The racquet and the pen

Guest post by Eric Allen Hall

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet,” said Toni Morrison, “then you must write it.” Arthur Ashe would do just that.  Following his retirement from tennis in 1980, Ashe “felt a subtle but pervasive dissatisfaction with [his] life. . . and a deep confusion about what the rest of it would, and should, look like.” His old friend Jefferson Rogers, a civil rights activist and faculty member at Florida Memorial College, soon lent Ashe some clarity. Rogers offered him a teaching position at the historically black college. Ashe had always wanted to teach.

His honors course on black athletes and society allowed him to mentor a small group of African-American students, and this excited him even more than the act of teaching. “In the classroom,” noted Ebony, “he is a tough, no-nonsense kind of instructor who tries to impress upon students the importance of understanding and dealing with their academic responsibilities.” Yet Ashe had difficulty finding materials on African-American athletes. Books and scholarly articles on Jack Johnson, Rube Foster, Jesse Owens, Althea Gibson, and others simply did not exist. Through his own experiences, Ashe understood the ways in which black athletes had challenged the color line and been at the forefront of the Black Freedom Movement. Their stories needed to be told, and Ashe resolved “to write THE authoritative history of the black American athlete.”

Although he believed the project would take about two years to complete, Ashe quickly discovered what a massive undertaking he had begun. He and his team of assistants started interviewing former and current athletes, coaches, administrators, and sportswriters. They contacted archivists and launched a media campaign asking the public for help. As Ashe delved deeper into the history of black athletes, his brother Johnnie observed a change in the former tennis star. “It did more than energize him,” Johnnie explained. “It gave him a new purpose, a means by which he could make contributions . . . He’d say, ‘The same problems I went through, Jack Johnson went through, Joe Louis went through.’ ”

Hall_AsheBlog1In 1988, Warner/Amistad Books published Ashe’s three-volume work, A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete Since 1946. Ashe sold 11,000 copies alone in the first month of publication. Critics lauded A Hard Road to Glory. “The point Ashe makes,” wrote Jim Murray of the Los Angeles Times, “is the black athlete didn’t just roll out of bed with his ability.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and popular historian David Halberstam read A Hard Road to Glory as “a cry of protest in which ancient sins are revealed.” “The book,” he noted, “is a compelling history of prejudice and meanness, of honor and dishonor, a book both about sports and not about sports.” Nelson Mandela read A Hard Road to Glory while locked away in prison. Ashe reveled in telling the stories of black athletes, both their achievements and their struggles. “I would think,” he mused, “this is more important than any tennis titles.”

As we once again celebrate and reflect upon Black History Month, it is important to honor those who made history, but it is equally important to recognize those who wrote it. The great African-American historian John Hope Franklin was forced to work alone in a makeshift reading room at an archive in North Carolina because of his race. He had to go without lunch every Saturday at the Library of Congress in 1951 because no restaurant would serve him. “The world of the Negro scholar is indescribably lonely,” Franklin conceded. Yet “for a Negro scholar searching for truth, the search for food in the city of Washington was one of the minor inconveniences.” Franklin would go on to write and make history.  Years later, so would Ashe.

hallEric Allen Hall is an assistant professor in the history department at Georgia Southern University, Statesboro and author of Arthur Ashe: Tennis and Justice in the Civil Rights Era, published by Johns Hopkins.

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Examining ‘Callaloo Art’

For nearly 40 years, the journal Callaloo has showcased original work by and about writers and visual artists of African descent worldwide. The quarterly offers an engaging mixture of fiction, poetry, critical articles, interviews, drama, and visual art.

In late 2014, however, a long-time dream of journal founder and editor Charles Henry Rowell came to life –  Callaloo Art. Subscribers will now receive five issues each year with this annual issue devoted to African Diaspora visual art and culture. The first issue focuses on American artists born after 1959 and highlights the work of 32 visual artists. The issue also includes essays, interviews and poetry.

Rowell joined our podcast series recently to talk about the issue and future plans for Callaloo Art.


New and forthcoming in
The Callaloo African Diaspora Series
Charles Henry Rowell, Series Editor

Black Soundscapes White Stages: The Meaning of Francophone Sound in the Black Atlantic, by Edwin C. Hill Jr.

Freedom Time: The Poetics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing, by Anthony Reed

The Calendar of Loss: Race, Sexuality, and Mourning in the Early Era of AIDS, by Dagmawi Woubshet

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“Still Alice” reminds us to remember the challenges facing the caregiver

Guest post by Laura Wayman,  The Dementia Whisperer

In the film Still Alice, Alice Howland is a linguistics professor who endures, at the unusually young age of 50, dementia symptoms caused by a form of young onset Alzheimer’s that runs in her family. Although this type of Alzheimer’s is rare, the dementia symptoms are the same as the more common form of the disease with which more than 5 million older Americans are living.

This movie poignantly portrays Alice as she struggles with the painstaking loss of herself, including her career, individuality, cognition, and connection to the world around her with disturbing swiftness.

Watching the movie, I was primarily transfixed by the impact Alzheimer’s had on those around her as Alice faded into the darkness of dementia, specifically the effect on her three grown-up children (also at risk of the disease, which is 100% passable to offspring) and the emotional devastation experienced by her grieving husband.

Of course, every family and situation is different. If you are a caregiver, you may have been thrust into this caregiving role unexpectedly—without any training or even any encouragement. Perhaps the care is being provided at home, with or without other family or professional in-home support. Or maybe the care is provided in a specialized memory care unit, an assisted living environment, or a skilled nursing facility. Although caregiving is often inspiring and rewarding, it can also be difficult and challenging. And caring for someone with cognitive impairment can be much more difficult than caring for someone with a physical impairment who is full competent mentally and emotionally. The complications of confusion, forgetfulness, and memory loss, and the behaviors that go along with them, can be traumatic for the person with the disease and for the person providing care. Because of the dementia, neither the person involved nor the relationship will ever be the same

This disease is not just destructive to the person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but also forever alters what family members have come to know, expect, and adore about their loved one over the years: those individual expressions and ways of interacting with which we become lovingly familiar with. The disease takes away pieces of our loved one, sneaking up little by little until family members can no longer recognize the person or the cherished relationship any more. And the toll on these family members is shattering, yet there is no end in sight, no cure, no prevention, and no way to effectively slow it down.

As The Dementia Whisperer, my mission is to provide you and all those who are caring for a loved one with any form of dementia support in the way of education, inspiration and encouragement along this challenging journey of dementia care. We are all so focused on the most horrific illness of our time (and well we should be) and the ruinous effect on those diagnosed with one of the over seventy estimated causes of dementia that we often overlook the long ranging damage inflicted on the family caregiver: the real hero of the “Alzheimer’s Generation.”

Caring for a person with dementia brings with it much more work (and stress) than caring for someone with other types of illnesses. It can be a long journey, and if caregivers do not take time for themselves, they will not be around to take care of the person with dementia. The following is the story I often share about my mother, Peggy, and is a classic example of the devastating effects of caregiver stress. She was thrust into the role of caring for my father, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. When my father’s health began to fail and he began to present memory loss and other signs and symptoms of dementia, my mother stepped into the role of being his full-time caregiver. Some of her friends had been caregivers of spouses with dementia and she had witnessed what a hard and stressful job it was. I offered to help, but my mother insisted she was okay, and would alert me if his condition became unmanageable. However, in spite of this, disaster struck. One night, after two years well into the care journey, my mother and father sat down to dinner together. They were alone in their home. My mother suffered a massive heart attack. My father’s reactions to this emergency were slowed by his dementia, which was far more advanced than anyone realized. By the time help was summoned, my mom was already gone.

If only I had learned how the overwhelming stress of caring for a loved one devastates the primary family caregiver who selflessly takes on too much, refusing to ask for or accept help. This personal experience has driven my passion for education to all caregivers, both family and professional, in the awareness for caring for themselves, along with the tips and tools to assist them in effectively caring for adults with any form of dementia. My vision is to bring light into the darkness of dementia through support, encouragement, education, and hope. My book,  A Loving Approach to Dementia Care, is a special guide, filled with respect, calmness, creativity—and love.

WaymanLaura Wayman holds an associate in arts degree in gerontology and is a certified social services designee. She has over a decade of experience in and a strong dedication to quality aging. She is the director of dementia education and services for Comfort Keepers (Sacramento). the CEO of The Dementia Whisperers, Inc., and a sought-after speaker on issues of aging.

 

 

 

 

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Should we bring historians to the movies?

Guest post by Thomas Leitch

Why do otherwise intelligent and discriminating people routinely come away from movies like Selma, American Sniper, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything under the impression that their fictionalizations of history are true? Can’t they tell the difference between real life and the movies?

In a word, no, they can’t, says Jeffrey M. Zacks. Zacks, a professor of psychology and radiology at Washington University in St. Louis and author of Flicker: Your Brain on Movies, argues in a column in the 15 February issue of the New York Times that “our minds are well equipped to remember things that we see or hear—but not to remember the source of those memories”—because “our brain’s systems for source memory are not robust and are prone to failure.” Whether we read something in the newspaper, see footage of it on television or online, or watch it in a movie theater, we come away with much more vivid and precise memories of the content than the source. So we store memories from these very different sources in much the same way, and draw on them as equally authoritative when we search our memories for information.

So far, so illuminating. My only quarrel with Professor Zacks’s perceptive analysis of why people so routinely confuse movies with real life even if they know the movies are fictional concerns its last two sentences: “Having the misinformation explicitly pointed out and corrected at the time it was encountered substantially reduced its influence. But actually implementing this strategy—creating fact-checking commentary tracks that play during movies? always bringing a historian to the theater with you?—could be a challenge.”

The suggestion that bringing a historian along would protect me from indiscriminately remembering misinformation in movies implies that historians are uniquely qualified to pass judgment on factual accuracy. But in fact Professor Zacks’s whole column makes this assumption because it conflates history with what Professor Zacks calls “facts” and “the real world.” As police officers across the country agree, however, there’s a large and troublesome gap between even eyewitness testimony and the facts concerning real-world events. Sergeant Joe Friday was wrong: since the best testimony in the world is still testimony, not even the most reliable witness can give the police just the facts.

Historians are obviously more reliable than eyewitnesses in some ways. They’re more reflective, more disinterested, more likely to check their hypotheses against multiple sources. But since their testimony is always based on other people’s testimony, they’re less reliable than eyewitnesses in other ways. In addition, there are too many examples of biased histories (e.g., North Korean history textbooks, along with any number of textbooks produced around the world during wartime), racist histories (Woodrow Wilson’s History of the American People), and factually inaccurate histories (Michael Bellesisles’s Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture) to justify any such assumption. Since the main reason for writing history, in fact, is to correct earlier histories, it’s doubtful that even historians trust other historians quite as completely as Professor Zacks thinks the rest of us ought to do. If they did, there would be no need for any further histories, only periodic updates, and historians would vanish.

I’d certainly agree that historians and filmmakers adopt very different attitudes toward history, facts, and the real world. But I’d still want to make distinctions among those three different subjects. And although I’m happy to acknowledge that filmmakers often play fast and loose with the facts, even when they advertise their products as “inspired by true events,” I’m a lot less confident than Professor Zacks that historians are so disinterested, reliable, and authoritative that they have a monopoly on the truth. So the next time I take a historian to the movies, I’ll be sure to follow it with dinner—not so that the historian can set me straight, but so that we can talk over the movie as more or less equally intelligent adults. I’m all for watching movies with a critical eye, but I’m not ready to farm out that job to the historians unless they understand that I plan to keep an equally critical eye on them. Meanwhile, I wonder exactly who’s going to be producing those fact-checking commentary tracks Professor Zacks mentions, and what makes them so sure that they have a corner on the truth, too.

leitchThomas Leitch is a professor of English and the director of the film studies program at the University of Delaware. He is the author of  Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age and Film Adaptation and Its Discontents: From “Gone with the Wind” to “The Passion of the Christ” and is the coeditor of A Companion to Alfred Hitchcock.

 

 

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Recommended Reading: Cinema Studies

With the Academy Awards set for this weekend, we want to aim a key light on our terrific books in film history and cinema studies. Call the gaffer!

luzziA Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film
by Joseph Luzzi

“Luzzi brings a set of powerful resources to his new study: a vast erudition, an ear finely attuned to inter-arts allusions, and an ability to discern the workings of poetic tropes within the language of cinema. The result is a deepened understanding of the category of the aesthetic as it relates to Italian film criticism and an affirmation of the riches that this body of canonical films offers to scholars and lay connoisseurs of the seventh art.”—Millicent Marcus, Yale University


Music in the Shadows $20.97 (reg. $29.95) FORTHCOMINGMusic in the Shadows: Noir Musical Films
by Sheri Chinen Biesen

“The book nicely balances in-depth historical research and previous film noir scholarship with fresh ideas and a writing style that is both evocative and concise. The author doesn’t force the films into the model of her theory; instead the films guide the theory, a quality often lacking in film writing. Music in the Shadows ultimately succeeds on two levels, both in providing an entertaining and enlightening read, as well as an impetus to watch previously unseen films and rewatch familiar classics with a new perspective.”—Noir City


osteenNightmare Alley: Film Noir and the American Dream
by Mark Osteen

“Only a few of the many books on film noir are essential. This is one of them . . . A smart, clearly written book.”—Choice

“Mark Osteen manages to add something new and substantial to the discourse on film noir—an examination of the ways in which the American Dream is subverted, challenged, and ultimately discounted by the harsh realities of a noir universe, which more directly aligns itself with society than with the phantom hope of endless upward mobility.”—Wheeler Winston Dixon, University of Nebraska, Lincoln


Gilles Deleuze: Cinema and Philosophy, by Paola Marrati, translated by Alisa Hartz
When Stories Travel: Cross-Cultural Encounters between Fiction and Film, by Cristina Della Coletta
Math Goes to the Movies, by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross
Cinematic Illuminations: The Middle Ages on Film, by Laurie A. Finke and Martin B. Shichtman


Film Adaptation and Its Discontents: From Gone with the Wind to The Passion of the Christ, by Thomas Leitch
The Moguls and the Dictators: Hollywood and the Coming of World War II, by David Welky
Unless the Threat of Death Is Behind Them: Hard-Boiled Fiction and Film Noir, by John T. Irwin
Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons, by Jonathan Rosenbaum

 

 

 

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Meet us in New Orleans: International Studies Association

If you are heading to the International Studies Association meeting in New Orleans from February 18 to 21, be sure to browse JHU Press books and journals at booth #414. Press authors will be stopping by, and we’ll offer a 30% discount throughout the meeting (and afterward using code HEZQ). We are also pleased to offer a special on-site ISA 2015 promotion for Scholars, Policymakers, and International Affairs. Read more about the conference on the ISA annual meeting website, and check out these new and forthcoming books from JHUP:


Special ISA 2015 offer for Scholars, Policymakers, and International Affairs, edited by Abraham F. Lowenthal and Mariano E. Bertucci: $20 including tax (0n site only, while supplies last)

lowenthalsketch1.indd“This meaty and well-crafted book offers innovative suggestions, based on the experiences of scholars with strong policy interests and officials with keen analytic skills, to strengthen both practice and theory by building more fruitful connections between academia and the policy world.” —Gen. Brent Scowcroft, former U.S. National Security Advisor

“Most foreign policy practitioners in the United States and elsewhere seem to avoid contact with academic theory, and scholars generally reciprocate; indeed this gap has widened in recent years. Lowenthal and Bertucci are right to argue that this gap can and should be bridged, to benefit both theory and practice. This book provides thoughtful, practical and timely suggestions for doing so.” —Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Harvard University, author of The Future of Power

“Lucid and engaging, this book seeks out voices from well-known academics and policymakers, along with experts whose work regularly bridges the gap between the worlds of international affairs and serious scholarship.”—Steve Reifenberg, Kellogg  Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame

“This timely volume is a ladder thrown across the yawning gap between academe and the policy world. It is packed with helpful, firsthand advice for those who might wish to cross over from those on both sides who have successfully made the journey.” —Jessica Mathews, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


 New and recent:

The Resilience of the Latin American Right, edited by Juan Pablo Luna and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser
Mobilizing Democracy: Globalization and Citizen Protest, by Paul Almeida


New and recent:

Disease Diplomacy: International Norms and Global Health Security, by Sara E. Davies, Adam Kamradt-Scott, and Simon Rushton
Defect or Defend: Military Responses to Popular Protests in Authoritarian Asia, by Terence Lee
Thinking beyond Boundaries: Transnational Challenges to U.S. Foreign Policy, edited by Hugh Liebert, John Griswold, and Isaiah Wilson III


Forthcoming:

 

 

 

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The Press Reads: African American Faces of the Civil War

Guest post by Ronald S. Coddington

Coddington Chandler

Silas Chandler (right) and Sgt. Andrew Martin Chandler, Company F, forty-fourth Mississippi Infantry. Tintype by unidentified photographer (c. 1861). Collection of Andrew Chandler Battaile.

The Library of Congress recently acquired a tintype of Silas Chandler and Sgt. Andrew Martin Chandler. To understand how master and slave came to pose for this photograph, The Washington Post spoke to Ron Coddington about the portrait, as this story appears in Coddington’s latest book, African American Faces of the Civil War. Throughout Black History Month, we will offer a series of excerpts from recent publications, and today we share a selection from African American Faces of the Civil War.

“He Aided His Wounded Master”

 On September 20, 1863, during the thick of the fight at the Battle of Chickamauga, a Union musket ball tore into the right ankle and leg of Confederate Sgt. Andrew Chandler. A surgeon examined the nineteen-year-old Mississippian as he lay on the battlefield, determined the wound serious, and sent him to a nearby hospital.

Soon afterward, the injured sergeant was joined by Silas, a family slave seven years his senior. Silas attended his young master as a body servant—one of thousands of slaves who served in this capacity during the war.

According to family history, surgeons decided to amputate the leg. Silas stepped in. A descendant explained: “Silas distrusted Army surgeons. Somehow he managed to hoist his master into a convenient boxcar.” They rode by rail to Atlanta, where Silas sent a request for help to Andrew’s relatives. An uncle came and brought both men home to Mississippi, where they had started out two summers earlier.

Back in July 1861, Andrew had enlisted in a local military company, the Palo Alto Confederates. It later became part of the Forty-fourth Mississippi Infantry. He left home with Silas, one of about thirty-six slaves owned by his widowed mother Louisa.

Born in bondage on the Chandler plantation in Virginia, Silas moved with the family to Mississippi at about age two. He grew up to become a talented carpenter. The pennies he earned doing woodworking for people outside the family were saved in a jar hidden in a barn, according to his descendants. About 1860, he wed Lucy Garvin in a slave marriage not recognized by law at the time. A light-skinned woman classified as an octoroon, or one-eighth black, Lucy was the illegitimate daughter of a mulatto house slave named Polly and an unnamed plantation owner. Some said Cherokee Indian blood coursed through Lucy’s veins.

The following year, Silas bid his wife farewell and went to war with Andrew. Silas shuttled back and forth from home to encampment with much-needed supplies, delivering them to Andrew wherever he was as the Forty-fourth moved through Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee. It is probable that it was Silas who brought word home to the Chandlers when Andrew fell into Union hands at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862 and wound up in the prisoner of war camp at Camp Chase, Ohio. Andrew received a parole five months later and, after being exchanged, returned to his regiment.

In 1863 at Chickamauga, three of every ten men of the Fortyfourth who went into battle became casualties, including Andrew.  Thanks to Silas, he avoided an amputation. According to one of Andrew’s grandsons, “A home town doctor prescribed less drastic measures and Mr. Chandler’s leg was saved.”

Andrew “was able to do Silas a service as well,” according to the family. During one military campaign, Silas “constructed a shelter for himself from a pile of lumber, the story goes. A number of calloused Confederate soldiers attempted to take Silas’ shelter away from him, and when he resisted threatened to take his life. At this point Mr. Chandler and his comrade Cal Weaver, came to Silas’ defense and threatened the marauders with the same kind of treatment they had offered Silas. This closed the argument.”

Silas left Andrew to serve another member of the Chandler family—Andrew’s younger brother Benjamin, a private in the Ninth Mississippi Cavalry. The switch may have happened at Benjamin’s enlistment in January 1864. At the time, Andrew was absent from his regiment, likely at home recuperating from his Chickamauga wound.

Benjamin and his fellow horse soldiers went up against Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s army group in Georgia and the Carolinas. A portion of the Ninth, including Benjamin, as their final assignment, formed part of a large escort for Jefferson Davis when the Confederate president fled Virginia after Richmond fell. On May 4, 1865, near Washington, Georgia, Davis separated from his escort and rode off with a much smaller force in an effort to move faster and attract less notice as federal patrols infiltrated the area. Benjamin was among those who were left behind. Benjamin surrendered on May 10. Silas was also there. Union troops captured President Davis at nearby Irwinsville, Georgia, the same day.

Silas returned to Mississippi, rejoined Lucy, and met his son William, who had been conceived while Silas was home after Andrew’s capture at Shiloh and was born in early 1863. Silas and Lucy had a total of twelve children, five of whom lived to maturity.

Silas established himself as a talented carpenter in the town of West Point, Mississippi. He taught the trade to his sons—there were at least four—and all of them worked together. “They built some of the finest houses in West Point,” noted a family member, who added that Silas and his boys constructed “houses, churches, banks and other buildings throughout the state.” In 1868, Silas and other former slaves erected a simple altar at which to celebrate their Baptist faith, near a cluster of bushes on land adjacent to property owned by Andrew and his family. They later replaced it with a wood-frame church. In 1896, Silas’s son William helped to build a new structure on the same site.

Silas remained active as a Baptist and also as a Mason. He lived within a few miles of Andrew and Benjamin, who raised families and prospered as farmers.
Benjamin died in 1909. Silas died ten years later at age eighty-two in September 1919. Andrew survived Silas by only eight months; he died in May 1920.

In 1994, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy conducted a ceremony at the 80 gravesite of Silas in recognition of his Civil War service. An iron cross and flag were placed next to his monument. This event prompted mixed reactions from Chandlers, black and white.

Myra Chandler Sampson wrote of her great-grandfather Silas: “He was taken into a war for a cause he didn’t believe in. He was dressed up like a Confederate soldier for reasons that may never be known.” She denounced the ceremony as “an attempt to rewrite and sugar-coat the shameful truth about parts of our American history.”

Andrew Chandler Battaile, great-grandson of Andrew, met Myra’s brother Bobbie Chandler at the ceremony. He said of the experience, “It was truly as if we had been reunited with a missing part of our family.”

Bobbie Chandler accepts the role of his great-grandfather. When asked about Silas and his connection to the Confederate army, he observed, “History is history. You can’t get by it.”

coddington_african_american_facesRonald S. Coddington is assistant managing editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education, editor and publisher of Military Images magazine, a contributing writer to the New York Times’s Disunion series, and a columnist for Civil War News. His trilogy of Civil War books, African American Faces of the Civil War, Faces of the Confederacy, and Faces of the Civil Warall published by Johns Hopkins University Press, combine compelling archival images with biographical stories to reveal the human side of the war. To read The Civil War Trust interview with Coddington click here.

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