May 7, 2018
The mayor of Tallahassee has book recommendations for Kanye
by Peter Clark
Andrew Gillum, the young, vibrant, exciting mayor of Tallahassee, is a supernova in the otherwise soul-sucking black hole of American politics. The youngest-ever elected member of the Tallahassee City Commission when he was but a moonish twenty-three, he was elected mayor in 2014.
He also has some book recommendations for budding philosopher Kanye West, apparently. As Kirby Wilson writes at the Tampa Bay Times, Gillum recently appeared on Sirius XM’s Make it Plain, and said, “It’s too soon to talk about Kanye. I’m still processing the level of ignorance… There’s a lot of books I need to send this brother.”
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Kanye sent a lot of jaws dropping last week, when he said in a TMZ interview, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.”
Slavery has a long and disgraceful history in Florida, from the Spanish occupancy through later the US expansion. In 1823, after Florida became a territory of the US, white plantation owners spread quickly through the region, backed by the military, establishing a slave economy, while simultaneously massacring the Seminole Indians whenever they got in the way (see: always).
While Gillum—mayor of a southern capitol with a long, long history of slavery—didn’t expand on which books he’d like to send Kanye, there are just a few that come to mind:
- Spirits of the Passage by Madeline Burnside and Cornel West
- This book tracks stories through the wreckage of the slave ship the Henrietta Marie, coincidentally sunk off the coast of Florida.
- Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America by Ira Berlin
- This is a pretty classic book that chronicles slavery’s history and tracks how each state had slightly different systems of slavery.
- A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration by Pulitzer Prize-winner Steven Hahn
- Traces the history of African-American political movements across the South, both during and after slavery
Peter Clark is a former Melville House sales manager.