On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance

On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance

by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

From 1920 to 1940, the Harlem Renaissance produced a bright beacon of light that paved the way for African-Americans all over the country.

In "On the Shoulders of Giants, " indomitable basketball star and bestselling author and historian Kareem Abdul-Jabbar invites the reader on an extraordinarily personal journey back to his birthplace, through one of the greatest political, cultural, literary, and artistic movements in our history, revealing the tremendous impact the Harlem Renaissance had on both American culture and his own life.

Beginning with the rise of the Harlem Rens as pioneers of professional basketball, Kareem traces the many streams of historical influence that converged to create the man he is today -- the NBA's all-time leading scorer and a veritable African-American icon.Travel deep into the soul of the Renaissance -- to the night clubs, restaurants, basketball games, and fabulous parties that have made footprints in Harlem's history.

Meet the athletes, jazz musicians, comedians, actors, politicians, entrepreneurs, and writers who not only inspired Kareem's rise to greatness but an entire nation's.Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born in the midst of a cultural reawakening, carried on the shoulders of athletes trying to prove there was a lot more at stake than a ball game, men and women who made music that could break your heart, and writers and intellectuals who gave voice to not just the ideals of a movement but the raw emotions.

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 3.93
  • Pages: 288
  • Publish Date: January 30th 2007 by Simon & Schuster
  • Isbn10: 1416534881
  • Isbn13: 9781416534884

What People Think about "On the Shoulders of Giants: My Journey Through the Harlem Renaissance"

Ive always been a huge fan of Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and not just for his talent on the court.

Anche se KA-J è KA-J, ovvero un personaggio che persino una persona abbastanza digiuna di basket come me (vabbè: può essere che io non sia così digiuna e che abbia una foto da qualche parte di me con Kevin Durant prima che diventasse così famosissimo) conosce per quello che ha fatto. In realtà, questo libro parla di Harlem, mica di Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Comunque: la cosa interessante di questo libro messo in prospettiva con gli altri letti, è che in questo caso cè il punto di vista di una riscoperta identitaria, quella di KA-J. Ho gradito anche per questo la lettura, in prospettiva messa dopo le altre: una specie di saggio - comunque non fiction - che compensa e completa il resto del percorso messo insieme a caso finora.

I guess, when the author is as accomplished in their own right as the subjects of the book, I can give said author a bit of license.

You expect to read about how the Harlem area became the home to many Black Americans, and here you get a history of the circumstances and the landlords who made this possible. As a pop history book, covering a lot of areas I am interested in, I enjoyed this. Abdul-Jabbar also interleaves his own story, growing up years after the events portrayed as the Harlem Renaissance, and in a nearby neighborhood.

Mr. Abdul-Jabber spends parts of the book detailing how the Harlem Renaissance influenced him in particular to be more than he thought he could be as a teenager. Mr Abdul-Jabbar never once used the term "ethnic studies" in his book, but one takeaway for me after reading about these persevering giants in literature, basketball and music and how having these role models shaped the author's life for the better is that banning ethnic studies is unhelpful. I felt banning ethnic studies was a mistake before, but this book explains why without having to use the term. But anything would be better than the practice of banning the study of non-White groups while only providing the standard White-centric story of history and culture in this country, conveniently leaving out the large swaths of intense hatred and suppression of African Americans. I've tended to see jazz as something I can take if i'm in the mode for it, but Mr. Abdul-Jabbar's descriptions of the emotional and technical complexity combined with an innate sense of joy put me in the mood to try. Additionally, by Mr. Abdul-Jabbar's account, most folks in Harlem were just trying to get by with dignity and were not consciously engaged with the renaissance.

I've never before read the history of the Harlem Renaissance, even though I've heard the term many times before. Share the same stages, the same sports arenas and work at the same jobs. The question of why looms in my head, but, as the book suggests, people have a hard time shifting their attitudes.

If you are looking for an intro to some basics about the time and some of the major players this is a great option.