Andrew Harmon




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We Could Not Fail

The First African Americans in the Space Program

By Richard Paul and Steven Moss 

Space Age began just as the struggle for civil rights forced Americans to confront the long and bitter legacy of slavery, discrimination, and violence against African Americans. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson utilized the space program as an agent for social change, using federal equal employment opportunity laws to open workplaces at NASA and NASA contractors to African Americans while creating thousands of research and technology jobs in the Deep South to ameliorate poverty. We Could Not Fail tells the inspiring, largely unknown story of how shooting for the stars helped to overcome segregation on earth.

Richard Paul and Steven Moss profile ten pioneer African American space workers whose stories illustrate the role NASA and the space program played in promoting civil rights. They recount how these technicians, mathematicians, engineers, and an astronaut candidate surmounted barriers to move, in some cases literally, from the cotton fields to the launching pad. The authors vividly describe what it was like to be the sole African American in a NASA work group and how these brave and determined men also helped to transform Southern society by integrating colleges, patenting new inventions, holding elective office, and reviving and governing defunct towns. Adding new names to the roster of civil rights heroes and a new chapter to the story of space exploration, We Could Not Fail demonstrates how African Americans broke the color barrier by competing successfully at the highest level of American intellectual and technological achievement. 


Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans Paperback

by Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soul—the winner of numerous awards, including the 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor, and the recipient of five starred reviews—now features eight pages of discussion and curriculum material.

The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it's about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it's about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It's a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination, and triumphs.

Told through the unique point of view and intimate voice of a one-hundred-year-old African-American female narrator, this inspiring book demonstrates that in gaining their freedom and equal rights, African Americans helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice—the true heart an


The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl

by Issa Rae

At only eleven years of age, I was a cyber ho. Looking back, I’m embarrassed. For me. For my parents. But oddly enough, my cyber social debauchery is indirectly correlated with my current status as a so-called internet pioneer. It all started when I began catfishing—creating characters and transmitting them over the internet—though back then people just called it “lying.” Had my father not signed my entire family up with America Online ­accounts for the computer in our modest Potomac, Maryland, home I don’t know that I’d have had the tools to exploit the early ages of the internet.

Two years earlier, my oldest brother, Amadou, had gone away to college at Morehouse, freeing up the coveted computer, which was housed in the basement, for my use. Before he decamped for college, I would spend hours at a time watching him type the commands into MS-DOS that would transport us to the magical kingdom of Sierra’s King’s Quest VI on our IBM. I never had a strong desire to play the game myself—I always assumed I wasn’t smart enough to play it on my own—until Amadou graduated from the house and I no longer had anyone to excitedly observe. I looked up to my oldest brother as the epitome of intelligence. He knew everything, though he was too humble to be ostentatious with his knowledge as I would have been had I been as smart. So I simply observed. At eighteen, he was an official adult, and he had a duty to selflessly spread his intelligence to the world, other people’s younger sisters included. His absence left a void in my heart and in the basement, particularly where the use of the computer was concerned.


Child, Please: How Mama’s Old-School Lessons Helped Me Check Myself Before I Wrecked Myself by Ylonda Gault Caviness

My baby’s tresses had me stressing. I began to pray for kinks—day and night.

For black women, hair is not just something that grows out of your head. In many ways, it can define your place in the world. Now don’t shoot the messenger; I’m just being honest. Many of us struggle into adulthood with hair issues. Here’s the thing, I wanted Trinity’s hair to be pretty. To my mind, that would be one less thing for her to worry about. It was a given that she’d—at some point—have to grapple what I call the Three B’s of becoming a young woman: Booty, Boobs, and Bearing—though not necessarily in that order and by no means limited to these three areas.

For me, booty—or the lack thereof—was one of the first orders of adolescent business. Mama sent us to Catholic school; I started to notice that not everyone’s uniform lay flat in the back, as mine did. When Wanda and Darlene walked up to the blackboard, their skirts danced in a rhythmic back-and-forth motion—giving them a womanly swagger I craved. For months I worked to emulate the gait that sent the blue and green plaid print a-flapping, but I could never quite perfect it. And the effort was draining.


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