With apologies to Yves, we’re resending this week’s email newsletter with his named spelled correctly: Yves MARY Jean!
Meet our new Book Ambassador: Rozzie author Yves Mary Jean
Haiti has been on our minds this week as the nation grapples with the recent assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Many Americans remain woefully ignorant of the history of this island nation to our south and are no doubt struggling to put these events into historical and political context. At the same time, many of our friends and neighbors here in Boston were born in Haiti and still have friends and family living there. One of those neighbors is the inimitable Yves Mary Jean, Roslindale-based poet, novelist, and political activist. We are pleased to announce that Yves is Rozzie Bound’s Book Ambassador for July & August!
He has curated a wonderful new collection of books for us featuring several Haitian writers with whom you may be familiar, like the award-winning Edwidge Danticat and Evelyn Trouillot, and others you may not yet know. I am planning to read the English translation of Memory at Bay, a novel by Trouillot that focuses on the bedridden widow of a dictator modelled on Papa Doc Duvalier and explores the psychological impact of life under oppressive rule.
Find this book and all of Yves’ selections at https://bookshop.org/lists/book-ambassador-for-july-2021-yves-mary-jean
Still fighting for the Right to Vote!
Voting rights are under assault across the country. Using the “Big Lie” that President Biden stole the 2020 election from Trump, Republican state legislators have been pushing for state laws making it harder to vote, especially for people of color and low-income communities. Using strategies like voter ID requirements, shorter polling hours, and fewer polling stations are just some of the strategies being used to make it harder for people to vote.
These assaults on the right to vote are not new and must be understood as part of a long and troubling history of Black voter suppression in this country. To help readers get a better understanding of this history, we have created a virtual shelf called The Right to Vote, The Fight to Vote.
In One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy, Carol Anderson lays bare the insidious history of policies that have systematically impeded black progress in America, from 1865 to our combustible present. With One Person, No Vote, she chronicles a related history: the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby decision that eviscerated the VRA the stripping the power of the Department of Justice to review changes to voting laws in districts with a history of racial discrimination. Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws.
In gripping detail, Anderson explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. In a powerful new afterword, she examines the repercussions of the 2018 midterm elections. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans.
If you want to educate children about voting rights, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement is a great choice! Author Carole Boston Weatherford and local illustrator Elua Holmes tell the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a champion of civil rights from the 1950s until her death in 1977. Integral to Freedom Summer in 1964, Hamer’s speech at the Democratic National Convention — which aired on national TV despite President Johnson's interference — helped spurred the nation to support the Mississippi Freedom Democrats and national voting rights legislation. Featuring vibrant mixed-media art full of intricate detail, Voice of Freedom is a celebration of Fannie Lou Hamer's life and legacy with a message of hope, determination, and strength.
Remembering Bob Moses
And speaking of fighting for the right to vote, this week we have been thinking about legendary civil rights activist and educator, Bob Moses, who sadly passed away on Sunday.
One of the greatest honors of my life was meeting Bob Moses at the Algebra Project's 25th Anniversary Conference in Jackson, Mississippi. Moses was already a hero of mine from his voting rights activism, but seeing his sharp mind at work was a real gift (and a bit intimidating!) He was an intensely political man and a gifted leader who possessed a deep understanding of American history. It felt like everything word he uttered, every action he took was in the service of the cause of freedom. Anything that strayed from that singular purpose seemed frivolous in his presence. The Boston Globe obituary is worth a read, but does not quite capture the intensity of the man or his deep and ongoing commitment to ensuring all are included in "We the People," what he referred to as "Constitutional People."
I will never forget the final afternoon of that conference on the Jackson State campus. Moses had invited some old friends from the Movement to stop by. After lunch, they taught us many of the freedom songs they had sung in the sweltering heat of Mississippi, despite the daily threats to their lives and personal safety. It was an honor to learn those songs and a good reminder of the need to make time to celebrate together, even as we struggle to combat persistent racism and oppression.
If you would like to learn more about the inspiring life and times of Bob Moses, I highly recommend his 2002 memoir, co-written with Charles Cobb, Radical Equations: Civil Rights from the Mississippi to the Algebra Project.