cover image Black AF History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America

Black AF History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America

Michael Harriot. Dey Street, $32.50 (432p) ISBN 978-0-358-43916-5

Harriot (The Situation in South Carolina), a columnist at TheGrio, offers a razor-sharp reassessment of American history. In a textbook format (including end-of-chapter quizzes and sidebars) meant to counter the “whitewashed” version of U.S. history often taught in schools, Harriot examines well-known events—including the founding of Jamestown and the growth of the Atlantic slave trade—with a focus on the experiences and contributions of Indigenous and Black people, such as enslaved West Africans’ introduction of rice (“America’s first edible cash crop”) to South Carolina. He also resurfaces lesser-known figures, including Mustafa Azemmouri, who “explore[d] more of the North American continent than Lewis or Clark.” An enslaved African, Azemmouri survived the arduous Narváez expedition of 1527, which included a trek on foot from Florida to Mexico, and was subsequently commissioned by the king of Spain to lead his own expedition into what is now the American Southwest. Also profiled are Jemmy, the West African leader of the 1739 Stono Rebellion in Charleston, S.C., and Rosetta Tharpe, the pioneering musician and “godmother” of rock and roll. Both entertainingly colloquial and impressively erudite, this meticulous survey of the American past is an invaluable resource. Educators should take note. (Sept.)