Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney

In February 1960 four young men stood up for justice by sitting at a segregated lunch counter. This simple act of defiance helped moved America toward integration. Andrea Davis Pinkney powerful prose illuminate the courage and fortitude of the Greensboro Four.

Visit the Underground Railroad in Michigan

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A new book, The Underground Railroad in Michigan, by Ann Arbor's Carol Mull, is a comprehensive exploration of abolitionism and the network of escape from slavery in our state. The book includes both an overview of national events and vivid first-person accounts taken from The Signal of Liberty, an 1840s-era abolitionist newspaper published in Ann Arbor, to explore Michigan's role in the antislavery movement. The Signal of Liberty is available for full-text searching and browsing at: http://signalofliberty.aadl.org/.

For an overview of Ann Arbor's role in the Underground Railroad, you can listen to our podcast with Carol from last year or read Grace Shackman's article from the Ann Arbor Observer. You can also take your own walking tour: Start with this plaque on the Broadway Bridge, then make your way to lower Broadway to the former site where the Signal of Liberty was published (across the street from the Anson Brown Building, which today houses the St. Vincent de Paul store), followed by a brief stroll to 1425 Pontiac Trail for a glimpse of Reverend Guy Beckley's home.

Happy Birthday Miles Davis!

As I begin this blog, I am faced with the reality that a proper tribute to Miles Davis is quite a daunting task. To say he was a famous jazz musician is a bit of an understatement. "Throughout a professional career lasting 50 years, Miles Davis played the trumpet in a lyrical, introspective, and melodic style, often employing a stemless Harmon mute to make his sound more personal and intimate. But if his approach to his instrument was constant, his approach to jazz was dazzlingly protean. To examine his career is to examine the history of jazz from the mid-'40s to the early '90s, since he was in the thick of almost every important innovation and stylistic development in the music during that period, and he often led the way in those changes, both with his own performances and recordings and by choosing sidemen and collaborators who forged new directions. It can even be argued that jazz stopped evolving when Davis wasn't there to push it forward. - Allmusic.com"
Do yourself a favor and check out some of his incredible music from the AADL or watch one of our DVDs to see him in action. Try Kind of Blue if you need a place to start. We also have many many books about Miles Davis for you to get better acquainted with this icon of music history. miles davismiles davis

Happy Birthday Sarah Vaughan!

"Possessor of one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century, Sarah Vaughan ranked with Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday in the very top echelon of female jazz singers." Born March 27, 1924, in New Jersey, Sarah Vaughan had an incredibly prolific career in American jazz from the 1940s up until her death in 1990. Celebrate her birthday by checking out some of her cds from the AADL. Try The Roulette Years. Vols. 1 & 2, Sarah Vaughan Favorites, After Hours, or Ultimate Sarah Vaughan. For more information about the woman behind the amazing voice, check out the biography Sassy : The Life of Sarah Vaughan or the PBS dvd Jazz. Episode nine, The adventure.

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African-American Woman's Book Club

Are you a female fan of Black Literature? With more than 30 chapters in 12 states, The Go On Girl! Book Club claims to be the largest African-American woman's book club in the country. Their website has a great list of reading resources as well as information on how to start your own local GOG chapter.

Interested in catching up with their reading selections? 2010's winter/spring books are as follows:
January 2010 - Wife of the Gods, Kwei Quartey (Mystery)
February 2010 - Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell (Nonfiction)
March 2010 - Black Water Rising, Attica Locke (Fiction)
April 2010 - Sag Harbor: A Novel, Colson Whitehead (Fiction)

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January's Sparrow by Michigan author Patricia Polacco

Join us for a Black History Month program at the Pittsfield Branch on Wednesday, February 24 from 2 - 3 p.m. We will feature Patricia Polacco's new book, January's Sparrow, which tells the story of a slave family's journey through the Underground Railroad from Kentucky to Michigan. Then weave a paper kente cloth using the bright colors of the historical fabrics. This is for children grades K - 5.

It's Funky...

This morning I was walking down the sci fi section, looking for something unique to blog about. As I looked at all of the books, the title of this one jumped out at me, The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust. With a title like that, how can you go wrong? Set in Edmonton Canada, the book is filled with quirky pop culture references, like RPG style statistics for all of the major characters and Star Wars quotes just to name two. Follow the exploits of Hamza and Yehat, The Coyote Kings, best friends and underachievers as they search for a lost artifact with the mysterious Sherem. Can they find it before their rivals do?

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #196

A Southern debut novel sparkling with humor, heart and feminine wisdom, Beth Hoffman's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt* is about a vulnerable young girl who loses one mother and finds solace in the “perfume world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women".

12 year-old CeeCee Honeycutt finds it hard to grieve for her mother (a loony former beauty queen) who walks in front of an ice cream truck. Her father offers no comfort. In fact, he promptly packs her off to Savannah to live with Great Aunt Tootie.

In this Steel Magnolias (1989) meets The Secret Life of Bees, Saving CeeCee is "packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart. It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship", and the promise of new beginnings. A feel-good read with wide appeal.

Teens will find it easy to relate to CeeCee's struggle to reclaim a "normal" childhood, anger of abandonment, and her yearning for a place to call home. Recommended. (100,000 first printing)

* = Starred review

Celebrate Black History Month with a Museum Adventure Pass!

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Check out a Museum Adventure Pass at any AADL location and take a visit to one of the many museums celebrating Black History Month this month, like The Henry Ford. You can see the interactive musical, Minds on Freedom, participate in Hands-on Freedom, and visit the With Liberty and Justice for All exhibit. Note that regular admission costs apply to these exhibits, as passes are for the Rouge Factory Tour, but all activities are free with Museum admission.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #195

While friendship stories are commonplace in women's fiction, one that depicts 4 slave women set in the mid -1850s is still a rarity.

Wench* traces the friendship between Lizzie, Reenie, Sweet and Mawu at an Ohio resort where Southern men bring their slave women. Over the course of three summers, these women came together to bare their souls, contemplate their future and support each other through sorrows and occasional joy.

First-time novelist Dolen Perkins-Valdez draws on research about the resort that eventually became the first black college Wilberforce University for the setting while she explores the complexities of relationships between these women and their white owners.

"Compelling and unsentimental", "heart-wrenching, intriguing, original and suspenseful, this novel showcases Perkins-Valdez's ability to bring the unfortunate past to life". ~Publishers Weekly. A good readalike for Cane River by Lalita Tademy.

For further reading on women in slavery, we suggest: Ar'n't I a Woman? : Female slaves in the Plantation South by Deborah Gray White and Labor of love, Labor of Sorrow : Black women, work, and the family from slavery to the present by Jacqueline Jones.

* = Starred review

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