With the help of several well read scholars and emerging millennial voices: Writer & activist Melanie Coco Mccoy (@), Hip Hop Artist & Professor, Timothy Welbeck (@TimothyWelbeck ) & Middle Tennessee State History Graduate student, Joshua Crutchfield (@Crutch4), I sought to compile a necessary list of books we felt every young African Americans should read. A list featuring a range of genres including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and autobiography. From Maya Angelou to Assata Shakur,many of these authors have been heralded with national awards in the United States. Stemming back to 1845 with Fredrick Douglass's "The Autobiography of Fredrick Douglass". It's these 10 titles have heavily who have contributed to contemporary narratives about the black experience across the globe.
Welcome to The Diaspora Book Club!
The Diaspora Book Club is a new book club for young adults (18-35) to explore the literary contributions of African-American authors and to connect young people nationally/abroad - around the purpose of reading and growing.
I decided to create the Diaspora Book Club because of a need I saw within our generation. Firstly, a lack of positive African American role models in mainstream culture that resonate with youth outside of sports and entertainment. Secondly, the disinterest by my generation in reading and the unfamiliarity of it's transformative power. And lastly, my desire to inspire people and bring people together around literacy - even if they are from the other side of the world!
The first book, we have decided to read is The Autobiography of Malcolm X - which is sure to be a winner! Want to join? Pick up the book and join in the conversation. We are doing so via Twitter (using the Hashtag #DiasporaBC) to share our qoutes, thoughts, and insights with every book we are reading. Exciting!
As if it were yesterday, I can recall nearly two semester's ago, an assignment I was given in African-American Lit. For the assignment, every student had to exposit one of several readings that demonstrated a mastery and authoritative voice of an author's text. As the books were being passed around, oddly, I felt a strong conviction to choose "I Know why the Caged Bird Sings".
After nearly a month and half of reading, I began to feel different. I was slowly be drawn in by the story Angelou was telling. I began to feel every nuance, every motif, every poetic metaphor of her life in Stamps that left me with the impression that I was on those dusty roads with her.
I was witnessing her innocence as a child. I was witnessing her curiosity about faith and family. I was witnessing her ambiguous relationship to racism in this country. Moreover, I was witnesses sing her awareness of self; despite her displacement, disruption, silence.
Quite naturally, after Caged Bird, I had a growth of sympathy; not only for Angelou, but for Black women as a whole. I began to sympathize with their rape, I began to sympathized with their silence, I was growing sympathetic to the difficulty of identity formation in a society that doesn't see their humanity, but instead, their usefulness for exploitation. Powerful, right?
Out of all the novels I've had the privilege to read, not many have given me such a lesson. Not only a lesson in my blackness, but my maleness. Maya Angelou revealed to me that regardless, of gender or race, we all have had things that have attempted to silence us. However, as Maya's life and writing has shown us, there is no cage with bars strong enough to conceal ones voice. That voice is the key that lead you to freedom.
I write this with a grateful heart and eyes full of tears:
Thank you Dr. Angelou.