LHC Newsletter 11 2014

Langston Hughes Center Newsletter
November 2014

Hello Everyone,

This is the e-newsletter for the Langston Hughes Center (LHC).  The Langston Hughes Center (formerly the Langston Hughes Resource Center, founded in 1998) is an academic research and educational center that is building upon the legacy and creative and intellectual insight of African American author, poet, playwright, folklorist and social critic, Langston Hughes.  The Center coordinates, strengthens and develops teaching, research and outreach activities in African American Studies, and the study of race and culture in American society at the University of Kansas and throughout the region.  Each month the LHC sends out an e-newsletter to inform you about upcoming events at KU and throughout the region, as well as provide you with any recent news of general interest to those concerned with the work of the Center.
See below for the latest LHC e-newsletter.  More information about our events and programs can be found on our website.  Please feel free to pass this information along to friends and colleagues.
In this newsletter:
  1. Upcoming Events: Haiti - Tragedy and Hope; Jessie B. Semple Brownbag; Place, Race, and Space Seminar; Urban Experience Seminar
  2. In the News: African American Literary Blog; Edward Baptist; America the Exceptional; Videos of Deadly Police Encounters; A Chosen Exile; The Negro Renaissance; 3 Decades of Deadly Police Shootings; Ali Mazrui; Loss of Black Wealth; The Making of Ferguson; Native Son; Ta-Nehisi Coates; Culture Worrier; Russell Wilson
Shawn Leigh Alexander
Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies
Director, Langston Hughes Center
University of Kansas 
Upcoming Events 
Humanities Lecture Series

 "Haiti: Tragedy and Hope" – Amy Wilentz

When:  November 3 @ 7:30 pm

Where:  Kansas Union, Woodruff Auditorium (University of Kansas, Lawrence Campus)

Cost per person: FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Sponsors of this Event: Hall Center for the Humanities
Jesse B. Semple Brownbag Series

 “Rehabilitation and Frustration: Richard Pryor and his Struggle with Hollywood Superstardom in the 1980s" – Ray Pence, University of Kansas
When:  Monday, November 10 @11:30 am - 1:00 pm (11:30 –12:00 social period and brownbag lunch)

Where:  Langston Hughes Center, Room 1, Bailey Hall (University of Kansas, Lawrence Campus)

Cost per person: FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Sponsors of this Event: Langston Hughes Center

About The Jesse B. Semple Brownbag Series:  The Jesse B. Semple Brownbag, every second Monday of each academic month, is an informal forum for the African Americanist community and those who are interested in the general study of race, culture, and American society. The forum discusses activities on campus, historical and current issues related to race, and culture and social relations in America. It offers opportunities for visiting scholars, KU faculty, and KU students to present their ongoing research.

Langston Hughes’ character Jesse B. Semple, or Simple first appeared in the Chicago Defender on February 13, 1943.  Semple became a voice, often in comic or satirical fashion, through which Hughes could comment on international relations, current events and the everyday concerns of the African American community.
Place, Race & Space Seminar 

 "Neither Straight Nor White: Remaking Gay History from the March on Washington to the AIDS Crisis" – Kevin Mumford, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
When:  November 10 @ 3:30 pm

Where: Hall Center for the Humanities, University of Kansas
Cost per person: Open to KU Faculty, Staff, and Graduate Students 

Sponsors of this Event:  Hall Center for the Humanities, Langston Hughes Center, Departments of African & African American Studies, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Political Science, and History  
The Urban Experience 

 "Black Women and the Politics of Urban Decline in Postwar St. Louis" – Keona Ervin, University of Missouri
When:  November 13 @ 3:30 pm

Where: Hall Center for the Humanities, University of Kansas
Cost per person: Open to KU Faculty, Staff, and Graduate Students 

Sponsors of this Event:  Hall Center for the Humanities

In The News

African American Literary Blog

Edward E. Baptist "The Half Has Never Been Told"
| October 1, 2014 | Talks At Google

Historian Edward E. Baptist visited Google's Cambridge, MA office to discuss his book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism. As he shows in the book, slavery and its expansion were central to the evolution and modernization of our nation in the 18th and 19th centuries, catapulting the US into a modern, industrial and capitalist economy. In the span of a single lifetime, the South grew from a narrow coastal strip of worn-out tobacco plantations to a sub-continental cotton empire. By 1861 it had five times as many slaves as it had during the Revolution, and was producing two billion pounds of cotton a year. It was through slavery and slavery alone that the United States achieved a virtual monopoly on the production of cotton, the key raw material of the Industrial Revolution, and was transformed into a global power rivaled only by England. 

Date of Talk: September 13, 2014

Watch the full program


America the Exceptional?

Patrick Rael | October 6, 2014 | African American Intellectual History Society Blog

If the recent discussion of Ed Baptist’s new book on capitalism and slavery has not been enough for you, check out another recent piece authored by the brilliant James Oakes. This time, Oakes deftly teases apart critical strands of the decades-old historical debate over the relationship between slavery and capitalism. Working through a critique of the corpus of Eugene Genovese, who argued that southern slavery constituted “pre-bourgeois” (i.e., not fully capitalistic) class relations, Oakes parses the terms of the debate, concluding that “the hyper-commodification of southern slave society looks more like an extreme embrace of ‘the values of the market’ rather than a repudiation of them.”

Videos of Deadly Police Encounters Grab the Media Spotlight, But Why?
Gene Demby | October 8, 2014 | NPR
If you've been following the news in recent months, you've seen a parade of stories in which unarmed men, usually but not always black, had calamitous encounters with police. In just the past two weeks, there was: an indictment in the shooting of a 68-year-old grandfather in his driveway; a motorist shot and injured as he tried to comply with an officer's request for his ID; and a drug suspect beaten with police officers' guns as he tried to surrender. It's become its own grim, politically polarizing genre of news story.
'A Chosen Exile': Black People Passing in White America
Karen Grigsby Bates | October 7, 2014 | NPR

From the time of slavery, some light-skinned African-Americans escaped racism by passing as white.  The new book, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life, explores what they lost.

Listen to the full program


Talks at the Schomburg: The New Negro Renaissance Beyond Harlem
| October 8, 2014 | Schomburg Center

Historians Davarian Baldwin and Minkah Makalani, editors of Escape from New York: The New Negro Renaissance Beyond Harlem discuss their new book.

Date of Talk: March 5, 2014

Watch the full program


ProPublica Analyzes 3 Decades of Deadly Police Shootings
| October 14, 2014 | NPR

Analysis shows young black males are at a higher risk of being shot dead by police than younger white males.

Listen to the full program


Death of a Towering Intellectual
Frenny Jowi | October 13, 2014 | BBC

Ali Mazrui, who has died at the age of 81, is regarded as one of Africa's foremost intellectuals. The BBC's Frenny Jowi looks back at how the Kenyan academic and political writer influenced a post-colonial generation.

Staggering Loss of Black Wealth
Nathalie Baptiste | October 13, 2014 | The American Prospect

Driving through Prince George’s County, Maryland, it’s not obvious that its towns and cities are at the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis in the Washington, D.C., region. In the town of Bowie, for instance, large colonial-style homes with attached two-car garages, spacious apartment buildings designed for families, and modern shopping centers line the streets. As in any other middle-class community, school-aged children chase each other in front yards while their parents monitor from the porch, and twentysomethings in workout gear jog the tree-lined streets. There’s no shortage of schools, community centers and places of worship, and if any homes are abandoned, it’s not glaringly obvious.

What sets Prince George’s County apart from other upscale regions is that most of its citizens are black. No other majority-black counties in the United States are even comparable in terms of numbers of educated citizens and middle-class incomes, but when the economy crumbled, so did the dreams of many homeowners living in Prince George’s. And despite promises of help by President Barack Obama and lawmakers, seven years after the housing bubble burst, the county’s foreclosure crisis has only slowed, not abated.

Read the full article


The Making of Ferguson

Richard Rothstein | October 15, 2014 | The American Prospect

In 1968, Larman Williams was one of the first African Americans to buy a home in the white suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. It wasn’t easy; when he first went to see the house, the real estate agent wouldn’t show it to him. Atypically, Williams belonged to a church with a white pastor, who contacted the agent on Williams’s behalf, only to be told that neighbors objected to sales to Negroes. But after the pastor then gathered the owner and his neighbors for a prayer meeting, the owner told the agent he was no longer opposed to a black buyer.

Williams had been living in the St. Louis ghetto and worked as an assistant school principal in Wellston, a black St. Louis suburb. His wife, Geraldine, taught in a state special education school. They could afford to live in middle-class Ferguson, and hoped to protect their three daughters from the violence of their St. Louis neighborhood. The girls would also get better educations in Ferguson than in Wellston, where Williams worked, because Ferguson’s stronger tax base provided more money per pupil than did Wellston’s; Ferguson could afford more skilled teachers, smaller classes, and extra enrichment programs.

Native Son Symposium
| October 22, 2014 | Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago

Discussion of Richard Wright’s Native Son after a special matinee performance of the all-new theatrical presentation of Richard Wright's classic novel "Native Son" on Thursday, October 9th at the Court Theater.

Ta-Nehisi Coates defines a new race beat
Chris lp | October 29, 2014 | Columbia Journalism Review
He is the most celebrated journalist writing about race today, and yet Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ideas are surprisingly unoriginal.  He would be first to say so.  Consider, for example, “The Case for Reparations,” Coates’ 16,000-word cover story for The Atlantic, where he is a national corespondent.  Published online in May, it was a close look at housing discrimination, such as redlining, that was really about the need for America to take a brutally honest look in the mirror and acknowledge its deep racial divisions.
Culture Worrier - Clarence Page in Conversation with Michael C. Dawson
| October 29, 2014 | Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago

Pulitzer Prize-winner Clarence Page discusses his new column collection, "Culture Worrier: Selected Columns 1984 – 2014: Reflections on Race, Politics and Social Change," with Michael C. Dawson, John D. MacArthur Professor of Political Science and Director, Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. 

Date of Talk: October 20, 2014
Seahawks’ Russell Wilson Controversy Shows Dangers of Racial Authenticity Tests
Kevin Cokley | November 1, 2014 | The American Prospect

Whether Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is “black enough” is beside the point. The real issue is why we are still talking about racial authenticity at all.

“My feeling on this—and it’s backed up by several interviews with Seahawks players—is that some of the black players think Wilson isn't black enough,” Mike Freeman writes at Bleacher Report, reporting on tensions between just-traded teammate Percy Harvin and Wilson, including a locker room reportedly divided into pro/con camps.  

“This is an issue that extends outside of football, into African-American society—though it's gotten better recently,” Freeman writes. “Well-spoken blacks are seen by some other blacks as not completely black. Some of this is at play.”

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Contact Information:

Langston Hughes Center
1440 Jayhawk Boulevard
Room 9 Bailey Hall
Lawrence, KS 66045-7574, USA
Phone: (785)864-5044
Fax: (785)864-5330
Shawn Leigh Alexander
Associate Professor of African & African-American Studies

NEH Summer Instittute

The Langston Hughes Center received a $180,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct a June 2017 summer institute for high school teachers, entitled "Teaching the 'Long Hot Summer' of 1967 and Beyond."  The project will be led by Shawn Alexander, Clarence Lang, and John Rury. See <http://www.summer67.dept.ku.edu/​>

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