Necessary History Lessons
Scarlet and Black, Volume II: Constructing Race and Gender at Rutgers, 1865–1945 (Rutgers University Press, 2020), edited by Deborah Gray White, Marisa J. Fuentes, and Kendra Boyd GSNB’17—The second of three planned volumes continues the analysis by the Committee on Enslaved and Disenfranchised Populations in Rutgers History and features a study of the first Black students at Rutgers, including the earliest Black women to matriculate at the former Douglass College, and a look at African American life in New Brunswick. The editors are history professors at Rutgers.
Baba and the Crew: A True Story of a Single Black Father’s Journey to Redemption (Baba’s Legacy LLC, 2020), by Bill Davis Jr.—Against the persistent cultural perception that single fathers are inadequate parents, Davis RC’76, GSE’79, a part-time lecturer in the Department of Africana Studies at the School of Arts and Sciences, provides a heartfelt remembrance of the challenges and triumphs of being a single Black father raising his two sons and two daughters—“the Crew”—all of whom graduated from Rutgers.
The Sum of Our Dreams: A Concise History of America (Oxford University Press, 2020), by Louis P. Masur—President Barack Obama once remarked that America remains the “sum of its dreams.” Masur, a Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at the School of Arts and Sciences, tells a succinct story of America, tracing its progress from its origins to its continuing struggle to fulfill its ideals, exemplified by the civic unrest of 2020. As the author James Baldwin once put it, “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.”
Ballad of an American: A Graphic Biography of Paul Robeson (Rutgers University Press, 2020), written and illustrated by Sharon Rudahl and edited by Paul Buhle and Lawrence Ware—The first-ever graphic biography of alumnus Paul Robeson RC1919 is a suitable introduction to his remarkable life, from his birth in Princeton, New Jersey, to his athletic and academic accolades at Rutgers, to his worldwide fame as a film and stage star. His international activism brought the plight of the disenfranchised and destitute to a broad audience worldwide.