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AN INDEPENDENT SUPPLEMENT BY MIA MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS GROUP TO THE MIAMI HERALD

2020 MIAMI BOOK FAIR ISSUE

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2020


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EDITOR’S NOTE

TABLE OF CONTENTS 4  Nelson George Weaves Trap

Music, Human Trafficking, and Trump in Latest Mystery Series By William Hobbs III, Ph.D.

6  A Call to Justice Just for Kids: ‘Woke’ Inspires Children to Create Art, Poems to Express

 Justice and Injustice By Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns

8  COVER STORY

Author Terry McMillan Returns to Miami Book Fair: Latest Novel Follows Four Aging Black Women as They Figure Out If Life Is “All Downhill” By Russell Motley

I have a confession to make. I’m a sucker for good books, especially autobiographies. I am simply fascinated by people’s life story. The journalist in me wants to know everything: How they became successful? How they overcame adversity? How they made their first million? What’s even more exciting is getting to meet the author in person and having my book personally signed. It’s an experience I’ve enjoyed for the past several years while attending the Miami Book Fair on the downtown campus of Miami Dade College. Unfortunately, that experience will be very different this year, thanks to an incessant pandemic and the vital need for social distancing.

For the first time, the Miami Book Fair will be virtual with free admission. Everything from author talkbacks to actual book sales will be conducted online. That said, this issue of M·I·A magazine is also being distributed solely online. What’s packaged inside is informative and insightful as you navigate this new platform. I’ve gathered an amazing group of avid readers and thoughtful writers to review several books written by some of the most prolific Black authors invited to participate in this year’s book fair. They include Nelson George, the Rev. Dr. William Barber, Mahogany Browne, and Terry McMillan and Nate Marshall. I had the pleasure of interviewing author Terry McMillan about her latest release, It’s Not All Downhill from Here. I called McMillan right after she had taken her daily morning walk on her Pasadina, Calif. block with one of her neighbors. At the time, she was just two weeks shy of her 69th birthday, the same age as the main character in her novel. What was intended to be just a 20-minute interview turned into almost a two-hour conversation. McMillan is never short for words and opinions or offering solid fiction-writing advice. So I, an

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2020

aspiring novelist, let her have her say. This type of personal interaction with dynamic authors such as McMillan will be sorely missed from this year’s virtual book fair which runs Nov. 15-22. You can still expect all of the usual genres to be represented including fiction, politics, poetry, children’s books, and even Caribbean publications with a focus on Haiti. You’ll have access to the book by simply signing in with your email and creating a password. Once online, you’ll be directed to a menu of panels, programs, and conversations. All you’ll need to do is click on what you want to see and experience. One of the positives about the virtual book fair is that people can experience it from home or wherever they are in the world. Once you’ve order your book selection, there’s still nothing like cracking open that book in your favorite reading spot and immersing yourself in yet another adventure. Russell Motley M•I•A. Editor-in-Chief rm@miamediagrp.com

10 Walter Mosley’s ‘Awkward

Black Man’ Short Stories Speak to Every Man By Yolande Clark-Jackson

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12  An Urgent Call for a

Black Movement: The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber Implores ‘the Rejected’ to Revive Love, Justice

Subscribe to and view the digital version of Legacy Magazine and view additional articles at http://bitly.com/legacymagazines Facebook: Facebook.com/TheMIAMagazine • Twitter and Instagram: @TheMIAMagazine

By Tameka Bradley Hobbs, Ph.D.

14  Nate Marshall’s ‘Finna’ Explores Relationships, Language, Race, and Culture By Tawnicia Rowan

16  Non-fiction Writer Yanela

McLeod Highlights Historical Impact of ‘Miami Times’ William McGee, contributor

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Nelson George Weaves Trap Music, Human Trafficking, and Trump in Latest Mystery Series everyone does the electric slide together at the book’s conclusion. “Being older, a lot of wokeness is black and white… and I find a lot more gray in a lot of this,” George said. D Hunter’s world rocks the grays to the utmost. Far from a cheap set up for old heads to reminisce about the days of true lyricism, social commentary and a wider sonic landscape production-wise, The Darkest Hearts wrestles with the politics at play in the background of some of the most captivating stories dominating news cycles today. Takedowns involving the Me Too movement and cancel culture’s impact give the narrative a Law & Order, straight-fromthe-headlines feel, but with the insider’s view of someone who knows what is left unsaid on Breakfast Club, DJ Vlad and Sway interviews. The undisputed charm of the series is how it not only reveals the souls of those who, in a way, are reminiscent of Iceberg Slim and Donald Goines, but goes further by validating urban America’s importance and reach to a world determined to diminish its creators and its people.

BY WILLIAM HOBBS III, PH.D.

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ccasionally a mystery series comes along that can be enjoyed superficially for plot twists and memorable characters. There are others, like Nelson George’s The Darkest of Hearts, that connects the dots to the seemingly desperate in a way that encourages readers to be detectives about their own realities. Links between human trafficking, the fate of urban music, and the tyranny of President Trump seem like mere fodder for conspiracy theorists at the local barber shops until the world of D Hunter comes off the page. The fifth installment of George’s D Hunter mystery series moves from the trendiest hot spots in LA, NY, ATL as well as overseas. The landscape is packed with scarred and guarded characters willing to kill strictly for principle while looking fly as hell doing it. Protagonist D Hunter steps beyond his expertise as a bodyguard for a go at being a talent manager. After signing Atlanta rapper Lil’ Daye to a profitable endorsement contract, questionable side deals and maneuverings has some of the worst aspects of his past haunting him at every turn. “To me, the whole book is about, where are your values and what do you owe your constituency,” George told M·I·A magazine in a phone interview. “When you look at everything that’s going on with Ice Cube, it makes for a very contemporary conversation.” Just as real-life gangsta rapper Ice Cube attempts to manage dangerous waters trying to hold both political parties accountable to the interests of Black people, D Hunter’s attempts for a better life and future creates uneasy alliances with the likes of a contract killer named Ice. This delicate dance comes from their mutual ties to a murder case threatening to be reopened by the FBI. “The challenges that D is facing are real word

Nelson George

questions,” said George. The veracity of the music world and taste makers rests solely on George’s lengthy career as a music and cultural critic of urban music and culture. The commentary on the stark changes in the culture of Hip-Hop and rap music can only come from one who loved the music from its inception. Although it is presented as D Hunter’s perspective, its nuanced analysis feels, at times, like a character of its own. Nuance is also at the cornerstone of the moral questions each character must make. There are no convenient ribbons tied at the end where someone gets married and

Dr. William Hobbs III is a creative writing professor at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens. He’s the chair of FMU’s Arts and Humanities Department. Hobbs is the author of the fictional novel North of the Grove. He’s a conflict resolution expert who speaks to university students and young professionals. Medium.com/@williamhobbs247 Northofthegrove.com n


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A Call to Justice Just for Kids

‘Woke’ Inspires Children to Create Art, Poems to Express Justice and Injustice BY REBECCA “BUTTERFLY” VAUGHNS

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could consider it an early Christmas gift or an extra-early birthday present. Either way, I felt special when the mail carrier delivered Woke: A Young Poet’s Call To Justice. I was immediately captivated by the cover illustration. The image of a young African-American girl with a pen behind her ear was a twist — a vibe I’m more used to seeing young boys with than girls. The blend of the authors Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Olivia Gatwood, and the artwork of Theodore Taylor III makes for a book of poetry you’ll find yourself reading over and over again, as well as desiring to share it. The foreword was short but full of familiarity: It’s a collection of proclamations, megaphoning to the young world that they are human and therefore have the right… to talk back, to speak up, to connect with the fortifying elements outside of them, as well as those that exist within. I felt every word penned by novelist and poet Jason Reynolds. I was able to relate deeply. I am my mother’s talk-back child. Her last child. The rebel one. I’m big on the principle of the situation. From the womb to now at 48 years of age, I speak my mind. When it comes to a collection of work, I am into titles. Over time, I’ve become the fan of a poet after reading three to four poems listed. I lose it with their creativity and I super love metaphors. Hence, giving me the opportunity to reminisce makes the eye-indulging moment ever

so beautiful. I went on an unforgettable lyrical ride thanks to Browne, Acevedo and Gatwood. Taylor’s illustrations complemented all 24 poems with a breathless touch. I thoroughly enjoyed reading each one. The following poems from Woke are my favorite: “The Ability to Be” spoke to the idea of just being, no matter what. The

poem “Rock The Boat,” I was excited. Of course, that poem was about stirring up the pot on things. Never remain silent on what is right. And it was a home run for me with “The Poet’s Pen” as a poet can truly be considered a voice for the voiceless. The book’s title, Woke, is short, simple and straight to the point with a sharp force. Even when we are asleep we must still be awake. In closing, the subjects chosen to give life to were perfect and on point for a time such as this. The writings Mahogany L. Browne were the pure essence of what we all struggle with as human beings on a daily basis. I connected very much with the empathy tone being an empath myself. Their mission was surely accomplished with me because I am inspired and moved to leak weaved words onto paper with or without lines. May this book of poetry spark and wake up the poet inside of you as well as the voice you, by chance, have kept quiet for so long. Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns is a native of Miami, Florida. A lover and writer of poetry since the age of 10, she’s been a performance poet-spoken word artist for 23 years. It’s been her full-time job for 18 years. www.cdbaby.com Facebook: Rebecca Butterfly Vaughns Instagram: Soulfulpoet72 mindpensoul.rv@gmail.com n

poem “What’s In A Name” paid homage to some individuals that left behind an impactful mark on the world’s wall. I was a big Aaliyah fan, so to see the


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COVER STORY

Author Terry McMillan Returns to Miami Book Fair

Latest Novel Follows Four Aging Black Women as They Figure Out If Life Is “All Downhill” BY RUSSELL MOTLEY

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t 69, bestselling fiction writer Terry McMillan says she feels great. In fact, the author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Grove Back gracefully demonstrates that life for card-carrying AARP members isn’t necessarily all downhill as her latest

novel suggests. “A lot of young people think that when you pass 50, they really do think it’s all downhill,” McMillan told M·I·A magazine in a phone interview from her Pasadena, Calif. home. “Even older people think it’s all downhill. And some of them live their lives like they’re 10 minutes away from dying. So why bother exercising? Why bother going on a vacation? And I think that’s total BS.” In It’s Not All Downhill from Here, McMillan’s primary characters are all girlfriends from high school in Pasadena who are now pushing 70. It’s a pivotal, often challenging age that finds them battling everything from diabetes to depression, parenting adult children, keeping track of elderly parents, and coping with the loss of loved ones. Loretha “Lo” Curry’s world takes a devastating blow when she suddenly becomes a widow. The 69-yearold the beauty supply store owner admittedly feels as ugly and old as the establishment she runs. Not expecting to be single at her age, Lo says to herself: “When I sat down for a minute, it hit me that I had not been kissed or hugged or had sex in almost a year. It’s the longest I’d ever gone since I was in my thirties… I decided that if I couldn’t have sex, I would bake.” Not exactly a comparable alternative, but McMillan suggests that life for older Black women, particularly their physical appearance, is often held to a different

standard than for men the same age. “You see how we age more so than do men. We start putting on weight… We are known for it,” said McMillan, who maintains that the characters in this novel are not based on her life, aside from her living with diabetes. “And I’m not saying that the majority of AfricanAmerican women don’t take care of themselves but there are a lot of people that I know, and friends and family members, that are gone that shouldn’t be (gone) because we didn’t take care of ourselves and we just took a lot for granted.” Not only must Lo watch her diabetes and take care of herself, she has also willingly committed herself to help save her troubled adult daughter’s life. She disappears for long periods of time and battles alcoholism and depression. It raises a larger question: Should aging parents ever give up on their grown kids despite their repeated set-backs and screw-ups? “Some people suffer from depression that don’t even know how to recognize it. Sometimes people indict people for their mistakes or their shortcomings and idiosyncrasies,” said McMillan, a proud single mother to Solomon Welch, 36. “And I just wanted to paint an accurate picture of what happens when somebody that you love, especially your own child is going through something that you don’t understand. But you give yourself permission to understand it because you might help save their life.” As Lo and her girlfriends deal with their respective crises, including girlfriend Sadie’s affair with a married minister which takes a surprising turn, the one constant thing in their 60-plus year sisterhood is the monthly dinners they host at their homes. At these gatherings, all of their personal business, good and bad, is put on

Terry McMillan

the table. It’s where their lifelong bond is strengthened, or at least maintained. “I’m just interested in our behavior and how we can sometimes do more harm than anybody else. I just think it’s important that we give our best to ourselves and if we do that, we can give our best to others,” McMillan said. “And that’s what I was interested in exploring: how do we do that? How do we own up to and acknowledge how poorly or how well we treat ourselves? How honest can we be with ourselves? And how can we be good friends and good sisters, and good lovers and good mothers, and good wives? And sometimes you got to start with yourself.” Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic nixed McMillan’s 16-city book tour this year as well as a possible appearance at the Miami Book Fair, which is now virtual. Meanwhile, McMillan is spending this quarantine-time to write her next novel which, by the way, is not a sequel to “It’s All Downhill from Here.” Although the subject matter in her latest novel may sound depressing, McMillan says she doesn’t intentionally write to depress. She writes to elevate the power of hope. “Sometimes we have to accept that we are not perfect,” McMillan said. “That we do have the ability to make changes in our lives so that we can try to live our best lives. And there’s no age in which it’s too late, I don’t think.” Russell Motley is M·I·A magazine’s editor-in-chief. He is a broadcast journalism professor at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens. rm@miamediagrp.com. n


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TAKE ON THINKING INDEPENDENTLY

TOGETHER

TODAY

In the past, we tended to shape our lives through stereotypes, applying limits on what society said was achievable – or appropriate -- for someone our age. This new era renders those old norms obsolete, and I say – good riddance. Let’s push back, start fresh, and throw away those outdated boundaries. That’s where AARP comes in. We can help you navigate this changing world and make the most of today and tomorrow. Our new rallying cry is “Take on Today,” and we’re committed – we’re “all in” – to evolving to meet the new realities of aging. So go take on today and every day, Florida.

Learn how at aarp.org/fl

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Walter Mosley’s ‘Awkward Black Man’ Short Stories Speak to Every Man BY YOLANDE CLARK-JACKSON

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he Awkward Black Man by Walter Mosley is a collection of 17 short stories about Black men who haphazardly manage relationships and the odd thoughts running wild in their own minds. It presents unique vantage points while expertly providing moments of humanity that make up an ordinary life. “I wanted to write about the kind of Black guy you don’t see in movies, television or literature,” Mosley told M·I·A magazine in a phone interview about the inspiration for this collection. The characters range from the mundane to the surreal and crazed. Among the diverse protagonists, Mosley presents a mad scientist, an unlikely cowboy and a ghost. All of the characters will challenge readers to reflect on identity, culture, and the language. Yet, at the core, Mosley said, “Each story is us trying to understand a Black male reality today in America.” Mosley places a careful eye on each of his characters, pushing them through a series of thoughts and interactions, revealing insights about the struggles with identity and belonging that, for many, may go unnoticed. However, the men in these stories are keenly aware of their differences in relationship to the world they inhabit. In the opening story, “The Good News Is,” a man works to find the good news in the life that he has settled for until a welcomed

weight loss leads to a scary diagnosis, and a desire for more. “The Woman in The Chinese Hat” intrigues with the inner monologue of a young man who knows something in his life needs to change, which leads him to an unexpected encounter and the fear that follows in uncertainty. In “Local Hero,” you’ll find a character who feels so Walter Mosley

small in comparison to a cousin he calls “a blazing star among the assorted lumps of clay.” In “Breath,” the reader is plunged into a character’s deep fear and desperation as a man struggles to fill his lungs and his life with air before it is too late. Characters with memorable names have always been a penchant of Mosley’s and in this offering, the names are often as uncommon as the characters that hold them. He also wants readers to examine the names they call themselves. In both “Local Hero,” and more directly in “Unlikely Conversations,” Mosley pushed back against the term “African American” because “Africa is a continent, not a country, not even one race.” He added, “Parlance doesn’t make the word right.” Mosley has published more than 60 critically acclaimed books. In this collection, he not only examines the singular lives of 17 Black men, but he also moves readers to examine themselves. He pushes us to go beyond the awkward by considering the complexities of humanity that speak to every man’s need for compassion. Mosley was recently named the first Black man to ever be awarded the National Book Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be presented to him by Edwidge Danticat in November.

Yolande Clark-Jackson is a nonfiction writer and adjunct professor at Florida Memorial University. You can find her words in The Write Life, Mayvenn.com, and Sisters Newsletter. n


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An Urgent Call for a Movement

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber Implores ‘the Rejected’ to Revive Love, Justice BY TAMEKA BRADLEY HOBBS, PH.D.

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here is a long tradition within the Black Christian church of righteous truth telling on the matters of freedom, liberty, and racial injustice in the United States. From the evangelical force of David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, published in 1829, indicting white Christians for their participation in chattel slavery, to the Rev. Henry McNeal Turner and his fiery invectives calling out the injustices heaped upon freed people as they sought to assert their newly-achieved rights as citizens in the period of Reconstruction. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is perhaps the most preeminent among the list of Black religious-leaders-turned-activists in the nation’s history. Today, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber holds that mantel. One writer referred to him as the nation’s spiritual counterbalance to the Age of Donald Trump. Rev. Barber is best known as the president of the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement that gained national acclaim with its Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly in 2013. A graduate of North Carolina Central University, a historically black university, Rev. Barber is also president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, bishop with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary, and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Perhaps most notably, Barber has also worked to resurrect Rev. King’s Poor People’s Campaign more than 50 years after the leader’s tragic assassination, offering a moral critique of local, state, and federal policy, and promoting leadership

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

among marginalized folks in U.S. society and nonviolent confrontation of these systems in the service of justice. Barber is the most preeminent activisttheologian since Rev. King. This book, We Are Called to be a Movement, is the text of the sermon Rev. Barber delivered at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on June 3, 2018, on the cusp of the relaunch of the Poor People’s Campaign. In it, Barber takes inspiration from Psalm 118 and the proverb that “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” He pairs that with the story of Isaiah’s prophecy to the poor in Nazareth from Luke 4. Based on these biblical texts, Barber seeks, as Rev. King once did, to refocus the attention of this wealthy nation on the needs of the most vulnerable in the country, the poor. “The politics of rejection and policy violence against the poor are still far too real,” Barber reminds us in his book. He references a litany of

lack among the American people — from health care, affordable housing, to a living wage — to bolster his call of a moral mandate to improve the quality of life of those most on the margins in our society. Likewise, Rev. Barber reminds us of the leadership that comes from the cornerstones referenced in Psalm 118. “The rejected,” he implores, “must lead the revival for love and justice.” This is more than just an idea for Barber, as his group, Repairers of the Breach, in much the same way as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, works in communities to cultivate and train leaders within the grassroots to give voice to their own needs and desires. The movement is multiracial, nationwide, and tackles a major frontier that represents the greatest fundamental promise of the United States: the opportunity for all to thrive. In this way, We Are Called to Be a Movement serves as an indictment of the systems that foster continued economic exclusion and racial inequities, and a clarion call for the redemption of America’s soul. It builds upon the tradition of Black Liberation Theology, and the belief of God’s concern for the poor and marginalized. In his work and message, Rev. Barber offers a powerful and necessary vision for a nation where all Americans can share in opportunities to improve their lives. Tameka Bradley Hobbs, Ph.D. is associate provost for Academic Affairs at Florida Memorial University and is the founding director of the FMU Social Justice Institute. She is the author of the award-winning book, Democracy Abroad, Lynching at Home: Racial Violence in Florida. FB: facebook.com/drtamekahobbs IG: dr.tamekahobbs Twitter: tamekahobbs n


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Nate Marshall’s ‘Finna’ Explores Relationships, Language, Race, Culture

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BY TAWNICIA ROWAN

n what seems to be an increasingly suspicious and isolating world, Nate Marshall’s new collection of poems, Finna, is a refreshingly sincere and open invitation into one Black man’s reflections on relationships, language,

race, and culture. Deeply personal and culturally familiar, Marshall’s poetic sentiments are at once jarring and tender, uncensored and poignant. Marshall’s dedication, “For my people, the ones I love &/ especially the ones I struggle to love,” summarizes the resolve of Finna exquisitely. The author offered the following description of the collection in his interview with M·I·A magazine: “One of its real thematic concerns…is what happens when we cause harm or when harm is enacted upon us and how we move forward from there. … We have to care for one another even when that caring is difficult.” Marshall’s three-part definition of the title word “finna” is reminiscent of Alice Walker’s iconic definition of “womanist;” and like Walker, Marshall centers and celebrates Black ways of speaking and being. The poems in this collection chronicle the author’s journey through the throes of Black male adolescence, expose the often-painful tension between Black masculinity and Black femininity, and challenge the insidious influences of White

supremacist ideas and behaviors on the collective psyche of the nation and Black people in particular. Although Marshall believes Finna offers linguistic sustenance for all readers, he makes no apology for writing with a specific audience in mind. “The goal of the book is to

Nate Marshall

have a conversation with Black folks,” Marshall said. “If you’re not writing to a specific audience, you’re not writing to anyone.” With verses that flip and change direction on the page, “Only Boy” illustrates how growing up as the lone boy in a neighborhood full of girls shaped Marshall’s early sense of

identity. “The alternating of direction reminds me of double dutch: flipping the ropes, the jumpers who are inside turning and adding little embellishments, changing direction,” Marshall explained. “It was an attempt to make the poem’s physical shape

mirror that. It’s one of the early images in the poem, and it’s also a reflection on how in my neighborhood, double dutch was one of the first communal spaces I was told I couldn’t be in because I was a boy.” “Nigger Joke” is a powerful stream-of-consciousness narrative poem about a professional Black man accosted by a racist White man in a bar. The opening line —“so this nigger walks into a bar in this gentrifying neighborhood and orders fried chicken”— summons the inherent malice of every racist joke to foreshadow what comes next. “The speaker sees the train wreck that is about to happen and keeps trying to find common ground, redirect, or make something — anything — else happen. But [the racist] is locked in on saying something harmful,” Marshall said. “You can’t stop it. You’re just along for the ride. That’s the worst part about racism — it strips power from people. Whatever’s going to happen, you’re really just a subject to it.” While poems like “Step” and “My Mother’s hands” celebrate family and pride in the midst of struggle, “Landless Acknowledgment” and “When America Writes” serve as reminders of the inequities at the root of the struggle. Relevant, timely, and earnest, Finna is a tribute to Black poetry, Black people, and Black perseverance. It is a compelling and affirming read deserving of a place on bookshelves and syllabi everywhere. Tawnicia Ferguson Rowan, a native Floridian, is the founder of Well-Written Words, LLC and an assistant professor of English at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens. She is an avid student of womanist thought and believes that literacy is essential to individual and collective empowerment. Follow her on social media @WomanWordsmith. n


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Non-fiction Writer Yanela McLeod Highlights Historical Impact of ‘Miami Times’ Florida A&M University. “What they were pulling off behind the scenes to try to grasp equality was incredible.” Founded in 1923 by Bahamian-born Henry E.S. Reeves, the newspaper financially and editorially supported efforts to desegregate Miami schools, beaches, residential communities, public transportation systems and sports complexes.

Dr. Yanela G. McLeod

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n 1948, a group of black recreational golfers confronted management of the Miami Springs golf course, demanding an end to the segregationist policy that restricted black patrons to playing the public greens only one day a week. Among the fearless objectors was Garth C. Reeves, Sr., then managing editor of the Miami Times. The Miami Times and the Fight for Equality: Race, Sport, and the Black Press, 1948–1958, released by Lexington Books, illuminates the civil rights activism of the newspaper by highlighting its role in the Rice v Arnold legal campaign to abolish the public golf course’s “Monday-only” policy imposed on black golfers. Author Yanela G. McLeod, Ph.D., was a graduate student at Florida State University when she started digging into the legacy of the Miami Times. “The Miami Times is just a representative of so much that the Black Press has done for dignity and equality,” said McLeod, an educator, journalist and social historian who serves as director of Communications and Alumni Relations for the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities at

Its support of the legal challenge is but one example that demonstrates how the newspaper, as a conduit of social change, worked with other Miami community leaders to improve conditions for the city’s Black population. “The study helps inject this iconic newspaper

into the historical narrative of the Civil Rights Movement in Florida,” said McLeod, whose academic research focuses on the Black Press in Florida. “The book demonstrates the value and far reaching impact of the Black Press, an institution that has historically championed the rights of African Americans at the grassroots level.” McLeod, and FAMU alumna, spent her early career as senior reporter and associate editor for the Capital Outlook, a Black newspaper in Tallahassee. For 13 years, she was as assistant professor of journalism at the FAMU School of Journalism and Graphic Communication. McLeod, who earned both a Ph.D. in AfricanAmerican history and a master’s degree in U.S. history from Florida State, said one of her proudest moments was presenting a copy of the book as a gift to Garth C. Reeves Sr., for the celebration of his 100th birthday in February 2019. Reeves died Nov. 25, 2019. “His courage, integrity and selflessness are standards by which we all should strive to achieve,” McLeod said. “His dedication to the fight for equality continues to inspire me to be a voice and advocate for Black community. That is part of his legacy.” In her book’s “Acknowledgments,” McLeod offered a personal message to Reeves: “Our society is a much better place because of your commitment to your community and to improved race relations. God’s continued blessing over your life.” “The Reeves family dedicated their lives to relieving the plight of Miami’s black population,” McLeod shared. “They deserve to have the newspaper’s legacy preserved in its rightful place in American history.” Writer William T. McGee contributed to this story. n


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M•I•A Magazine Miami Book Fair Issue 2020