Monthly Archives: February 2018

Theme Thursday – Evolution of Revolution

On this final Theme Thursday in Black History Month, we want to focus on revolutionary texts to help you #staywoke. Some of us have had that experience of awakening to what’s going on in the world. Whether it’s from watching a movie documenting the civil rights movement or reading about the life of Malcolm X, there comes a point in time when you might “wake up” and start reading and researching about the issues of institutional and systemic racism. These seven classic revolutionary reads listed here will give you a head start on that path.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told to Alex Haley

Women, Race, & Class

Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community

Assata: An Autobiography

Revolutionary Suicide

Die, Nigger, Die!: A Political Autobiography

Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson

By the way, in case you weren’t sure, Merriam-Webster offers the following definition of woke. “Stay woke became a watch word in parts of the black community for those who were self-aware, questioning the dominant paradigm and striving for something better. But stay woke and woke became part of a wider discussion in 2014, immediately following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The word woke became entwined with the Black Lives Matter movement; instead of just being a word that signaled awareness of injustice or racial tension, it became a word of action. Activists were woke and called on others to stay woke. Like many other terms from black culture that have been taken into the mainstream, woke is gaining broader uses. It’s now seeing use as an adjective to refer to places where woke people commune: woke Twitter has very recently taken off as the shorthand for describing social-media activists.”

Theme Thursday – Evolution of Revolution

The Black Arts Movement, Black Aesthetics Movement or BAM is the artistic outgrowth of the Black Power movement that was prominent in the 1960s and early 1970s. Time magazine describes the Black Arts Movement as the “single most controversial movement in the history of African-American literature – possibly in American literature as a whole.” The movement has been seen as one of the most important times in African-American literature. It inspired black people to establish their own publishing houses, magazines, journals and art institutions. It led to the creation of African-American Studies programs within universities. The movement was triggered by the assassination of Malcolm X.Among the well-known writers who were involved with the movement are Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Maya Angelou, Hoyt W. Fuller, and Rosa Guy. Although not strictly part of the Movement, other notable African-American writers such as novelists Toni Morrison and Ishmael Reed share some of its artistic and thematic concerns.

Read this text and others available in Ames to learn more about the Black Arts Movement.

The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in the 1960s and 1970s – Emerging from a matrix of Old Left, black nationalist, and bohemian ideologies and institutions, African American artists and intellectuals in the 1960s coalesced to form the Black Arts Movement, the cultural wing of the Black Power Movement. In this comprehensive analysis, James Smethurst examines the formation of the Black Arts Movement and demonstrates how it deeply influenced the production and reception of literature and art in the United States through its negotiations of the ideological climate of the Cold War, decolonization, and the civil rights movement. Taking a regional approach, Smethurst examines local expressions of the nascent Black Arts Movement, a movement distinctive in its geographical reach and diversity, while always keeping the frame of the larger movement in view. The Black Arts Movement, he argues, fundamentally changed American attitudes about the relationship between popular culture and “high” art and dramatically transformed the landscape of public funding for the arts.

Theme Thursday – Evolution of Revolution

Revolutions aren’t always political, social, or cultural. Sometimes the way we do things and the processes for accomplishing tasks are done the same way until someone comes along and revolutionizes it. Sarah Breedlove Walker, better known as Madame C. J. Walker, created a cosmetic empire by inventing a system of hair straightening. This was an important development because for generations before her revolutionary process, blacks had straightened hair on ironing boards, which endangered the scalp and face and broke the hair. She was both an inventor and an entrepreneur; she opened a shop, trained assistants, and opened a beauty school.

Eventually, she moved the operation to Indianapolis and built her first factory. By 1917, Walker employed 3,000 workers in America’s largest black-owned business and was profiting from sales of equipment and supplies and from her chain of beauty schools.

On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker was written by A’Lelia Bundles. Bundles, a journalist and great-great-granddaughter of Madam C.J. Walker, offers a lively portrait of an American businesswoman. Walker, the first freeborn child of slaves, rose from poverty to establish a successful hair-care business, became one of the wealthiest women in the U.S., and devoted herself to a life of activism and philanthropy toward race and women’s issues.

Viewing The Saint John’s Bible at IWU

Ruth and Naomi
Ruth and Naomi

Ruth and Naomi, Suzanne Moore, Copyright 2010, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Through May 2018, IWU will have the Heritage Edition of The Saint John’s Bible Gospel and Acts on campus.  From June – December 2018, we will have the Pentateuch Heritage Edition.

Public viewings of Gospel and Acts Heritage Edition are available in the First Floor Rotunda, The Ames Library on Mondays 12-1 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m.-1 p.m. through February 26th.

During these times, docents will be available to guide your viewing of the beautiful illuminations and calligraphy and to answer questions about the making of this hand-written, hand-illuminated manuscript.

For more information, including a calendar of other events, visit

To learn more about the Heritage Edition Program or to schedule a visit of The Saint John’s Bible for your campus organization, class, civic organization, school, or faith community, please contact University Chaplain Elyse Nelson Winger at 309-556-3179 or email her at


Theme Thursday – Evolution of Revolution

Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. Black History Month was first proposed by Black educators and the Black United Students at Kent State University in February 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month took place at Kent State one year later, in February 1970.

Six years later Black History Month was being celebrated all across the country in educational institutions, centers of Black culture and community centers, both great and small, when President Gerald Ford recognized Black History Month, during the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. He urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

This month, Theme Thursdays will focus on revolutions related to black Americans. Black Americans have a long history of participating in revolutions, from the American Revolution to the Industrial Revolution. While it hasn’t been called a “revolution,” the #BlackLivesMatter movement is a call to action and response to anti-Black racism permeating U.S. society. Black Lives Matter has a defined agenda, defined leadership structure, and strategy for getting what it wants. It’s been said that if it must choose between evolution and revolution—between working within the existing system and disrupting that system entirely—then Black Lives Matter is choosing, to an extent, revolution.

Black Lives Matter activists have organized thousands of protests, a form of activism which has a long history with black communities. Learn about protests and activism within the black community with these collections from Ames.

Black students in protest: A study of the origins of the Black student movement, by Anthony M. Orum

Pullman porters and the rise of protest politics in Black America, 1925-1945, by Beth Tompkins Bates

Schooling Jim Crow: The fight for Atlanta’s Booker T. Washington High School and the roots of Black protest politics, by Jay Winston Driskell Jr.

Strategies for freedom: The changing patterns of Black protest, by Bayard Rustin

Black protest: history, documents, and analyses, 1619 to the present, edited with introd. and commentary by Joanne Grant

Black protest in the sixties, edited with an introd. by August Meier and Elliott Rudwick

Black protest: Issues and tactics, by Robert C. Dick