A Lesson Before Dying

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, A Lesson Before Dying, A Gathering of Old Men, Of Love and Dust, A Long Day in November, Bloodline: these are just a couple of the books written by the prolific author, Mr. Ernest J. Gaines.

These are some of my favorite quotes.  You can lean more about            Mr. Gaines by clicking on this link. Watch the video below, and learn more about a true American treasure.

“Question everything. Every stripe, every star, every word spoken. Everything.”

“How do people come up with a date and a time to take life from another man? Who made them God?

“Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands? ”

“I want you to show them the difference between what they think you are and what you can be.”

“I have no more to say except this: We must live with our own conscience.”

“Nietzsche said without music, life would be a mistake. To me, without books, life would be a mistake.”


Celebrating African American History Month by remembering James Weldon Johnson (1871 – 1938).

James Weldon Johnson was an educator, a lawyer, a newspaperman, United States consular officer and secretary of the NAACP, a librettist, songwriter, historian, novelist,  biographer, and poet. These are just a few of the many hats one black man wore, so that African Americans today would be proud of the ancestors who came after the Ancestors.

Johnson is well known for many literary works, among them, Black ManhattanThe Autobiography of an ex-Colored Man, and The African-American National Anthem: LIFT EV’RY VOICE AND SING.  Read and memorize the words below, if you have not already done so.  Listen to the recording below, and learn this very powerful and inspirational anthem.



(African-American National Anthem)

Lift every voice and sing

Till earth and heaven ring.

Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;

Let our rejoicing rise

High as the listening skies

Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.

Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,

Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.

Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,

Let us march on till victory is won.


Stony the road we trod,

Bitter the chastening rod,

Felt in the days when hope unborn died;

Yet with a steady beat,

Have not our weary feet

Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?

We have come over a way that with tears has been watered.

We have come, treading our paths through the blood of the slaughtered.

Out from the gloomy past,

Till now we stand at last

Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,

God of our silent tears,

Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;

Thou who has by Thy might

Led us into the light,

Keep us forever in the path, we pray.

Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we meet Thee;

Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world we forget thee,

Shadowed beneath Thy hand,

May we forever stand,

True to our God,

True to our native land.

Ibi Zoboi’s American Street

In the neighborhood where I live, a cardboard stork makes its way to the front lawn of new moms and dads. The stork holds from its bill a sign that advertises the name, sex, birthday, and birth weight of the newborn. We drive past the stork on our way to work, acknowledging the child and wishing that the world proves to be a kind, welcoming, and safe place for him/her to flourish.

You and I don’t live in the same neighborhood, but technology has made us neighbors. Let me tell you about a newborn that greeted us on Valentine’s Day. The new mom’s name is Ibi Zoboi. If you have not heard of her, you will. Trust me. The baby’s name is American Street.

Ibi is a staunch supporter of the marginalized. Tears leak out of her eyes, when she contemplates how her birthplace, Haiti, is consistently demonized. She redeems her homeland through the fearlessness of her protagonist, Fabiola Toussaint, a black girl whose mother is detained by the immigration police. Fabiola, whose namesake is Toussaint Louverture—the fearless leader of Haiti’s successful slave revolution—must go home alone to make sense out of her hostile world. She meets challenges no child should; negotiates Detroit’s punishing streets, to emerge as the heroine we will come to love.

This young adult novel will make you believe, once again, in a girl’s power to endure and thrive. Kirkus Review puts it this way: “[American Street] will take root in readers’ hearts.” In these days of “extreme vetting,” this book about the immigrant experience could not be timelier. Run to your favorite bookstore, and get a copy for yourself and one for your best friend(s). Spread the word on social media. Let’s make Fabiola Toussaint the star she deserves to be.

By the way, I’ve been accused of being able to “see into the future.” If that were true, I would have done many things differently. However, something tells me American Street is destined for greatness.  I see a movie in its future. I see Fabiola Toussaint’s face on lunch boxes and mouse pads. I see a television series. I see children all over the world being inspired to be bold and heroic. I see a promising future.

Great job, Ibi! I cannot wait for the next book

Ibi Zoboi was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and immigrated to the U.S. when she was four years old. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she was a recipient of the Norma Fox Mazer Award. Her award-winning and Pushcart-nominated writing has been published in Haiti Noir, the Caribbean Writer, The New York Times Book Review, the Horn Book Magazine, and The Rumpus, among others. Her debut YA novel AMERICAN STREET (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins) is due out in Winter 2017. Her debut Middle Grade novel, MY LIFE AS AN ICE CREAM SANDWICH (Dutton/Penguin), is forthcoming.


The events of the past few months have shaken us to the core. The world holds its breath, hoping against hope that the nightmare will end. The sun shines a bit brighter this Tuesday, though. People are wearing their hearts on their sleeves, literally.

Friends on social media publish encouraging messages about the different types of love they have for one another: sacrificial love, fast-burning love, sustainable love. The posts that carry the most meaning remind us that every day brings with it a chance to celebrate family and friends.  Just as every month is African-American History month, every day is an opportunity to give and receive the one thing that will transcend all the hatred bubbling, like lava, around us.

Love always triumphs. After all these years, can you believe there’s still no app for it?

Viv lanmou!