A blog reader sent me an e-mail yesterday asking me if I could recommend any books about African Americans that she might read in honor of Black History Month. She said she’s read plenty of stories about people like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and many other African Americans who played a part in the struggle for racial equality, but she was looking for something different, maybe somebody she had never heard about before.
As a matter of fact, yes, I can recommend two books that I found very interesting that fit the bill. The first one is A Choice Of Weapons by Gordon Parks. I read this book when I was a teenager, and it made such an impact on me that when I recently found it is back in print, I ordered a copy. Parks was a homeless sixteen-year-old when he began his quest to get an education and better himself. Discovering he had a talent for photography, he used his camera as a weapon to fight against poverty and racism and went on to become a renowned photojournalist, the first African American to work at Life magazine, and the first to write and direct a Hollywood movie.
The other book I recommended was one I just finished, All Blood Runs Red. It’s the story of Eugene Bullard, an impoverished boy who ran away from home as a child, seeking adventure and to get away from the racism of the Deep South. Stowing away on a ship bound for Europe, Bullard found the adventure he was seeking. He made a name for himself as a professional boxer, found work as an actor, enlisted in the French Foreign Legion and became a decorated hero during World War I, and went on to serve as a fighter pilot.
After the war, he stayed in Paris and became a successful entertainer and nightclub owner until the Nazis invaded in the early days of World War II. Deemed too old to serve in the military, he was instead asked to become a spy and helped provide valuable information about enemy plans. When his activities were discovered by the Germans, he escaped France on a bicycle and eventually fled back to the United States, only to find that the racism he had escaped as a child was still very much a part of life in his home country. If all of this sounds like a novel or the plot of an adventure movie, rest assured that it’s not. This is real life and a part of history that’s been long overlooked. Both books are eye-opening and well worth your time to read.
And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.
It’s Thursday, so it’s time for a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Big Lake Blizzard, the fourth book in my Big Lake mystery series. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with U.S. addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.
Thought For The Day – We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Excellent recommendations and loved your detailed background descriptions of the authors.