Working Americans: African Americans

“Following the formula set in other volumes of the Working Americans series, this offering looks at African Americans by focusing not on the achievements of the famous but on ordinary people. The volume is arranged by decade, and for each decade, two or three people who typify the African American experience are profiled—for example, “1916: African American U.S. Army Major”; “1951: Former Slave and Proud Matriarch”; and “2016: Family Therapist.” Accompanying the profiles are time lines, excerpts from newspaper and magazine articles, and other items providing a sense of the period. Recommended for general readers as well as secondary students and undergraduates.”

“This 14th volume in the Grey House Working Americans series depicts the African American working experience over nearly 12 decades. The book, based on material from the Working Americans series by Scott Derks, profiles 30 individuals from a wide range of places and occupations. They include well-known persons such as hair-care entrepreneur Madam C. J. Walker and blues singer Florence Mills and lesser-known African Americans ranging from a U.S. Army major to a baseball player, a music manager, an educator, a civil rights activist, and more. Following the format of the other volumes in this series, each individual’s story is told in three parts: home life, work life, and life in the community. These parts are followed by “Historical Snapshots” for the year in question, a listing of typical prices for the year, and selected primary sources. The selected materials include a “Lynching Timeline” and newspaper accounts of actions and attitudes affecting African Americans. The chapters are copiously illustrated with photographs and each section is clearly marked and easy to follow. After the 30 stories there is an informative document from the United States Census Bureau titled “The Black Population: 2010,” which offers a wealth of statistics, maps, and charts. There is also an account of Black History Month, an index, and a selection of works for further reading. Although much of the information on the African American experience is available elsewhere, the presentation of factual material linked to individual stories helps the reader to engage with it. This book should be especially helpful to teachers in conveying to their students some fundamental realities of African American life, and a boon to secondary school students doing research projects. Recommended as a useful resource for academic, school, and public libraries.”