City Council Reads – Rob Johnson, District 4

This past November, Seattle swore in a new Mayor and City Councilmember, and we here at ShelfTalk thought this would be a great opportunity to continue our series of posts in which we invited your representatives to share books that have meant a lot to them. This time, we asked them “What book was most influential in your life or career and why?” This week, Councilmember Rob Johnson, representing District 4, Northeast Seattle.

“What book was most influential in your life or career and why?”

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein made a huge impact on me, and continues to shape my work as I serve as the chair of the Seattle City Council’s Planning, Land Use & Zoning committee. This book represents a powerful examination of the way 20th century land use and zoning policy in America deepened the harmful divide of segregation, Continue reading “City Council Reads – Rob Johnson, District 4”

Where I’m Bound: African Americans and Migration in Art and Life

Click here to view Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series in the SPL catalogIt began with a poem! Reading the Langston Hughes poem One-Way Ticket inspired Jacob Lawrence to make a sketch of a train station waiting room filled with travelers, travelers like the ones seeking The Warmth of Other Suns. As a boy who became an artist, he knew about traveling. Lawrence moved from city to city and house to house until his mother, finally, found a place in Harlem for them to call home.

I was part of the migration,“ he says “as was my family… I was only
about 10, 11, or 12. I didn’t realize that we were even a part of that….I didn’t
realize what was happening until the middle of the 1930s, and that’s
when the Migration series began to take form in my mind.” 

In 1941, at the age of 23, Lawrence began painting works in a series that would become known as The Migration Series. Bookended by World War I and World War II, the work portrays an exodus, at once sweeping and, yet, singular in its focus. Long before his wet brush met a dry canvas, Lawrence had steeped himself in the works of writers and intellectuals focused on the Black migration and the role of the artist in art and culture. Where did he do so? At the library! The New York Public Library’s Division of Negro History, Literature and Prints, now known as The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, was instrumental in the artist’s development and formation of the work.  Continue reading “Where I’m Bound: African Americans and Migration in Art and Life”

Radical Reading for February

~posted by Diane

I’ve always been proud to have been a college student in the 1970’s when the campuses were hotbeds of protest, hippies, and monumental societal change. Those turbulent and triumphant times written about in recent children’s books allow us to relive those moments with awe. Sometimes children’s books are really best appreciated by adults, especially those of us who lived through it all. They also stand as tributes to the sacrifices and heroism deservedly celebrated during Black History Month. So for adults and children alike, here are some suggestions: Continue reading “Radical Reading for February”

Movie Mondays: African American Films you may have missed

~posted by Frank

2014 was another banner year for African American films and filmmakers, capped off by Chris Rock’s hysterical turn as star and director of Top Five and Selma, which has earned a Best Picture nod at this year’s Academy Awards as well as a nearly perfect 99% score on Rotten Tomatoes. While you’re waiting for these on DVD, check out these fine features. Continue reading “Movie Mondays: African American Films you may have missed”

Civil Rights in the 1940s: When Seattle began to grow up

photo used with permission, Museum of History & Industry, Post-Intelligencer CollectionThe 1940’s were times of change for Seattle, as the world war and social pressures associated with it brought the beginnings of maturity to the city. Seattle’s African American citizens experienced much of this change directly. Populations from the south, and elsewhere in the country, were drawn to better-paying war work in Seattle and brought cultural conflict. Discriminatory housing practices meant crowded living conditions in often substandard housing. Continue reading “Civil Rights in the 1940s: When Seattle began to grow up”