Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What is YOUR railroad heritage?

I'd like to open the discussion: If you are an African American and have railroad ancestors, tell us what you know. If you don't know much, perhaps only the railroad, or the town where the individual worked, I can probably direct you to reseources for learning more. For example, it's quite easy to trace the careers of Pullman porters and maids.

If you are currently a railroader, how about sharing some of your experiences? I'd like this to become an open forum about black railroaders and the black railroad heritage.

Join the discussion, please.


Friday, March 12, 2010

What's my book about?

"A major new work . . . , Railroads in the African American Experience: A Photographic Journey, is about the entire African-American railroading
experience--not just the porters, but the relatively unknown and unsung, too . . . destined to become a standard reference for years to come." Peter A. Hansen, Railroad History

This captivating book takes readers on an illustrated tour of the black railroad experience from slavery to Amtrak. With almost 200 images--many never before published--Ted Kornweibel examines the significant contributions of African Americans to the building, maintenance, operation, and profitability of the American railway system.

The history of American railroads, Kornweibel makes clear, cannot be separated from African American history. For over a century, railroading provided the most important industrial occupation for blacks. Brakemen, firemen, porters, chefs, mechanics, laborers--African American men and women have been essential to the daily operation and success of American railroads. The connections between railroads and African Americans extend well beyond employment. Civil rights protests beginning in the late 19th century challenged railroad segregation and job discrimination; the major waves of black migration to the North depended almost entirely on railroads; and railroad themes and imagery penetrated deep into black art, literature, drama, folklore, and music.

Kornweibel's visual presentation of this rich history brings to life the hundreds of thousands of blacks who toiled for decades on America's great rail systems. Each chapter of text focuses on a different occupation or railroading experience, some peculiar to blacks. Together, the evocative images and the complementary essays supply a comprehensive and powerful survey of the social, cultural, political, and economic influence of African Americans on railroads and of railroads on the black community.

Few today recall the importance of blacks to the American railroad industry, even though most black families have railroading ancestors. These stories of hardship and heroism, exploitation and endurance, anger and artistry illuminate a rich heritage and fascinating chapter in American history.

"Railroads in the African American Experience is worth a trip to your local independent book store . . . This inspirational masterpiece is about survival, overcoming adversity, and the triumph of the human spirit." Samuel Augustus Jennings, RAIL Magazine

8.5 x 10, 584 pp., 18 color illus., 181 halftones
978-0-8018-9162-5 0-8018-9162-0 $40.00 hc

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Meet me

Would you like to buy a copy of my book? Have it autographed? Share about your railroad heritage? Tell me about your railroading ancestor? Here is a schedule of public events where I will be talking about my book. Times TBA,

March 22, 2010: San Diego State University Library

March 23, 2010: KPBS-FM (89.5) San Diego, 10:40 am

March 24, 2010: Borders Books and Music, El Cajon, CA

April 24, 2010: High Point Museum, High Point, NC

April 24, 2010: Greensboro, NC

April 25, 2010: North Carolina Transportation Museum, Salisbury, NC

April 27, 2010: Wilmington Railroad Museum, Wilmington, NC

April 29;, 2010: Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, VA

May 2, 2010: Steamtown National Historic Site, Scranton, PA

May 3, 2010: Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, Strasburg, PA

May 8, 2010: Virginia Museum of Transportation, Roanoke, VA

May 11, 2010: Roundhouse Railroad Museum, Savannah, GA

May 29-30, 2010: Nevada Northern Railway, East Ely, NV

May 31, 2010: Nevada State Railroad Museum, Carson City, NV

July 24, 2010: San Diego Model Railroad Museum, San Diego CA

New Book

Have you seen my new book? Railroads in the African American Experience: A Photographic Journey, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in January 2010. Here are two sources: JHU Press and Amazon.

This is a BIG book, folks. 200 photos and images. 4.2 lbs of book. Less than $10 a pound if bought at list price, even cheaper through Amazon. Check it out.