Literature & Stories

The Elaine Race ‘Riot’ of 1919

In 1919 West Helena, Arkansas a group of black sharecroppers met to discuss unionising. This provocation ended with a riot – really, a massacre – that led 4 whites and 100 blacks dead. And how did authorities respond? 300 blacks were jailed, 12 of whom were executed in trials lasting one hour or more.

Robert Whitaker’s new book The Red Summer of 1919 and the Struggle for Justice That Remade a Nation returns to the incident, which occurred more than 50 years after Emancipation. And now, 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement began, Barack Obama is running or President. Times change, history doesn’t…

Read more HERE

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Photograph: The 12

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Literature & Stories

Samuel Selvon’s lonely London for Caribbean immigrants

Long before Zadie Smith’s White Teeth defined a second generation of British emigrants came Samuel Selvon. Born in Trinidad Selvon’s novels, beginning with 1956’s Lonely Londoner, brought to life the ‘cities within a city’ – divided by class and race.

“Because Sam has written so authentically, he has made it easier for the rest of us who want to make people talk the way they do. Sam was the first man, and I think we ought to give him credit for this, who made it possible,” said VS Naipaul.

Read more HERE

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Samuel Selvon (left) with compatriot activist/publisher John La Rose (centre) and fellow writer, Jamaican Andrew Salkey (right).

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Literature & Stories

1962: When World War III nearly began in the Caribbean

The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 gets another look with Michael Dobbs’s ‘One Minute to Midnight’ which tells how the world came one or two miscommunications away from nuclear annihilation; and close enough to Jamaica for Soviet warships to be visible off the coast.

And as the book reviewer suggests, just imagine what would’ve happened were a Bush, not a Kennedy in charge?

“The result is a book with sobering new information about the world’s only superpower nuclear confrontation — as well as contemporary relevance,” added the reviewer, former US Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke.

Read more HERE

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Source: New York Times

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Literature & Stories

Richard Wright: Return of Native Son

Richard Wright, the pioneering black American author of Native Son is having several of his works republished.

The omnibus Black Power contains two of the three travel books he wrote in the mid-1950s, together with his White Man, Listen! lectures.

There’s also a novel he began in the final weeks of his life but never finished, A Father’s Law. Meanwhile Hazel Rowley’s 2004 biography is released in paperback for the first time

Read more HERE

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Source: Times Literary Supplement

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