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People, Places and Things    

          Gwen DeRu
Gwen DeRu

By Gwen DeRu
Here are some books that I think you should read…soon…or at some point in time!!!
How many have you read?
Let’s READ…. to ourselves and to the children about some ‘Black History.’  Black History Month focuses on history, just like the name suggests – Black History.  It also suggests reading books about the history of Black people in the United States.  There are many recent books worth reading on the matter of the African-American experience.
Here are just a few books that you may want to read and share during this month or anytime throughout the year.  They always make for good read, regardless.
PPT Doc Adams**DOC:  The Story of A Birmingham Jazz Man by Dr. Frank ‘DOC’ Adams – This book shares the information about Birmingham’s music history as he writes his stories of life as a musician and educator during the struggle for civil rights.  He shares with the world what Birmingham’s Black middle class was like in the days before the civil rights movement and integration.  Doc, as he is affectionately called, played with the bands of Duke Ellington and Sun Ra just to name a few.

**We Were Always Free – The Maddens of Culpepper County Virginia a 200 Year Family History by T.O Madden, Jr. – This story of the Madden family of Virginia an American family of mixed African and European descent who were never enslaved made its way twice to prosperity and standing. It started with Sarah Madden, the first free person of color in the family, the child of Mary Madden, an Irish woman.  Sarah’s father is not known, making her free but illegitimate by Virginia legislature which allows children to follow the status of the white mother.
**The Free People of Color of New Orleans – An Introduction by Mary Gehman – Antebellum New Orleans was home to thousands of urbane, educated and well-to-do free Blacks. The French called them the free people of color: after the civil war they were known as the creoles of color, then simply Creoles.  They were well-respected members of New Orleans society who attended the French opera and theater, debated the latest politics in their own newspapers and worshipped in the St. Louis Cathedral.   Theirs was a status sharing the French language, Catholic religion and European education of the elite whites who were often blood relatives, but also keeping Africa and the indigenous American influence from their early heritage.
**In Search of the Promised Land – A Slave Family in the Old South by John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger – The Matriarch of a remarkable African American family, Sally Thomas went from being a slave on a tobacco plantation to a ‘nearly free’ slave who ran her own business and purchased liberty for herself and one of her sons.  The book offers a vivid portrait of the extended Thomas –Rapier family and of the life of slaves before the Civil War.
**My Soul Looks Back in Wonder – Voices of the Civil Rights Experience by Juan Williams with a Foreword by David Halberstrom and Afterword by Marian Wright Edelman – Juan Williams presents the dramatic and uplifting stories of men  and women who have been profoundly transformed by their experiences on the front lines of freedom.  In Juan Williams’ own words…”In these pages you will meet extraordinary individuals who tapped into their personal power to become agents of change.  They are those rare souls who through sacrifice and risk dared take direct action to create a better America.  They are American history.”

PPT BOOK ARTHUR SHORES**The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill: The Untold Story of Arthur Shores by Helen Shores Lee and Barbara Sylvia Shores and Denise George – This is a firsthand story of sisters Helen and Barbara Shores growing up with their father, Arthur Shores, a prominent Civil Rights attorney, during the ‘60s in the Jim Crow south Birmingham district that was frequently targeted by the Ku Klux Klan.  Between 1948 and 1963, some 50 unsolved Klan bombings happened in Smithfield where the Shores family lived, their neighborhood the nickname ‘Dynamite Hill.’ Due to his work, Shores’ daughter, Barbara, barely survived a kidnapping attempt. Twice, in 1963, Klan members bombed their home, sending Theodora to the hospital with a brain concussion and killing Tasso, the family’s cocker spaniel. The family narrowly escaped a third bombing attempt on their home in the spring of 1965. The Gentle Giant of Dynamite Hill is an incredible story of a family’s unfair suffering, but also of the Shores’ overcoming. This family’s sacrificial commitment, courage, determination, and triumph inspire us today through this story and the selfless service, work, and lives of Helen Shores Lee and Barbara Sylvia Shores.
PPT Book Thom Gossom
**Walk On by Thom Gossom, Jr. – Thom Gossom Jr. did not set out to be a groundbreaker. He did not apply to Auburn University with the goal of being the first black athlete to graduate from the almost all-white college. He just knew that he wanted to play football and he wanted to play football at Auburn. A gifted athlete and good student, Gossom was accepted to Auburn University in 1970 and forever left the comfort of his segregated hometown boyhood to enter into a world of privilege that was just starting to grapple with desegregation. Loneliness, anger, jealousy and overt racism awaited him on and off the football field. As Gossom fought for his place on the team and on campus he became part of the movement to make the world a better place for those who were to come after him, and in doing so, became a part of history.
Here are a few things going on this weekend and soon.  (Look around for other things that you may want to enjoy and share with the others.)

PPTChris TuckerDon’t Miss… LAUGHTER at the STARDOME COMEDY CLUB with CHRIS TUCKER, this weekend.
**TONYA JONES ASALON GRAND OPENING in English Village, 4-5 p.m. FREE.
**HEART BALL AUCTION PREVIEW Reception at Tom Williams Porsche 5:30-8:30 p.m.  FREE.
**ROBERT HOLMES SPEAKS ON PHILANTHROPY – The Birmingham Change Fund (BCF) will celebrate 10 years of giving at the 2014 Change Luncheon 11:30 a.m. at McWane Science Center, 200 19th Street North. For more information and Change luncheon tickets visit www.birminghamchangefund.org, contact info@birminghamchangefund.org or call (205) 610-9223.
**WHO’S WHO IN BLACK ALABAMA, 6 – 8:30 p.m. at the Harbert Center.  Call (205) 266-0304.  It is a MUST-DO… on the list… for all!
FEBRUARY 26-27- GEENA DAVIS SPEAKS AT MOMENTUM LEADERS – ‘Accelerating the Speed of Change’ is the Momentum Conference–Building Women Leaders in Alabama and it will be packed with nine tracks in three breakout sessions led by over 40 outstanding Alabama women professionals.  It will also honor five of Alabama’s top women leaders.  Keynote speakers are GEENA DAVIS, Academy award actress and founder of Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media and ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER, president of the New American Foundation, Princeton University professor emerita and author of ‘Why Women Still Can’t Have IT All.’ Awards Ceremony is Wednesday 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. and the conference is Thursday, 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.  at the BJCC East Ballroom.
Well, that’s it.  Tell you more ‘next’ time.
(People, Places and Things by Gwen DeRu is a weekly column. Send comments to my emails: thelewisgroup@birminghamtimes.com or gwenderu@yahoo.com)