A List for African-American Interests

Article excerpt

In keeping with the focus on historically Black colleges and universities for this Academic Kickoff edition, this Bookshelf highlights titles about or of interest to African-Americans, selected from recent offerings by university and small presses:

Integrating the Gridiron: Black Civil Rights and American College Football, by Lane Demos, $39.95, Rutgers University Press, February 2010, ISBN-W: 0813547415, ISBN-13: 978-081354741 1, pp. 200.

Writing about college football from a civil rights and integration perspective, the author reminds us of when Blacks were scarce on the squads of colleges and universities, other than at Black schools. It is a complex story, beginning in the 19th century not long after the emergence of the sport and continuing to the present when African - Americans predominate many collegiate squads. Along the way, the author recalls the careers of such players as:

Jack Trice, the first African-American athlete at Iowa State University, who died from injuries suffered in a game against the University of Minnesota in 1923;

Jackie Robinson earned varsity letters in four sports at the University of California, Los Angeles, the first major college to feature several Black players in starting positions. While he is better known for breaking the Major League Baseball color barrier, Robinson contributed to an unbeaten record for the football team in 1939 until its loss in the final game to the University of Southern California, averting a showdown over integrating the Rose Bowl; and Johnny Bright, a Drake University halfback whose jaw was broken when he was punched maliciously in a 1951 game against Oklahoma A&M.

More importantly, Demas weaves their stories into the larger picture of the American conflict over race, detailing acts of discrimination, taunting and physical abuse affecting players and highlighting their contributions to the progress in race relations.

African American Food Culture, by William Frank Mitchell, $49.95, Greenwood, (Food Cultures in America), April 2009, ISBN-W: 0313346208, ISBN-13: 978-0313346200, pp. 118 and What the Slaves Ate: Recollections of African American Foods and Foodways from the Slave Narratives, by Dwight Eisnach, Herbert G Covey, $59.95, Greenwood, May 2009, ISBN-IO: 031337497X, ISBN-13: 978-0313374975, pp. 311.

These two books from Greenwood Press contribute greatly to our knowledge of African-American diet and cuisine, a subject often clouded by myth, misinformation and ignorance. For context, Wltat the Slaves Ate draws from the Works Progress Administration's oral histories of the survivors of slavery recorded in the Depression era, as well as from other sources. …