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«The Brownies’ Book»: Inspiring Racial Pride in African-American Children

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Christina Schäffer

‘The Brownies’ Book:’ Inspiring Racial Pride in African-American Children offers a descriptive analysis and interpretation of America’s first magazine for young African-Americans. Published by W.E.B. Du Bois in cooperation with Jessie Fauset and Augustus Granville Dill, the monthly hoped to foster a new African-American identity by (re)connecting «the children of the sun» with Africa, by turning them into proud Americans, and by educating them to be global citizens. The editors turned the crow into a positive symbol of blackness and provided photographs which proved that «black is beautiful» to increase the self-esteem of black youths. The magazine was a harbinger of the Harlem Renaissance and served as a creative outlet for many African-American writers and artists, among them many women.

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Appendix: Contributors to the Brownies’ Book

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Aicard; Jean (1848-1921) Jessie Fauset translated Aicard’s story “The Return of the Bells” (Apr. 1920) from French into English. Aicard was a French novelist, poet, and dramatist. Allison, Madeline G. Allison contributed six poems – “Lucinda Brown” (Mar. 1920), “Children of the Sun” (May 1920), “The Singing Bay” (June 1920), “To Our Mother” (Sept. 1920), “The Prince Speaks to the Sleeping Beauty” (Nov. 1920), “Autumn Skies” (Sept. 1921) –, three biographies – “Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: A True Story” (Dec. 1920), “Alexandre Dumas: A True Story” (Jan. 1921), and “Denmark Vesey. A Martyr for Freedom: A True Story” (Feb. 1921) –, and one instructional article entitled “Brownie Graduates” (July 1920). Allison joined The Crisis as a stenographer in 1911 and left after twelve years of service in 1923. During that time she worked as an agents’ clerk, secretary, and editor’s assistant, was in charge of the “make up” of the magazine, and compiled “The Horizon” from December 1919 to January 1923.1046 William Henry Harrison honors her for the latter task, stating: “In monthly compiling the tremendous new store of varied and far-reaching data her department contains, Miss Allison is doing a grand and unique piece of literary writing the workmanship and quality of which any magazine of any race would be proud to carry.”1047 The Crisis also included ads for the “Allison Shopper,” a service provided by Allison, which sold household items. When she left the magazine in 1923, she asked Du Bois to send her copies of The Brownies’ Book from January till December...

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