LET IT SHINE

STORIES OF BLACK WOMEN FREEDOM FIGHTERS

This exciting collective biography features ten important women in the historic struggle to win freedom and civil rights. Pinkney (Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra, 1998, etc.) tells the well-known stories of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks. Other women such as Biddy Mason and Dorothy Irene Height are in the history books but are less familiar. They span the 18th and 19th centuries, from Sojourner Truth, born into slavery circa 1797, to Shirley Chisholm, born in 1924 and living today. Each story contains essential demographic and biographical information written in an accessible, informal style, which provides a vivid picture of the women’s lives, their personalities, backgrounds, and the actions that made them memorable. Many of the women also had to fight against prejudice toward women in addition to their causes. Some did not live to see the results of their struggle, but successful or not, all were courageous leaders who paved the way for a more democratic and inclusive America. The introduction gives the reader a glimpse into Pinkney’s own life and her rationale for the selection of biographies. A bibliography for further reading lists what are probably her research sources, but are not identified as such and quotations within the chapters are not footnoted in any way. Another quibble is a small mistake in the biography of Dorothy Irene Height as to the two degrees she received in four years. Both were in educational psychology, but Pinkney lists the bachelor’s as in social work. However, these flaws do not compromise the value of the book. Alcorn’s (Langston Hughes, not reviewed, etc.) paintings, oil on canvas, are as magnificent as his figures and add much to this handsome volume. Vibrant colors, rhythmic lines, and collage-like compositions are allegorical in design and convey the essence of each woman and her work. A truly inspiring collection for personal as well as institutional libraries. (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-201005-X

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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THE DARK SIDE OF THE FORCE

A TRUE STORY OF CORRUPTION AND MURDER IN THE LAPD

At least some L.A. cops were abusing their trust long before the Rodney King case—as demonstrated in this riveting narrative of police-sponsored insurance fraud, armed robbery, automatic-weapons dealing, and murder for hire. Detective Richard Ford and Officer Robert Von Villas of the LAPD's Devonshire Division (nicknamed ``Club Dev'' to emphasize its contrast with rougher areas of the city) seemed pillars of rectitude: decorated Vietnam heroes; charming and caring husbands and fathers, beloved for their service to the community. Many were astonished, then, when, in 1983, the two were indicted for conspiring to murder and for performing a contract killing. Their chief accuser, Bruce Adams, appeared a lowlife by contrast: an auto mechanic having business difficulties with the two cops, who were his silent partners; a Vietnam vet with post-traumatic stress disorder and a troubled work history. Even with a wealth of circumstantial evidence and a wired Adams catching Ford in an explicit conversation about a planned sex-torture-mutilation murder, convicting L.A.'s ``killer cops'' wasn't easy: The cases cost city taxpayers $8-10 million, with the trials concluded only six years after the arrests. As the first L.A. cops convicted of first-degree murder, Ford and Von Villas received life without possibility of parole. Golab (a contributing editor to Los Angeles magazine) tells the tale primarily from the viewpoint of Adams, an ambivalent hero terrified of informing on Ford (and no wonder: unlike the Federal Witness Protection Program, with its deep pockets, the LAPD could spare only $7,000 to help Adams relocate, and he and his family continue to live in hiding). It's a truly scary cautionary tale, though Golab's attempts to see it as a harbinger of the Rodney King beating seem forced, except for his noting of the rogue cops' belief that their badges were shields of immunity. Narrated with little grace, but the bone-chilling horror comes through in this story begging for film or TV adaptation.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1993

ISBN: 0-87113-499-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1993

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A passionate, well-reported history of the role Texas football played in America’s racial integration.

THE KIDS GOT IT RIGHT

HOW THE TEXAS ALL-STARS KICKED DOWN RACIAL WALLS

Consummate sports chronicler Dent (Courage Behind the Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story, 2012, etc.) examines a transformative football event in Texas that blurred racial boundaries.

Back when sports “lacked the glitz, the megamillions, and the idolization,” one popular all-star game stole the spotlight from all other arenas: the Big 33 Football Classic. Pitting two teams of 33 high school football all-star players against each other, it was the ultimate rivalry competition. Dent begins his coverage of two pivotal incarnations of the event in 1964, as Texas bowed to Pennsylvania in a crushing 12-6 loss. The defeat enraged Texas coach Bobby Layne, a former superstar quarterback saddled with a drinking habit and relentless hubris. With the able assistance of longtime friend and former teammate Doak Walker and the approval of then-mayor John Connally, the Texas all-star team enlisted three exceptionally talented but largely ignored black players who had yet to be integrated into the Texas games: James Harris, George Dunford and Jerry “the Jet” LeVias, a beefy yet swift scholarship athlete who fought through a polio-riddled childhood to emerge a gifted athlete with the NFL. LeVias was befriended by talented white high school quarterback Bill Bradley, his “blue-eyed soul brother,” who rejected segregationist norms of the time to become LeVias’ roommate and best friend. The sold-out, media-frenzied Big 33 game in 1965 found Texas taking victorious strides in both football and racial equality. Dent includes generous sections of lively game play, personal profiles and interesting postscripts from Coach Layne, Walker, Bradley, LeVias and respected black Texas high school coach Clifton Ozen.

A passionate, well-reported history of the role Texas football played in America’s racial integration.

Pub Date: Aug. 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-250-00785-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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