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Clark Atlanta University Professor Invokes Personal Reflections on Middle Passage in The Coming

Posted on Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Contact: Donna L. Brock

ATLANTA (Feb. 10, 2016)- Their birth names were Atiba, Binta, Hassan…. We never knew them. Yet, they intimate their innermost thoughts, fears, yearnings and regrets in Clark Atlanta University (CAU) faculty author Daniel Black’s fifth novel, The Coming (St. Martin’s Press, 2015, 226 pp.) The soul-­‐shaking book, the topic of a reading and discussion Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. in the National Museum of the American Indian, 4th St. and Independence Ave., S.W. in Washington, D.C., is so powerful that leaders, clergy, and academics nationwide are praising it as a crucial Sankofa moment: an opportunity to learn from the past lessons that must inform the future.

The book represents an unapologetic reawakening for the consciousness of a nation. During the discussion, hosted by the Smithsonian National Museum of African-­American History and Culture, set to open Sept. 24, 2016, Black will chronicle the Middle Passage through the lens of captured Africans on their tragic voyage to enslavement in the Americas. A book signing will follow, with copies available for purchase through Smithsonian Enterprises.

"The Coming," says Clark Atlanta University President Ronald A. Johnson, "is a timely, clarion call from the darkest chapters of our past to our contemporary youth in a time when racial injustices and the rampant onslaught of violence against African-­American youth continue to accelerate despite compelling evidence that has been captured through the use of new technologies. This book is quintessentially an idea that matters,” Johnson adds, “and our obligation is to embrace and apply it—with urgency and intentionality-­‐-­‐toward solutions than will heal and build up our communities and our nation.”

The book unveils one of the most horrifying chapters in history, the Middle Passage, through the eyes of the brave souls who endured and survived it. During the Middle Passage, Africans by the thousands were captured, kidnapped from their homelands, and forced into shocking conditions for the sole purpose of enslavement that, today, continues to stain the social, economic, and political lives of Africans throughout the Diaspora. National Book Award­‐winner Charles Johnson, author of the  seminal work Middle Passage, calls The Coming “powerful and beautiful…a work to be proud of.”

Award­‐winning author Daniel Omotosho Black, Ph.D., presently serves as a full professor in Clark Atlanta’s Department of African­‐American Studies. Reared in Blackwell, Ark., he earned a full scholarship to Clark College (now CAU) and majored in English, graduating magna cum laude in 1988. He was awarded the prestigious Oxford Modern British Studies Scholarship and spent his junior year studying at Oxford University in England. He subsequently was granted a full graduate fellowship to Temple University where he earned the Ph.D. in African­‐American Studies. One of his dissertation advisors, Poet Sonia Sanchez, spoke the words that now capture the essence of this book: “it was the coming that was bad….”

Black is the author of They Tell Me Of A Home, The Sacred Place, Twelve Gates to the City and Perfect Peace, which was named the Arkansas State Library’s 2014 selection for “If All Arkansas Read the Same Book.”  All of his books are published by St. Martin’s Press.

“These brave souls,” Black says, “reside deep in my spirit. They have a righteous claim on that space. I am simply a vessel through which their voices cry out to our young men and women, exhorting them toward strength and courage, summoning the depths of their still­‐developing character in the midst of great peril—black men being killed by police, black women dying in jail, black youth invoking violence upon one another. The wisdom required to overcome such extreme pain and chaos was produced and modeled for us centuries ago…in the coming.”

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Category: Staff, University Media, Students, Arts and Sciences, Faculty, Administration, Advancement
Keywords: Daniel Black, The Coming, Clark Atlanta University, Smithsonian