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Black History Month

February is Black History Month, and the Book Buds blog honors it well with this roundup. The Brooklyn Public Library offers another good one.

A terrific starting place for searching out titles by and about African Americans is the Black Books Galore! series. Four guides, chock full of suggestions, can be found at your library, bookstore, or online at the Black Books Galore! web site. The first one alone mentions more than 500 of "the most positive, best written, and most acclaimed titles available,"  according to the site.

If you saw the recent 4-part PBS special "African American Lives," you know how good it was. If you missed it, the shows are now available on DVD. Insist that your library order these. The affable Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates talks to prominent African Americans like Oprah, Quincy Jones, and Chris Tucker, and helps them trace their family roots.  The horrid institution of  slavery, and its devaluing of human life, make such searches difficult, but Gates and his researchers persevere and come up with astounding personal histories.  Using information gleaned from new DNA technology, Chris Tucker even travels to Africa to the area where his ancestors lived. Above all, the series emphasizes the heroism and triumph of ordinary people. Highly recommended for older children, especially teens, and adults.


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I missed "African American Lives" on PBS but heard a related interview with Henry Louis Gates on NPR and can't wait to see the series. Alas, Netflix hasn't gotten ahold of it yet...

Oh, yes, Netflix. I forgot about Netflix.

The series is very powerful, Chris. Sort of a scholar's version of "Roots," but very accessible. Now I want to read Gates's books.

I hope you don't mind me commenting on a Black History book of my own. Robert Smalls Sails to Freedom is based on the true story of Robert Smalls, slave turned congressman. It's just out from Millbrook in their On My Own History Series.

You can read more about it at:

Susan Taylor Brown

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