “One hundred years from now,” she writes, “young women will find it difficult to believe that for nearly 150 years of the nation’s history, members of their sex could not legally cast votes to elect a president or even a school board member.”

Angelina Ihejirika

Escape from Nigeria: A Memoir of Faith, Love and War (Red Sea Press)

Maudlyne Ihejirika, the veteran Chicago journalist and publicist, spent years recording her mother’s harrowing account of life as the mother of six young children before and after the Nigeria-Biafra War of 1967, her dogged determination to keep them safe and the life she created for them in the United States. The result is this near-cinematic “as told to” memoir.

FILM

“Tell Them We Are Rising” – This latest documentary from the prolific and award-winning Stanley Nelson and his Firelight Media tells the story of historically black colleges and universities and makes a case for why they matter in the 21st century. Nelson, a former artist-in-residence at Morgan State University, uses archival material, interviews with historians, students, administrators and others to capture the triumphs, the tragedies and the enduring challenges. Click here for the trailer. The film will air on PBS in February.

“Detroit” – A film by Kathryn Bigelow, it tells a little-known story of what USA Today calls “a real-life night of terror” in which lawless cops tortured young black men and two white women at the hotel during the riots that rocked the city 50 years ago. “The film’s unflinching gaze on a lawless night will likely be politicized,” the reviewer noted, “but calling Detroit anti-police misses the mark. The question Detroit begs is, in a democratic nation, to whom does the law apply?” Click here for the trailer.

“Rikers: An American Jail” – This documentary, produced by Bill Moyers for PBS, gives faces to mass incarceration at this New York City jail complex that houses about 9,400 men and women a day – down from an average of 20,000 in the 1990s. Current Mayor Bill De Blasio has proposed gradually shutting Rikers down over the next decade. Bryan Stevenson, whose book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption received an NAACP Image Award, says of the film: “This is powerful journalism, transformational art and an unmistakable indictment of the American prison system.” Click here for the trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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