Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Know Claude Brown, a manchild in the promised land

"[This autobiography] is written with brutal and unvarnished honesty in the plain talk of the people, in language that is fierce, uproarious, obscene and tender, but always sensible and direct. And to its enormous credit, this youthful autobiography gives us its devastating portrait of life without one cry of self-pity, outrage or malice, with no caustic sermons or searing rhetoric. Claude Brown speaks for himself--and the Harlem people to whom his life is bound--with open dignity, and the effect is both shattering and deeply satisfying...[This work] is a mature autobiography of the coming of age of one hidden human being, whose experience and generation are absolutely crucial to any future history of the American people."-- New York Times Book Review

"For where does one run to when he's already in the promised land?"
--Claude Brown

Listen up. February 23rd, is the birthday of Claude Brown, one of America's most gifted writers. No, he didn't come from the Iowa writer's workshop or from some fancy school like Princeton in the East. In fact, often he was absent from school. Sometimes he had neither a school or a home to go to and spent many nights riding trains to stay warm.

Claude was born in poverty, in Harlem, New York, in 1937. He was a writer and child advocate. He was also a black male kid who had been a criminal since the age of 8. His success showed that a black kid who was well-known at juvenile detention schools could rescue himself (with the help of a few friends like the great writer Toni Morrison) out of crime and poverty and demonstrate that, like Malcolm X, almost any of us could be redeemed-- could be lifted from the cold concrete of urban, inner-city black America and be somebody: be transformed thug to a worthwhile American citizen, to even a man of letters, if given a little hope and half a chance.

Here's what the African American Registry (Please give them support) said of Brown today:

Claude Brown

From Harlem, Brown's early days frequented breaking the law. His crime run began at the tender age of 8. His father, a dockworker, would frequently beat him and his siblings when they got into trouble, and his mother struggled with the juvenile court to get him into the best state delinquency programs. But nothing seemed to prevent Brown from breaking the law. In spite of his unstable, alcoholic father, and the poverty of his youth, his siblings all grew up to lead normal lives. Brown spent years in and out of juvenile detention centers and juvenile homes as a result of stealing, and selling drugs.

His life of crime took a turn when a local drug addict shot him in the abdomen. This incident and the encouragement of a friend helped Brown leave his life of crime behind him. In 1959, he entered Howard University in Washington, and shortly afterward he began writing. Toni Morrison, one of his teachers, often critiqued Claude's work. Claude wrote about what he knew best his own life experiences. Browns Manchild in the Promised Land, is a best selling autobiography on his youth in Harlem, New York. In 1976, he published The Children of Ham, a story about struggling young blacks in Harlem.

Almost 35 years, and 4 million copies later, Manchild in the Promised Land has become the second best selling book MacMillan Books ever published (the first was Gone with the Wind), and has been published in 14 languages. It launched his career as a writer, giving him a platform to publish in Esquire, The Saturday Evening Post, Life, Look and The New York Times Magazine. Brown, was a freelance writer and frequent lecturer, and started a family. He had two children by two marriages, and a grandson. Though living in Newark, New Jersey, he was still involved in Harlem and helping kids out of the street life.

He works to maintain a program that mentors kids from Harlem, and helps them go to college. Brown also supports a Newark-based program that diverts kids caught up in the court system into an intensive eight-week residential treatment program that tries to turn young people's lives around. Writer Claude Brown died of a lung condition on February 6, 2002; he was age 64.

Know your history. Know Claude Brown, another manchild in the promised land.


Corey said...

Love it ! ! !
I've been wanting to re-read this too. This was one of the ones that I bought in reissued paperbacks in the '70s, took to school & passed around among my friends in study hall reading (what we thought were) all the good parts. So much can go over the head of an adolescent - there've been a number of the classics that I've had to go back as an adult and read again.

The daddy keeps on inspiring by bringin' his A-game ! ! !

Corey said...

Oh! And I love the dust cover of the book! I relate to it! The look! The feel! The memory of what the brothas, the streets, and what our communities were like BACK THEN!

Somebodies Friend said...

Claude Brown reminds me of someone I grew up with MacDaddy, This dude that I knew had to overcome a lot, and not only was he black, but he was hated on, even in his own community a lot of the times. But this friend of mine told me one day, a long time ago, "You just wait and see, I'll show'um all what a nigga like me is capable of doing.

Well, guess what Daddy, this brotha is now an attorney, and he can out shine all of those brotha's that was hatin' on him for most of his younger days. I always felt he had more in him than even he did, and I always stuck up fir his ass, even when he buried himself in the shit.

That's why we's still close, he don't talk to anybody else from the old neighborhood, except me, I always knew my boy could pull it off, and send all those other nigga's packin'.

Too bad we don't hear more stories like that of my bro, and that of Claude Brown. The black community needs all the role models it can find.

At least a few of the brothers make it out alive.

Great post as usual my brother!

MountainLaurel said...

One of the best things that I ever did was to read this book. I find that when re-reading, I always get something new out of the book, as I am a different person each time I read it. Thanks, MacDaddy, for helping to fill the holes in my education!

MacDaddy said...

Corey: Welcome. You're so right. When The Daddy rereads these classics, he is amazed at what he missed the first time. He could read it each year. It gets him inside youth poverty and allows him to see how it is from their point of view.

Somebody: I like this friend of yours. I hope you two stay in contact with him. You can't put a price on a true friend. Thanks

Mountain: Welcome. I remember you telling me how much you liked the book when I first reviewed the book. Your views on it are the same as mine. The is a story about redemption. The life of Claude Brown says, the ghetto is not filled with just losers. It is also inhabited by human resource that is being wasted and that we have to find ways to meet them half way, to help them to express or be the best of themselves. Blessings.

SDG said...

I have SO much reading to catch up on. Thanks Daddy for this reminder. As a kid who grew up in Harlem, I know that it was never the "myth" either good or bad that people believe it to be.

Keep up the good work and I'm going to drop in more frequently.

MacDaddy said...

SDGP: Thanks for dropping by and leaving some comments. Your insights are much appreciated.