Excerpts from 2Leaf Press’ TRAILBLAZERS press release:
NEW YORK, NY —Black women have inspired, elevated, and transformed society throughout the ages and across generations. While often breaking through barriers of racism and sexism, with underwhelming recognition or documentation, they managed to achieve greatness. TRAILBLAZERS, Black Women Who Helped Make America Great, American Firsts/American Icons by Gabrielle David shines a light on these historically marked footholds, which often led to widespread cultural change. TRAILBLAZERS is a six-volume series examining the lives and careers of over 400 brilliant women from the eighteenth century to the present who blazed uncharted paths in every conceivable way. The volumes will be released over the course of 2021 and 2022. The first volume is scheduled to publish November 1, 2021 exclusively at University of Chicago Press (http://bit.ly/trailblazers1-ucp), and is available on major online outlets on December 6, 2021. TRAILBLAZERS acquired discretionary grants from the Open Meadows Foundation, The New York Women’s Foundation, Women’s Sports Foundation, and sponsorship from the National Sorority Phi Delta Kappa, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and The International Association of Blacks in Dance. Their financial aid and partnership,represents this volume’s featured sections, Activism, Dance, and Sports.
Each TRAILBLAZERS volume is organized into three to four sections. Besides providing biographical information written in accessible prose for a broad audience, replete with powerful photographs, David also provides a historical timeline for each section written from a Black woman’s viewpoint that maps out the significance of the featured women that follow. Volume 1 features an assortment of seventy activists, dancers, and athletes. We learn about the significance of activists like Ella Baker, Pauli Murray, and Addie Wyatt, who represent the hundreds of unnamed women who participated in the civil rights and labor movements, and women following their path, like Michelle Alexander, Glynda Carr and Leah Penniman. We re-discover dancers Jeni Legon and Margot Webb, who are honored alongside Josephine Baker, Katherine Dunham, Janet Collins, and a new generation including Cynthia Oliver, Misty Copeland, Dormeshia, and Camille A. Brown. And then Athletes who disrupted the world of sports, including the nearly forgotten tennis champion Ora Washington and Alice Coachman, the first Olympic gold medalist, to Debi Thomas, Maritza Correia McClendon, and tennis phenom Serena Williams. Throughout the series, as David re-introduces many of these women into the public sphere, they are not always in predictable ways. For example, Debbie Allen makes a brief appearance in this volume, not as actress or director, but rather as the dancer she initially trained to be, reminding us that Black women are multifaceted, multitalented, and complex. What binds these women together is that as they persevered, often challenging and shaking-up the status quo. With painstaking research, David created an affordable and visually appealing accessible reference book. From the foremothers who blazed the trail, to the women who followed in their footsteps, TRAILBLAZERS offers powerful and inspiring role models for women and girls from all cultural backgrounds. An importance reference book for people who are intellectually curious and want to learn more about Black women in America. TRAILBLAZERS, a clarion call for recognition of the transformative work Black women’s accomplishments, is a vital reference guide for use in schools, libraries, and homes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: GABRIELLE DAVID is a multidisciplinary artist who is a musician, photographer, digital designer, poet and writer. She attended LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) and New School University. David is the publisher of 2Leaf Press and serves as chair of the board of 2Leaf Press Inc. Over the years, she has participated in and organized poetry reading panel discussions, festivals and workshops, and has published articles and essays in numerous publications. David is co-editor of What Does It Mean to be White in America, Breaking the White Code of Silence, A Collection of Personal Narratives (2016), the editor of Branches of the Tree of Life (2014), and co-editor of Hey Yo! Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry (2012). She is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Spring Has Returned and I Am Renewed (1996), and This is Me: A Collection of Poems and Things (1994).
ABOUT DR. CHANDRA WARING: Dr. WARING is an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Her research focuses on the growing bi/multiracial population. Her interest in race stems from being raised in a multiracial family in a three very different contexts: Germany, Georgia and Connecticut. Waring’s work has been published in numerous publications and she earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Connecticut in 2013, where she was a Multicultural Fellow.