Bessie is an HBO film starring Queen Latifah in an excellent portrayal of 1920’s blues legend Bessie Smith. The movie covers Bessie’s rise, fall, and comeback during the 1920’s — 1930’s with brief peeks back into her childhood. The movie is quite good due to the great performances and cinematography but the story itself is a bit lacking. It isn’t perfect but it’s still enjoyable and worth seeing. I recommend Bessie if you’re into music, a fan of any of the actors, or you’re just looking for a good movie to watch.
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The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, weaves together the stories of three people who fled the South during The Great Migration. Ida Mae Brandon Gladney who migrated from Mississippi to Chicago in the 1930’s. George Swanson Starling who moved from Florida to Harlem in the 1940’s. And Robert Joseph Pershing Foster who relocated from Louisiana to Los Angeles in the 1950’s.
The Corner by David Simon and Edward Burns is one of the most saddening and inspiring books I’ve ever read. The book follows the lives of residents near the corner of West Fayette and Monroe Streets in West Baltimore over the course of a year in the early 90’s. The authors lay bare how a history of poverty, crime, and drug addiction tore apart the neighborhood, families, and individuals.
12 Years a Slave is a movie about the unfortunate life events of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Solomon was a violinist who lived with his wife and two young children in Saratoga Springs, NY in 1841. Lured away from home under false pretenses, Solomon is kidnapped and sold into slavery. He spends 12 years of his life yearning for his family and suffering under the false identity of “Platt”.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a slave narrative written by Harriet Jacobs that covers her childhood and adulthood. Jacobs was born a slave in Edenton, NC and later escaped North with hopes of reuniting with her children. The book shares some similarities with 12 Years a Slave if you can imagine it from the perspective of Patsy. It was written under the pseudonym of name Linda Brent to preserve Harriet Jacobs’ and her family’s safety.