A recommended biography that offers a welcome addition to the roster of lesser-known, pioneer African-American educators.

A Black Man's Journey from Sharecropper to College President

THE LIFE AND WORK OF WILLIAM JOHNSON TRENT, 1873-1963

A biography of the remarkable African-American educator William Johnson Trent (1873-1963) that gives readers a close look at the tumultuous times of his long life.

Trent was born in North Carolina in 1873 to an African-American mother, Malinda Johnson, and a white father, Edward Trent, who eventually left them. Malinda then married an African-American man named Mack Dunn; they were sharecroppers, which was a hard life. But young William showed promise, and by scrimping, they managed to start him on the path to education, which eventually led him to Livingstone College, the first black-founded and -run school of higher education in North Carolina. Trent was a stellar student and also proved himself to be a natural leader and organizer. After graduation, he put those talents to work, involving himself with the YMCA as secretary for the all-black Third North Carolina Volunteer Regiment and with the Young Men’s Institute. It quickly became apparent that if a situation was dire, involving a lack of funds or a lack of membership, Trent could solve the problem; time and again, he worked slow, patient miracles. After Reconstruction, the era of Jim Crow, Ku Klux Klan attacks, and lynchings prevailed well into the 20th century. Trent walked a fine line between dignity and despair during this time, during which he was twice widowed. Finally, in 1925, he was made president of his alma mater—an institution in financial straits that was saved, eventually, by his strong hand. In these difficult times, the story of a well-lived, selfless life like William Johnson Trent’s provides a welcome uplift. Scales-Trent, a retired academic from the State University of New York at Buffalo, is Trent’s granddaughter, and her book is clearly a labor of love. Her biography is largely well-written, as in the opening, which addresses the predicament of newly freed slaves in an epic style: “They heard the news from black people walking down the road, from Union soldiers riding by on their horses, perhaps from the slave master himself. And so they left.” That said, there are long stretches of fairly numbing detail, particularly involving financial woes. Of necessity, the author also often qualifies events with “probably” and “we can assume.” However, the book is exhaustively documented and indexed, and it also includes some period photographs.

A recommended biography that offers a welcome addition to the roster of lesser-known, pioneer African-American educators. 

Pub Date: Feb. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-942545-46-0

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Monroe Street Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more