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The Africans who settled Manhattan: new studies tell the stories of the ancestors, slave and free, who labored to create New York.

Northerners, and perhaps New Yorkers especially, have a tendency to regard slavery as something that happened else where and to think of African Americans as relatively recent arrivals to the city, migrating just in time to stir up the Harlem Renaissance.

That view was challenged by the discovery of the African Burial Ground in lower Manhattan in 1991, an accident resulting from an excavation to prepare the area for construction of a federal building. After years of being studied al Howard University and from an ill-fated satellite office at the World Trade Center, the remains of 400 of the ancestors came home in October 2003 and were laid to rest after ceremonies along the route and at the burial site.

The African Burial Ground served as a symbol of other aspects of New York racial history that have rarely been examined. A sampling of new books by scholars from various university presses and independent publishers helps complete the picture.

In the Company of Black Men: The African Influence on African American Culture in New York City

by Craig Steven Wilder New York University Press, November 2001 $45.00, ISBN 0-814-79368-1

Wilder, who is chair of African American studies at Williams College, examines the role played by voluntary associations such as the New York African Society for Mutual Relief, founded in 1808. He makes the case that these social structures were firmly based in and derived from African culture, contributing unique group values and traditions to the metropolis, as opposed in mimicking white institutions.

In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863 (Historical Studies of Urban America)

by Leslie M. Harris University of Chicago Press, February 2003 $42.50, ISBN 0-226-31774-9

This work surveys of black experience in New York City from the time the first African castoff in 1626 through the Civil War years. It recounts in rich detail how the African Burial Ground was rediscovered three centuries later and what it has since yielded to archeologists about, the lives of the early black arrivals, their work ]rib, their families and their social world. Harris is an associate professor of history at Emory University.

Jim Crow New York: A Documentary History of Race and Citizenship, 1777-1877

Edited by David Nathaniel Gellman and David Quigley New York University Press, June 2003 $23.00, ISBN 0-814-73150-3

Two history professors examine events and attitudes surrounding the New York state constitutional convention of 1821, where black voting rights were sharply circumscribed, bolstering their accounts with documents, excerpts, illustrations and maps.

Stories of Freedom in Black New York

by Shane White Harvard University Press, November 2002 $27.95, ISBN 0-674-00893-6

White, a professor of history at the University of Sydney in Australia, looks at New York City in the early 19th century through the lens of a theater group, the African Company. "This is a book about slavery and its lingering death in New York" the author writes. "Most of all, however, it is a book about the city of New York in a time of unsettling transition."

Sandy Ground Memories

by Lois A.H. Mosley, Staten Island Historical Society, September 2003 $22.00, ISBN 0-960-67565-5

African Americans founded a community on the western side of Staten Island by 1850, largely supported by the oyster industry and nourished by the A.M.E. Zion Church. A sixth-generation native recounts the history of her family and neighbors.

Street Justice: A History of Police Violence in New York City

by Marilynn S. Johnson Beacon Press; November 2003 $30.00, ISBN 0-807-05022-9

Johnson, associate professor of history at Boston College and a New York native writes a detailed history of police-citizen violence, beginning with the founding of the New York Police Department in 1845 through the torture of Abner Louima in in 1997. In Johnson's hands, the book reads more like an epic novel.

To Stand and Fight: The Struggle For Civil Rights in Postwar New York City

by Martha Biondi Harvard University Press, May 2003 $39,95, ISBN 0-674-01060-4

Long before Southerners, who get most of the credit for the modern Civil Rights Movement, stood up or sat down to demand an end to segregation, Biondi argues, the battle was in high gear in the urban North, particularly New York.

Bitter Fruit: The Politics of Black-Korean Conflict in New York City

by Claire Jean Kim, Yale University Press March 2003, $19.00, ISBN 0-300-09330-6

Kim, an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine, examines the political and racial dynamics of the Flatbush Boycott of 1990, when African American and Haitian Americans organized picketing and a boycott against two Korean-owned produce stores.

Racial Liberalism and the Politics of Urban America

Edited by Curtis Stokes and Theresa Melendez Michigan State University Press, March 2003 $24.95 ISBN 0-870-13669-0

Essays explore how the interaction of race and liberal thinking help shape public policy on urban issues. The work grew out of Michigan State's Race in 21st Century America: A 2nd National Conference, held in April 2001.

Uncrowned Queens: African American Women Community Builders of Western New York, Volume 1

by Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram and Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold, co-edited by Lisa O. Francescone, Uncrowned Queens Publishing, October 2002, $11.95, ISBN 0-972-29770-7; Vol. 2, published in November 2003, $13.95, ISBN 0-972-29771-5

This volume incorporates the biographies and photographs of 100 women from varied backgrounds, ranging from union workers to judges in western New York.

Angela P. Dodson is executive editor of Black Issues Book Review.
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Title Annotation:bibliomane
Author:Dodson, Angela P.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Bibliography
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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