Tag Archives: biography

About Books I Read

There is No Me Without YouFirst, a disclaimer:  After reading Melissa Fay Greene’s 2002 New York Times Magazine article about the AIDS orphan crisis in Africa, I felt compelled to go  to Ethiopia, where I volunteered for three months at orphanages, observed (even participated in) some of the events described in her book, and later served as an informal “fact checker” for her. (Melissa called me once “Rita. Do you remember — were we staying on the second or third floor at the Yilma Hotel?” It is that kind of attention to detail that permeates the reporting in this fabulous book.) I hold her accountable (and am grateful to her beyond measure) for the change in the trajectory of my life: I would not have gone to Ethiopia; I would not have decided to adopt; I would not now be a mother – but for Melissa and her powerful writing.

Now, a warning:  If…

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Best-Selling Author James McBride Searches for James Brown In “Kill ’Em and Leave”

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Author James McBride. Photo credit: Chia Messina Author James McBride. Photo credit: Chia Messina

About 25 years ago, James McBride’s journey to self through the prism of his mother’s life led him to Suffolk, where she had spent part of her childhood. The award-winning author interviewed distant relatives and retraced Ruth’s childhood there. That culminated in the 1996 memoir “The Color of Water,” which explored McBride’s life as a black man with a white mother.

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Before Rosa Parks

Hill Top Library Blog

Yesterday, December 1st, marked the 60th anniversary of the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Did you know that she was not the first person arrested for this? In March, of 1955, a teenager named Claudette Colvin created a spark for the Civil Rights movement.

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Colvin had to take the public bus to get to her high school. One day, on her way home, the bus driver told her to give up her seat for a white woman who was standing. Colvin refused, saying she didn’t feel like standing. The bus driver called the police who physically removed Colvin from the bus.

This incident earned her a place as a plaintiff in the the court case that would rule the segregation of buses as unconstitutional, Browder vs. Gayle. When the case went to the Supreme Court in 1956, Colvin…

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#WorthTheRead: New Releases for December

Worth the Read

A major biography—intimate, gripping, revelatory—of an artist who revolutionized American comedy.

Richard Pryor may have been the most unlikely star in Hollywood history. Raised in his family’s brothels, he grew up an outsider to privilege. He took to the stage, originally, to escape the hard-bitten realities of his childhood, but later came to a reverberating discovery: that by plunging into the depths of his experience, he could make stand-up comedy as exhilarating and harrowing as the life he’d known. He brought that trembling vitality to Hollywood, where his movie career—Blazing Saddles, the buddy comedies with Gene Wilder, Blue Collar—flowed directly out of his spirit of creative improvisation. The major studios considered him dangerous. Audiences felt plugged directly into the socket of life.

Becoming Richard Pryor brings the man and his comic genius into focus as never before. Drawing upon a mountain of original research—interviews with family and friends…

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