ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Almost as soon as the press release went out, prominent politicians expressed
their surprise that Muhammad was chosen over African-American scholar
Molefi Kete Asante. Asante, a 68-year-old professor at Temple University,
appeared to have the backing of the Harlem community and black leaders in the city.
Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Great-Grandson of Nation of Islam Leader Elijah Muhammad
Chosen New Director of Schomburg Center
NEW YORK, NY (November 17, 2010) The New York Public Library (NYPL) announced today that Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, a scholar of African-American history from Indiana University, has been selected as the next Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, effective July 2011.
Dr. Muhammad will succeed Howard Dodson Jr., who last year announced his plan to retire after more than 25 years of leadership, having cemented the Schomburg as the worlds leading repository on the global Black experience. The appointment was made by Library President Dr. Paul LeClerc after the unanimous recommendation of a nine-member search committee. (A complete list of committee members follows.)
The entire committee enthusiastically supports and is delighted with the choice of Khalil Muhammad, Search Committee Co-Chairmen and Library Trustees Gordon J. Davis and Henry Louis Gates Jr. said in a joint statement. We are confident that the extensive search process, involving many strong candidates out of a pool of more than 200, has brought to the Schomburg a leader of unique vision and inspiration who will bridge the many communities and generations served by the Center.
Dr. Muhammad, a native of Chicagos South Side, has served as Assistant Professor of History at Indiana University for five years, where he completed a major interpretive book in African-American studies, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, published recently by Harvard University Press. A great-grandson of Elijah Muhammad, he has deep roots in Black history and in Harlem. His father is the noted Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Ozier Muhammad.
This appointment is a tremendous honor and for me one of lifes special moments, said Dr. Muhammad. I look forward to continuing the Schomburgs remarkable legacy as a world-class institution that simply has no peer, to extending its reach to those who may not yet be part of the Schomburg community, and to the Centers playing a crucial role in moving Black history from the margins to the center of American public discourse.
There has never been a more exciting time in the history of the Schomburg Center, said Aysha Schomburg, great-granddaughter of Schomburg Center founder Arturo Schomburg, President of the Schomburg Corporation, and Search Committee member. Without any doubt, Khalil has the skills and the passion to build on the legacy. This is a great day for New York and especially for Harlem. We welcome him.
As an academic, Dr. Muhammad is at the forefront of scholarship on the enduring link between race and crime, that has shaped and limited opportunities for African Americans.
The Condemnation of Blackness renders an incalculable service to civil rights scholarship by disrupting one of the nations most insidious, convenient, and resilient explanatory loops: whites commit crimes, but black males are criminals. Khalils cutting-edge civil rights scholarship, dynamic university teaching, administrative experience, grasp of information technology, and understanding of the Schomburg’s uniqueness will sustain and advance the scholarly mission of this historic institution,” said NYU Professor of History and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Levering Lewis.
Of joining the Schomburg Center, Dr. Muhammad says, I treasure this opportunity to wed my passion for African-American history with my commitment to scholarship. I am committed to promoting the voice of Black people as they have engaged in the most significant issues of our times. What matters to me is that they and people of the African Diaspora are able to articulate why their humanity matters, to show and showcase their contributions to the world, and to have in a sense a history that is validated and respected and made meaningful to humanity at large.
Dr. Muhammad, currently nominated for tenure at Indiana University, is now working on a book-length history of the racial politics surrounding the creation and swift dissolution of Prohibition-era tough-on-crime laws, specifically New Yorks four-strikes law of 1926. He is also an Associate Editor of The Journal of American History.
My hope for the Schomburg Center, he stated, is to develop it as the premier brand for historical expertise on the great race debates of our time; privileging documents, material culture, visual historical media, living artists, and widely disseminated scholarship to raise public consciousness and historical literacy in the United States and around the globe. Dr. Muhammad plans to build upon the Schomburgs strong beginnings in online studies under Howard Dodson, encouraging staff and users to embrace digital technologies as we reach out to youth, especially by creatively opening up the Centers resources and exhibitions so that they can come to know us on their own terms.
I am most pleased to extend my congratulations to Khalil Muhammad, said Dodson. I am both confident and excited about his continuing the Schomburgs critical mission and legacy. I have felt strongly that the next Center leader must come from the next generation, and I intend to help ensure that he is well prepared to hit the ground running.
After spending time with Dr. Muhammad, it was easy for me to see why he was the unanimous choice of the Search Committee. He is a brilliant scholar doing pathbreaking work in African-American studies, is eloquent and charismatic, is deeply committed to the Harlem community, embraces the Schomburgs function of acquiring and preserving the cultural record of peoples of African descent, and knows how to exploit the Internet to bring young people into the Schomburg to discover its extraordinary treasures, said Dr. LeClerc. I know that his career at the Schomburg Center will be one of excellence and innovation, and that the Center will flourish under his creative guidance.
Dr. Muhammad graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Economics in 1993. After working at Deloitte & Touche LLP, he received his Ph.D. in American History from Rutgers University in 2004, specializing in 20th-century U.S. and African-American history. He spent two years as an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonprofit criminal justice reform agency in New York City, before joining the faculty of Indiana University.
Dr. Muhammad is married to Stephanie Lawson-Muhammad, a network operations manager at Verizon Wireless. They have three children, Gibran Mikkel (10), Jordan Grace (8), and Justice Marie (4).
The public will have an opportunity to meet Dr. Muhammad at various future events including a community forum.
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17 November 2010Harlem, NYl to r:
Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, Member of The Schomburg Search Committee and Pastor, Abyssinian Baptist Church, Howard Dodson, Director, Schomburg Center, Aysha Schomburg, Member of the Schomburg Search Committee and Great Grand Daughter of Arturo Schomburg, Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad and Paul LeClerc, President, New York Public Library at The New York Public Library Press Conference announcing Dr. Khalil Muhammad as the next Director of the Schomburg Center
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. A cultural center as well as a repository, this Harlem-based modern research library also sponsors a wide array of interpretive programs, including exhibitions, scholarly and public forums, and cultural performances. For over eighty years The Schomburg Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting the global Black experience and promoted the study and interpretation of Black history and culture. To learn more about the Schomburg, visit www.schomburgcenter.org.
The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. Its renowned research collections are located in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem; and the Science, Industry and Business Library at 34th Street and Madison Avenue. Eighty-eight branch libraries provide access to circulating collections and a wide range of other services in neighborhoods throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English for speakers of other languages. All in all The New York Public Library serves more than 17 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org.
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Appointment of Schomburg Center’s New Director Angers City’s Black LeadershipNovember 18, 2010By Jeff MaysHARLEM Strong opposition is mounting against the appointment of the latest director of the world renowned Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The selection of Khalil Gibran Muhammad, a 38-year-old professor of African-American history from Indiana University, the great-grandson of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad, was announced Wednesday by the New York Public Library, which oversees the Lenox Avenue cultural institution.
Almost as soon as the press release went out, prominent politicians expressed their surprise that Muhammad was chosen over African-American scholar Molefi Kete Asante. Asante, a 68-year-old professor at Temple University, appeared to have the backing of the Harlem community and black leaders in the city. Omawale Clay, an aide to State Sen. Bill Perkins and a member of the Save the Schomburg Coalition, compared the appointment of Muhammad to the controversial selection of Cathie Black as schools chancellor. “This young brother is a babe in the world of Afro-American, Afrocentric global politics and culture,” said Clay. “He is a babe in the woods. He is an assistant professor and he hasn’t even obtained tenure yet. No disrespect, but a brother like that would be an excellent research person under Molefi Asante.” Councilman Charles Barron also said he was disappointed
“I don’t know this brother here at all,” Barron said of Muhammad. “I have no comment on him because I have never heard of him.” “I cannot fathom someone who has more credentials, has written more books, is known by more African leaders and has had more of an impact on Afrocentric scholarship than Molefi Asante out of Temple.” Muhammad was selected by a committee headed by Henry Louis Gates Jr.DNinfo
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New director chosen for NYC black research center17 November 2010 He will succeed Howard Dodson Jr.., who plans to retire after 25 years leading the Schomburg center. The 80-year-old organization collects, preserves, and helps scholars to research black life.Wall Street Journal
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#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 Eroticanoir.com 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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By Douglas A. Blackmun
Wall Street Journal bureau chief Blackmon gives a groundbreaking and disturbing account of a sordid chapter in American historythe lease (essentially the sale) of convicts to commercial interests between the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th. Usually, the criminal offense was loosely defined vagrancy or even changing employers without permission. The initial sentence was brutal enough; the actual penalty, reserved almost exclusively for black men, was a form of slavery in one of hundreds of forced labor camps operated by state and county governments, large corporations, small time entrepreneurs and provincial farmers. Into this history, Blackmon weaves the story of Green Cottenham, who was charged with riding a freight train without a ticket, in 1908 and was sentenced to three months of hard labor for Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel.
Cottenham’s sentence was extended an additional three months and six days because he was unable to pay fines then leveraged on criminals. Blackmon’s book reveals in devastating detail the legal and commercial forces that created this neoslavery along with deeply moving and totally appalling personal testimonies of survivors
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By Khalil Gibran Muhammad
Lynch mobs, chain gangs, and popular views of black southern criminals that defined the Jim Crow South are well known. We know less about the role of the urban North in shaping views of race and crime in American society. Following the 1890 census, the first to measure the generation of African Americans born after slavery, crime statistics, new migration and immigration trends, and symbolic references to America as the promised land of opportunity were woven into a cautionary tale about the exceptional threat black people posed to modern urban society. Excessive arrest rates and overrepresentation in northern prisons were seen by many whitesliberals and conservatives, northerners and southernersas indisputable proof of blacks inferiority. In the heyday of separate but equal, what else but pathology could explain black failure in the land of opportunity?
The idea of black criminality was crucial to the making of modern urban America, as were African Americans own ideas about race and crime. Chronicling the emergence of deeply embedded notions of black people as a dangerous race of criminals by explicit contrast to working-class whites and European immigrants, this fascinating book reveals the influence such ideas have had on urban development and social policies.
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By Mumia Abu-Jamal and Marc Lamont Hill
Add this book to your “must read” list for 2012! It’s a deeply insightful, thought-provoking dialogue between Marc Lamont Hill and Mumia about what it means to be black in America todayincluding why some black men and women behind bars today are actually more “free” spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally, than those on the outside who seem to have “made it.” This book is a refreshing, startlingly honest dialogue between two black intellectualsone who is a prominent professor at Columbia University, and another who is locked in a literal cage.Michelle Alexander / This collection of conversations between celebrity intellectual Marc Lamont Hill and famed political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal is a shining example of African American men speaking for themselves about the many forces impacting their lives. Publisher
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By Melissa V. Harris-Perry
According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless Mammys behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own familys needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.
As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.
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A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family thats 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 Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards 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 familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys 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 isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake. She conveys something fundamental about Eschs 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, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.
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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 Prizewinning 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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Race and the American Legal Process: The Colonial Period
By A. Leon Higginbotham Jr.
Chronicles in unrelenting detail the role of the law in the enslavement and subjugation of black Americans during the colonial period. No attempt to summarize the colonial experience could convey the rich and comprehensive detail which is the major strength of Judge Higginbotham’s work.Harvard Law Review
A definitive study of racism, slavery, and the law in early America.American Historical Review
Founded on comprehensive research, thoroughly documented, and well-written, In the Matter of Color is a contribution of the first importance to the study of racial issues in America, invaluable alike to students of American history, law, or society.History
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By Glenn C. Loury
In this pithy discussion, renowned scholars debate the American penal system through the lensand as a legacyof an ugly and violent racial past. Economist Loury argues that incarceration rises even as crime rates fall because we have become increasingly punitive. According to Loury, the disproportionately black and brown prison populations are the victims of civil rights opponents who successfully moved the country’s race dialogue to a seemingly race-neutral concern over crime. Loury’s claims are well-supported with genuinely shocking statistics, and his argument is compelling that even if the racial argument about causes is inconclusive, the racial consequences are clear.
Three shorter essays respond: Stanford law professor Karlan examines prisoners as an inert ballast in redistricting and voting practices; French sociologist Wacquant argues that the focus on race has ignored the fact that inmates are first and foremost poor people; and Harvard philosophy professor Shelby urges citizens to break with Washington’s political outlook on race.
The group’s respectful sparring results in an insightful look at the conflicting theories of race and incarceration, and the slim volume keeps up the pace of the argument without being overwhelming.
Publishers Weekly / Economist Glenn Loury
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By Jamal Joseph
In the 1960s he exhorted students at Columbia University to burn their college to the ground. Today hes chair of their School of the Arts film division. Jamal Josephs personal odysseyfrom the streets of Harlem to Rikers Island and Leavenworth to the halls of Columbiais as gripping as it is inspiring. Eddie Joseph was a high school honor student, slated to graduate early and begin college. But this was the late 1960s in Bronxs black ghetto, and fifteen-year-old Eddie was introduced to the tenets of the Black Panther Party, which was just gaining a national foothold. By sixteen, his devotion to the cause landed him in prison on the infamous Rikers Islandcharged with conspiracy as one of the Panther 21 in one of the most emblematic criminal cases of the sixties. When exonerated, Eddienow called Jamalbecame the youngest spokesperson and leader of the Panthers New York chapter. He joined the revolutionary underground, later landing back in prison.
Sentenced to more than twelve years in Leavenworth, he earned three degrees there and found a new calling. He is now chair of Columbia Universitys School of the Arts film divisionthe very school he exhorted students to burn down during one of his most famous speeches as a Panther. In raw, powerful prose, Jamal Joseph helps us understand what it meant to be a soldier inside the militant Black Panther movement.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 19 November 2010