African-American Success Stories

Arthur R. Ashe, Jr.; with the assistance of Kip Branch, Ocania Chalk, and Francis Harris

This is an authoritative treatment of the history of African American athletes in the US, presented within the context of American social and cultural life. It's also the enduring legacy of the late tennis star, Arthur Ashe.

Barbara A Reynolds

This book contains 50 conversations with successful African Americans who can serve as role models for everyone. Some of the role models include Coretta Scott King, Marva Collins, Maya Angelou, Ray Charles, Shirley Chisholm, Wilma Rudolph, Coleman Young.

Della Reese with Franklin Lett and Mim Eichler

"The inspiring autobiography of the beloved singer, actor, and star of the hit television series Touched by an Angel....the story of a remarkable woman whose life has been filled with surprises. Born in the Detroit slums, Deloreese Patricia Early landed her first professional tour at thirteen, singing backup for Mahalia Jackson. By 1953 she was in New York with a recording contract, racking up hits including "In the Still of the Night" and "Don't You Know." The first woman to host The Tonight Show, Della also became the first black woman to host her own nationally syndicated television talk show. Through it all, Della has dealt with personal tragedy, such as the early death of her mother, which caused her to leave college in order to take care of her father. One night, while performing on The Tonight Show, Della suffered a potentially fatal aneurysm. When her doctor told her she had just days to live, she found a new surgeon, who trusted in the Almighty as she did. In 1983, Della's 'partner' above inspired her to become a minister. She has served ever since as the chief leader of a ministry she founded in a Los Angeles community, preaching to a standing-room-only crowd every Sunday. Here is the powerful story of a woman who is quick to credit the many miracles in her life to human 'angels,' as well as her 'partner' above."

John Edward Hasse

No one led a band like Duke Ellington, no one led a life like Duke Ellington, and no one wrote music like Duke Ellington. One of the greatest artists of the twentieth century, Ellington was acclaimed in his lifetime as a bandleader, but this biography explores his skill as a composer and musical "problem-solver." The author also guides the reader through the bewildering array of Ellington recordings, selecting and commenting on the most essential ones from each period of Ellington's career.

Dick Russell

Offering inspiring and surprising results, and interweaving past and present, this book explores the roots of black achievement in America. It includes portraits of people such as Wynton Marsalis, Ralph Ellison, Paul Robeson, and Muhammad Ali.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Alan Steinberg

Estevanico: Black Presence in the Americas -- The First Rhode Island; Peter Salem; Salem Poor; James Armistead Lafayette; Crispus Attucks -- Joseph Cinque: Black Revolt -- Frederick Douglass: Freedom on the World Stage -- Harriet Tubman: Freedom in the Shadows -- Bass Reeves: Black Individualism in the West -- Blacks in the Military -- Lewis H. Latimer: Black Intellectual Achievement -- Rosa Parks: Black Heart.

J. Alfred Phelps

Read about James' inspiring life, from his days as a pioneering Tuskegee airman to the stratosphere of command of NORAD.

Donna Brazile

Brazile was the first African-American to head a major political campaign. In this interesting, funny, and sometimes moving book, she traces her journey, which began in a working-poor family in New Orleans.

Judith Jamison

The first black superstar of American dance shares her story. Read about her passion and will and her views about black history, about spirituality, about womanhood, about holding a vision, about carrying on.

Carl T. Rowan

"According to Carl Rowan, writing this impassioned biography of Justice Thurgood Marshall was 'tantamount to trying to write the social, legal, economic, political, and moral history of this nation over most of the twentieth century.' Crucial events in American history, such as the black migration out of the postbellum South, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Depression, and the African-American revolution of the 1960s are magnificently portrayed within the context of Justice Marshall's unrelenting mission to fulfill the promise of equal justice for every American."

Condoleezza Rice

This is the story of Condoleezza Rice-- her early years growing up in the hostile environment of Birmingham, Alabama; her rise in the ranks at Stanford University to become the university's second-in-command and an expert in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs; and finally, in 2000, her appointment as the first Black woman to serve as Secretary of State.

Antwone Quenton Fisher

Baby Boy Fisher was raised in institutions from the moment of his birth in prison to a single mother. He ultimately came to live with a foster family, where he endured near-constant verbal and physical abuse. In his mid-teens he escaped and enlisted in the navy, where he became a man of the world, raised by the family he created for himself. Finding Fish shows how, out of this unlikely mix of deprivation and hope, an artist was born -- first as the child who painted the feelings his words dared not speak, then as a poet and storyteller who would eventually become one of Hollywood's most sought-after screenwriters.

Later made into an award-winning film.

Ben Carson, M.D., with Cecil Murphey

Ben Carson, M.D., works medical miracles. Today, he's one of the most celebrated neurosurgeons in the world. In Gifted Hands, he tells of his inspiring odyssey from his childhood in inner-city Detroit to his position as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital at age 33. Ben Carson is a role model for anyone who attempts the seemingly impossible as he takes you into the operating room where he has saved countless lives. Filled with fascinating case histories, this is the dramatic and intimate story of Ben Carson's struggle to beat the odds -- and of the faith and genius that make him one of the greatest life-givers of the century.

Made into a film starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany

"Warm, feisty, and intelligent, the Delany sisters speak their mind in a book that is at once a vital historical record and a moving portrait of two remarkable women who continued to love, laugh, and embrace life after over 100 years of living side by side. Their sharp memories show readers the post-Reconstruction South and Booker T. Washington; Harlem's Golden Age and Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, and Paul Robeson. Bessie breaks barriers to become a dentist; Sadie quietly integrates the New York City system as a school teacher."

Sharon Robinson

"I once had a conversation with Jesse Jackson about why my father's legacy lives on. He talked with me about the difference between a champion and a hero. A champion, said Reverend Jackson, wins a World Series or an Olympic event and is hoisted on the shoulders of the fans. A hero carries the people on his shoulders."

To millions of people, Jackie Robinson is a sports and civil rights hero. To Sharon Robinson, he was all that -- and Dad. From the unique perspective that only a daughter could have, she serves as a personal tour guide through the nine heartfelt, hard-won values that helped Jackie achieve his goals. Sharon Robinson explores these values -- courage, justice, teamwork, citizenship, determination, integrity, persistence, commitment, and excellence -- through a wonderful, richly diverse collection of writings. The anthology includes compelling autobiographical passages by both Robinsons and powerful profiles of people like Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Marian Wright Edelman, Christopher Reeve, and Oprah Winfrey, who carry on Robinson's valuable legacy.

Patrice Gaines

"An award-winning Washington Post reporter explores the twisted path she traveled to find her place as a confident black female in a world that values whiteness and maleness. Here is a rich and insightful story of a life lived on the edge by a woman formerly preoccupied with pleasing everyone but herself."

George Dawson and Richard Glaubman

"In this remarkable book, 103-year-old George Dawson, a slave's grandson who learned to read at age 98, reflects on his life and offers valuable lessons in living as well as a fresh, firsthand view of America during the twentieth century. Richard Glaubman captures Dawson's irresistible voice and view of the world, offering insights into humanity, history, hardships, and happiness. From segregation and civil rights, to the wars, presidents, and defining moments in history, George Dawson's description and assessment of the last century inspires readers with the message that-through it all-has sustained him: 'Life is so good. I do believe it's getting better.'"

Gregory Howard Williams

Williams tells the story of his very unusual youth. Of mixed-race parentage, he was raised as a white in Virginia and as a black in Ohio. We experience with him his pain, his struggles, and his triumphs.

A'Lelia Bundles

The daughter of slaves, Madam C. J. Walker was orphaned at seven, married at 14, and widowed at 20. On Her Own Ground is a comprehensive biography of an unusual entrepreneur and philanthropist. Contains personal letters, records, and rare photographs from the family collection.

Sarah L. Delany with Amy Hill Hearth

The surviving sister of the pair whose story was told in Having Our Say recounts her transition from mourning the loss of her sister, Bessie, to a renewed zest for life, symbolized by Bessie's flower garden.

Jerrold Ladd

"An incredible odyssey follows one African American's struggle through horrific circumstances, clinging to a heroin-addicted mother, attempting to get out of the violent, drug-ridden projects, and ultimately, out of sheer guts and self-education, creating a new life."

Gloria Wade-Gayles

"This Spelman College English professor and poet weaves back and forth through time, fashioning a richly textured autobiographical tapestry of her emotional, spiritual, and intellectual maturation as a southern black female."

Jim Haskins with Helen Crothers

At the time of his death in 1986, Sherman "Scatman" Crothers had had many careers in entertainment--as a singer, songwriter, band leader, and television and film actor. In Scatman, the author of Mr. Bojangles tells the story of the man who owned "the shiniest mouth in town."

Kirk Franklin

The gospel artist describes the family challenges that hampered his youth, his dedication to helping others, and his street-wise perspectives on such topics as faith, family responsibilities, and African-American identity.

Yvonne S. Thornton, as told to Jo Coudert

"...the inspiring portrait by a loving daughter of an unusual man who was as clearheaded as he was ambitious and determined. Working two full-time jobs--and with the help of his equally remarkable wife, who worked as a cleaning woman--Donald thornton formed his bright and talented girls into a rhythm-and-blues band that played Harlem's Apollo Theater, at the same time ensuring that each of them completed her education and rose to stand on equal terms with anyone, man or woman, black or white."

Sidney Poitier

I have no wish to play the pontificating fool, pretending that I've suddenly come up with the answers to all life's questions. Quite that contrary, I began this book as an exploration, an exercise in self-questing. In other words, I wanted to find out, as I looked back at a long and complicated life, with many twists and turns, how well I've done at measuring up to the values I myself have set.
--Sidney Poitier

"In this luminous memoir, a true American icon looks back on his celebrated life and career. His body of work is arguably the most morally significant in cinematic history, and the power and influence of that work are indicative of the character of the man behind the many storied roles. Sidney Poitier here explores these elements of character and personal values to take his own measure--as a man, as a husband and a father, and as an actor.

"Poitier credits his parents and his childhood on tiny Cat Island in the Bahamas for equipping him with the unflinching sense of right and wrong and of self-worth that he has never surrendered and that have dramatically shaped his world. 'In the kind of place where I grew up,' recalls Poitier, 'what's coming at you is the sound of the sea and the smell of the wind and momma's voice and the voice of your dad and the craziness of your brothers and sisters...and that's it.' Without television, radio, and material distractions to obscure what matters most, he could enjoy the simple things, endure the long commitments, and find true meaning in his life. Poitier was uncompromising as he pursued a personal and public life that would honor his upbringing and the invaluable legacy of his parents. Just a few years after his introduction to indoor plumbing and the automobile, Poitier broke racial barrier after racial barrier to launch a pioneering acting career. Committed to the notion that what one does for a living articulates to who one is, Poitier played only forceful and affecting characters who said something positive, useful, and lasting about the human condition. Here is Poitier's own introspective look at what has informed his performances and his life."

Evelyn Coleman

A brief biography of Oseola McCarty, a hard-working washer woman who, without a formal education herself, donated a portion of her life savings to the University of Southern Mississippi to endow a scholarship fund for needy students.

Freddie Mae Baxter

"The seventh of eight children, Freddie Mae Baxter was born in 1923 in rural South Carolina. When her father left the family, her mother had to raise the children alone, and Freddie Mae went to work--first picking cotton, then cooking for the white families in town. At seventeen, she decided to go up North in search of new horizons and a better life. Now, in an astonishingly original voice, Freddie Mae shares with us the wisdom of her seventy-five years, and some vivid memories: from her childhood in the South ('Two cents was money in those days. . .') to her life in Harlem, where she played saxophone in an all-girl band ('We just jammed!') and danced at all the hot clubs ('Anyplace that there was music, you could find me'). Through the good times, bad times, and the enormous changes she's lived through, Freddie Mae has remained steadfastly optimistic and emotionally generous."

Kay Mills

The award-winning biography of black civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer.

John W. Fountain

John Fountain grew up surrounded by a caring, religious family who believed in him, but that didn't stop him from finding the familiar track of early fatherhood and college drop-out. His family's faith brought him out of the spiral and on the road to becoming an award-winning journalist for the New York Times.

Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. with Annette Gordon-Reed

Since the 1960s, civil rights activist Vernon Jordan has provided leadership to organizations such as the NAACP, the United Negro College Fund, and the National Urban League. Here, he describes his life including his work registering black voters in the South, his survival of an assassination attempt, and his relationships with American presidents and business leaders. The volume includes a section of b&w photographs from Jordan's childhood to the present.

T.O. Madden, Jr., with Ann L. Miller

Ever since 1758, when Sarah Madden was born to an unmarried Irish woman and an unknown black father, the Maddens have been free, escaping--and sometimes defying--the laws and customs that condemned other African Americans to slavery in their native state of Virginia.

Antwone Quenton Fisher

"With the publication of Finding Fish, his memoir of a childhood spent in foster homes in and around Cleveland, Antwone Fisher shared with the world his story of perseverance, determination, and courage. And he also showed that within him beat the heart of an artist -- a major factor in his resilience and recovery. Now with Who Will Cry for the Little Boy?, his first collection of poetry, Antwone Fisher reveals the inner truths that took him from a tumultuous childhood to the man he is today.

"The powerful poems presented here range from impressions and expressions of Antwone's years growing up to the love that he has gained from the family he made for himself as an adult. From the title poem -- which is featured prominently in the movie Antwone Fisher -- a plaintive, haunting tribute to a childhood lost to abuse and neglect, to 'Azure Indigo,' the uplifting and touching poem about his daughters, many readers will find their own feelings and experiences reflected in this lyrical and passionate collection."