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Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage Paperback – August 1, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As thousands of African-Americans in the Gulf deal with the effects of the oil disaster, Glave documents the bond with nature that has long been part of the black experience. Drawing on Africa and African art, literature, history, and theology, Glave adds texture to her story. Chapters begins with fictional vignettes reflecting the author's own journey through her material, a "quilt work designed from this detective's loving labor to reveal the thoughts of farmers, artists and novelists dotted throughout the South." Passages from Zora Neale Hurston, Frederick Douglass and others gives voice to the community; for Douglass, the ocean signified freedom, despite the many Africans who crossed these waters in conditions unfit for animals. And Anna Comstock, an instructor at Cornell, opened a Nature Study School in 1897 and published her Handbook of Nature Study in 1911, which inspired teachers in the field. Today, Glave points out that First Lady Michelle Obama cultivates a vegetable garden on the grounds of the White House, bringing the stewardship full circle.
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From Booklist

A history of abuse during slavery and sharecropping has bequeathed many African Americans with mixed feeling about things having to do with the earth, the result being a relatively low profile on issues involving the environment. Glave debunks that notion with a history and perspective on an environmental heritage dating back to African religious and cultural traditions through early environmentalists including George Washington Carver. Glave presents the troubled history of environmental exploitation of blacks—many black neighborhoods are often located in polluted environments—against long traditions of nature as a source of sustenance and healing for a people who often had few other resources. Beginning each chapter with a fictionalized vignette to provide historical context, Glave discloses the little-known history of African American involvement in the environment from Atlantic Ocean explorer Abubakari II to Booker T. Washington, who put emphasis on agriculture at Tuskegee Institute. Glave draws on personal perspectives and oral and recorded histories to detail the ways that the history of Africans in America is rooted in the earth. --Vanessa Bush
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (August 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556527667
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556527661
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Dianne Glave is an environmental historian and outdoor activist, and her wonderful book not only details the black experience in nature and the culture's contribution to environmentalism but breaks the stereotype that African Americans are urban and whites originated environmental awareness. The photos themselves are enlightening and amazing: an African American grade-school class on a field trip to the woods in 1899; a 1902 nature study class in a rural black school; black children recycling cans in 1919; young African American members of 4-H displaying their prize cows in 1955; black girl scouts and boy scouts of the 1950s--and many more that I've never seen before.

Read the book for self-enlightenment, give the book to your children so the next generation has pride in the African American legacy in nature, and then go out to the woods for a hike! The national parks belong to all Americans!
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This is an excellent book!
A must read particularly for African-Americans who want to get a glimpse of how intimate and deep our connection and reverence for the earth actually is. Very Inspirational!!!
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An interesting read, but the author often plays fast and loose with the facts. Particularly concerning is the assertion that West Africans were engaging in colonial exploration of the New World long before Europeans, an idea that holds no currency with most historians. The author also feels the need to inject herself into the text frequently, perhaps as an attempt to ground it in her own experience. It seems that the author spends more time imagining what it's like outdoors than actually being there.

If you can get past all that, there is a very insightful exploration in this book. Just make sure you fact check!
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This is book works to place the African American people in the context of agriculture. It provides a great historical analysis although the writing could be stronger.
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