By Gayatri Patnaik and Christian Coleman | In her compelling Boston Globe article “Celebrating Black History Month as Black History Is Being Erased,” Renée Graham writes that Black History Month this year has a specific purpose and burden, “and that burden is not for Black people to bear alone.” The challenge, Graham notes, “is to save this crucial American history from being eroded book by book, law by law, and state by state.” We couldn’t agree more.
By Sheryll Cashin | As a daughter of civil rights activists from Alabama who knew Dr. King personally, it is a great honor to address you today for a Sunrise Celebration of him! And it is a joy for me, as a writer, to address librarians. I want to begin by thanking you for your service, for what you do to bring books and truth for free to the masses!
The Sunshine Pearl-Clutching Brigade is back on their BS and doubling down. Under Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida banned a new AP African American Studies course under the pretense that it’s “indoctrination” that “runs afoul of [their] standards.” This is almost a year after the Florida legislature banned the teaching of “the state-sanctioned racism that is critical race theory” with the Stop WOKE Act. It’s giving unwoke on numerous levels.
A Q&A with Jasmine Brown | In college, I dreamed of becoming a physician and a national leader who would make a positive impact in many people’s lives. But I was acutely aware of how few Black women there were in senior positions within the medical field, such as the dean of a medical school or chair of a medical department. Black women physicians are even underrepresented at the level of professorship in many medical schools. So, I worried that my career would be severely restricted by a glass ceiling imposed upon me due to my race and gender.
By Martin Luther King, Jr. | This, as you know, is what has traditionally been known in the Christian church as Palm Sunday. And ordinarily the preacher is expected to preach a sermon on the Lordship or the Kingship of Christ—the triumphal entry, or something that relates to this great event as Jesus entered Jerusalem, for it was after this that Jesus was crucified. And I remember, the other day, at about seven or eight days ago, standing on the Mount of Olives and looking across just a few feet and noticing that gate that still stands there in Jerusalem, and through which Christ passed into Jerusalem, into the old city.
It confirms what we’ve known for the past two years—and then some. The January 6 committee’s report shows that our former despotic Cheeto in chief incited a mob with false allegations of voter fraud to storm the US Capitol and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Talk about moving the goal post of being the sorest loser. In the most violent way possible, too. Available to the public, the testimony and findings stacked against him are steep—over 800 pages worth.
By Edward McClelland | The heat wave begins on the Great Plains, in the Dust Bowl, that dead, dry land whose barren fields have transformed it into a furnace. The summer of 1936 is the hottest anyone can remember. After killing the meager yield of crops in the farm states, the dome of heat spreads north and east, smothering the Great Lakes. In the second week of July, every afternoon, workers preparing for second shift at the General Motors plants in Flint, Michigan, look out the kitchen windows of their company-built Cape Cods and slope-roofed bungalows, at the thermometers bolted to the walls.
You don’t know Rosa Parks. Not really. Not the way you know about Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Unless you have read Jeanne Theoharis’s NAACP Image Award-winning “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” you are familiar with Parks’s Cliff Notes claim to civil rights fame taught in school and not much else. Until Theoharis’s biography was published in 2013, there was no serious footnote or book about her. Let that sink in. Six decades of activism, and not a single book! And more recently, there hadn’t been a feature documentary made about her either. Until now.
Talk about an affront to human life. In a bait-and-switch tactic to push the Right’s anti-immigrant message, FL Governor Ron DeSantis paid to send 50 migrants like cattle on an airplane from San Antonio, TX, to Martha’s Vineyard, MA. The migrants were told they’d land in Boston, where they could get expedited work papers. On top of that, hundreds of thousands of people across Puerto Rico are waiting for water and power to be restored after Hurricane Fiona knocked out power lines and collapsed infrastructure with massive flooding. A rough way for Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month to start.
By Pamela D. Toler | In the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries, the kingdom of Dahomey in West Africa, in what is now the Republic of Benin, employed troops of trained full-time women soldiers who fought alongside their male counterparts. The Europeans who encountered them in the eighteenth century dubbed the Dahomean soldiers “black Amazons.” The Dahomeans called them abosi (the king’s wives) or minos (our mothers).
Who’s your favorite people’s historian, and why is it Howard Zinn? He’s ours, too, and today, August 24, he would have turned one hundred. He wore many hats: social activist, professor, author, and playwright. He meant so much to us here at Beacon Press. Going through the books we published of his, including his memoir, “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train,” we get a little misty eyed. To celebrate his hundredth birthday, we pulled some beloved quotes that showcase his life’s worth of wisdom and insights on hope, the politics of writing history, the power of social movements, nonviolence, class, race, education, and much more.
By Catherine Ceniza Choy | Since 2020, Asian Americans in the United States have experienced dual existential crises: anti-Asian violence and COVID-19. According to Stop AAPI Hate, nearly 11,500 hate incidents were reported to its organization between March 19, 2020 and March 31, 2022. While the uptick in this violence has been connected to present-day coronavirus-related racism and xenophobia, anti-Asian violence and the association of Asian bodies with disease are not new.
Nobody wanted long COVID on our collective pandemic Bingo card, but there it is. In her “The Daily Show” interview, OG disability rights badass Judy Heumann told Trevor Noah that the likelihood of his acquiring a disability, temporary or permanent, was statistically high. He took her statement as a threat in jest, but there’s truth in that for us.
This is not the time warp we want to do again. Or ever. The conservative-majority SCOTUS wants to take us on a detour back in time when folks who aren’t straight white cis men didn’t have rights. A time when we thought of the planet as nothing more than an ashtray. A time when . . . you get the idea. Overturning Roe v Wade was the lowest of blows. Gutting the Clean Air Act stripped power from the EPA to curb greenhouse gas emissions. What’s next?
It’s raining men, and not the ones The Weather Girls sang about. They’re raining on Pride parades with violent intent. A U-Haul truckful of members from the white supremacist group, Patriot Front, was arrested before they could disrupt a Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Proud Boys stormed a Drag Queen story hour at a library in San Lorenzo, CA. Baptist ministers in Idaho and Texas went viral for calling on the government to execute gay people. Cancel all the hallelujahs for them.
It’s flying graduation caps season! We’re not post-pandemic, but graduates are embarking on a world stage that looks different from what it was two or three years ago. Some of those differences are alarming.
By Kyle T. Mays | I have read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” every summer since I was sixteen; it is my favorite book. During a particularly difficult time in my life, my Advanced Placement US history teacher, Mr. K., gave me a copy of the book after trying to get me to talk to him about my situation. For reasons I don’t remember, I did not want to hear from this white man! He pulled out of his bag an original copy of “The Autobiography.”
Still kicking two years in, COVID brought out the worst from the nation’s populace: racist brutality against marginalized communities. This year’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month commemorates the victims of the 2021 spa shootings as well as all other Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders lost to anti-Asian violence during the pandemic and throughout history. This violence is a form of erasure. As historian Catherine Ceniza Choy writes in her forthcoming addition to Beacon Press’s ReVisioning History series, “This positioning of Asians in opposition to American identity and experience is perhaps most powerfully expressed through the erasure of their long-standing presence in the United States and their contributions to its various industries.”
By María de los Angeles Torres | After a contentious campaign that ignited strong debate specially among Pedro Pans—Cuban children who came to the US unaccompanied in the early sixties—Governor DeSantis of Florida is poised to sign a new law effectively banning shelter for recent unaccompanied immigrant minors in the state fleeing violence in their homeland.
By James Baldwin | Let’s begin by saying that we are living through a dangerous time. Everyone in this room is in one way or another aware of that. We are in a revolutionary situation, no matter how unpopular that word has become in this country. The society in which we live is desperately menaced, not by Khrushchev, but from within. So any citizen of this country who figures himself as responsible—and particularly those of you who deal with the minds and hearts of young people—must be prepared to “go for broke.”