Tag Archives: Civil War

Book of Black Heroes

 

Political Leaders Past and Present,  Gil L. Robertson, Book Review, Civil War, Reconstruction, Black HistoryBook of Black Heroes

Political Leaders Past and Present

by Gil L. Robertson, IV

Foreword by Myrlie Evers-Williams

Just Us Books

Paperback, $12.95

80 pages

ISBN: 978-1-933491-21-9

Book Review by Kam Williams

“The first African-American political leaders began to serve following the Civil War…Known as Reconstruction, this period represented a window of opportunity for African-Americans…

Many [Black] political leaders emerged during this period, using their political power and influence to push for equality and justice for all Americans… Unfortunately, the Reconstruction period was short-lived, lasting only from 1865-1877.

States in the South… passed laws that essentially took away the citizenship rights of African-Americans… These legislative measures were called Jim Crow laws.

It would take nearly 100 years and … the Civil Rights Movement before African-Americans would again be guaranteed the right to vote and hold elected office… A new generation of Black political leaders is active today.

[This book] will acquaint readers with leaders of the past and will introduce new ones… Through their stories, I hope others, especially young people, will be inspired to become leaders in their own right.”   

— Excerpted from the Introduction (pages ix-x)

Despite the historic election of Barack Obama as the first African-

American president, the American Dream still eludes the majority of blacks in the country. Meanwhile, plenty of TV pundits point to Obama as proof that the U.S. has arrived at a post-racial reality where skin color is irrelevant.

However, since millions of blacks continue to suffer from a host of woes associated with the inner city, they remain in critical need of political leadership. That is the contention of Gil Robertson, author of Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past and Present.

His timely tome is composed of biographies of about four-dozen African-American icons who have served in the political Political Leaders Past and Present,  Gil L. Robertson, Book Review, Civil War, Reconstruction, Black Historyarena over the past century and a half. The enlightening opus’ aim is not only to educate but to inspire the next generation of selfless torchbearers.

Many of the luminaries profiled are household names, such as President Obama, Representatives John Lewis and Maxine Waters, and Senator Cory Booker. Others members of Congress are rising stars in their respective parties, ranging from Democrats Kamala Harris and Keith Ellison to Republicans Tim Scott and Mia Love.

Along the way, we learn that Ellison converted from Catholicism to Islam while in college and that Harris is of Jamaican and East Indian extraction. Some of the most fascinating entries are about little-known leaders from the Reconstruction Era, like Pinckney Pinchback who served as Governor of Louisiana for 15 days, and Hiram Revels who was elected to represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate in 1870.

Overall, a priceless primer on the intrepid, political pioneers who have spearheaded the African-American fight for equality.

To order a copy of Book of Black Heroes: Political Leaders Past and Present, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1933491213/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

 

 Source:  Baret News

 

Southern Belles Vie for Union Soldier’s Affections in Sofia Coppola’s Sublime Tale of Seduction

 

The Beguiled is a Civil War saga based on the best seller of the same name by the late novelist/playwright Thomas Cullinan (1919-1995). The sublime tale of seduction was first adapted to the screen in 1971 as a melodramatic revenge flick starring Clint Eastwood. This relatively-refined remake was directed by Sofia Coppola whose effort was richly rewarded at Cannes where she became only the second woman to win Best Director in the history of the festival.The Beguiled

Film Review by Kam Williams

Southern Belles Vie for Union Soldier’s Affections in Sofia Coppola’s Sublime Tale of Seduction 

The Beguiled is a Civil War saga based on the best seller of the same name by the late novelist/playwright Thomas Cullinan (1919-1995). The sublime tale of seduction was first adapted to the screen in 1971 as a melodramatic revenge flick starring Clint Eastwood. This relatively-refined remake was directed by Sofia Coppola whose effort was richly rewarded at Cannes where she became only the second woman to win Best Director in the history of the festival.

The story is set in 1864 at a Virginia boarding school for girls run by prim Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) with the help of equally-proper Edwina Dabney (Kirsten Dunst). They have five students entrusted to their care, ranging in age from prepubescent to the late teens. 

At the point of departure, the sounds of battle are audible off in the distance. The raging conflict cuts a sharp contrast to the serenity of the idyllic campus where we find Amy (Oona Laurence) foraging in the forest for wild mushrooms. 

She stumbles upon a wounded Union soldier hiding in the woods. Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell) had been felled by a bullet to the leg. The innocent adolescent instinctively brings him home, only to be criticized by an elder classmate (Angourie Rice) for rescuing a “dangerous enemy.”

The Beguiled,  Film Review, Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Oona Laurence, Colin Farrell, Civil War, Thomas Cullinan

After initially issuing a stern warning that “You are a most unwelcome visitor,” their ordinarily icy headmistress inexplicably melts. She allows the ailing adversary to remain on the premises without even informing the Confederate army of his presence.

Personally assuming the responsibility of nursing their guest back to health, man-starved Martha soon finds herself swooning for the solicitous stranger. Trouble is, John proves to be quite the Casanova, knowing just the right words to surreptitiously charm the pants off each of the females, one-by-one.

The Beguiled,  Film Review, Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Oona Laurence, Colin Farrell, Civil War, Thomas Cullinan

Of course, the cat’s eventually out of the bag, and his collective spell is broken. And after the heartbroken lasses put their heads together, he probably wishes he’d simply surrendered  to the Rebels rather than seek refuge.

Hell hath no fury like some Southern belles scorned!

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated R for sexuality

Running time: 93 minutes

Production Studio: American Zoetrope

Distributor: Focus Features

Source:  Baret News

Matthew McConaughey Stars as Rebel Soldier-Turned-Slave Revolt Leader

 

Free State of Jones,  Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, Review by Kam Williams, Matthew McConaughey, Civil War, overdue history lesson Free State of Jones

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Review by Kam Williams

Matthew McConaughey Stars as Rebel Soldier-Turned-Slave Revolt Leader

While the slave raids led by Nat Turner and John Brown have been well documented in the annals of American history, the relatively-successful exploits of another notorious abolitionist insurrectionist have somehow slipped through the cracks. At least until now.

Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey) was born and raised in Jones County, Mississippi, the grandson of a slave owner, making him, at first blush, a very unlikely figure to mount a revolt. He even served as a medic in the Confederate army during the Civil War, but was disheartened to learn how the sons of large plantation owners had been exempted from the military draft. And he was further demoralized the day a fresh young recruit (Jacob Lofland) from his hometown who had just joined his unit perished in battle upon reaching the front lines.

No longer seeing any sense in poor people fighting to preserve the privileges of the very rich, Newt impulsively went AWOL, the dead boy’s body in tow. He returned to Jones where he is quickly identified as a deserter. After being abandoned by his wife (Keri Russell) and having his farm confiscated by the Confederacy, he flees for his life, finding sanctuary in a swamp deep in the woods inhabited by a handful of escaped slaves.

  There, he befriends Moses (Mahershala Ali), a runaway bothered by an iron collar that had been soldered around his neck by a sadistic slave master. Newt, a blacksmith by trade, gains the group’s trust by freeing the beleaguered black man from the torturous contraption.

He soon emerges as its very charismatic, spiritual leader, founding the Free State of Jones on a quartet of core principles promoting racial equality. Gradually, its ranks swell to over 250, with both ex-slaves and disaffected Rebels joining.

In this oasis of racial harmony, Newt proceeds to fall in love with Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a beautiful black woman who bears him a son. Thus unfolds Free State of Jones, a reverential biopic written and directed by four-time Oscar-nominee Gary Ross.

Matthew McConaughey shines from beginning to end in a star vehicle where the virtuous protagonist is never allowed to exhibit a flaw. This costume drama proves compelling enough, primarily because nobody knew such a scenario could possibly have unfolded in a Southern state like Mississippi supposedly marked by segregation and intolerance.

An overdue history lesson about an important chapter in America’s long march to freedom.

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated R for brutal battle scenes, an ethnic slur and disturbing images

Running time: 139 minutes

Distributor: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extra: The History of Jones County

  

To order a copy of the Free State of Jones Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit:

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01HIPKKY0/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  Baret News

Gettysburg Address Revisited Via Novel Ken Burns Documentary

51Hzzg1dcTLThe Address

DVD Review by Kam Williams

 

Gettysburg Address Revisited Via Novel Ken Burns Documentary

On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to dedicate a cemetery at the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. The President kept his remarks to a mere two minutes, paling in length to that of the relatively long-winded Edward Everett, a former Secretary of State whose keynote speech lasted a couple hours.

Although one newspaper reporter would derisively dismiss Lincoln’s 272-word sermon as “silly, flat, dish-watery utterances,” it would prove to be a soliloquy for the ages. After beginning with the icon phrase, “Four score and seven years ago,” he proceeded to recount the lofty ideals which had inspired the Declaration of Independence before cleverly repositioning the Civil War as less a struggle to save the Union as a God-ordained fight for human rights.

“The Address” represents a bit of a departure for Ken Burns, a director long associated with painstakingly-researched, historical documentaries. For, this picture is set in the present at the Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont, an institution founded in 1978 for boys with learning disabilities ranging from dyslexia to dysgraphia to ADHD to executive function.

Nevertheless, the school has a tradition whereby every student is expected to comprehend and commit the Gettysburg Address to memory by the end of the school year in order to recite it individually in front of an auditorium filled with parents, guests and staff. This is no mean feat, given how the school serves as a refuge of last resort for kids who have basically been labeled unteachable everywhere else they’ve enrolled.

Burns’ camera was apparently afforded unusual access to the classrooms at Greenwood over the course of the year. So, we’re able to observe how a dedicated team of educators and therapists managed to instill enough confidence in all 50 members of the student body, no matter how crippling the fear or handicap.

The transformations are so remarkable by the day of the assembly that tears will reflexively roll down your cheeks in admiration of the children’s achievement. Moreover, don’t be surprised to come away from the experience with a deeper appreciation of the Gettysburg Address and maybe even a determination to memorize it yourself.

A current-day, Ken Burns production every bit as moving as any of his nostalgic classics.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

Rated TV-PG

Running time: 85 minutes

Studio: Florentine Films

Distributor: PBS

 

To see a trailer for The Address, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR2MIxjB_4c

 

To learn more about the Gettysburg Address and to video record yourself reading or reciting it, visit: http://www.learntheaddress.org/

 

To order a copy of The Address on DVD, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00HUAH02O/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20