Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Surviving and Thriving (BOOK REVIEW)

Surviving and Thriving
365 Facts in Black Economic History
by Dr. Julianne Malveaux
Foreword by Cathy Hughes
Last Word Productions
Paperback, $14.95
162 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9827750-0-4

Book Review by Kam Williams

“In her poem, ‘And Still I Rise,’ Dr. Maya Angelou wrote, ‘You can write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies, you can trod me in the very dirt and still, like dust, I rise.’ More than a century before she penned her words, Richard R. Wright, Sr., a man born into slavery… asked [Union] General Oliver Otis Howard to ‘Tell them we are rising.’
Wright’s 19th C. vision… has currency today. …Tell anyone who will listen that, while the playing field is not yet level, African-American people can play the game, win it, and even change the rules to make them fairer.
Tell them we are rising, surviving and thriving.”
-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pg. xliii)

The accomplishments of African-Americans have generally been omitted
from the history books, when it comes to the field of economics. Consequently, most black kids grow up unaware that despite the obstacles the nation deliberately placed in the path of their ancestors during the days of slavery and the repressive era of Jim Crow segregation, many miraculously managed to flourish financially anyway.
While many accounts of the exploits of the heroes of the Emancipation and Civil Rights Movements have been published for posterity, the achievements of black business leaders have rarely been the subject of scrutiny. For this reason, a debt of gratitude is owed to Dr. Julianne Malveaux, author of Surviving
and Thriving: 365 Facts in Black Economic History.
Her informative text might be best thought of as a bound version of one of those page-a-day theme calendars, except that instead of serving up jokes, words or spiritual reflections, this features a year’s worth of entries about African-American companies and captains of industry. A few of her subjects are familiar household names, such as BET founder Bob Johnson and hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons. However, most of the bios here are apt to be eye-opening intros to someone you’ve never heard of.
For example, there’s Sarah Gammon Bickford, a former slave-turned-public utility owner who moved to Virginia City, Montana where she came to supply the town’s water after acquiring a natural spring. Then, there’s seamstress Elizabeth Keckley, a sister who owned the largest custom dressmaking business in ante bellum Washington, DC. Before the outbreak of the Civil War, she designed outfits for both First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and the wives of eventual Confederates President Jefferson Davis and his General Robert E. Lee.
In sum, an inspirational tome design to serve as a daily reminder of the role that African-American entrepreneurs have played and continue to play on the path to freedom and equality.

1 comment:

Seeker said...

You mentioned Elizabeth Keckley -- the ex slave that purchased her freedom, and worked for Jefferson Davis, and then Lincolns.

She found work with Davis first, and she was so talented, she was in demand by every snobbish politician in Washington, of course, Mary Lincoln qualified.

But Keckley wrote her autobiography, and I was stunned to read it. She shows that Davis was meeting with many army officers over Christmas of 1860, before Lincoln had even gotten there.

Davis was meeting with all these military men --Keckley knew none of them -- well into the night.

She also said Mrs Davis told her they would be taking over the White House soon, that her husband had assured her that a military strike of some kind was already planned. These officers Keckely saw going to Davis's office at all hours were clearly part of those plans.

I've wondered if Lee was in that number? These men were still in uniform -- and obviously, if you are planning a military action against your own government, while in uniform, that is treason. These men should have taken their uniforms off, of course, and resigned.

I wonder - was Lee in that group? Did Lee come to see Davis? Certainly if Lee was not there personally, he had to know others who were. Davis would not have been able to assure his wife of a take over of Washington, without Lee on board somehow.

If Lee had known ANYTHING about the plan - and he had to have heard something --- he should have arrested Davis. Of course, he did not. Lee stayed in uniform will March, and even accepted a promotion to full colonel from Lincoln, while in uniform.

IF that is true, then Lee committed treason, and he knew he committed treason. He should have resigned immediately.