Garden City Park, NY: February is Black History Month, and Square One Publishers has two remarkable books that are both historically important in recognition of the African-American experience.
Commissioned in this country by the Knights of Columbus Historical Commission and produced in 1924 at the height of this country's Black Renaissance, The Gift of Black Folk (Square One, $14.95 USD) by the late writer and cofounder of the NAACP, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, represents one of the first critically acclaimed black histories ever to be published.
Square One's edition of this work represents a newly re-edited and reissued version of the material. The book features an Introduction by Carl A. Anderson, who, prior to becoming Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, spent nearly a decade working on issues of racial equality as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Anderson states in the
Introduction: "A hundred years after W.E.B. Du Bois helped cofound the NAACP, the United States can view its civil rights achievements with pride. African Americans have served on the Supreme Court, in the Cabinet, and, finally, as President of the United States. The Gift of Black Folk allows us to fully appreciate these monumental achievements. It is our belief that Du Bois' classic work will continue to inform and inspire for many generations to come."
Equally groundbreaking in the realm of book publishing history is our publication of Black Broadway: African Americans on the Great White Way (Square One, $39.95 USD) by theater historian and six-time Tony award-winning producer Stewart F. Lane. This hardcover book is the first illustrated history or "coffee table"-format title that explores both in words and pictures the tumultuous and often rocky road travelled by African-American actors and actresses the past two centuries on their way to artistic reward and recognition on the Broadway stage. Featuring a Foreword by Tony award-winning director Kenny Leon, Black Broadway provides an entertaining and poignant history of a Broadway of which few are aware.
And the reviews have been great. The book has been declared:
* a "wonderful, insightful history of black theater" (Publishers Weekly);
* "an impressive overview with rare production stills, playbills, and posters making [Lane's] study an essential reference work" (Library Journal, starred review);
* a welcome addition to any library" (TalkinBroadway);
"a theatre-goer's delight" (The Bookwork Sez, syndicated columnist);
* "the book of all books" (BroadwayBlack.com);
* "a book that lets young people know how [Black] theater began" (Leslie Uggams, Tony Award-winning actress);
* "a fascinating cavalcade" (Harry Haun, Playbill);
* "a beautifully designed and clearly written coffee-table book" (Jonathan Mandell, American Theatre);
* "a great book" (Mark Simone, WOR-AM Radio);
* "informative . . . well focused . . . and beautifully illustrated" (Linda Winer, NEWSDAY);
* "a fantastic, comprehensive book and a great introduction for anyone with an interest in theatre" (Keith Price, SiriusXM Radio);
* "a hugely important book that's terribly entertaining" (Peter LeDonne, 970AM The Answer);
* "a story well worth telling" (BroadwayWorld);
* "a brisk, fascinating overview (with) hundreds of rare and revealing photographs" (Jesse Green, New York Magazine);
* "a detailed account from Minstrel Shows to Vaudeville, from the Jazz Age to the Golden Age of the American Musical, through the dramas inspired by the Civil Rights Movement to the present day Broadway" (Audrey Bernard, New York Beacon News); and
* "[an] admirably researched and beautifully illustrated theatrical history both on the specific Broadway shows and on the great theatrical talents that best define the contributions that black performers and authors have made to the American theater . . . an excellent volume." (New York Journal of Books)
Both Black Broadway and The Gift of Black Folk are available here from Square One Publishers, and wherever good books are sold.