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Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 Hardcover – February 2, 2021
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FINALIST FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post, Town & Country, Ms. magazine, BookPage, She Reads, BookRiot, Booklist • “A vital addition to [the] curriculum on race in America . . . a gateway to the solo works of all the voices in Kendi and Blain’s impressive choir.”—The Washington Post
“From journalist Hannah P. Jones on Jamestown’s first slaves to historian Annette Gordon-Reed’s portrait of Sally Hemings to the seductive cadences of poets Jericho Brown and Patricia Smith, Four Hundred Souls weaves a tapestry of unspeakable suffering and unexpected transcendence.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
The story begins in 1619—a year before the Mayflower—when the White Lion disgorges “some 20-and-odd Negroes” onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States. It takes us to the present, when African Americans, descendants of those on the White Lion and a thousand other routes to this country, continue a journey defined by inhuman oppression, visionary struggles, stunning achievements, and millions of ordinary lives passing through extraordinary history.
Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.
This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present.
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From the Publisher
|Be Antiracist||How to Be an Antiracist||Antiracist Baby|
|Reflect on your understanding of race and discover ways to work toward an antiracist future with this guided journal from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning.||From the National Book Award-winning author of Stamped from the Beginning comes a bracingly original approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality in our society--and in ourselves.||From the author of How to Be an Antiracist comes a picture book that empowers parents and children to uproot racism in our society and in ourselves, now with added discussion prompts to help readers recognize and reflect on bias in their daily lives.|
“This collection teaches us that nothing about the latest crisis is new—that for four hundred years, Americans have whistled a ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’ tune of national self-congratulation while reliving repeating cycles of racial violence and hypocrisy. . . . This project is a vital addition to that curriculum on race in America and should serve as a gateway to the solo works of all the voices in Kendi and Blain’s impressive choir.”—The Washington Post
“Two leading scholars of Black culture gather writers from across genres in this provocative, stirring anthology on the traumas and triumphs of African Americans across four centuries. From journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones on Jamestown’s first slaves to historian Annette Gordon-Reed’s portrait of Sally Hemings to the seductive cadences of poets Jericho Brown and Patricia Smith, Four Hundred Souls weaves a tapestry of unspeakable suffering and unexpected transcendence.”—O: The Oprah Magazine, “20 of the Best Books of February 2021 to Fall in Love With”
“Edited by two of the brightest minds in all of literature and historical studies today, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi and Dr. Keisha N. Blain, the massive tome takes a community approach to telling the stories of Black history for the past four hundred years. . . . Absolutely essential reading for anyone who wants to know more about the incredible struggles and immense achievements of African America over the past four centuries.”—Shondaland
“Four Hundred Souls consists of eighty chronological chapters that bring to life the numerous and previously overlooked facets of slavery, segregation, resistance and survival. In these pages, dozens of extraordinary lives and personalities resurface from archives and are restored to their rightful place in the narrative of American history.”—The Root
"An impeccable, epic, essential vision of American history as a whole and a testament to the resilience of Black people.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“With a diverse range of up-and-coming scholars, activists, and writers exploring topics both familiar and obscure, this energetic collection stands apart from standard anthologies of African American history.”—Publishers Weekly
“This seamless collection crackles with rage, beauty, bitter humor, and the indomitable will to survive.”—Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Keisha N. Blain, a 2022 Guggenheim Fellow, is an award-winning historian, professor, and writer. She is the author of the multi-prize-winning book Set the World on Fire and co-editor, with Ibram X. Kendi, of the #1 New York Times bestseller Four Hundred Souls. She is a professor of Africana Studies and History at Brown University and a columnist for MSNBC. Her most recent book is Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America.
- Publisher : One World; 1st Edition (February 2, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 528 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0593134044
- ISBN-13 : 978-0593134047
- Item Weight : 1.8 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.44 x 1.66 x 9.54 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #39,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Reviewed in the United States on February 22, 2021
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Upon completing, Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 on audio book (also bought hardcover), by
Keisha N Blain and Ibram X Kend... I had to take a pause.
Upon completing the epic historical journey have to sit in the moment for as long as it takes for me to absorb the totality of centuries.
Typically, while reading jot segments of stories to weave for reviews.
I've been teaching myself different ways to share my point of view to help potential readers and as a verified reviewer for authors on sites like Amazon from small book stores like More Than Words outta Boston who help foster youth learn biz skills selling books.
This book on audio in various voices, similar to when TD Jakes joined with many voices to produce the entire Bible on CD (predigital) combines with theatrics so it sounded like we were in biblical times through scripture stories back then.
Anyway, hearing the various performers tell these stories took me out for a spell. I finished the book weeks ago and until today wouldn't finish a review.
One thing that happened on the way to this review since finishing the book is finding out Italians were considered worst then Negros and fell to mass lynchings by a democrat who went on to be elected the governor of Louisiana less then 100 years ago. I will not repeat his name.
Then, to recognize those in authority from the federal and state government level decide at some point less then 100 years ago to make Italians ”white” while continuing to bias equity toward Africa and black people... Where do I find the words?
I'm sad, angry, and empowered. Want to create a great review; afraid. If I don't speak out nothing will change.
The only part of my family story I find gratitude in is the fact I am a part of the segregation bias story perpetuated by good old American Christian supremacists.
Did you know, Fredrick Douglas in his autobiography, ”Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass An American Slave” shares Christians are the worst slave owners?
Henry Louis Gates, Jr in the
The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song shared about how supremacists and slave owners and pastors changed the Bible to ensure people of color didn't find scripture to support their freedom?
How does a lover of faith as a Christian who the American government at one time distances in bias and social injustice based on race then changes its mind and decided my family is white after all?
This goes for Irish and other cultures, as well.
Did you know at one point before race became the divider created by a white man running the show black and white people of similar classes married?
Until the government said no. Outlawed these marriages and further separated people based on Melanin? Defined as, ”group of naturally occurring dark pigments, especially the pigment found in skin, hair, fur, and feather.”
How do I review now? Never in my wildest thoughts did I think it was possible to see myself as the lowest of American Races.
Thing is, even with my darkness boost in Spain in 1989 making me darker than one of my best friends Dee who’s black... By winter eventually I’m back to olive skin. Black and African descent can't. Not shouldn't want to loose their quality of skin color.
How do we keep each other safe?
What I've seen just in 2020 makes me wish for safety over differences. But, with this comes no change.
So, here I am. Trying to create a review, afraid. Concerned no matter what I say or even do won't be enough.
Until I speak up nothing will change. Maybe this review will impact one person who will impact one person and so on. If I can impact a 1,000 and you impact a 1,000, eventually we impact billions. The entire planet.
Go big or go home
Imma begin in the 1800’s for my full review within the book. See the first review below for a different rip on the opening setting.
1869-1874... This chapter in my imagination is ”In plain sight”. Meaning how obvious it is in 2021 we are seeing supremacists create an obvious hostile American environment ”in plain sight” basing this on the manipulation of constitutional rights.
Similar to manipulation of the right to bear arms, these supremacists manipulate the freedom of speech ”in plain sight” to ignite ’little fires everywhere’. Yes, book reference for relatability. If you have not read this book you're missing a classic reference for insight.
Clash of meaning for understanding... Just because we have the right to speak and own a gun doesn't give us the right to enter a movie theater and threaten people in word or showcasing the gun.
Word to the wise, if anyone in America who can vote isn't paying attention or is following the narrative that is clueless to how the messaging in this book isn't still occurring today, beware.
Those misinformed racists by the effect of ignorance will suppress and distress us if people do not help to educate as Dr. King concluded on Dec. 20, 1956.
A full read of his words 👇🏼
I'm specifically reflecting toward and to the end of the speech.
This isn't over people. We are at the cliff of the abyss. Complacency is, NOT NOT NOT our life purpose.
If you read this book it's up to you to act on the lessons.
It is NOT enough to brag you're not a racist. What are you doing about this to be a part of the collective voices that humanity requires at such a time as this?
Another amazing historically liberating work is Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi’s Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning.
With this book, we learn the collective systemic racist mission supremacy perpetrated. The one that taught me ”color doesn't matter” and making room for black people in jobs was the solution. When in fact the solution is leveling the bias beginnings.
In recent years I I've been hearing the word ”reparations”. Rather than jumping to conclusions studied the meaning to become informed.
The first city in the nation to study and conclude affirmatively how reparations are warranted and distributed inspires me. My first best friend of 50 years now lives in Evanston.
Anyway, this is the city link. 👇🏼
You can also watch the news broadcast of a family who is several generations from Evanston. My apologies for forgetting to save this under my social justice file.
If you google Evanston reparations you'll see many articles and others from other cities.
My point, to help elevate what we need as an equitable nation will not be able to include changing the devastating behaviors of democratic creation of the KKK and systemic racism occurrence like David Zucchino’s Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy. Or, Richard Gergel’s
Unexampled Courage: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring. About a black veteran beat by White police causing loss of vision that triggered the national change we still benefit from pursuing?
If we wanna take down the tone of destruction we must listen. More than say this sucks and ask what more can I do to support healing?
This isn't about who did what. This is about we have a history that suppresses a country of people based on their color, like my great grandfather upon coming to America changed his Italian name to the white version because Italians were being lynched and declare less than ”negros”.
Melanin is a biological ”broad term for a group of natural pigments found in most organisms. Melanin is produced through a multistage chemical process known as melanogenesis, where the oxidation of the amino acid tyrosine is followed by polymerization”.
Melanin is not going anywhere. This being the reason supremacy justifies itself is an entitlement, not American.
When Freddrick Douglas confesses in his autobiography...👇🏼
... that ”Christians” were the worst slave-owners and in ”The Black Church” learn how ”Christians” manipulate(d) the Bible to maintain slaves, slavery, and changes the Bible to suppress the people they needed for labor and rape...
If I didn't have a black pastor, Bishop TD Jakes, and church communities, The Potters House I’d have abandoned the Christian religion. Not being religious myself it's my understanding those who harm people of color in the name of their beliefs are a religion of suppression and hatred. We are seeing on a national level similar to a century ago.
I've already abandoned the bull, but I mean left entirely and pursued faith practices minus the attitude. Since 2016-2020 has become more obvious to me. The ”Christians” who embolden the perpetuation of hypocrisy and permissive systemic race division minus reconciliation perpetuating the false narrative the previous administration allowed for their grift business funnel...
This makes spotting those ”Christians” and the parasitic problem super simple.
So, don't disparage the rhetoric. Video it. Post it. Share it to the world who don't buy or sell this bullcrap.
A few points to consider: Not all Christians are racist. Not all black people are from Africa. THE current VP of the US is a prime example. Asking someone on the census what color they are is racist, in my opinion. Requiring hiring based on skin color is racist. Not hiring someone, for this reason, is racist, too.
What is a solution to our systemic racist problem?
We begin with clear unbiased education from text like this, Four Hundred Souls. Stamped. Original works by Freddrick Douglas and even The Deep, by Rivers Solomon work of fiction based on pregnant captured African women thrown overboard off ships.
Wake up, people. Wake the hell up. If anyone refuses to acknowledge the pain created can not be suppressed any longer then you my literacy friend are the problem collectively for supremacy.
Any American citizen is a part of our collective story. Black brutality isn't just physical abuse. The mental torment is far worst.
What I'm doing:
1- reading and reviewing
2- shopping black-run business and books. If you understand the way our government and states segregate even today black and marginalized peoples structurally in building areas and roads keeping the economy sequestered from generating revenue this one thing is something we collectively can do to help raise people out of cultural government and state lead suppression.
3- ask questions and open dialogs that continue long following the conversation conclusion
4- move into diverse neighborhoods
5- stand up when you learn how when racism is present even when it wasn't intended to present this way at the start. What I've learned is racism doesn't always begin with this intention.
6- for me, I'm creating a curriculum of social justice history. Unbiased factual truth
7- I'm creating a social justice podcast based on my experiences, literature, and community of color that surrounds me in a friend, neighbor, and city
8- challenging others overtime to think beyond their experience and toward a wider breadth of knowledge for understanding to wisdom for insight to lead them in new choices.
Just because you believed it truly doesn't make it so. Learn for yourself. If you truly are not a racist this is the only next step any of us can take.
Not base our being on values, but principles. Humanity requires a new view.
This is my opinion based on listening to many voices. Pun intended. Real friends, neighbors, and people in my immediate life and throughout many circles to the outskirts which include books like this.
Otis Moss Sr. grew up during Jim Crow. 1965 allowed voting for the first time walked six miles in his best suit only to be told he has to go to the other polling place six more miles away. There, ”you’re too late”. So, feeling defeated walked home six miles. 18 miles that day without being allowed even though his legal right to vote. Denied. He died before the next election.
I was born in 1965. This is in my lifetime. With every story, the anger, sadness, activist in me boils up.
If you're reading this and you think for one minute, one single second this crap is okay, eventually you will die and it'll be one less person we have to deal with to make the change we need in America.
Last year, 2020 is when I learned the word anti-racist. It's not enough not to be racist. I must do something... Since then I've bought and borrowed books, and joined a book club on how to fight racism from courageous Christianity. Review on these books and recommend them as often as possible.
Discuss racism with every person of color who has time to share. Participate in dialogs on LinkedIn in regards to discrimination and action steps for the work place. My pastor is black and church is full of black and many colors of humans and we translate the service in many languages for around the world.
I'm creating a curriculum of books including out of copyright classical like autobiographies and unbiased truth.
Recently I stood up to racism disenfranchising black votes for a local election and ended up being asked to join the community organizations to help.
This part is so awesome because it'll help with two podcasts and blogs on Social Justice - Man’s Inhumanity to Man and one tentatively called ”African American Show: discuss global issues affective business today” with my young African business associate from Lagos.
Basically, I'm a little on the extreme side of action. What can you do?
Read. Use knowledge for understanding to wisdom of insight for choices.
Even if you do simple acts of kindness for someone of color this helps. You may be the only person who does. This can change the narrative and help begin the healing of a heart.
I’m so grateful for communities of color facilitating great works such as this to support a truth clearly stated. Not opinion. Not bias. Not white or black or brown or yellow. This is our collective history with an emphasis on the plight of black people. In my case, it would be Italian. You could be Asian, Iraqi, Jew, or a foster child. Even they're discriminated against.
To me, there is not racism only from people classified as white. I’ve seen black racism. Asian racism. And so forth.
I heard a man in my book study speak how he use to hate white people. How confusing it’s been to grow up thinking all white people are against black people. He said he’s still learning what it means to be black in truth and the current shifts of awareness he’s experiencing.
Not the truth of what’s popular and accepted in narratives perpetuated by the local governments or media. But, his truth as a black man by faith learning deliverance from what pained him generationally to being open to engage and trust others who see his color and heart in love and light not loath and evil.
What I like most about Four Hundred Souls is how much I'm learning about American history that hasn't been taught. This book has assisted me in finding other books to dig deeper on topics like slavery in NYC where I was born. Or the young veteran beat by police who lost his site leading to the civil rights movement (if I recollect correctly). I bought a separate book on this arriving soon and on Slavery in NYC.
Wish I could remember my fellow veteran's name. I just heard it today in this book within a previous chapter.
Nothing would please me more then an entire high school course dedicated to this and Stamped followed by more focused studies of particular happenings.
I could see each class would be different. Groups of students would take a time period and dig in. Do speeches, plays, storytelling. In this day and age zoom meetings interviewing various people on topics of race and activism.
So many possibilities.
I'm very excited for more Americans to learn the unbiased truth. Here is where equity rises. Healing lives. Freedom invites us to show ourselves.
One can not be free until all are free together. We the people... Not a fraction. Whole.
All lives do not matter until all lives matter. See how I did that 😁
Insert black, Asian, jew, homeless, Italian, Pakistani, Nigerian, and on and on and on.
We... Not me
_______1st review 👇🏼___
”What we remember is just as revelatory as what we forget”.
”If the Mayflower is the advent of American Freedom” (1619)...
All white people on this journey can trace their lineage.
The book thus far has me cultivated on audio. Hearing the storytelling while listening is gripping me to binge.
Doing yoga at the moment while hearing this part paused to make notes to share. Pre-complete.
Hoping to compel interests and curiosity.
This book is transformative realism and truth and spectacular all at once.
Why I ache for these people need to share about my people for comparison...
My people, Huguenots, fled Europe's religious persecution in the early 1700s. Arrived to make friends with native people in what is now named Pennsylvania.
These locals sold us, research says, 200 acres and the church built is still a vibrant community since.
William Penn believed in paying people fairly and helped my family settle their land among our new friends who helped us learn to survive and thrive in this new land as a community with them.
The town is named after my ancestor from 1717. I've traced back a thousand years from this set of ancestors.
A cousin from this lineage is the youngest and first woman hired by Congress to sculpt the Lincoln Memorial and other renowned statues like Sequoya. We love the native people and there's no indication we did then accept friendship and share the land as they agreed.
I used My Heritage to learn this within the last two years.
I’ve learned about my great grandfather who Americanised his Italian name upon reaching the shores of America. The family hid his truth and it wasn't until last year found the truth.
There's still a lot I don't know. More I didn't share.
My point, because my ”Pioneer Settler” family has a rich heritage linked to many descendants the details were available with a little hard work sleuthing documents with names, and support from My Heritage.
People of color in particular those descendants of slavery, however they were acquired, can not find their people oftentimes. The ship, White Lion proves freight of privilege as the Mayflower is documented is not what this ship held.
I needed to pause the story already. It's barely begun. Sit in this. Reflect the pain. Empathize. Feel angry. Sad. Empowered to continue learning about my African and black brethren. Acting on what I'm learning to add voice to the voiceless.
To become a part of you, my human family, endeavour to sit with you through your pain and with privilege you allow, become your sister by faith, humanity, friendship.
”If the Mayflower is the advent of American Freedom (1619)... Then the White Lion is the advent of American Slavery.”
A moment of silence. Let this sink in. Deep inside your heart...
Ordered a print copy, but am listening to Overdrive App from the library.
”A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present”.
Giving all the stars in the universe rating. There aren't enough in existence to praise this enough
Are you on good reads? Let's connect...
Good reads at AskMissPatience 😁
Speaking for me, I feel sorry for them, because they should be comfortable in their own skin, I am. I have no need to tear someone down because of skin color or nationality to raise myself up. I will always show humanity to mankind, since we're all created equal in the eyes of God, right?
And that is what this book summarizes in short chapters and poems - Other in America - you can tear us down, but you will never really destroy our resolve