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Creating Black Americans: African-American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present Paperback – August 9, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0195137569 ISBN-10: 0195137566

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195137566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195137569
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.9 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This new study by Princeton historian Painter (Standing at Armageddon, etc.) aims not merely to provide an updated scholarly account of African-American history, but to enrich our understanding of it with the subjective views of black artists, which she places alongside the more objective views of academics. The result is a book that contains both a compelling narrative and numerous arresting images, but that does not always successfully tie the two together. To be fair, Painter is a historian, not an art critic. Her primary purpose in including artworks is to illustrate historical points and to show black Americans as creators of their own history. Nevertheless, readers will likely be frustrated by the lack of analysis accompanying the images—Painter simply summarizes most of the art works, leaving much of their complexity and ambiguity unexplored. Thus, she inadvertently diminishes their power as complicated pieces of individual expression. Painter is clearly adept at writing straightforward history, however, and on this front the book is lucid, engaging and topical. It does an excellent job revealing both the African and the American dimensions of African-American history. And her work has the additional merit of following the past into the present, tracing the history of black Americans all the way up to the hip-hop era, the controversies surrounding black voters in the 2000 presidential election and the ongoing issues of incarceration and health care. 148 images, 4 maps. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Painter, a Princeton professor of history, integrates art and history in this fascinating book, filled with powerful images of black art from photographs to paintings to quilts that tell the story of black America. The book begins with the history and imagery of slavery through the Civil War and emancipation, then traces the cultural influences of the civil rights movement, the black power era, and ends with the hip-hop era. Through each period, Painter offers historical context for the artistic expressions and examines how more contemporary sensibilities shaped remembrances of historical events. She explores the ways that context and historical interpretation influence the artist's perspective and is subject to great variation over time. Although most of the works presented were created after the mid-twentieth century, they reflect a broader historical span as black artists have attempted to fill in the void of black images from earlier American history. Readers interested in black American art and history will appreciate this beautiful and well-researched book. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I didn't really understand who I was until I finished reading this book!
Bronze Trinity
The author packs the book with plenty of references, so the interested reader has expert guidance to explore the material in greater depth.
SeekingTraveler
Engaging and highly readable, I recommend this book to anyone seeking a general overview of African American history and culture.
AfroAmericanHeritage

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Nell Irvin Painter is the Edward Professor of American History at Princeton University. She is author of many books on the Black experience and African American history in the United States, including 'Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol' and 'Southern History across the Color Line'. This book, 'Creating Black Americans: African American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present', is a broad, sweeping text that stirs and involves the reader in the long and significant history of this people in North America. Beginning with the Middle Passage and slave trade that brought the majority of Africans to the Western Hemisphere, Painter continues her narrative through to very recent events, including the appointments of Colin Powell and Condaleeza Rice as Secretaries of State for the United States.

Painter draws on early stories and official histories, biographical accounts and legends, well-known events and little known incidents. One person highlighted is Olaudah Equiano, one of the earliest of the African slaves to write his account. As one might expect, Painter's pieces on Sojourner Truth and others of her generation are particularly good.

Painter also draws on the official history of the quest for civil rights. She looks at famous court cases, like the Dred Scott decision, Plessy v. Ferguson (which made 'separate but equal' a legal standard), Brown v. Board of Education (which knocked down the same 'separate but equal' as being unworkable), and other political and legal events in the quest for civil rights, even those sometimes viewed as separate from the Civil Rights Movement proper, which is also highlighted in good detail.

There is also a good discussion of the Black culture in terms of art, literature, film, music and other aspects.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bronze Trinity on April 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I finally finished the book 'Creating Black Americans: African-American History and its Meanings, 1619 to the Present' by Nell Irvin Painter. I can sum up my opinion of the book by saying this is the most important history book I have ever read! This is 392 pages(without notes and references) of essential information about the experience and history of Black people in the United States from the very first time our people set foot in the country. If there was any important figure you wanted to know about that person is mentioned in this book, including Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. DuBois, Fannie Lou Hamer, Crispus Attucks, Phyllis Wheatley, James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, Mary McLeod Bethune, Elderidge Cleaver, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Davis, Abu-Jamal Mumia, and so many others who's names you have probably heard before. I have heard many of the names before but I did not know what the person did or why I should know about them. I am so glad I know who these people are now! Never let anyone tell you African Americans have never achieved anything, we have no role models, or we have no heroes. These people are my heroes! The book showed me how strong our people are and how much they had to fight, survive, and overcome. I swear, African people have had to overcome more than anyone on earth! I am so proud of these people and I know that their struggles, sacrifices, and deaths have made my life possible!

If there is any historical event you want to know about, it is in this book. Creating Black Americans is actually a text book. It has 15 chapters including an Epilogue, timelines at the end of each chapter, and discussion questions to think about.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By AfroAmericanHeritage on June 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
The past isn't what it used to be.

That's one of the threads which runs throughout this engaging narrative of African American history from 1619 to the present. Too often students misconstrue history as being carved in stone but as this book illustrates - literally, for it includes nearly 150 works of art which provide comment upon on historical events - interpretations of the past change as new facts come to light, or are viewed through a more diverse lens and connected to current events.

For example, Painter frequently uses the word "terrorist" when referring to white supremacists who have used violence to limit the rights and economic development of black Americans for centuries. It's a word which is not only appropriate, but more meaningful to contemporary students.

Though not an art history book per se (it does not provide analysis of the art, only descriptions which place it in historical context) there is biographical information about each artist at the end of the book.

Engaging and highly readable, I recommend this book to anyone seeking a general overview of African American history and culture. I think it would be particularly useful as a text for high school Advanced Placement courses.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SeekingTraveler VINE VOICE on April 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a review of "Creating Black Americans: African-American History and Its Meanings, 1619 to the Present," by Nell Irvin Painter. This book is an important work. You should read it. You should encourage your children and grandchildren to read it. You should donate copies to your school and public libraries. If you are in college, then you should sign up for a course that uses this book.

This book is a scholarly work intended to serve as the principle textbook for a one-semester college course in introduction to African-American history. While the book is written with the academic professionalism expected in a college textbook, it is entirely accessible to everyone. The writing style employs a narrative technique that makes reading easy, enjoyable, and interesting (and, of course, educational).

The author (Nell Irvin Painter) was a professor of history at Princeton University and UNC-Chapel Hill. It is obvious (from reading this book) that she has years and years of experience teaching this subject matter to bright, eager minds. After a little web-surfing, I found several discussions and videos of Professor Painter; she is a very intelligent, insightful, charming, wise, and wonderful woman.

While the target audience for this book is college-aged adults, high school students should have an easy time reading it. Both high school and college kids would greatly benefit from discussions (arguments?) with elder relatives who either witnessed this history first hand, or who listened to the stories of their grandparents' generation.

I did not find a table of contents listed on Amazon, so I am providing one:
- Africa and Black Americans
- Captives Transported, 1619 - ca. 1850
- A Diasporic People
- Those Who Were Free, ca.
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More About the Author

Nell Irvin Painter is the award-winning author of many books, including Sojourner Truth, Southern History Across the Color Line, Creating Black Americans, The History of White People, and Standing at Armageddon. She is currently the Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, at Princeton University and lives in Newark, New Jersey.

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