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Redefining the American song book


The Chisholm Effect


Changing the Course of Music

Volume 5 features singers, women in education and scholarship, and public health and medicine. Black women singers have made an indelible mark on American music. From opera, jazz, and blues to gospel, soul, rap, and pop, these women cannot be denied their place in history. This diverse range of singers includes one of the earliest known opera singers, Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones, blues singer Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith, "The Queen of Gospel" Mahalia Jackson, the jazz singer Sarah Vaughn "The Divine One," and "The Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin. They represent a group of pioneering vocalists who fashioned the blueprint for the record-breaking feats enjoyed by some of music's biggest names. Artists like Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliot, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B symbolize Black women's enduring influence on American music.


Black women educators (with a particular focus on higher education) and scholars have greatly impacted the Black community and American society. In the early twentieth century, one of the important goals of Black scholars was to counteract the negative images and representations of African Americans that were institutionalized within academia and society. This historical account of Black women scholars begins in the nineteenth century with Sarah Jane Woodson Early, Anna J. Cooper, and Georgiana Rose Simpson and the insurmountable challenges they faced. Some educators created schools and programs like Mary McLeod Bethune or taught at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). In the wake of new generations of institutional Black academics who foment political activism and cultural conversations around race, power, knowledge, and politics, Black women educators and scholars like Mary Frances Berry, bell hooks, and Kimberlé Crenshaw represent a wide ideological spectrum of scholarly ideas in their work.


Health and race disparities in America have deep roots that have greatly impacted African Americans' health outcomes, from slavery to the forced sterilization of Black women, to the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment and lead-poisoned water in Flint, Michigan. Black women doctors have spent more than a century dedicating their lives to grappling with prevention and cure, researching diseases, and investigating their communities' physical and mental well-being. In public health and medicine, readers become acquainted with Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler, the first Black woman to earn a medical degree in the United States, Ida Gray, the first Black woman dentist, to the amazing Helen Octavia Dickens, who was a physician, medical and social activist, health equity advocate, researcher, and health educator and administrator. They set the stage for Dorothy Lavania Brown, the first Black woman surgeon, Jane Cooke Wright, an oncologist and cancer researcher noted for her contributions to chemotherapy, and Patricia Bath, an ophthalmologist and an early pioneer of laser cataract surgery. Physicians like Helene D. Gayle and Deborah V. Deas in high-level healthcare positions continue to deal with health disparities in the black community, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In this volume, David highlights some of the bright young activists, artists, and professionals who are challenging the status quo and working to build a better future for us all.

“The first book in an anticipated six-volume set, TRAILBLAZERS is an inspiring, comprehensive work. With a multidisciplinary background in music, design, and poetry, David provides the model of activist scholarship that combines academic nuance and sophistication with an engaging writing style that is accessible to general readership, such as David’s essay that convincingly demonstrates how women served as the “foot soldiers” of the civil rights movement. Backed by impressive endnotes and references, each chapter is encyclopedic in breadth while offering fresh analytical insights into Black women who are well covered in the existing literature, like Rosa Parks. The choice to combine the topics of activism, dance, and sports makes for an eclectic collection . . . . Accompanied by dozens of stark, powerful black-and-white photographs and portraits, this is a visually arresting volume whose words match the power of its images. An exciting resource in a promising, thorough multivolume celebration of Black women."



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