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Givens CollectionNewsPrimary Sourcery

Racism, directly experienced

By June 10, 2020September 16th, 2023No Comments

By Cecily Marcus
Curator of the Givens Collection of African American Literature, the Performing Arts Archives, and the Upper Midwest Literary Archives; Principal Investigator, Umbra Search African American History 

All God's Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw

All God’s Dangers: The Life of Nate Shaw

Of all of the things that this time is — ”unprecedented,” heartbreaking, revealing, painful — it is also a time of proliferating lists: lists of books to read (Schomburg Center for Black Research in Black Culture’s Black Liberation reading list); lists of mutual aid sites and other protest-related resources in Minnesota, at, for example; and others.

And here, a small list, from the Libraries’ Givens Collection of African American Literature, that means to provide some context for thinking about the consequences of founding a country on principles of white supremacy. The materials listed below are all, in their own ways, documents of violence, but they are not reducible to the violence perpetrated by white people and white systems of power and subjugation.

The particular power of individual accounts, of ways of seeing the world, of art being made, and of bearing witness emerge. That said, it’s a lie of history that good things come from bad. There is nothing good about murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police, and nothing good comes from the thousands of lynchings over hundreds of years. This is the country we have built.

The texts included below are findable through various channels: Full text from; archival video and manuscripts from Umbra Search African American History, a national search tool of African American primary sources, created by the Givens Collection; and materials located and gathered by Umbra Search partner Colored Conventions.

    1. All God’s dangers: the life of Nate Shaw, by Nate Shaw; Theodore Rosengarten. New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House 1974, Available in full text from Hathi Trust through And: Givens Collection Narratives by Formerly Enslaved People, Commissioned by the Federal Writers’ Project, 1937.
    2. Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders.United States. National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders.
      Washington, D.C. : U.S. Govt. Printing Office 1968
    3. James Baldwin at Berkeley High School, 1979 (video).
    4. W.E.B. DuBois’s notes tracking lynchings in 1927, for The Crisis Magazine: A Record of the Darker Races.
    5. Proceedings of Convention of Colored Citizens of the State of Minnesota, in Celebration of the Anniversary of Emancipation, and the Reception of the Electoral Franchise, on the First of January, 1869. From Colored Conventions Project, founded at the University of Delaware, that collects and presents digitally the documentation of “Colored Conventions” where, from 1830 until after the Civil War, African Americans “gathered across the United States and Canada to participate in political meetings held at the state and national levels. A cornerstone of Black organizing in the nineteenth century, these conventions brought Black men and women together in a decades-long campaign for civil and human rights.”

More anti-racism books, resources

Seeking to know more about racism, anti-racism, police, prisons, and protest? The U of M Libraries has made these relevant e-books available, typically in multiple copies, to our U of M community.

Anti-racism research guide

The Libraries also has an anti-racism research guide, which includes recommended readings, resources, links to U of M experts, and more.

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

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