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When Ethel Payne stood to ask President Dwight Eisenhower a question at a White House press conference in July 1954, women and African-Americans were rarities in the press corps. Payne was both, and wrote for The Chicago Defender, the legendary black newspaper that in the 40s and 50s, was read in black American households the way The New York Times was in white ones.

In Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, First Lady of the Black Press, author James McGrath Morris, examines her life and legacy.

From Selma To Eisenhower, Trailblazing Black Reporter Was Always Probing

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center/Harper Collins

Caption: Ethel Payne interviews a soldier from Chesapeake, Va., in Vietnam in 1967.

The 40-Year-Old Photo That Gives Us A Reason To Smile

by Karen Grigsby Bates 

In late July 1973, Joseph Crachiola was wandering the streets of Mount Clemens, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, with his camera. As a staff photographer for the Macomb Daily, he was expected to keep an eye out for good feature images — “those little slices of life that can stand on their own.”

The slice of life he caught that day was a picture of five young friends in a rain-washed alley in downtown Mount Clemens. And what distinguishes it are its subjects: three black children, two white ones, giggling in each others’ arms.

"It was just one of those evenings," Crachiola remembers. "I saw these kids — they were just playing around. And I started shooting some pictures of them. At some point, they saw me and they all turned and looked at me and struck that pose that you see in the picture. It was totally spontaneous. I had nothing to do with the way they arranged themselves."

This week, Crachiola, who now lives in New Orleans, posted the vintage photo on his Facebook page.  [Continue reading at Code Switch at NPR.]

Book Review: Plain Brown Wrapper

I haven’t written a book review in over a month. Wowsers!

Recently, I finished Plain Brown Wrapper by Karen Grigsby Bates. This story follows Alex Powell, current journalist for the Los Angeles Standard, who has been sent on a manhunt (by her boss at the newspaper and the police who dont want no problems with the Black folk) searching for the killer of her former boss, Everett Carson, who seems to have been killed during the annual National Association of Black Journalists Convention, right before he was due to recieve the Journalist of the Year Award for the work done on his magazine.

Powell is joined by her ex’s best friend, Paul Butler, a writer on the East coast who was with Powell when Ev was discovered lifeless in his hotel room. Paul also happens to look more delectable to Powell as they spend days together traipsing throughout DC, Martha’s Vineyard, New York, and San Francisco, hobnobbing with all of the Black elite in publishing who had an extreme dislike for Ev, either for his womanizing ways, or his ruthlessness throughout his career.

The book takes a turn from a mystery who dunit, to a “how do bourgie Black folks live behind closed doors” novel. And that would almost be ok, if the story wasnt marketed as a mystery, and didnt spend paragraph after paragraph detailing clothes, perfumes, accessories, hairstyles, homes and restaurants. Even though Ev lost his life in the first chapter, I was 100 pages in and Alex had yet to do any investigating. Talk about being exasperated!

I did, however, get caught up in the innocent attraction Alex had with her sleuthing partner, Paul, which helped me bulldoze thru the last 200 pages in under three days. Will they hook up? Will they fall out? WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN? If it had not been for the romantic angle that creeped on me out of nowhere, I doubt I would have finished the book.

Even though the book was somewhat of a chore, I strangely feel the need to read the sequel, Chosen People. Call me nosey (or a romantic), but I really want to see if Alex and Paul live happily ever after.

I’d recommend this for readers looking for light fare, or those who enjoy chick lit. Mystery lovers may not be too satisfied with the plot, premise, or ending, but if you enjoy subtle romances that include a snappy, sarcastic protaganist, pick this one up.

Grade: C

Actress Hedy Lamarr was born on this day 100 years ago. While many may remember her as an icon from Hollywood’s Golden Age, she was also an inventor. Listen here as NPR’s Karen Grigsby Bates speaks with Richard Rhodes, author of Hedy’s Folly who sheds more light on Lamarr’s remarkable life. Also be sure to check out some of her classic movies available at BCPL.

Amusement Parks And Jim Crow: MLK’s Son Remembers

by Karen Grigsby Bates 

In this three-part series, Karen Grigsby Bates talks with children of Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to see how they’ve coped with the burden and privilege of their legacies.

Most Americans think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a brilliant young minister who was one of the architects of the civil rights movement, and who was martyred for it in 1968. But to the revered leader’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, the famous man was just “Daddy.” And like millions of other daddies across the country, he got pestered by his kids when they wanted something.

Martin Luther King III chuckles, remembering how he and his older sister Yolanda used to clamor to go to Funtown. They frequently drove by the segregated amusement park with their mother, Coretta Scott King, as they dropped off their father at the airport for one of his many out-of-town speaking engagements or rallies.

Martin Luther King III recalls, “Many of those times, we were told, ‘You’re not able to go now, but Daddy’s working on it, and one day we will be able to go.’ “

Like a lot of black parents in the segregated South, Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King tried to protect their children from the myriad indignities of Jim Crow. When the family did eventually get to visit the amusement parks that Martin Luther King Jr. and his associates worked to desegregate, Martin Luther King III remembers that his father went with them.  [Continue reading and listen to full story at NPR’s Code Switch.]

5

Time for #FridayReads! Here’s what we’re working on…

Carline Watson: The Turner House by Angela Flournoy. Debutnovel from a young African-American writer about a multi-generational familyand a rambling family home in Detroit. The house and its occupants become a metaphor for the efforts of black families to move from poverty into the middle-class, and how that fragile tapestry is stitched together and is so easily ripped apart by any slight downturn in people’s economic fortunes.

Nina Gregory: I’m finishing Kim Gordon’s memoir – which is more about art than music.

Karen Grigsby Bates: There’s no such thing as “too much Vietnamese food” IMHO, so I am slurping up Graham Holliday’s memoir of his time in Vietnam, Eating Viet Nam: Dispatches from a Blue Plastic Table. Takes us way beyond pho and banh mi.  (Not that I’ve ever been known to turn down either…)

Eric Deggans: Jon Cryer’s memoir, So That Happened, which is a surprisingly easy and fun read.

Founding Mother Susan Stamberg: Love Songs: The Hidden History by Ted Gioia.

Boss Lady Ellen: I’m finishing up what so far is a spectacular novel by Lauren Groff – Fates and Furies.

How about you?

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From Selma To Eisenhower, Trailblazing Black Reporter Was Always Probing

By Karen Grigsby Bates

Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the successful crossing of the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama, a key moment in the civil rights movement. Journalist Ethel Payne was there.

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Reverend Willie T. Barrow, A “Little Warrior” For Civil Rights, Dies

By Karen Grigsby Bates

Small in size, tiny Willie T. Barrow had a giant profile in civil rights and Chicago politics. When she talked, people paid attention.

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Reverend Willie T. Barrow, A “Little Warrior” For Civil Rights, Dies

By Karen Grigsby Bates

Small in size, tiny Willie T. Barrow had a giant profile in civil rights and Chicago politics. When she talked, people paid attention.

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Via:: http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2015/03/14/392858516/reverend-willie-t-barrow-a-little-warrior-for-civil-rights-dies?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=news

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Investigation Open On ‘Black Tax’ At Charlotte’s Ritz-Carlton

By Karen Grigsby Bates

North Carolina’s Attorney General asks why an event with predominantly African-American attendees was tagged with a surcharge at a luxury hotel.

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A Child Of Slavery Who Taught A Generation

By Karen Grigsby Bates

Anna J. Cooper was a remarkable student and, later, a legendary teacher and principal of the Dunbar School.

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New Post has been published on Claire Magazine

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A Child Of Slavery Who Taught A Generation

By Karen Grigsby Bates

Anna J. Cooper was a remarkable student and, later, a legendary teacher and principal of the Dunbar School.

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