Cover image for Jubilee : the emergence of African-American culture
Jubilee : the emergence of African-American culture
Dodson, Howard.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
224 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 29 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185 .D63 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
E185 .D63 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
E185 .D63 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Introduction by Winton Marsalis. Slaves came to the Americas from many different parts of the African continent, bringing with them distinct languages, religions, and expressive arts. Jubilee shows the many ways that these diverse peoples united, forged their own identity, and laid the foundations for truly unique African-American social, cultural, political, and economic expressions throughout the Western Hemisphere. Jubilee is written by Howard Dodson, chief of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture—one of the most prominent institutions of black scholarship in the world. Essays by leading voices in African-American history and literature, including Henry Louis Gates, Jr., John Hope Franklin, Amiri Bakara, Annette Gordon-Reed, and Gail Buckley will explore topics such as abolition and emancipation, changes in family life and social development, religion, and the evolution of language, literacy, and education through the end of Reconstruction. This illuminating text is surrounded by more than 200 stunning illustrations, culled from the Schomburg’s collection of more than 5 million items. From slave ship manifests, manumission papers, and some of the earliest photographs of slaves to carved items that echo African sculpture and freedom quilts with African motifs, the book is richly illustrated in an interactive way that brings to life this crucial transition from slavery to freedom.

Author Notes

Amiri Baraka was born Everett LeRoi Jones on October 7, 1934, in Newark, New Jersey. He went to college at New York University and Howard University. After serving in the Air Force for more than two years, he was dishonorably discharged for reading communist texts. He attended graduate school at Columbia University and became involved in the Beat scene. In 1958, he founded the poetry magazine Yugen. He changed his name after the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X. He founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre and School and led the Black Arts Movement, an aesthetic sibling to the Black Panthers.

In 1964, Baraka's play, The Dutchman, won an Obie Award for Best American play and it was adapted into a film in 1967. His other plays include The Black Mass, The Toilet, and The Slave. His collections of poetry include Black Art, Black Magic, Home: Social Essays, and Preface to a Twenty-Volume Suicide Note. He received several awards during his lifetime including a PEN/Faulkner Award, a Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama, and the Langston Hughes Award from City College of New York.

In 1980, he began teaching at the State University of New York-Stony Brook, retiring from its African Studies department in 1994. He also taught at Rutgers University, George Washington University, Yale University, San Francisco State University, Columbia University, and the New School for Social Research. In 2002, he was named New Jersey's second poet laureate, but soon afterward became the center of a controversy concerning his 9/11 poem Somebody Blew Up America. He died after weeks of failing health on January 9, 2014 at the age of 79.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

This is that rare title that effortlessly spans audience and age-group divides while it popularizes serious and compelling scholarship, in this case challenging widely held conceptions about modern culture in the Americas. In clean, almost terse prose Dodson presents a welter of facts showing the extent to which the colonization of North and South American depended on slave labor. A page-long foreword from Wynton Marsalis recalls the New Orleans culture of his youth. Next, Dodson (who has been director of Harlem's Schomberg Center for Research and Black Culture at the New York Public Library since 1984), along with his stellar team of scholars and poets, zeroes in on the Americas of the 17th and 18th centuries, when there were far more Black Americans than white. More than 200 photos and illustrations from the Schomberg's collection of more than five million work terrifically, selected specifically to counteract endlessly repeated images of victimization and document Black economies. They keep the story moving quickly and forcefully, and show concretely how black resistance resulted in cultural adaptations that now form the basis of cultures in the Americas: African and African-American carvings; portraits of prominent business and cultural figures; close-ups of irons and other implements of torture; marriage and other documents; contemporary press and poetry-there is an impressive amount of documentation here, culminating in the end of the Civil War. Never before have the economic and cultural histories of slavery come together so concisely and accessibly. This is an explosive, necessary book. (Feb.) Forecast: With its all-star authors and Black History Month pub date, this book could hit bestseller lists, and will become a backlist mainstay, through school-based assignments at various levels. Look for glowing national reviews and extensive media coverage. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Celebrating African American self-definition and self-determination amidst slavery, this series of nine stunningly illustrated essays represents an exhibition at the NYPL's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture organized as part of its 75th-anniversary celebration in 2000-01. The center director, historian Howard Dodson, offers an introduction and epilog to the three-part work, which uses graphic visual images and selected narratives to display and document the world slaves made for themselves throughout the Americas. The work focuses on the self-shaping of an African American identity and culture that started with the dominance of the African presence in the colonial Americas. The essays excerpted are from the writings of Gail Buckley, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Amiri Baraka, John Hope Franklin, and others. The cultural legacies displayed here make this exceptional work essential for any collection on the culture or history of the Americas.-Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Based on an exhibit celebrating the Schomburg Center's 75th anniversary, this book seeks to provide an overview of how Africans used cultural, political, economic, and social activities to "redefine themselves and ... reshape their own destines" while enslaved and free. Schomburg Center director Dodson outlines African and African American experiences from 1500 to the 1870s. Divided into three sections, the book examines the slave trade and slavery, the life Africans made in the Americas, and the winning of freedom. Elaborately illustrated with drawings, documents, and photographs of people, art, and artifacts, the narrative is interspersed with essays by eminent scholars such as John Hope Franklin and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The essays illuminate a variety of topics, including African American religion, music, and the Emancipation Proclamation, but are uneven in sophistication. The book is intended for a general audience, but some essays seem more suited to specialists in African American cultural history. Essays are not documented, but the book does include a short bibliography for every chapter except the last. This enlightening work is most useful for its illustrations and brief coverage of important aspects of African American history. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General, public, and undergraduate libraries. J. A. Luckett formerly, United States Military Academy