Book of the Week makes history

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Ready for Black History Month literary trivia, Blurb style? Here goes – hey, no fair peeking at the links until you’ve answered.

  1. Which writer did Carter Godwin Woodson have in mind when he founded Black History Month in 1926?
  2. What speech made Sojouner Truth famous, and helped change American history?
  3. How many books can you name by Zora Neale Hurston, and which bestselling author helped relaunch her career posthumously?
  4. Who is the African American writer in whose honor the Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard is named, and which African American historian is its director?  
  5. Bonus round: What do you know about Yvonne Agatha Europe DePeazer, a.k.a. Patsy?

Not sure about that last one? Well then, check out our Book of the Week and be enlightened. My Calling is a biography of this registered nurse who sewed clothes for all five of her children, left Guyana to start anew in Brooklyn at age 44, worked at a men’s detention center and as a drug and alcohol counselor, and eventually won a Clinical Practice Award for her distinguished career. She’s a grandmother of 20, and loves to travel – she’s been to 17 countries, from Luxembourg to Japan.

patsy2 Book of the Week makes history

Like a lot of African Americans of her generation, Patsy’s story isn’t widely known or perhaps fully appreciated in all its complexity. Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (remember him from question #4?) used genealogy as a way to trace African American histories in the 2006 PBS documentary African American Lives, focusing on the family trees of public figures like Oprah Winfrey, Quincy Jones, and Chris Tucker.  But as Patsy’s story shows, history isn’t only shown in the family trees of major media celebrities – it’s also revealed in stacks of black and white photographs collecting on the mantelpiece, and stories passed from one generation to the next around a kitchen table.

Stories like Patsy’s help put public events in private perspective, and help us better understand our shared history as it continues to unfold. We’d like to thank Patsy for sharing her story with her family and the world, and to memoirist Rose Ann Fullmer for capturing in this book.

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