Tony Lindsay: Writing with a Purpose!

zorafestival2017Every year for the past five years I have taught a creative writing workshop to high school students during Education Day at the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Culture in Eatonville, Florida. And every year, I carry out the same exercise before we discuss the necessary tools to good writing of fiction. I ask them to close their eyes and just imagine the year is 2116 instead of 2016, and it is their great grandchildren who are about to read a novel they wrote a hundred years ago. I suggest that novel will reflect who they are and effect how their great grandchildren view them as a writer and person. Furthermore, it will provide every reader in the year 2016, an idea of the condition of our people, and the nature of our society at that time. My intention is to get them to think about writing with a purpose, and the important role they serve when putting pen to paper or given contemporary technology, fingers to computers.

acornsinaskilletI believe if more Black writers would practice the same exercise they might not produce such trashy, inconsequential works of fiction that gut our communities and reach our children. Maybe some of these writers would put a little more thought into what they publish. Please do not misinterpret what I write; I am not casting aspersions on all our writers. We do have some that give a great deal of thought to their works. One of those authors is Tony Lindsay, an outstanding writer out of Chicago, Illinois. Tony has a MFA from Chicago State School of Creative Writing and has penned seven novels, two short stories and recently completed an anthology of short stories titled, Acorns in a Skillet.

Adhering to our commitment at Prosperity Publications to publish only works that have quality content that are entertaining, enlightening, and empowering, we were proud to be able to publish Tony’s anthology, because it met all our standards. It is a serious work by a serious writer in the same category as Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin and Walter Mosley. Tony explains to the reader that his collection of short stories grew out of America’s complex racial interactions. The stories are unsettling in their timely nature, which will stimulate the reader to examine American life and how we live in a country where race matters so intently.

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The constant in these riveting portrayals of American life is race, but not always racial conflict. His collection of short stories is inclusive in the message and ends with a story of unity and a hopeful look to the future; something that every good piece of literature should accomplish and is why we can place Tony in the category of writers with a universal appeal.

tonylindsayI can comfortably state that Tony Lindsay is one of the better Black contemporary writers who refuses to compromise his talent and his message in his writing just to get published. He writes with a purpose because he knows what he puts on paper now will be read one hundred years from now, and he is determined to be remembered as a writer with a message. He has what I refer to as a passion for the art and he places that passion over profit, and that I must admit is very refreshing. He is a throwback to a time when most of our authors wrote because of a burning desire to interpret our world as is, and also how it should be. Those of us who abhor the trashy, sex riddled novels of today must thank Tony for rising above that level and giving us stories that empower, enlighten, and also educate.

I urge you who are serious about reading good and decent works, to reach out and get Tony’s short story anthology, Acorns in a Skillet, and in doing so, make a statement that we do appreciate good writing and will offer our support to those authors who do care about how we will be viewed through our literature in the year 2116.

You can purchase at www.amazon.com. For an autographed copy contact info@prosperitypublications.com. Please visit our website at www.prosperitypublications.com and review all our publications.

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“Rooted in the African-American Literary Tradition”

Considering the Tulsa Riot of 1921 from a Black Writer’s Perspective

Seven years ago I began my research into the Tulsa Riot of 1921. The result of that study was the release of Fires of Greenwood, a novel that chronicles the barbarous attack on a prosperous Black community, leading to the brutal killings of over three hundred men, women and children, and the destruction of thirty four blocks of successful businesses and beautiful homes. As we have witnessed throughout our turbulent history in this country, the official reason given for the massacre was the alleged attack of a young white girl, Sarah Page, by Dick Rowland, a nineteen-year-old Black bootblack. However, the actual facts of what happened in the Drexel building elevator on May 30, 1921 between those two, do not support the alleged reason for the massacre. I was, therefore, determined to write a novel depicting the real truth behind the slaughter of three hundred Black Americans, at the hands of a white mob.

Besides the mysterious relationship between the Dick and Sarah, what I found most compelling was discovering just how prosperous Black Americans were in their segregated community known as Greenwood. In fact, when Booker T. Washington past through the city on his way to speak in Boley, Oklahoma in 1905, he was so impressed with the number of successful businesses in the Greenwood corridor, he coined the term “Negro Wall Street” (once the term Negro was no longer acceptable, it was changed to “Black Wall Street”) as the best way to describe the area. Years later, in March 1921, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois was just as impressed with the number of successful businesses, when he visited the community and delivered a speech at the Dreamland Movie Theater, owned and operated by Black entrepreneurs John and Loula Williams.

Dreamland Theater Rebuilt

Stradford HotelMy research also brought to life the Gurley and Stradford Hotels, places of lodging for Black visitors to the city. Dr. Du Bois actually stayed at the Gurley Hotel during his visit there. However, it was not considered the better of the two; the Stradford was the finest Black owned hotel in the country, and easily matched the white hotels in Tulsa for convenience, luxury and comfort. John Stradford and O. W. Gurley were two of the richest Blacks in Tulsa. Both men had become millionaires before all was lost on that dreadful day in 1921.

In addition to the Gurley and Stradford, there were William Anderson’s Jewelry Store, Henry Lilly’s Upholstery Shop, A. S. Newkirk’s Photography Studio, Elliott and Hooker’s Clothing Emporium, H. L. Byar’s Tailor Shop, Hope Watson’s Cleaners and Lilly Johnson’s Liberty Café that served home cooked meals at all hours, while nearby Little Café is where people lined up waiting for their specialty chicken or smothered steak with rice and brown gravy. And there was the famous Little Rose Beauty Shop, run by the matriarch of the community Mabel Little.

Black Wall Street (Pre-Riot)The area possessed fifteen Black physicians and Dr. Andrew Jackson was recognized by the prestigious Mayo Clinic as one of the finest doctors in the country. The community also built its own hospital and the magnificently structure Mt. Zion Baptist Church, known to rival any other church in Tulsa or the entire state of Oklahoma. All this came crashing down, as the invaders dropped turpentine soaked firebombs that lit up the entire community and torched many unsuspected men, women, and children.

Riot Survivor in AshesThe tragedy that befell the prosperous Greenwood district, as well as other similar communities in this country, was that Black Americans were too successful, and a jealous and envious white community was determined to eradicate those businesses. That egregious attack on innocent citizens was not about a Black man accosting a white girl. It was about Black men and women who had bought into the Booker T. Washington position that hard work and a commitment to the American dream of capitalism would pay off handsomely. O.W. Gurley, a strong advocate of the accommodationist approach, found out just how much whites respected successful businessmen and women of the darker hue when they shot his wife and burned down his hotel.

Tulsa clearly points out that the only acceptable behavior whites would condone was for Blacks to be passive and subservient to them. “Uppity” became synonymous with Black men and women stepping out of the role as servants and field hands. However, the positive message that shines through the pages of Fires is that Blacks in Tulsa refused to condescend to the arrogance of the majority, and were willing to fight and die rather than allow an innocent Black boy to be lynched by the mob. Finally, this writer portrays the relationship between Dick and Sarah in a manner not pursued by the many other researchers, who have studied the causes of the riot. The portrayal of their involvement makes for an interesting and entertaining read, which should always be the goal of the novelist.

This novel re-creates the events that led to this slaughter and brings to life true heroes who stood up to the evil and fought back. It is imperative that Black writers begin to “tell our story our way,” and that is what I have done in the pages of Fires.  Eminent scholar and Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree noted that, “Frederick Williams has taken the 1921 Tulsa Riot to new heights and reminds us all that we cannot forget the African American community that battled to protect their dignity and respect. We will never forget what happened to the members of “Black Wall Street’ and will make sure that generations of people will forever remember the hard working men and women who fought to preserve their dignity.”

Prosperity Publications, the publisher has contracted to convert this work into a screenplay and will pursue producing a movie that will be as compelling as recent movies such as Selma, The Butler and Twelve Years A Slave. In the meantime I invite you to purchase the novel through Amazon or communicate with the company at www.prosperitypublications.com., or leave a message here on my writer’s blog.  A novel is always more comprehensive and thorough than the movie and that will be true with Fires. 

Greenwood MonumentYou can also visit the website of the Greenwood Cultural Center at www.greenwoodculturalcenter.com or the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park at www.jhfcenter.org both located on the grounds of the tragic events that happened on June 1, 1921, 95 years ago.

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Make Some Noise for the Color Black

darkwaterThis may sound like a very unusual request, but I am going to ask everyone to make some noise if you agree with me that the color black has been denigrated and abused far too long. The noise is to signal all those who have accepted the definition “Black is wicked, black is ugly, and black is evil,” that a change is going to come. The great scholar, Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, made some noise back in 1920 in his essay, “The Souls of White Folk,” found in his book, Darkwater, when he boldly exclaimed that the European and dominant American cultures have extolled the color white while debasing other colors, including black. He wrote, “Everything good, efficient, fair and honorable is white; everything mean, bad, blundering, cheating, and dishonorable is yellow, a bad taste is brown, and the devil is black.” All colors are equated with negative qualities with the exception of white. According to Dr. Du Bois, yellow and brown get pretty low grades but the lowest is the color black. So that is why I am making a request that anyone who wants to join me to change those definitions should make some noise for the color black.

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authorsI made some noise when I invited twenty-three writers to provide me with an essay, short autobiography, or biographical sketch about the African American culture for publication in an anthology celebrating the beauty, grace and strength behind the word black as in Black America. The result has been the release of Black Is the Color of Strength. All of the writers who chose to participate shared a common goal, and that was to present this country and the world with a range of well written works, accentuating the positive qualities found within the Black culture in this country The last section of the book is titled, “Legacies of Courage” and features short sketches on such giants as Dr. Maya Angelou, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker and Shirley Chissolm. There is a short essay on the Tuskegee Airmen and a final work called, “The Love That Forgives.” It recounts the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in September 1963, and the unique ability of Black Americans to forgive. This anthology is available for review on our website and on Amazon.com.

firesbookI made some more noise when I decided to tell our story our way and wrote a historical novel about the Tulsa Riot of 1921 titled, Fires of Greenwood. The novel chronicles the real-life events that led to the horrendous slaughter of American citizens, during this country’s turbulent racial past. I have also brought to life, the debate between Booker T. Washington’s accommodationist approach to segregation and Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois’ advocacy for a more radical protest, against the evils confronting Blacks during the early years of the Twentieth Century. This novel is an excellent primer for those who are interested in tracing the history of racial violence in this country, and why racial turbulence continues to confront us today. It is available for review on our website and on Amazon.com.

DrDiopDr. Mateen Diop made some noise when he wrote an excellent book, Inner City Public Schools Still Work. Dr. Diop shares with all of us concerned about the future of public schools, how they can still serve as effective tools for teaching our children. The key, according to Dr. Diop, is dedication and concern for those innocent young minds that are starving for knowledge. He challenges the notion that charter schools are superior to public schools, and gives examples to back his argument.  However, he agrees that both are useful institutions for teaching our children. In one very interesting section, he takes the reader through his own experience as a principal of an inner city school and how his staff, under his leadership, changed the entire learning environment, and increased the children’s scores far above just passing on state examinations. Dr. Diop’s book will be available through Prosperity Publications in August of this year. It is available for review on our website.

TMoffettAttorney Toschia Moffett made some noise when she meticulously interviewed and then wrote, The Spiritual Journey of a Legend, about the life of one giant of a preacher in Gaffney, South Carolina. Dr. Reverend James W. Sanders was one of those brave heroes that led the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s He did his work right in the city of Gaffney, challenging segregation in all its manifestations. This is the story of a man whose life’s journey begins in a segregated schoolroom in Union, South Carolina in 1933, and reaches its pinnacle of success when he is invited to the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2008. Toschia points out how the Christian faith can still serve as a vehicle for social change and economic improvement, in the Black communities. Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina, who was one of the many admirers of Reverend Sanders, wrote the foreword to the book. This book is available for review on our website an on Amazon.com

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The late David Floyd made some noise when he wrote about his extraordinary climb from a young man who graduated from high school reading at the second grade level, and in 2014 received his Doctorate Degree in Accounting. In his autobiography titled, Through My Mother’s Tears, David shares with the reader the tremendous obstacles he faced growing up in poverty in Freeport, Texas.  He recounts the personal humiliation and his rejection by others because of his dark skin color, and because he could not read. Despite all the obstacles, and with sheer determination, David turned a tragic beginning into a glorious victory in his life’s journey. This book is a must read for all educators interested in knowing, from a first hand account, how the education system can fail to help a child who always had a desire to learn, and for those who have lost hope and need a source of inspiration to keep on fighting for a better life. David’s book will be available through Prosperity Publications and on Amazon.com in July of this year.

chrispittardChris Pittard made some noise with his coming of age story, The Transmanaut Chronicles, about his brother, two friends and him. These four young men take off on a trip from El Paso, Texas to San Francisco, California, making stops in San Diego, Los Angeles and Oakland. Chris, who is an attorney in San Antonio, has given us a refreshing book, not about young men who are slinging drugs, chasing women and killing each other. It is the kind of book that young men and women can read and recognize that if these four boys can challenge life at an early age and commit to great accomplishments, then they can also do the same. Chris’s brother, Dana Pittard, is a Major General in the United States Army and his two friends are IT Specialists working for the United States Government in Washington, D.C. Attorney Pittard’s book is available through Prosperity Publications or Amazon.com.

These writings represent just the tip of the iceberg of the works that Prosperity Publications will publish over the next six months. The company plans to release the second in the trilogy on the color black, titled, Black Is the Color of Love, in August of this year. It is a series of short stories accentuating the love and courage of our ancestors. These fictional stories complement the non-fiction works found in Black is the Color of Strength.

The company will also release the personal memoirs of the great Hall of Fame basketball genius, George Gervin, in October of this year. The one man, who is responsible for the San Antonio Spurs moving from the ABA to the NBA and made them into a competitive team, is determined to write a different kind of book from what you usually get from an athlete. He is determined to tell how after basketball he dedicated his life to building a school for young people that often make wrong choices in life, and end up being locked up and forgotten about by society. He has taken those young people and provided them with an environment conducive for learning and, therefore, giving them a second chance to succeed in life.

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We invite you to visit our website at www.prosperitypublications.com and make some noise with us. If you find one or two of these works interesting, we further invite you to make some more noise and purchase them when available. You will not regret it because these books are entertaining, enlightening and most important empowering.

Not Just a Business, But a Movement

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Three successful Black men and one successful Black woman have come together to launch a publishing company that is not just a business but part of a movement. The primary goal of Prosperity Publications is to publish books, in all genres, that carry a positive message about the strength, beauty and wisdom that we, who are a part of the Black culture, inherited from our wonderful ancestors. Our message to the rest of the world is a very simple one, and that is we refuse to stand by any longer and allow others to demean our culture based on a distorted definition of black. There has never been a greater insult in the history of all civilization, than what has been hurled at us for centuries. Black is ugly, black is the devil, black is evil; black is wicked, dismal and represents failure. We at Prosperity Publications say, “No More and Enough is Enough.” It is time for us to define ourselves and if others don’t approve we feel no obligation to them.

As primary keeper of the vision for this company, I arrived at my determination to no longer accept these insults through the wise words of three cultural icons. The first comes from the writings of Langston Hughes, in a book review of Native Son that appeared in the Crisis Magazine in 1941. Writing about the tragic character Bigger Thomas, Langston asked the question, “Where are the Black heroes in our literature?” The greatest of all our cultural icons was alluding to the failure of Black writers to create heroes in their works. Hughes went on to elaborate, “Where, in all our books is that compelling flame of spirit and passion that makes a man say, ‘I too am a hero because my race has produced heroes.” The great poet was expressing his disappointment with the manner that Blacks were depicted in novels at that time. He believed there should be a better balance in character portrayals. Not all Black men and women were troubled souls like Bigger, and not all Black men and women found it impossible to deal with both poverty and being black. He suggested it was time to break the cycle of negative characterization of the race.

The second significant influence came from another literary giant, Ralph Ellison, author of the great American classic, Invisible Man. He made the following observation as early as 1944, “The solution to the problem confronting the Negro will be achieved when he is able to define himself for what he is and what he desires to be.” Ellison obviously is referring to the fact that Black Americans have always allowed others to define them. And the definition has been based on the perverted concept of the color black as projected onto a race of people and their culture. Over seventy years later, Prosperity Publications is determined to do exactly what the great essayist and novelist suggested. We will define who we are through our publications.

And finally I was moved by the poetry of Dr. Maya Angelou:

“You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt,

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

 The sheer genius of Dr. Angelou is that she captures the essence of our struggle for a positive identification in this country, in four simple lines. She ends, however, with a message of hope, and despite the insults we have endured over the centuries we still have the capacity to rise.

The four managing partners and our investors are committed to participating in the larger movement to change the negative direction of our culture. We strongly believe, however, it begins with a new definition for the word black, and that also means alternatives to a lot of the music, the television programs, and the literature that dominates and inundates our communities. We choose to take on this battle in the literary world. Our company has a history of involvement in projects such as creative writing courses, lectures on our culture, and of course the publication of works that we feel meet our criteria of uplifting the culture and the race.

We invite all writers who share our vision to submit their works for review. We invite all readers also to peruse our works and strongly encourage you to read our publications. They are and will continue to be entertaining, enlightening and empowering. Join us in the movement to make a difference in the lives of our youth and adults as we work to make all our people repeat James Brown’s famous verse, “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m proud.”

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