ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



we also did our first video interview for listen to the people with adrina kelly, an early

graduate of our students at the center program and a graduate of harvard university

who works in new york city as an editor at mcgraw hill publishing



Books by Kalamu ya Salaam


The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement  /   360: A Revolution of Black Poets

Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology  /  From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets

Our Music Is No Accident   /  What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self

My Story My Song (CD)


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public schools killed in new orleans

kalamu on the road  9 oct 2005

we will fight back. we will resist


it is hard. it ain’t fair. but it is what it is. right now i’m in clemson, south carolina. seems like i’ve been traveling forever. last week i was in new york city. the week before i was at cornell in ithaca, new york. i had planned to do reports and updates from the road. but it is extremely difficult to keep up. i will endeavor to do better, but i’m not making any promises, other than i’ll do my best to at least let you know where i’m going and where i been. the cornell gig turned out extremely well. myself and three others did a panel, “hurricane katrina and its aftermath: race, class and the environment” moderated by robert l. harris, professor of africana studies and vice provost for diversity and faculty development.” it started with a newsclip from democracy now highlighting the unwillingess of the police, the military and other authorities refused to remove a dead body that lay in the streets for two weeks. this was in the algiers section of new orleans, which did not flood. during the report all manner of authorities past by and even talked with the reporter from democracy now, but all of them refused to deal with the body, invariably saying it was somebody else’s responsibility. syracuse university professor kishi animashaun, spoke on the enviornmental impacts in the greater new orleans region, detailing issues of toxicity and land erosion, significant issues whose impact will continue to be felt for years and years. malik rahim, a resident of the algiers section of new orleans, which did not flood, spoke about actively supporting the people. malik did not leave the city during the storm and in its aftermath organized local, national and international support for his neighbors and the general algiers community. malik is a former black panther who had run for office as a city councilman on the green party ticket.

i spoke third and opened with a poem “a system of thought,” based on coltrane techniques with lyrics that reflected the katrina reality and then went on to detail our listen to the people project (a full report about listen to the people will be forthcoming this week). the program closed with quiet, albeit steel strong, testimony from folake akande, a graduate student in african feminist literature at tulane university who is now studying at cornell. folake spoke about how it was the elders who guided and protected her through her travails in the shelters and upon arriving to cornell. at cornell i made a lot of good contacts, including ira revels who has agreed to take a leadership role in our listen to the people project. from cornell i returned to new orleans and then it was on to new york city. i was preceded by a long feature story in the new yorker about katrina. in that story i was quoted in some detail and given the last words of the article with a long quote about the forthcoming long, cold winter that new orleanians in exile will face. while in new york i had a couple of meetings during the day and made a poetry presentation at the bowery poetry club on friday night, followed by a discussion with a small audience at the caribbean cultural center.

we also did our first video interview for listen to the people with adrina kelly, an early graduate of our students at the center program and a graduate of harvard university who works in new york city as an editor at mcgraw hill publishing. although adrina graduated from high school before i joined the sac program, it turns out that i worked with adrina’s mother at the black collegian magazine (when we discovered that, neither of us was surprised because in new orleans everybody knows somebody who knows somebody, at most there are two degrees of separation). i reported on arriving into new york and never finished the report, time just was not there. it has been constant motion. i’m way behind on a couple of writing assignments, pushing hard to maintain e-drum every day and breath of life every week, plus develop listen to the people and publicly launch the website, which will be up within six or seven day—will announce that shortly. then, after three days, it was on to clemson, south carolina. students at the center gathered—high school students, sac graduates and staff for a retreat. we did writing workshops, planned for both the immediate as well as the long term future, were filmed at length for an upcoming feature on abc’s good morning america, and in general felt good about seeing and embracing each other. we came from seven different states. only one of our folk who was scheduled to come did not make it—keva’s flight was cancelled. i won’t go on at length about the sac get together, but i will say that i am more angry than i have been a long, long time. while we were meeting we got word (and downloaded a new orleans article online) about the latest bad news coming from the new orleans leadership. the orleans parish school board voted to turn all of the public schools on the west bank into charter schools. most of the schools on the east bank were flooded out. the board had previously voted to make charter schools out of two of the handful of east bank schools that were not flooded. all of this follows the termination of all of the teachers. effectively, they have killed public schools in new orleans. period. i don’t know if my comment will make it onto television, but i told the abc people: how much clearer can they make it that they hate us. the mayor’s proposes to open up casinos up and down the major downtown and business district. the school board turns all the west bank schools into charter schools. they’ve already evacuated damn near all of the black people. why don’t they just shoot us and get it over with. and in case folk don’t understand, this is the future of 21st century urban america. at this point the rebuilding of new orleans will not take place over 40 or 50 years and it will not be accidental. it will happen in 4 or 5 years and it will be planned. what the fuck kind of major american city are you going to build without a public school system? my spirit says fight. not protest. fight. not draw up no list of demands to a white power structure and their negro henchmen (the school board is majority black), but fight. right now we are planning for a “homecoming” in new orleans, november 11- 13, 2005. homecoming as in a school celebration. homecoming as in a citywide bringing together of the people. we don’t know how big it’s going to be. we don’t know nothing right now except we are going to have a homecoming, and even if they run us out at gunpoint… let me stop. i’m starting to just spout off… we will be in new orleans in november. we will have a homecoming… we have other plans… we will fight back. we will resist. it ain’t over…

more in a minute… a luta continua, kalamu

posted 9 October 2005

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction

By Kiini Ibura Salaam

Ancient, Ancient collects the short fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam, of which acclaimed author and critic Nalo Hopkinson writes, ”Salaam treats words like the seductive weapons they are. She wields them to weave fierce, gorgeous stories that stroke your sensibilities, challenge your preconceptions, and leave you breathless with their beauty.” Indeed, Ms. Salaam’s stories are so permeated with sensuality that in her introduction to

Ancient, Ancient

, Nisi Shawl, author of the award-winning Filter House, writes, ”Sexuality-cum-sensuality is the experiential link between mind and matter, the vivid and eternal refutation of the alleged dichotomy between them. This understanding is the foundation of my 2004 pronouncement on the burgeoning sexuality implicit in sf’s Afro-diasporization. It is the core of many African-based philosophies. And it is the throbbing, glistening heart of Kiini’s body of work. This book is alive. Be not afraid.”

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Absalom, Absalom! 

By William Faulker

Absalom, Absalom!

 is Faulkner’s great novel of the rise and fall of the Sutpen dynasty and a great allegory of the rise and fall of the Old South. The book told through three interconnected narratives tells the life story of Thomas Sutpen. The narratives are not straight forward and present a constant challenge to the reader. But if the reader does not close the book in despair the rewards are great indeed.  The mood of the storytelling alone is worth the price of admission here. The long flowing sentences are marvels and testaments to Faulkner’s skill as a writer. The narrative drive makes reading the book almost like reading Greek tragedy. We gets views of Sutpens life from several townspeople and also across generations. This is the first book that I’ve read in a long time that made me feel like I had accomplished something when I finished it. You don’t so much read this novel as you become lost in it. Jump in get your feet wet and prepare for some of the most intense Southern gothic that you are ever likely to read. Amazon Reader /


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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper’s wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man’s turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners’ plans to give him a “necktie party” (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by “the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn’t operate in his own home town.” Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson’s magnificent, extensively researched study of the “great migration,” the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an “uncertain existence” in the North and Midwest.

Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—


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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update  15 July 2012




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Related files:  kalamu update 30 sept 2005   Community Organizer vs Corrupt Politician