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14 posts from June 2018

A Q&A with Crystal Fleming: Usually my girlfriend and I celebrate Pride together, but she happened to be out of town. So, this year I celebrated pride by attending the march in New York City with a group of girlfriends and going out for dinner afterwards. We had a wonderful time. I came home to a gorgeous bouquet of flowers sent from my lady, so in that way, she was still part of my celebration. Read more →


A Q&A with Charlene Carruthers | Our national and local work focuses on various issues that impact Black LGBTQ people. For example, our Washington, DC chapter is leading a campaign, within a coalition, to end the criminalization of sex work. This issue disproportionately impacts Black trans women (whether they engage in sex work or not), queer people, and gender-nonconforming people. We have always done our work in the tradition of radical Black feminist and LGBTQ movements. Read more →


By Karl Giberson | The emergence of “Trump Evangelicals” is baffling and confusing. The latest puzzle in what has become a political sideshow is Jeff Sessions’ ill-considered appeal to St. Paul—the primary source for Christian theology—in a futile attempt to mute the national outcry about the Trump administration’s decision to abuse immigrant children as a strategy to discourage immigrants from seeking to enter the United States illegally. Read more →


By Robin DiAngelo | The United States was founded on the principle that all people are created equal. Yet the nation began with the attempted genocide of Indigenous people and the theft of their land. American wealth was built on the labor of kidnapped and enslaved Africans and their descendants. Women were denied the right to vote until 1920, and black women were denied access to that right until 1964. The term identity politics refers to the focus on the barriers specific groups face in their struggle for equality. We have yet to achieve our founding principle, but any gains we have made thus far have come through identity politics. Read more →


By Helene Atwan | Like most Americans who care about poetry and literature, I was saddened to learn that Donald Hall died this weekend. We were privileged to publish two of his books of prose: Life Work and Principle Products of Portugal. When I first took over as director of the press in 1995, a poster for Life Work was proudly displayed in our offices, and it made me even happier to be a part of the press. Later, I was fortunate to meet Don and to chat with him about projects, on and off, though never quite lucky enough to publish any new work. His work is a gift to us all. I think often about one line of his, often quoted by a mutual friend, that resonates especially now: Work, love, build a house, and die. But build a house. The house that Donald Hall built is a mansion with room to embrace all readers. He will be missed. Read more →


By Daina Berry | Many enslaved children have vivid memories of the sale experience. Marlida Pethy of Missouri recalled that when she was “nine or ten years old,” she was “put up on de block to be sold.” Of the stand, she recalled, “It was just a piece cut out of a log and [it] stood on [one] end.” Her recollection about her price is even more telling: “Dey was offered $600 but my mistress cried so much dat master did not sell me.” The mistress’s attachment to her human property was so great in this case that the family decided not to sell Marlida. Such interventions were not always successful or helpful. Several enslaved people reported that their mistresses were as violent and sadistic as their husbands. In this case, we do not know if Marlida preferred to remain with her mistress. All we know is that Marlida was not sold and that, decades later, she remembered the monetary value she carried at auction. It made a deep impression on her young mind. Read more →


By Clayborne Carson | Dorothy Foreman Cotton, a prominent veteran leader in the human rights movement and a frequent visitor to the King Institute, passed away on June 10, 2018 in her home at Ithaca, New York. Throughout the 1960s, Cotton was the highest-ranking female member in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), directing the group’s Citizenship Education Program (CEP) at the peak of the Southern civil rights struggle. She held a position in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inner circle of executive staff. In December of 1964, Cotton was part of the entourage that traveled to Oslo, Norway to celebrate King’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. Read more →


A Q&A with Mary Frances Berry and Adam Eichen | The Court Republican majority simply joined the effort to remove people who would likely vote for Democrats from the rolls. However, even if registered voters don’t vote, there is no compelling reason to remove them from the rolls. Read more →


By Carlos A. Ball | The Supreme Court’s recent ruling involving the Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple reminds me of its decision almost fifty years ago to reverse Muhammad Ali’s conviction for refusing to be inducted into the Army. In 1967, when Ali was the professional heavyweight boxing champion of the world, he refused to join the Army on the ground that he was a conscientious objector. At the time, federal prosecutors claimed he was not entitled to the exemption from military service because his objections to fighting in the Vietnam War were not sincere. Read more →


Sandra Bland. Rekia Boyd. Decynthia Clements. Chikesia Clemons. Mya Hall. These Black women’s lives and others have been tragically cut short because of police brutality and the criminal justice system. This level of violence hasn’t stopped. It’s time to take a stance. During this year’s #SayHerName National Week of Action to End Violence Against All Black Women and Girls (June 11 through 17), Beacon Press is pleased to announce that all profits from this week’s sales of Andrea Ritchie’s groundbreaking Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color will be donated to Black Youth Project 100. Read more →


By Richard Blanco: Here, sit at my kitchen table, we need to write this together. Take a sip of café con leche, breathe in the steam and our courage to face this page, bare as our pain. Curl your fingers around mine, curled around my pen, hold it like a talisman in our hands shaking, eyes swollen. Read more →


By Ben Mattlin | Here’s what I know going in: Christina, sixty-two at the time we speak, is a professor of English and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut, and author of the memoir A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain. In October 2003, she suffered a severe bicycling accident—a twig got caught in one of her spokes, sending her flying. Yes, a twig. “My chin took the full force of the blow, which smashed my face and broke the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae in my neck,” she writes. “The broken bone scraped my spinal cord.” Read more →


By Fred Pearce: Lanzarote, an island off the west coast of Africa, was a tranquil place in the eighteenth century, ruled by Spanish priests and visited occasionally by ships making the transatlantic crossing. Farming was rudimentary and the living poor. The island had less rain than much of the Sahara desert. Then came a series of massive volcanic eruptions that shook the island almost without a break from 1730 to 1735. A priest described how, at the height of the eruptions, “the earth suddenly opened… a gigantic mountain rose and sank back into its crater on the same day, covering the island with stones and ashes”. Read more →


My career in books started in the spring of 1976 when I was working at a Volkswagen dealership in Nashua, NH, doing state inspections, lube and oils, and washing the boss’s Porsche. I was not well suited to the work, and noticed I felt most at home in the nearby Paperback Booksmith, where I went on breaks. I walked in one evening after work and begged the manager, Jim Fudge, for a job. Not sure what to make of me, he offered me a shift on the register at $3.00 an hour, but only on Wednesday nights. I was thrilled. Being paid to work in a space full of books and records instead of lug wrenches or snow tires seemed like a good move. Forty-two years later, I can say that it was. Read more →