A stunningly thorough and poignant study of African-Americans.

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IF THESE STONES COULD TALK

AFRICAN AMERICAN PRESENCE IN THE HOPEWELL VALLEY, SOURLAND MOUNTAIN, AND SURROUNDING REGIONS OF NEW JERSEY.

A debut history book focuses on a New Jersey cemetery while exploring the whole spectrum of the black experience in the region. 

Buck and Mills both have deep familial ties to the Stoutsburg Cemetery near Hopewell, New Jersey. They have jointly served as trustees of the cemetery’s association for more than 30 years. In 2006, someone distraught over the possibility that a nearby but unofficial burial ground would soon be bulldozed contacted Buck. The authors immersed themselves in research in order to find documentary evidence of the land’s hallowed purpose, a task that begat this extended “detective-labor-of-love.” The result is a panoramic history of the African-American experience in New Jersey and the region, concentrating on the Stoutsburg Cemetery, a powerful reminder of the segregation that persisted long after the demise of slavery. In fact, a state law made it criminal to bury blacks and whites on the same grounds; it was finally overturned in 1884. The historical landscape traversed is expansive. The authors discuss the centrality of the church for African-Americans in the area, the history of the black population’s military service, and the nature of black landownership, which provided “real power and sovereignty” for otherwise disenfranchised citizens. They also dispel the myth that slavery in the North was more humanely practiced than in the South. New Jersey was in fact a brutal participant in and advocate of slave ownership. At the heart of this moving chronicle is the authors’ impassioned desire to “break the cycle of America’s historical omissions” regarding its black citizens, whose significant contributions have often been consigned to oblivion. “The challenges that African Americans face in proving their family history is a direct result of the lack of primary documentation—records of accomplishments or achievements in their lives,” the authors assert. The study is meticulously documented and written in prose that is always lucid and often stirring. The authors tend to confront readers with mountains of detail—family genealogies and even recipes are provided—but given the mission to disinter a buried history, it’s hard to quibble with their zeal. 

A stunningly thorough and poignant study of African-Americans.  

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-941948-08-8

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Wild River Consulting and Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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