Here are books you might begin or deepen your understanding of the African American experience that The Long Black Line is dedicated to preserving as part of the American experience. This history is multicultural, rural in its focus and this history is part of the great historical events that define America since its beginning. Enjoy reading about the life, times and the people that built America. This is an America that is fast disappearing. These books allow us to keep the spirit of these people alive in our collective memories.

TITLE: BACKWOODSMEN: Stockmen and Hunter along a Big Thicket Valley

AUTHOR: Thadd Sitton

PUBLISHER: University of Oklahoma Press
Norman and London (1995)

SYNOPSIS: Presents  a detailed social history of the back country stockmen , hunters, and woodsmen of the Neches River in southeastern Texas. Like parts of Appalachia , the Neches Valley was a cultural survival area. Rural allowed livestock to run free to forage for themselves in the river bottoms and pine uplands.

TITLE: The Land of Bears and Honey

AUTHOR: Joe C. Truett, Daniel W Lay

PUBLISHER: University of Texas Press, Austin (1984)

SYNOPSIS: East Texas once was land rich in woods and wildlife, with contiguous miles of upland forests, prairies, grassy glades and fertile bottomlands. Beneath the shade of magnolias and whilte oaks and towering pines, the woods come to life with foxes, deer, raccoons, gray squirrels, wild turkeys. The skies welcomed birds now unseen_ the ivory billed woodpecker, the passenger pigeon, the Carolina parakeet. The streams and rivers were filled with catfish, “trout” and perch. Here the early visitors and settlers found a literal land of bears and honey, ready to sustain them.

TITLE: Up From Slavery

AUTHOR: Booker T Washington (The Autobiography of)  

PUBLISHER: Carol Publishing Group (1997)

SYNOPSIS: It begins “I was born a slave” and chronicles and amazing life of Booker T Washington who founded Tuskegee University and became the most celebrated educator  and potentially African American at the turn of the 20th century. He gave a famous speech in 1895 which has became possible one of the most controversial speeches on how African Americans should address the bitter racism of this period of American history. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the struggles that African American families faced who had lived through slavery and emancipation.

TITLE: W.E.B Dubois

AUTHOR: David Levering Lewis

PUBLISHER: Henry Holt and Company (2000)

SYNOPSIS: This Pulitzer Prize winner is the second volume of Lewis’s biography of W.E.B Dubois. This biography tells how Dubois became the voice of Black America. It chronicles the last 44 years of his life starting with the end of World War II and ends with his self imposed exile. Ultimately Dubois became the accepted voice versus Booker T Washington. It was a debate that continues today on the path for African Americans in the 21st century.

TITLE: African American Historic Places

EDITOR: Beth Savage

PUBLISHER: The National Park Service (1994)

SYNOPSIS: Many will be surprised at the number of homes and places that are listed on the National Register Of Historic Places. This book list 800 places. There are today most likely many more. In fact no Rosenwald Schools are included in the list. Possibly more schools are listed today or possibly the fact that they were called Rosenwald Schools named after Julius Rosenwald the industrialist caused them not to be listed as African American historic places. The fact that African Americans built these schools entitles them to be listed along with the many churches which were the organizers of the building movement.  Even so this is a fascinating look at living history close to where anyone lives.  

TITLE: Walking With the Wind (A Memoir of the Movement)

AUTHOR: John Lewis (with Michael D’Orso)

PUBLISHER: A Harvest Book (1998)

SYNOPSIS: John Lewis the Civil Rights pioneer and Congressman chronicles his life in the civil rights struggle. Of particular interest to us is his life growing up in rural Pike County Alabama in the midst of the cotton economy of the south and the poverty it fostered for African Americans. Yet John Lewis gives an optimistic telling of growing up in the rural south and the wooden school building he went to school in which was a Rosenwald school.  

TITLE: Remembering Jim Crow

EDITOR: William H. Chafe, Raymond Gavins, Robert Korstad

PUBLISHER: The New Press (2001)

SYNOPSIS: To understand how these school came to be the concept and reality of Segregation needs to be understood. This 2002 Lillian Smith Book Award Winner is a series of interviews of those who lived in this world that has been covered over quickly by an American embarrassed by the what this world looked like and tried to accomplish. An interesting way to get through this dense book of over 72 interviews is to go to appendix C in the back and pick the interview you might find interesting by age and location.

TITLE: Freedom Colonies

AUTHOR: Thadd Sitton

PUBLISHER: University of Texas Press (2005)

SYNOPSIS: The title of this book is “Independent Black Texans in the Time of Jim Crow. This is a great book that gives you a wonderful look at a world that has disappeared for all people regardless of race. This is book about how African American rural communities came to be and came to thrive after emancipation. If you wonder what actually happened after a people became free, this book is about how people got busy organizing their daily lives. It is a fascinating read that fills gaps you didn’t realize you had.   

TITLE: Julius Rosenwald

AUTHOR: Peter M. Ascoli

PUBLISHER: Indiana University Press (2006)

SYNOPSIS: Peter Ascoli is the great grandson of Julius Rosewald the Jewish industrialist who devoted his life and considerable organizational skills to the great school movement. Peter makes this a great read even though it has its share of facts and figures and Rosenwald, the head of Sears & Roebuck, is not a first glance fascinating material. Peter does a great job with the meeting of Booker T Washington and Julius Rosenwald and how their relationship turned into this amazing movement that built 5,000 schools. This book is even more amazing because he captures the early 20th century attitudes so well  where a partnership of this sort between an former slave and a northern business man would be impossible to conceive of much less have the magical results that it did.  

TITLE: Love Cemetery, Unburying The Secret History of Slaves

AUTHOR: China Galland

PUBLISHER: Harper One (2007)

SYNOPSIS: A fascinating book about Love Cemetery in Harrison County in East Texas. Love is a slave cemetery almost lost to antiquity containing the remains not only of slaves for men and women who were freed in 1965 and eventually became land owners despite the odds against them during a time of lynching and Jim Crow legislation. There is a wonderful account of the Wiley College Debating team of the recent film “The Great Debaters”.

TITLE: Cane River

AUTHOR: Lalita Tademy 2001

PUBLISHER: Warner Books

SYNOPSIS: A New York Times Bestseller and Oprah Book Club selection in 2002. A beautiful and sad fictionalized story of an actual family genealogy. This is the story of a bi-racial America before and after Emancipation in central Louisiana along the Cane River. This describes a world in which slavery as a way of life corrupts and threatens to ruins generations of lives. It offers a tantalizing possibility of abracial reconciliation that might have been possible between the time of Emancipation and the enactment of Jim Crow Laws that would define race relations for 100 years. Whites, free Blacks and slaves sort their way through a multiracial world that is the result of power as; much as it is because of love. Ms Tademy’s portrait of a generation of black women who must come to terms with the limits of their power as they produce multiracial children is a view into an America that is still being sorted out today.


Herman Wright and Karen Stolz are co writing three historical books which are based on real people and their history as told to Herman or researched extensively. Herman enhances the books with stories that tie together the actual facts.

The books tell a story of African American history in the first half of the 20th century focusing on his family from Mt Union and the people who supported their transition from the farm to success in the world. It is the story of two generations, It is about the inter connectedness of people and the shoulders we all stand on to go forward in life.

Karen Stolz is an accomplished writer with two successfully published novels. She is currently a professor of creative writing at Pittsburgh State University in Pittsburg, Kansas.

Karen and Herman have been friends for over twenty years.


Set in a small town in Texas in the 1960s, where there “wasn’t a lot to pick from summer job-wise: counter girl at Jerry’s Dairy King, shampoo girl at Babs’s Tint ‘n’ Clip,” or the maid job at the Bluebonnet Motel, WORLD OF PIES (Hyperion; June 14, 2000; $18.95) introduces readers to a young girl, Roxanne, as she begins to come of age.

"I think [WORLD OF PIES] is a charming book and Karen Stolz's talent shines forth like a jewel. Annette, Texas is a place that I believe readers will want to visit again and again."
--Gloria Naylor, author of The Women of Brewster Place


From the author of World of Pies, a charming portrait of the American heartland as told through the intertwined lives of twin sisters.In beautifully rendered detail, Stolz reveals the pleasure of freshly laundered dresses and homemade fudge, the terror of childhood illness and quarrels, and the magical connection that only twins possess.

Set against the backdrop of St. Louis during the Great Depression, twins FANNY & SUE tell their charming story in alternating voices. Infused with humor and warmth, Stolz's latest novel is certain to charm readers eager to experience life the way it used to be.

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