African American Studies

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Archive for the ‘Faculty Books and Publications’ Category

Mavericks, Money, and Men: The AFL, Black Players, and the Evolution of Modern Football

Posted on: May 3rd, 2016 by erabadie

Mavericks bookBy Charles K. Ross, professor of history and director of African American Studies
Temple University Press, 2016

The American Football League, established in 1960, was innovative both in its commitment to finding talented, overlooked players—particularly those who played for historically black colleges and universities—and in the decision by team owners to share television revenues.

In Mavericks, Money and Men, football historian Charles Ross chronicles the AFL’s key events, including Buck Buchanan becoming the first overall draft pick in 1963, and the 1965 boycott led by black players who refused to play in the AFL-All Star game after experiencing blatant racism. He also recounts how the success of the AFL forced a merger with the NFL in 1969, which arguably facilitated the evolution of modern professional football.

Ross shows how the league, originally created as a challenge to the dominance of the NFL, pressured for and ultimately accelerated the racial integration of pro football and also allowed the sport to adapt to how African Americans were themselves changing the game.


“Although other writers have explored the history of the American Football League, Mavericks, Money, and Men is the most extensive treatment of the league to date. Linking the history of the AFL with a number of key developments in American society and culture, Ross skillfully synthesizes an array of personal memoirs with a wide range of compelling anecdotes. Archival materials also illuminate the internal workings of the AFL. Mavericks, Money, and Men is a valuable narrative history that captures key moments in the development of the nation’s most popular sport.”
—Gregory Kaliss, author of Men’s College Athletics and the Politics of Racial Equality

“[T]he emergence of the American Football League (AFL) created an excitement unmatched in professional sports…. Ross focuses on the league’s recruitment of black players from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) such as Grambling State, Florida A&M, and North Carolina Central…. [Ross] aptly documents the evolution of the current NFL and how the integration of professional football paralleled the social integration of American life. VERDICT An important chapter in U.S. racial history of the 1960s. Recommended for all collections.”
—Library Journal

Dr. Ross is the author of Outside the Lines: African Americans and the Integration of the National Football League (NYU Press, 2001) and the editor of Race and Sport: The Struggle for Equality On and Off the Field (University Press of Mississippi). 

The West African Slave Plantation: A Case Study

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by erabadie

By Bashir Salau, associate professor of history at the University of Mississippi
Palgrave/MacMillan (2011)

The West African Slave PlantationThe literature on Atlantic slavery is rich with accounts of plantation complexes in the Americas, but to date none have been produced for West Africa. In this valuable study, Mohammed Bashir Salau helps to address this lacunae by looking at the plantation operations at Fanisau in Hausaland, and in the process provides an innovative look at one piece of the historically significant Sokoto Caliphate. The case study calls into question the assumption that servile institutions in West Africa were “serf villages” and not “slave plantations,” and argues that manumission was less common, at least in the Caliphate, than generally believed. Also, it provides evidence on the key role of the emir of Kano (Abbas) and various merchants in the transition to groundnut cultivation and the significant use of slave labor by large estate holders in the early twentieth century.


“Salau’s study of a plantation complex in the Sokoto caliphate fills an important gap in the global studies of slavery and plantation systems. It is an exciting exploration into a system of agricultural production, the plantation, that has not been given sufficient consideration in African history; nor have we had sufficient African case studies to allow useful comparative studies with New World plantations. It uses a rich trove of oral histories, collected from among people who were either themselves slaves or who supervised slaves, to document the ways that African plantations were managed and slaves controlled and resisted. This is a richly textured study that is a major contribution to our understanding of plantations as economic and social systems and the agency of slaves who, in this case, were drawn into the cash crop economy of a West African colony.”
—Carolyn Brown, Professor, Department of History, Rutgers University

“This book is an important contribution to knowledge. By and large, Africanists do not have the data to write the kind of study which is available for village and plantation studies in the West Indies or the United States. Salau has, however, an exceptional source consisting of a large fund of oral interviews and a significant number of written sources. It makes it possible for him to provide a detailed account of how a rural plantation in Hausaland operated. I do not know of any other study which details the daily life of the slave economy in Africa and makes clear how the court interfaced with the rural economy. Such village studies are crucial for any kind of comparative analysis, and though there are other village studies, none give such an accurate picture of life on a slave plantation.”
—Martin Klein, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Toronto

The Price of Defiance: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by erabadie

April 25, 2009 | By UM Communications Staff

CharlesEaglesbookMany facts about the integration of the University of Mississippi have remained unknown to the public for more than 45 years. That’s because key details of the story, including James Meredith’s daily life as a student, have been locked away in file cabinets and unexplored archives.

That is, until now.

With his new book, “The Price of Defiance: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss” (University of North Carolina Press), UM history professor Charles Eagles provides an unprecedented look at the circumstances and events leading up to that fateful day in October 1962, when Meredith became the university’s first black student.

“It is the most important event in the history of the university,” said Eagles, UM’s William Winter Professor of History. “Every book on the civil rights movement or the Kennedy administration discusses it.”

In “Price of Defiance,” Eagles delves into Meredith’s experience as a student, devoting two chapters to the topic. How detailed? For starters, Meredith lived in a corner apartment of Baxter Hall. “It was at the very edge of campus,” Eagles said. “Part of that was for his own security, though.”

Syndicated Mississippi columnist Bill Minor, who reported on the state during those tumultuous times, wrote in a recent column: “None of the many books produced since the 1962 Ole Miss-Meredith crisis paints, as Eagles does, the intricate portrait of who James Howard Meredith really was. His work provides a perspective only a dedicated historian can do.”

Former Gov. William Winter became a champion of moderation in resolving Mississippi’s racial issues during the 1950s and 1960s, a legacy that lives on at UM’s William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. As an eyewitness to the turbulence during those years, Winter hails “Price of Defiance” as a definitive account of Meredith’s admission.

“If one is seeking a single book that details most vividly the fanatical intensity of the struggle to maintain racial segregation in the South, this is that volume,” Winter said. “It is a remarkable and well-researched chronicle of the historical, political and social forces that lay behind the violent confrontation at Ole Miss.”

Eagles’ latest work is certainly not the first book about UM’s integration. What sets it apart is that in his meticulous research dating back more than 15 years, Eagles uncovered sources and documents that revealed untold aspects of the story. From the beginning, he benefited from unprecedented access to university files, made available by former UM Provost and English Professor Gerald Walton. The story Eagles discovered became increasingly large and complex.

“One strand would raise questions that caused me to look at other issues,” Eagles said. “It became a huge puzzle, and I had to figure out how it all fit together.”

In sorting out the pieces, Eagles uncovered how UM became of symbol of racial segregation for the entire state.

“I learned the power of white supremacy in Mississippi in the 1950s and 1960s; the public pressure on the institution to maintain segregation was tremendous,” Eagles said. “The uprising was a culmination of a long line of controversies dealing with race, politics and the university that had been building for more than a decade.”


2010 Lillian Smith Book Award, Southern Regional Council
2010 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Nonfiction
2009 Mississippi Humanities Council Special Recognition Award
2010 McLemore Prize, Mississippi Historical Society

Seems Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by erabadie

By Adam Gussow, associate professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi
University Of Chicago Press, 2001


He is the author of Mister Satan’s Apprentice: A Blues Memoir and has been a professional blues harmonica player for many years, touring widely in the 1990s as part of the Harlem-based duo Satan and Adam.

Winner of the 2004 C. Hugh Holman Award from the Society for the Study of Southern Literature.

Seems Like Murder Here offers a revealing new account of the blues tradition. Far from mere laments about lost loves and hard times, the blues emerge in this provocative study as vital responses to spectacle lynchings and the violent realities of African American life in the Jim Crow South. With brilliant interpretations of both classic songs and literary works, from the autobiographies of W. C. Handy, David Honeyboy Edwards, and B. B. King to the poetry of Langston Hughes and the novels of Zora Neale Hurston, Seems Like Murder Here will transform our understanding of the blues and its enduring power.

Journeyman’s Road: Modern Blues Lives From Faulkner’s Mississippi to Post-9/11 New York

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by erabadie

By Adam Gussow, associate professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi
University of Tennessee Press, 2007

Journeyman’s RoadGussowREVIEWS

Adam Gussow has lived the Blues life. By some miracle he has also lived to write about it. Whether his subject is a novel by Faulkner or the romance of buying an amp, his prose is as dynamic as a guitar solo by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
—Krin Gabbard, Author of Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture

Adam not only knows the blues…he feels it. Read this book and you will too.
—Shemekia Copeland

This book bridges the seemingly disparate worlds of the blues bar and the college seminar as few, if any, others do—eloquently arguing that blues music and blues communities can be significant galvanizing forces in the human experience.
—Roger Wood, author of Texas Zydeco and Down In Houston: Bayou City Blues

Journeyman’s Road offers a bold new vision of where the blues have been in the course of the twentieth century and what they have become at the dawn of the new millennium: a world music rippling with postmodern contradictions. Author Adam Gussow brings a unique perspective to this exploration. Not just an award-winning scholar and memoirist, he is an accomplished blues harmonica player, a Handy award nominee and veteran of the international club and festival circuit. With this unusual depth of experience, Gussow skillfully places blues literature in dialogue with the music that provokes it, vibrantly articulating a vital American tradition.

Journeyman’s Road tells unfamiliar stories about a popular American art form, takes contrarian positions, explodes familiar mythologies, and frames the contemporary blues scene in bold, new ways. Taking its title from Gussow’s self-described status as a “journeyman,”-a musician who has completed his apprenticeship and is well on his way to becoming a master-this new book brings together articles that Gussow wrote for publications such as Blues Access and Harper’s, as well as critical scholarly essays, including the first comprehensive examination of William Faulkner’s relationship with the blues.

At the heart of Gussow’s story is his own unlikely yet remarkable streetside partnership with Harlem bluesman Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee, a musical collaboration marked not just by a series of polarities-black and white, Mississippi and Princeton, hard-won mastery and youthful apprenticeship-but by creative energies that pushed beyond apparent differences to forge new dialogues and new sounds.

Undercutting familiar myths about the down-home sources of blues authenticity, Gussow celebrates New York’s mongrel blues scene: the artists, the jam sessions, the venues, the street performers, and the eccentrics. At once elegiac and forward-looking, Journeyman’s Road offers a collective portrait of the New York subculture struggling with the legacy of 9/11 and healing itself with the blues.

Filled with photographs and complete with a comprehensive bibliography, Journeyman’s Road is an expedition through the evolution and culture of the blues, a trip filled with the genre’s characteristic collisions and contradictions, paradoxes and multiplicities, innovative calls and often unexpected responses.


Telling Our Stories: Continuities & Divergences in Black Autobiographies

Posted on: December 10th, 2015 by erabadie

By Adetayo Alabi, associate professor of English

Telling Our Stories: Continuities and Divergences in Black Autobiographies by Adetayo Alabi,

Telling Our Stories: Continuities and Divergences in Black Autobiographies by Adetayo Alabi, Palgrave/Macmillan, 2005.

Telling Our Stories (Palgrave/MacMillan, 2005) investigates the continuities and divergences in selected Black autobiographies from Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. The stories of slaves, creative writers, and political activists are discussed both as texts produced by individuals who are products of specific societies and as interconnected books. The book identifies influences of environmental and cultural differences on the texts while it adopts cross-cultural and postcolonial reading approaches to examine the continuities and divergences in them.


“Black is the color of the autobiographies that Adetayo Alabi rereads in Telling Our Stories. Slaves, creative writers, and political activists, the self-conscious narrators in writing and through readers create communities and establish continuities – across both centuries and continents, from the African slave trade to the United States civil rights movement and the Caribbean ‘lionhearted gal.’ Alabi’s radical reactivation of autobiography as a genre of resistance and mobilization is a compelling inquiry into a critical past and on behalf of an even more crucial promise.”
—Barbara Harlow, The University of Texas at Austin

“Alabi’s book is a long overdue and most welcome addition to the scholarly library on ‘the African diaspora.’ A major distinguishing mark of this field of study is the exploration of the links between regional segments of the Black world, in terms of continuities and divergences in their recognition of their common racial backgrounds and histories. Alabi makes two other valuable contributions to this field: one, an inclusion of oral African texts in his discussion of the genre; and two, an especially welcome interrogation of the concept of ‘autobiography’ employed in Western discourses of the genre. Now I am finally ready to teach the course I have been planning for!”
—Isidore Okpewho, State University of New York, Binghamton

“The book offers a dexterous analysis of three fundamental terms of modern black self definition: individuality, communality, and resistance. Alabi teaches readers of black autobiography how tropes of individualism dwells in narratives of the collective.”
—Adélékè Adéèkò, University of Colorado, Boulder

“This book theorizes on testimonial narratives from both sides of the Atlantic. Race, class, and gender go “marching on” in this significant cross-cultural analysis. Telling Our Stories convenes a trans-Atlantic exegetical festival with familiar voices of modern griots such as Nelson Mandela, Wole Soyinka, Frederick Douglass, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, and Derek Walcott. Shifting the focus of creative burden from self to community, and their interface, the p0testimonial narrative embodies the oral-written agency, signaling a celebration of both political resistance and innovation. With the publication of this substantial comparative work, Adetayo Alabi has dared to enter the often dreaded forest of a thousand critical dis-junctures—carefully synthesizing in order to illuminate our understanding of naming, place, and identity in African and African diasporan discourse and cultures.”
—Niyi Afolabi, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

“This is a solid contribution to Black autobiographical discourse. Its unique strength is in the bridge it builds between the African and the diasporan. It is a book that shows the autobiographical genre as central to understanding the life continuities, the survival, and the identity of the Black person in postimperial Africa and its diaspora. It is the work of a scholar whose knowledge of Black oral and written traditions and of contemporary western theories provides him formidable skills in handling the materials. It is a must read for teachers, students, and cultural theorists.”
—Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allah, Western Illinois University

Adetayo Alabi teaches Postcolonial and International Literatures at the University of Mississippi. He published entries in the Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Literatures and in The Companion to African Literatures. He has also published several chapters in books, including Ogoni’s Agonies: Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Crisis in Nigeria, The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities, and Marvels of the African World: African Cultural Patrimony, New World Connections, and Identities; and in journals like Liwuram, African Literature Today, and In-Between.

Race and Sport: The Struggle for Equality On and Off the Field

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by erabadie
Race and Sport The Struggle for Equality on and off the Field Edited by Charles K. Ross

Race and Sport
The Struggle for Equality on and off the Field, Edited by Charles K. Ross

Edited by Charles K. Ross, director of African American Studies and professor of history at the University of Mississippi, this anthology from the University Press of Mississippi (2006) is an examination of the connection between race and sport in America with essays by John M. Carroll, Gerald R. Gems, Rita Liberti, Michael E. Lomax, Patrick B. Miller, Kenneth Shrophsire and Scott Brooks.

Even before the desegregation of the military and public education and before blacks had full legal access to voting, racial barriers had begun to fall in American sports. This collection of essays shows that for many African Americans it was the world of athletics that first opened an avenue to equality and democratic involvement.

Race and Sport showcases African Americans as key figures making football, baseball, basketball, and boxing internationally popular, though inequalities still exist today.

Among the early notables discussed is Fritz Pollard, an African American who played professional football before the National Football League established a controversial color barrier. Another, the boxer Sugar Ray Robinson, exemplifies the black American athlete as an international celebrity. African American women also played an important role in bringing down the barriers, especially in the early development of women’s basketball. In baseball, both African American and Hispanic players faced down obstacles and entered the sports mainstream after World War II. One essay discusses the international spread of American imperialism through sport. Another shows how mass media images of African American athletes continue to shape public perceptions.

Although each of these six essays explores a different facet of sports in America, together they comprise an analytical examination of African American society’s tumultuous struggle for full participation both on and off the athletic field.

Professor Ross is the author of Outside the Lines: African Americans and the Integration of the National Football League.

Ropes: Poems by Derrick Herriell

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by erabadie

Derrick Harriell, assistant professor in English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi, won the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters 2014 Poetry Award for his collection of poems, Ropes, focused on the lives of black boxers in America. Cotton (Aquarius Press/Willow Books, 2010) was his first collection of poems.


Ropes: Poems by Derrick Harriell, Aquarius Press/Willow Books

Ropes: Poems by Derrick Harriell, Aquarius Press/Willow Books

“Promised Jim Crow/don’t go in the ring,/that the language of/the fourteenth amendment lies/ within those ropes. Long before Jackie Robinson bravely entered major league hatred, African Americans tied cultural pride, anxiety and politick to angry fists buffered with cotton. Derrick Harriell has mined the human history of lives perpetually in fight and woven a gutbucket stench of ghetto wail and back alley holler survival. The work of these four rounds, the transparent employment of voice and source, working the head, body, groin and knees, is a flurry of converging dialogues, real and cleverly imagined, in conversation with self, God, Uncle Sam, other Black pugilists and the women who adorn these boxers as trinket and stain. Jack Johnson, from Leavenworth, writes to Joe Louis We take turns dying. Myth, truth, lies and the substance of Black testosterone in viscous, historically-textured sonics, Ropes confirms Derrick Harriell is among the finest young poets in the country.”
—Quraysh Ali Lansana, author of mystic turf and Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community

“In 4 rounds, Derrick Harriell tours us through the cultural history of boxing, from Mike Tyson and Joe Frazier to one of the first African American pugilists, writing from 1855. These richly detailed persona poems are spoken by boxers and also the journalists, cutmen, and girlfriends who surround the ring. Harriell’s nuanced ear conveys not just the intimacies of a sport but the intimacies of the human spirit. Ropes is a knock out.”
Beth Ann Fennelly, professor of English and director of the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, and author of Tender Hooks and Open House

Cotton: Poems by Derrick Harriell

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by erabadie
Cotton, Aquarius Press/Willow Books, by Derrick Harriell

Cotton, Aquarius Press/Willow Books, by Derrick Harriell

The first collection of poems by Derrick A. Harriell, assistant professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi, Cotton, was published by Aquarius Press/Willow Books in 2010.


“In his remarkable debut collection, Cotton, Derrick Harriell has created a mural in poems. The characters that inhabit this vivid tableau step into an active third dimension and allow us to witness the vicissitudes of their daily struggles, triumphs large and small, private desires. The community here is anchored by a specific Midwestern, African-American family which, in spite of both external and internal challenges, maintains its unity, however precarious at times. Death, passion, humor, mother wit, history, place, these are the colors that Harriell mixes and applies with such artistry that readers may not be so sure if they are watching a particular world or if that world is watching them. Harriell is among America’s most exciting new voices in poetry.”
—Maurice Kilwein Guevara

“All African Americans have a historic relationship with cotton. The southern United States was once the world s major supplier of cotton, King Cotton. It fueled the 19th Century s need for increasing the slave trade. The migrations of the freedmen could never put distance to that fact. Derrick Harriell s poems are the doors in the neighborhoods where they settled. The people of the streets, the houses, and the bars live in these poems. The personal family history of blues and redemptions are woven in the fabric, too. Both, noble and wicked traditions are revealed in a rich credible vernacular, a musical voice, like a storyteller sitting in your kitchen or on the barstool beside you testifying to the significant particulars, situations of poetic truths, the edgy full dimensions deep within the culture. Cotton is a stirring debut, and Derrick Harriell is a blues poet.”
—Gary Copeland Lilley, Author of The Subsequent Blues

Derrick Harriell was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He holds a Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a MFA in Creative Writing from Chicago State University. He is an assistant professor of Creative Writing for the Department of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi. He formerly taught Creative Writing at UW-Milwaukee. He has presented in conferences such as the Idlewild Writers Conference and will present at Chicago State University in 2013. A former assistant poetry editor for Third World Press, Harriell served as poetry editor for The Cream City Review. A Pushcart Prize Nominee, Harriell’s poems have appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, including The Cream City Review, Reverie, the Lamplighter Review and Main Street Rag.

Outside the Lines: African Americans and the Integration of the National Football League

Posted on: December 9th, 2015 by erabadie

By Charles K. Ross, associate professor of history and director of African American Studies at the University of Mississippi

Outside the Lines by Charles K. Ross, NYU PressOutside the LinesNYU Press (2001), traces how sports laid a foundation for social change long before the judicial system formally recognized the inequalities of racial separation. Integrating sports teams to include white and black athletes alike, the National Football League served as a microcosmic fishbowl of the highs and lows, the trials and triumphs, of racial integration.

Watching a football game on a Sunday evening, most sports fans do not realize the profound impact the National Football League had on the civil rights movement. Similarly, in a sport where seven out of ten players are black, few are fully aware of the history and contributions of their athletic forebears. Among the touchdowns and tackles lies a rich history of African American life and the struggle to achieve equal rights.

Although the Supreme Court did not reverse their 1896 decision of “separate but equal” in the Plessy v Ferguson case until more than fifty years later, sports laid a foundation for social change long before our judicial system formally recognized the inequalities of racial separation. Integrating sports teams to include white and black athletes alike, the National Football League served as a microcosmic fishbowl of the highs and lows, the trials and triumphs, of racial integration.

In this chronicle of black NFL athletes, Charles K. Ross has given us the story of the Jackie Robinsons of American football.


“Ross provides a concise account of the pioneers who integrated pro football in the early part of the century and those who helped reintegrate the game in the era of World War II. It is a heroic yet tragic story ably told. One hopes the book might convince the pro football establishment to honor some of these stalwart athletes and coaches by enshrining them in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
—John M. Carroll, Lamar University, author of Fritz Pollard: Pioneer in Racial Advancement and Red Grange and the Rise of Modern Football

“Informative . . . Ross has opened some important doors.”
American Historical Review

“Charles Ross’ stellar research clearly demonstrates that the African American struggle for merit and equality not only extends to the playing field but has, in fact, long defined the game of professional football. A must read for students of the game, from casual gridiron enthusiasts to scholars alike.”
—C. Keith Harrison

“…offers an interesting recitation of the on-again-off-again participation of blacks in the early years of pro football.”
The Baltimore Sun

“An important analysis for all who care about the African American experience in professional sports. Significant not only for the history it tells, but for the questions it raises about race relations in football as an industry and as a United States institution.”
—Michael E. Lomax