Books (and More) by Friends – March 2021

Family and Friends,

I hope this 27th installment of ‘Books by Friends’ finds you healthy and full of energy to keep pushing for the big changes the country and the world need.

This spring’s list includes works that will spark your imagination, stimulate your thinking, and just plain provide hours of enjoyment.

First up is Alicia Garza’s cut-to-the-chase volume The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart. In Alicia’s own words, it’sthe story of an organizer who comes apart and is put back together many, many times…. It is not the story of Black Lives Matter, but it is a story that includes it, that attempts to help make sense of not only where it came from, but also the possibilities that it and movements like it hold for our collective future.” 

Also looking at Power and Black America’s relationship to it is Van Gosse’s new book, The First Reconstruction: Black Politics in America, From the Revolution to the Civil War. It’s a thorough examination of pre-Civil War political battles aimed at winning full citizenship rights and the vote in free states before the Civil War, including many never-been-told stories.

Black Lives Matter at School: An Uprising for Educational Justice, by Jesse Hagopian and Denisha Jones, documents the battles of educators, students, and community activists fighting for a transformation of public schools, and draws out lessons from their victories.

Free City! The Fight to Save San Francisco’s City College and Education for All, by Marcy Rein, Mickey Ellinger, and Vicki Legion, is a lesson-filled recounting of the five years of organizing that kept open the largest community college in the United States.

In Flutter Free, the Memoir of Guillermo Mangaoang, Jr., Gil recounts his four decades of activism in the fight for social justice and equality in the U.S. and the Philippines. Available to read on-line here, the memoir includes the story of his coming out as a Filipino American gay man.

How about a pulp novel set during the Harlem Renaissance? Check out the latest from Gary Phillips, Matthew Henson and the Ice Temple of Harlem,  full of action, suspense, and biting social commentary. And if you missed Gary’s story in the collection Low Down Dirty Vote Volume II: Every Stolen Vote Is a Crime, check that out too.

Also offering suspense, mystery, and social commentary is Episode #1 of Michael Santino’s debut crime serial, The Frontline. Follow along as investigators in “a nation divided” try “to determine if American Dawn is a terrorist organization hellbent on sparking a second civil war or possibly a smokescreen diverting their focus from the real bomber.“

Check out the preview of the Disability Justice from A to Z coloring book forthcoming from Sins Invalid. If you are intrigued by the art and wording for the letter A – “Access. And Activist. And All of us.” you will want to order the book and see the entire alphabet when it is becomes available.

Making the Tongue Dry, the second edition of a handbound chapbook by Jen Soriano, offers a collection of lyric essays that dissect destructive systems and ask readers to question our individual roles in maintaining them. Each essay is a study in experimentation with a creative nonfiction form.

Mapping Gendered Ecologies: Engaging with and beyond Ecowomanism and Ecofeminism is new collection of essays examining how humans co-exist with nature in these times of overlapping climate, health, economic, and racial crises. It’s edited by K. Melchor Quick Hall and Gwyn Kirk, and includes a contribution by Margo Okazawa-Rey.

Mike Miller has edited and abbreviated Rachel B. Reinhard’s Ph.D. dissertation, The Politics of Change – The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party: A Case Study of the Rise and Fall of Insurgency: “The work of the MFDP…ushered a wide spectrum of black Mississippians into the political process after three generations of disenfranchisement.” 

The Teacher Insurgency: A Strategic and Organizing Perspective, by Leo Casey, analyzes the impact the recent wave of teacher strikes had on public education, teacher unions and the larger labor movement.

Not a new book but by a new friend, Fighting for Our Place in the Sun: Malcolm X and the Radicalization of the Black Student Movement 1960-1973by Richard Benson, traces one of the key strands of Black radicalism that reverberates today.

Work and Social Justice – The David Bacon Photography Archive is on exhibit through May 9, 2021 in the Cecil H. Green Library at Stanford. Access to campus libraries is currently limited to Stanford ID cardholders due to COVID-19. However, you can view  the entire collection – including material not in the physical show – at the online exhibition; sections focus on farm workers; strikes; poverty and homelessness in L.A.; work and life in Vietnam, and more.

Strawberry Mansion – a film set in a future where the government records dreams and taxes them – was shown at Sundance 2021. Nate Kamiya is co-executive producer. Follow the adventures of a dream auditor to places you don’t expect.

Finally, here’s an advance heads up about two blockbuster volumes that will appear a bit down the road:

Coming in August is the latest from Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz: Not “A Nation of Immigrants”: Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy, and a History of Erasure and Exclusion. Roxanne debunks one of the harmful narratives that masks and diminishes the U.S.’s history of genocide, white supremacy, slavery, and structural inequality, all of which we grapple with today.

And looking further ahead, watch for Victory Is in the Struggle: From Barrio Boy to Revolutionary and Scholar, the autobiography of Carlos Muñoz, Jr., a leader in the 1960s Chicano Movement and author of Youth, Identity, Power: The Chicano Movement.