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By SAMANTHA PUCKETT
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 11, 2001
February is Black History Month, and with it comes an inviting array of new books on the black experience.
Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America, by James Oliver Horton and Lois Horton (Rutgers University Press, $22) offers a comprehensive history of African-Americans. The authors range beyond the issues of slavery to a story of struggle and success. They demonstrate the contributions African-Americans have made to the United States and document the strides that have been made while acknowledging that our country still has a long way to go.
One of the most luminous figures in black history is, of course, Martin Luther King Jr. A definitive collection of his milestone speeches is available in A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Warner, $22.95). Now in paperback, I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. (Touchstone, $15), includes a new foreword by author Michael Eric Dyson that counters many of the attacks he received upon its initial publication. Dyson reveals King's failings along with his genius in this critically acclaimed examination of King's life and work.
Widely regarded as one of the most pivotal moments of the civil rights movement, the Brown vs. Board of Education case declared segregation in schools unconstitutional. Brown V. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy, by James T. Patterson (Oxford University Press, $27.50) explores both sides of the case, permitting the muffled voices of dissent to be heard -- the many who believe the case trivialized black education and that black communities can be better served in all-black schools.
Newsweek managing editor Jon Meacham has assembled some of the most artful and important interpretations of the civil rights movement in Voices in Our Blood: America's Best on the Civil Rights Movement (Random House, $29.95). A wide range of black and white voices detail the experiences of the movement, past and present, from Maya Angelou to Ralph Ellison to Russell Baker to William Faulkner.
Racial identity, gender oppression, homophobia, classism, police brutality and the future state of Africa are some of the issues tackled in Step Into A World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature (Wiley, $29.95). Cultural critic Kevin Powell has pulled together fiction, poetry, essays, letters and hip-hop journalism from black writers all over the world.
In Salvation: Black People and Love (Morrow, $22) black feminist theorist and part-time Tampa resident bell hooks continues her exploration of her favorite subject -- love. Challenging stereotypes that shape our nation's thinking, Salvation questions whether racism has made it difficult for blacks to give and receive love. The author discusses all aspects of love: self-love, family love and romantic love in her usual bold and visionary style.
Former Essence senior editor and writer Pamela Johnson and writer Juliette Harris have published a collection of 45 poems, essays, cartoons and photos about the relationship between black people, their hair and a society with unattainable beauty standards. Tenderheaded: A Comb-Bending Collection of Hair Stories (Pocket, $25.95) includes work by Toni Morrison, Ruby Dee and Alice Walker.