By Nancy Rubin Stuart | Everyone knows Benjamin Franklin was a scientist, an inventor, and a diplomat, but did you know he also had the makings of a great romance advice columnist? The founding father was well suited to that job because of his wide experience with women. That may explain why he penned a letter in 1745 to a single man about the best way to sate his sexual impulses outside marriage. Ben’s advice? Sleep with an older woman instead of a young one.
What a difference a year makes. Book banning is back—and it’s on steroids. Is it a coincidence that it’s all the rave—more like rage—during Black History Month? The pearl-clutchers have assembled and are targeting not only books dealing with sex and gender but also books featuring Black themes and US history. It’s a predictable flex. A tired flex.
A Q&A with Jeanne Theoharis | I think people assume that they know her. Even many people who know Rosa Parks wasn’t just a simple seamstress who accidentally walked into history don’t realize how much of her history—the militancy of her early activism in Montgomery, her activism in Detroit, her work in the Black Power movement—is still largely unrecognized.
We did it! We made it to the finish line of another plague year! Just a few more weeks left. Even though it’s not New Year’s Eve yet, uncork some bubbly to celebrate. We earned it. Our big wish for the new year: no more COVID variants. Delta, Mu, Omicron . . . Worst. Upgrades. Ever. Before we slam the door on 2021, we need to applaud and thank our authors and staff for the blog posts they wrote for the Broadside.
President Biden sure is making up for lost time. At this year’s tribal nations summit, skipped over the previous four years by you know who, he signed an executive order for the US to take steps to protect tribal lands and address the epidemic of missing and murdered Native Americans. He proposed a ban on federal oil and gas leases on the sacred tribal site of Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. And in his official White House proclamation for Native American Heritage Month, he listed more commitments the country will make to Indian Country.
By Dina Gilio-Whitaker | The Red Power movement was just one aspect of the social revolution that swept across the American social landscape in the 1960s and ’70s, paralleling other ethnic nationalisms, women’s liberation, the antiwar movement, and the emergence of a new, rebellious, and predominantly white middle-class counterculture. Disenchanted with the conservative values of their parents’ generation and witnessing the increasing degradation of the environment, countercultural youth looked to other cultures for answers to existential questions they perceived as unavailable in mainstream American society.
By Pamela D. Toler | Cathay Williams (more or less 1844–1892) was the first African American woman known to have served in the United States Army—a two-year stint in which she passed as a man. Born a slave near Independence, Missouri, she was a “house girl” on the Johnson plantation in Cole County, near the Missouri capital of Jefferson City, when the Civil War began. After General Nathaniel Lyons’s troops captured Jefferson City, which had become a rebel stronghold, the Eighth Indiana Volunteer Infantry claimed Williams and other escaped or displaced slaves as “contrabands.” She traveled with the regiment for the rest of the war, working as a laundress.
This year’s theme for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month is Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope. It invites Hispanic and Latinx communities to reflect on how good our tomorrow can be by holding onto resilience and hope. The following books from our catalog wouldn’t be here without our authors’ sense of hope, be it the hope of a better future embodied in the text or the hope that the book will reach the reader who needs it. In each one, you will experience stories of resilience in the face of seeking justice, of crossing borders and carving out a space for one’s self in an uninviting country, adding to the complexities and contradictions of the United States’ narrative. One of these books is for you. Happy Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month!
By Christian Coleman | It was a long wait before Gayl Jones broke her years of silence. When Toni Morrison first discovered her, she said “no novel about any Black woman could ever be the same after this” upon reading the manuscript for “Corregidora.” It was published in 1975 when Jones was twenty-six. She followed up her debut novel with “Eva’s Man” and “The Healing.” But then after “Mosquito,” which came out in 1999, we wouldn’t hear from one of the greatest literary writers of the twentieth century for twenty-two years.
By Joan Murray | Last week, I got a call from a stranger. She was an elder at a church planning a remembrance ceremony for the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and asked if I’d read a poem. It was a poem I wrote on an Amtrak train four days after the attacks, and when I read it on NPR four days later, it became something of an anthem. Thousands of people from all over the world wanted copies: A factory owner in the Midwest wanted to read it to his workers; a Maryland police sergeant wanted to read it to her officers before they went on duty; a Canadian physician wanted to read it at a conference. People said they needed the poem.
By Jon Hale | Last week, the State Board of Education in Florida allowed parents to apply for vouchers and enroll in a different school if their children were subject to “COVID-19 harassment.” The policy enforces Governor Ron DeSantis’ anti-masking directive. His order protects parents’ “freedom to choose” whether to mask or not, despite an alarming rise in COVID cases in the state. The order also threatened to withhold funding if school boards did not comply with the law.
By Peter Jan Honigsberg | Daniel A. Medina’s excellent article on Mohammed al-Qahtani, the would-be twentieth al Qaeda terrorist hijacker, identifies an important long-term problem that all presidents have faced since al Qaeda terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. Does due process apply to Guantánamo? As Medina points out in discussing al-Qahtani’s case, the Biden administration has not taken a stance on this question.
By James Baldwin | I cannot guess what Alex Haley’s countrymen will make of this birthday present to us during this election and Bicentennial year. One is tempted to say that it could scarcely have come at a more awkward time—what with the conventions, the exhibition of candidates, the dubious state of this particular and perhaps increasingly dubious union, and the American attempt, hopelessly and predictably schizophrenic, of preventing total disaster, for white people and for the West, in South Africa.
By Ben Mattlin | On July 25, 2021, a day before the thirty-first anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the New York Times Magazine published a story about the proliferation of ADA litigation. “The Price of Access” was the headline of the print edition; the online version, which had appeared a few days earlier, was titled “The Man Who Filed More Than 180 Disability Lawsuits.”
A Q&A with Aviva Chomsky | The United States has tried to remake Central America in its own (US) interests and in the interests of US corporations, time after time. During the 1970s and 80s, Central Americans rose up in protest against a system that dispossessed peasants from their land in favor of big plantations and export agriculture enforced by US-supported militaries and police. Nicaraguans won their revolution in 1979, toppling the US-supported Somoza dictatorship.
By Leigh Patel | On Friday, June 4, the remains of two Black girls, Delisha and Katricia “Tree” Africa, were to be collected from the home of physical anthropologist Alan Mann, an emeritus professor associated with both the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University. Delisha and Tree were members of the Black liberation community in Philadelphia known as the MOVE. On May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police officers fired thousands of shot and grenades at 5:30 in the morning, peppering the row house where this communal organization resided.
This year’s theme for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is Advancing Leaders Through Purpose-Driven Service. Beacon Press views their writers as leaders, charting the way to a better future with uncovered histories, cultural commentary, and more. Which is why, as AAPI Heritage Month wraps up, we’re putting the spotlight on the work of our Asian American writers. The following list of recommended reads—by no means exhaustive—honors their work and contributions to our society and American history at large.
A Q&A with Eric Berkowitz | My UK publisher was proposing ideas for new projects, none of which seemed likely to hold my—or the public’s—interest very long, until one or another censorship/free speech issue popped up. I think it was the censorship of “drill” music—a hardcore rap genre—there, along with the inevitable battles and accusations. It struck us that every time an issue like this comes up, it’s as if it was for the first time.
By Aviva Chomsky | Joe Biden entered the White House with some inspiring yet contradictory positions on immigration and Central America. He promised to reverse Donald Trump’s draconian anti-immigrant policies while, through his “Plan to Build Security and Prosperity in Partnership with the People of Central America,” restoring “US leadership in the region” that he claimed Trump had abandoned. For Central Americans, though, such “leadership” has an ominous ring.
A Q&A with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz | It was the first time a filmmaker showed interest in the book. I never imagined that any filmmaker, even if they loved reading the book, would be interested in using it in a documentary. But Raoul Peck is not any ordinary filmmaker. I have long admired his work. His first documentary, from 1989, was “Lumumba: Death of a Prophet,” which is about the first president of the former Belgian Congo colony that won its independence in 1960 and was then assassinated with CIA involvement.