African-American Success Stories

The last half of the twentieth century saw an amazing record of black accomplishments. These books chronicle the stories of people rising from poverty to success against a backdrop of segregation and discrimination. From Ben Carson, the gifted surgeon from the inner city, to the wisdom of the Delaney sisters, there are two dozen tales here that inspire and celebrate the human spirit.

Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics

By Donna Brazile

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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.

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We Were Always Free: The Maddens of Culpeper County, Virginia: A Two-Hundred-Year Family History

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

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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.

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Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family

By Condoleezza Rice

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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.

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Vernon Can Read! A Memoir

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

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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.

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The Seventh Child

By Freddie Mae Baxter

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"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."

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The Riches of Oseola McCarty

By Evelyn Coleman

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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.

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The Ditchdigger's Daughters: A Black Family's Astonishing Success Story

By Yvonne S. Thornton, as told to Jo Coudert

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"...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."

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Pushed Back to Strength: A Black Woman's Journey Home

By Gloria Wade-Gayles

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"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."

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Out of the Madness: From the Projects to a Life of Hope

By Jerrold Ladd

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"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."

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