Tag Archives: Non-Fiction

Sweethearts of Rhythm

Sweethearts of Rhythm

Sweethearts of Rhythm

The Sweethearts of Rhythm were a real all girl band that traveled around the country in the 1930s and 1940s. The band was unusual because it was all girls and because it was integrated.

One reason the girls got this chance is World War II. A lot of men were fighting in the war so it was easier for a girl band to get gigs. Once they did, then they became popular because they were so good.

Sometimes the band had trouble because it was integrated. When the band played in the South they had to sleep on their tour bus because it was illegal there for black and white people to be in the same restaurant or hotel. Sometimes the girls had to wear disguises to hide the fact that their skin color was not all the same.

The author tells the story of the Sweethearts in poems and she uses the rhythms of  jazz music in her poetry. It’s not like reading a book of facts. Read the poems, look at the great pictures and then don’t forget to read the author’s note in the back. That part will give you the facts about the Sweethearts of Rhythm. Author: Marilyn Nelson

More books about jazz music and jazz musicians:
Sophisticated ladies : the great women of jazz Jazz on a Saturday Night Jazz Jazz A-B-Z : an A to Z collection of jazz portraits

From the 1870s to the 1950s, Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis served as the focal point of Indianapolis’s black community. Originally called Indiana Street, the Avenue begins at the intersection of Illinois and Ohio Streets and extends northwest. While the Avenue was originally settled by German and Irish immigrants, by 1870 one-third of Indianapolis’s black population lived near Indiana Avenue. The black population in Indianapolis surged in the early 1900s as blacks migrated to the city from the South.

The Indiana Avenue businesses included restaurants, saloons, grocery stores, clothing stores, hair stylists, barber shops, a hotel, and more. Some of the most famous businesses on the Avenue were the Indianapolis Recorder (a black newspaper) and the Walker Building (which housed a casino and theatre, offices, a beauty college, drugstore, and restaurant.) In the 1930s, the Avenue’s businesses were focused on food and entertainment. By 1940 there were more than twenty-five jazz clubs on the Avenue where both national talent and local legends played. I wonder if the Sweethearts of Rhythm ever played there?

Print This Post Print This Post

Marshall “Major” Taylor

Marshall “Major” Taylor

Marshall

This is the story of a young African-American boy who grew up in Indianapolis over a hundred years ago. Despite living at a time when African-Americans were often denied basic rights, Marshall Taylor became a world champion cyclist.

Marshall earned the nickname “Major” when he performed bicycle tricks as a very young boy dressed in a military style costume. When he was a teenager he stopped performing tricks and moved on to bicycle racing – and he was really, really good – world champion good! His story is inspiring because he persevered even when there were many people who didn’t want him to even be in a race, let alone win, just because he was African-American. Sometimes he rode fast just to get away from angry people chasing him! Author: Marlene Targ Brill

In Indianapolis, we have the Major Taylor Velodrome, a world-class bicycle racing track named for this cycling great. You can ride your bike and also use inline skates at the Velodrome. If you want to try riding there, it’s best if you are at least 10 years old. Call ahead and see if you can arrange a time to go try it out. And don’t forget your helmet! 3649 Cold Spring Rd., Indianapolis, IN 46222 Velodrome Phone: 317-327-8356

Print This Post Print This Post

Bad News for Outlaws

Bad News for Outlaws

Bad News for Outlaws

Bass Reeves grew up as a slave in Texas. Even as a young boy he was good with a gun. His master used to take him to shooting contests to show him off. One night though, when Bass was a young man, he and his master got in a fight and Bass punched his owner. Hitting a white man was punishable by death – so Bass ran, and he ran as a fast and as far as he could – all the way to Indian Territory in the West.

The frontier wasn’t called the Wild West for nothing. It was rough country with outlaws roaming around. The West was a great place for bad guys to hide. In 1875 the government hired 200 deputy marshals to help bring order to the frontier and Bass Reeves was one of them. He was also the best one. He could fight and he could shoot when he had too, but mostly, he was smart. He was also know for his honesty and integrity. One time, he had to arrest his own son! Author: Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

The Legend of Bass Reeves

Another great book about Bass is The Legend of Bass Reeves. Gary Paulsen, the author of this book, calls it “the true and fictional account of the most valiant marshal in the West.” Mr. Paulsen adds a little here and there to fill in the places where history left gaps…but for the most part, this is the story of Bass the real guy – the first African-American U.S. Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi – and this was in the 1870s! Bass became a legend, even in his own time. Some outlaws turned themselves in once they heard it was Bass that would be looking for them! Bass Reeves – an American original!

In 1804 a man named York, the slave of Captain William Clark, traveled into the unknown Western frontier with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Black cowboys and Buffalo Soldiers also lived and worked on the Western frontier in the 1800s.
  Nat Love The Buffalo Soldiers and the American West York's Adventures with Lewis & Clark
Print This Post Print This Post

Claudette Colvin & Mary Clark

Claudette Colvin & Mary Clark

Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin grew up in Alabama in the 1940s and 1950s. At that time, Jim Crow rules dominated her life. Jim Crow rules were designed to keep black people and white people separated. These are the rules that said black people could not eat in certain restaurants or sit in certain seats on a city bus. When Claudette was 15 years old she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, so she was arrested. You’re probably thinking, no, that was Rosa Parks. It’s true, Rosa Parks did the same thing, but Claudette did it too! A lawsuit was filed on behalf of several people, including Claudette and Rosa, to end bus segration, and eventually, they won. Rosa is more well known, but Claudette was right there too, and she was just a kid! Reading her story helps you understand that it took lots of people, young and old, to change the Jim Crow rules. A lot of people were brave enough to stand up and say, “no more!”

This book includes interviews with Claudette herself, so you get the story straight from her. She talks about what it felt like to live with Jim Crow; to constantly be told, “you can’t”. When you hear a real person talking about it, it seems much more real than reading a plain description. Claudette was there and she can speak for herself. If you like reading about Claudette, try Marching For Freedom. That one tells the story of kids who marched in Selma, Alabama to help win black people the right to vote. It’s really good too and includes interviews with people who were kids back then and were actually there.

If you like Claudette’s story you might like finding out about a strong Hoosier woman who fought for her rights. When Indiana became a state in 1816, the constitution stated, “there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude.” In early 1816, Mary Bateman Clark, a slave in Kentucky, was sold and brought to Knox County, Indiana, as an “indentured servant.”

In 1821 Clark filed suit for her freedom. The Knox County Circuit Court ruled against Clark’s petition to end her indentured servitude. Clark appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court, which ruled that Clark’s status was clearly not voluntary. The court awarded Clark her freedom and in doing so set a precedent for freedom for other indentured blacks held in Indiana.

mary-clark-marker

Print This Post Print This Post

Traveling the Freedom Road

Traveling the Freedom Road

Traveling the Freedom Road

Traveling the Freedom Road tells the story of our country from the time of slavery, through the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation and Reconstruction.

The Emancipation Proclamation was the executive order by Abraham Lincoln made on January 1, 1863 that freed the slaves in all states and territories.

Reconstruction is the time after the Civil War when the country had to rebuild and re-unite after fighting for so long between the North and the South.

Sometimes we can think too easily about history, like, once a slave escaped on the Underground Railroad and made it to the North, their worries were over. Not true. For a long time slave catchers could cross into the North and drag a person back into slavery. It’s easy to think also that after the Emancipation Proclamation slaves were all free and and their life was happy and easy, but that isn’t how it really worked. For one thing,  if a person became free, where would that person live? How would they eat? Do you think all people would be kind and helpful to them? Would there be some people who were angry that the slaves were free?

It’s a complicated story but very interesting. What did some freed slaves decide to do? Did they stay and work for their former owner for pay? Did the move North? Did they try to find family members who had been sold away from them? How did they find a place to live and a way to make a living? Did they go to school? Where? Author: Linda Osborne

Freed slaved coming to Indiana might have decided to live in Lyles Station or at the Huggart Settlement.

Lyles Station, near Princeton, Indiana
Brothers Joshua and Sanford Lyles, freed slaves from Tennessee, established Lyles Station in the 1850s. Joshua returned to Tennessee after the Civil War to recruit family and friends to join him in Indiana. He also donated sixty acres of his land to the Airline Railroad so there could be a railroad station in the town. The town eventually included, a post office, the railroad station, fifty-five homes, an elementary school, two churches, two general stores, and a lumber mill.

 

Huggart Settlement, near South Bend, Indiana
huggart-settlementThe Huggart Settlement was established by Samuel Huggart, a free black man from Ohio. Both white and black families settled here and participated in an integrated community life. They farmed, went to church & went to school together. The families were members of a Quaker congregation called the Olive Branch Church, which was opposed to slavery. The Huggart Settlement is an example of a community where people of different backgrounds and races found common ground at a time when segregation prevailed in many other places.

The settlement began to decline following the 1913 flood of the Patoka and Wabash rivers. While only a few houses remain in the community of Lyles Station, nearly half of the current residents are descendents of the original black settlers, making Lyles Station the last remaining black settlement in Indiana.

Print This Post Print This Post
1 19 20 21 22 23 28