Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Floods Keep Coming: Guest Blogger Bonnie Stepenoff

Massive flooding hit eastern Missouri earlier this winter, around the Meramec and Mississippi Rivers, almost breaking 30-year records. Heavy rainfall, however, was not the only cause of the flooding according to Robert Criss, professor of earth and planetary sciences at Washington University. He contributes much of the flooding to over-development. “People want to blame the rain, but this is mostly us,” Criss said. “It’s a man-made disaster.” ( Whether man-made or not, flooding is a part of life near the Mississippi River.

Historian Bonnie Stepenoff, who lives on the banks of the Mississippi, has written extensively about the history of the people and environment around the Missouri rivers and here she gives a picture of floods of the past:

Stepenoff.fromMoSteamboat captain Buck Leyhe thought the quality that best defined river people was the patient way in which they coped with floods. Since the nineteenth century, the United States Army Corps of Engineers has made a mighty effort to tame the Mississippi River, but the floods keep coming.

January floods, like the one in 2016, are pretty uncommon and especially miserable. A January flood in 1937 had a terrible impact on sharecroppers in the Missouri Bootheel. Thad Snow wrote about it in his memoir From Missouri. He believed that the Corps had made everything worse with the stepenoff.thadsnowlevees they built after the terrible flood of 1927. When the next catastrophe happened, the Corps dynamited one of its own levees, fording sharecroppers to flee from their homes in freezing cold and sleet. Snow watched the sad exodus of men, women, children, and domestic animals from the flooded fields. Later he concluded that the flood of 1937 helped to inspire the famous Sharecroppers Roadside Demonstration in the Bootheel in 1939. You can read about this in his book. Or take a look at Thad Snow: A Life of Social Reform in the Missouri Bootheel for more insights into this ProductImageHandlerremarkable man.

For more about Captain Leyhe and other people who loved the Mississippi River, even when it complicated their lives, you might want to read Working the Mississippi: Two Centuries of Life on the River.
Bonnie Stepenoff

Celebrate African American History Month with a Special Offer on Select Titles

Since 1959, the University of Missouri press has been publishing titles relevant to African American Studies. To celebrate this month, we’re offering specials on a selection of these books.

Use promotional code BH16 to take advantage of this one time offer!

Use code BBH16 and get all 6 books for $125 (normally $251) with free shipping!

Order by phone, (800) 621-2736

Offer expires March 18.

Lloyd Gaines and the Fight to End Segregation by James W. Endersby and William T. Endersby_Horner_CoverHorner

$30.00 (normally $36.95)

This is the first book to focus entirely on the Gaines case and the vital role played by the NAACP and its lawyers—including Charles Houston, known as “the man who killed Jim Crow”— who advanced a concerted strategy to produce political change. Horner and Endersby also discuss the African American newspaper journalists and editors who mobilized popular support for the NAACP’s strategy. This book reveals an important step toward the broad acceptance of the principle that racial segregation is inherently unequal.


The Color Line: Legacy for the Twenty-First Century by John Hope Franklinfranklin color line

$15.00 (normally $20)

In the Paul Anthony Brick Lectures given at the University of Missouri-Columbia, just one day after the not guilty verdict was returned in the trial of Los Angeles police officers for the beating of Rodney King, John Hope Franklin delivered a piercing depiction of the color line that persists in America. A scathing portrait of how discrimination has been allowed to flourish and a poignantly despairing prognosis for its end.


Race and Meaning: The African American Experience in Missouri by  Gary R. Kremer

Kremer_Race and Meaning_FNL$25.00 (normally $35.00)

No one has written more about the African American experience in Missouri over the past four decades than Gary Kremer and now for the first time, fourteen of his best articles on the subject are available in one place with the publication of Race and Meaning: The African American Experience in Missouri. By placing the articles in chronological order of historical events rather than by publication date, Kremer combines them into one detailed account that addresses issues such as the transition from slavery to freedom for African Americans in Missouri, all-black rural communities, and the lives of African Americans seeking new opportunities in Missouri’s cities.


Protest and Propaganda: W. E. B. Du Bois, the CRISIS, and American History edited by Amy Helene Kirschke and Phillip Luke Sinitiere

$30.00 (normally $45.00)
Kirschke Sinitiere Protest and Propaganda
In looking back on his editorship of the Crisis magazine, W. E. B. Du Bois said, “We condensed more news about Negroes and their problems in a month than most colored papers before this had published in a year.” Since its founding by Du Bois in 1910, the Crisis has been the primary published voice of the NAACP.  Born in an age of Jim Crow racism, often strapped for funds, the magazine struggled and endured, all the while providing a forum for people of color to document their inherent dignity and proclaim their definitive worth as human beings. The contributors show how the essays, columns, and visuals published in the Crisis changed conversations, perceptions, and even laws in the United States, thereby calling a fractured nation to more fully live up to its democratic creed.

Kubic - Freedom Inc FINAL for web
$35.00 (normally $75.00)
Much has been written about black urban empowerment and about the candidates—particularly the winning candidates—who are the public face of such shifts in power. Authors invariably mention the important role played by black political organizations in electing black officials or organizing communities, but Micah W. Kubic goes further, making, for the first time, one such organization the focus of a book-length study. Kubic tells the story of black political empowerment in Kansas City through the prism of Freedom, Inc., the nation’s oldest existing black political organization.

Using interviews and observation of participants as well as archival research, Kubic offers historical and political analysis of Freedom, Inc. from its founding in 1962 through its role in municipal elections of 2007. Kubic asserts that strong local organizations are living, dynamic organisms and that they, rather than charismatic candidates or interracial alliances, are the crucial players in both determining political outcomes and advancing black interests in urban areas.

Free shipping only applies to the group sale. Shipping charges apply to individual book sales.

Thomas Hart Benton Extravaganza

Catalogue page

Henry Adams, author of Thomas Hart Benton: Discoveries and Interpretations, will appear as a part of IN SYNC WITH THOMAS HART BENTON, a special exhibit on the Missouri artist that will take place in Columbia, MO. The events will culminate with Orrin Evans’s Captain Black Big Band performing a piece commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Henry Adams will participate in a panel discussion on the artist and will be signing books throughout the celebrations. Thomas Hart Benton will be on sale for a special price of $30 at these events only.

Adams, Henry photo credit Robert MullerIt is also available at Amazon and IndieBound.


February 3rd at 6pm in Fisher Auditorium:

Join Henry Adams, Orrin Evans, and other scholars and musicians for a discussion of art created and inspired by Thomas Hart Benton. The first panel will focus on music and Benton’s art, touching on controversies that have become part of his legacy. The second session will explore the creative process of composing commissioned music that evokes images of Benton’s art.

A public reception at The Roof at the Broadway Hotel will follow the discussion.

Fig. 1, Adams, Benton

Thomas Hart Benton

February 4th at The Missouri Theatre, doors open at 6pm, concert begins at 7pm

Orrin Evans’s Captain Black Big Band will give only the second complete performance of the five-part “Harlem Suite,” originally commissioned by and performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last February. The performance will incorporate digital reproductions of the artist’s murals as a backdrop while the 10-piece ensemble delivers a full-length concert.

The State Historical Society of Missouri will also host a mini-exhibit highlighting several of Benton’s artworks that relate to music.

For more detailed information, see The State Historical Society of Missouri