Tuesday, August 24, 2010




America I AM

A Journal

Edited by Clarence Reynolds

Smiley Books

Paperback, $11.95

240 pages, Illustrated

ISBN: 978-1-4019-2407-2


Book Review by Kam Williams


“’Would America have been America without her Negro people?’ The question posed by W.E.B. Du Bois serves as the underlying theme for America I AM… It spurs us to consider how the original gifts of African culture were uniquely manifested in America, and helped to lay the foundation for the creation of this country.

If we wrestle with this question, we will begin to see just how central black people have been in creating, sustaining, and contributing to America, both past and present. Such contemplation allows us to finally recognize African-Americans’ indisputable economic, socio-political, spiritual, and cultural.”

-Excerpted from the Introduction (page 1)


My son has repeatedly said to me that he thinks of African-Americans as the only true Americans, because we not only shed so much of our blood, sweat and tears as slaves during the foundation of the nation, but have also contributed to the country’s unique cultural legacy in terms of music, dance, language and elsewhat. Affirming such wisdom coming from the mouth of babes is America I AM, a journal edited by Clarence V. Reynolds, a veteran journalist who has written for Discover, The Network Journal and the Black Issues Book Review.

Designed as much to be written in as to be perused by each reader, America I AM is essentially a 200+ page diary whose pages are graced with famous quotations from leading figures in African-American history. The idea is to celebrate the struggles, sacrifices and survival against the odds of a people who simultaneously miraculously managed to enrich the world despite a host of woes.

Among the more memorable passages recounted here is Harriet Tubman’s telling reflection abut the source of her inspiration to rescue the least of her brethren via the Underground Railroad. “I have heard their groans and sighs, and seen their tears, and I would give every drop of blood in my veins to free them,” she asserted defiantly.

Then there’s the following excerpt from John Brown’s testimony when put on trial for his life for leading a slave revolt. “I want you to understand that I respect the rights of the poorest and weakest of coloured people, oppressed by the slave system, just as much as I do those of the most wealthy and powerful. That is the idea that has moved me, and that alone.”

A treasure trove of powerful citations with plenty of space allotted for the musings of potential black leaders of the future.

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