‘For Bessie Head’ by Ama Ata Aidoo -
To begin with
there’s the small problem of address:
by the only name some of us
knew you by,
hailing you by titles
you could not possibly
have cared for,
referring you to
strange and clouded
origins that eat into
our past our pain
like prize-winning cassava tubers in
Over the course of 45 years, Culver City, California librarian Mayme Agnew Clayton (August 4, 1923 – October 13, 2006) collected more than 30,000 rare and out-of-print books. She used her own resources and she worked alone. The collection is considered one of the most important for African-American materials and consists of 3.5 million items on the topic of African-American culture. It is the largest privately-held collection of African American historical materials in the world.
Ms. Clayton, you might be my new hero.
All hail Mayme Agnew Clayton!
It is not enough to have expelled the barbarians who have bloodied our land for two centuries; it is not enough to have restrained those ever-evolving factions that one after another mocked the specter of liberty that France dangled before you. We must, with one last act of national authority, forever assure the empire of liberty in the country of our birth; we must take any hope of re-enslaving us away from the inhuman government that for so long kept us in the most humiliating torpor. In the end we must live independent or die…
A couple of caveats concerning our list of ten notable books for 2013: we’ve listed more than ten books and not all of them were published in 2013. While some of the texts mentioned below come from 2012, others were published as early as the 1930s. We also have a stack of excellent recent titles that didn’t make the list but certainly deserve a mention… [read more].
South African Nazism by Jean Michel Basquiat
On this day, 52 years ago, Frantz Fanon passed away. A psychiatrist, Pan-Africanist, writer, and revolutionary, he was born in Martinique in 1925. In 1952 he published “Black Skin, White Masks,” which exposed the negative effects of colonization on the mental state of subjugated people. As a psychiatrist in Algeria, he joined the FLN (National Liberation Front), which waged a war of independence against France. In 1961, Fanon published The Wretched of the Earth, a book on decolonization that has remained a classic and has influenced revolutionaries the world over, including Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, Che Guevara, and Steve Biko, founder of the Black Consciousness movement. Fanon died in Maryland, where he had sought treatment for leukemia, and was buried in Algeria.
Photo Credit: NYPL
The Public Archive is always happy to receive letters to the editor like the one below which, we think, provides a stark example of how history has been twisted to the cause of anti-Haitianism while providing an unadorned, even brutal, representation of the ideological context of the recent ruling of the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Tribunal regarding its citizens of Haitian descent… click for more.