The FBI’s most wanted woman, a former Black Panther who survived it all – Book review

Have you caught the dramatisation of Assata Shakur’s autobiography on Radio 4 this week? In a coincidence of timing the book has also made it to the top of Jo Manby’s review pile!

Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur. First published in the UK by Zed Books Ltd, London (1988). This edition Lawrence Hill Books (an imprint of Chicago Review Press, Incorporated): Chicago, Illinois, 2014

Assata Shakur is the FBI’s most wanted woman. Since 1979 has lived in Cuba as a fugitive after being granted asylum there following her escape from prison. She is also a founding member of the Black Liberation Army and godmother of Tupac Shakur. This autobiography tells the story of the circumstances that brought her to her present day situation.

the picture shows a book on a table. The book cover has a young black woman's face in profile, with a red target on her face. The title is Assata: An Autobiography Continue reading

Archiving our US Civil Rights material

Documentation Assistant Carly Morel is currently pulling together various bits of American Civil Rights material to create a new open-ended archive collection. She highlights a couple of interesting items for us:

With US politics so much in the headlines at the moment, I thought, what better time to tackle our US Civil Rights material?

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Voices of the Black Panthers Book Reviews #2

Book Review: The Black Panthers Speak, Edited by Philip S. Foner, new Foreword by Barbara Ransby (Haymarket Books: Chicago 2014)
(first published by J.B. Lippincott Company: Philadelphia & New York, 1970)

Review by Jo Manby

The Black Panthers Speak is a bibliographic archive of correspondence, news, rules, speeches and poems – the documents that underpinned the fabric of the Black Panther Party’s (BPP) organisation.

The 2014 republishing of The Black Panthers Speak, an essential documentary history of the BPP, is indeed timely. Compiled and edited by Philip S. Foner (1910-1994), this is a new edition with an updated foreword by the writer, historian and political activist Barbara Ransby. When first published in 1970, the volume sought to counter the many misinterpretations that the BPP was subject to.

close up image of the book title

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Voices of the Black Panthers Book Reviews #1

Book Review: My People are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain by Aaron Dixon (Haymarket Books: Chicago 2012)

Review by Jo Manby

Despite the presence of a Black president in the White House, America persists in incarcerating unprecedented numbers of Black and ethnic minority males. The Sentencing Project states that ‘for Black males in their thirties, 1 in every 10 is in prison or jail on any given day’. This autobiographical work, My People are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain reminds us of the issues the Black Panther Party (BPP) stood for, most of which, including this and other racial injustices, remain unresolved today. Aaron Dixon gives us a first-hand account of the BPP’s history.

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Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday centenary

Billie Holiday was born 100 years ago today, on the 7th April 1915. Her first recording session was in 1933, her last in 1959, the year of her death. The pre-eminent jazz singer of her day, she sold millions of records. But it was her most unlikely hit which she adopted as her signature song.

Photograph of Billie Holiday with dog

Billie Holiday with her dog, Mister, in 1947. Photograph by William P Gottlieb

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Only 12 Years a Slave?

Image of a pair of glasses on a book

The Roving Reader Files

 

Have you seen Steve McQueen’s Oscar and BAFTA-winning film 12 Years a Slave? If yes, you’ll know two things: one, it’s based on the true story of abducted free Black American Solomon Northup in the 1840s, and two, it’s not a barrel of laughs.

So to cheer you up, as an addendum to my last post, I’d like to highlight a couple of people featured in The Skull Measurer’s Mistake who made a stand against the kind of abuse Northup was subjected to – Granville Sharp and George Cable.

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