As a kid, I loved to take the bus down Georgia Avenue and then walk. There was a tiny used-book store where I could look at books by black authors. I could see what photographs were in the windows of Scurlock studios. It was considered a dangerous area, but during the day it was full of life. I rode through there after the riots in 1968 and saw smoke still smoldering in many of the shop fronts. U Street was the cultural heart of the city. For blacks the restaurants and theaters served up the cream of black entertainers and sports figures: Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, the great jazz and blues stars. Ball players like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson could leave nearby Griffith Stadium and head out to U Street to celebrate. In WASHINGTON’S U STREET (Johns Hopkins Univ., $29.95), Blair A. Ruble takes us back to the days before Jim Crow, when U street was a mixed community, then looks at the post-Jim Crow era, when it was central to black cultural and social life, and moves on to today, and its spectacular revitalization.

Washington's U Street: A Biography Cover Image
ISBN: 9780801898006
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Johns Hopkins University Press - October 20th, 2010

Washington's U Street: A Biography Cover Image
ISBN: 9781421405940
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Johns Hopkins University Press - January 15th, 2012

My experience with history is one of units divided neatly and chronologically, with key figures guiding the helm of change. In CHILDREN OF FIRE (Hill and Wang, $30), Thomas C. Holt, a prominent historian at the University of Chicago, creates an intimate portrait of history as a lived moment, experienced by individuals. He opens his history of African-Americans when the first Africans were sold from a Dutch man-of-war in 1619 and continues through the twenty-first century and the historic election of the first African-American U.S. president. Although decisive figures such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama populate Holt’s narrative, so, too, do little known men and women, caught in the shifts of culture, policy, and social norms that have defined race relations and institutions of oppression in the U.S. Holt’s generational portrait is a nuanced look at lives mired in history, lives more complex and dynamic than the flattened accounts of history textbooks.

Children of Fire: A History of African Americans Cover Image
ISBN: 9780809034178
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Hill and Wang - September 27th, 2011