New Journalism Project is collaborating with People’s History in Texas (PHIT) to re-publish two books. As a new generation of activists take on gentrification and find inspiration in the history of women who organized before they were born, these books will find new audiences.
Clarksville: Whose Community? by Jennifer Sharpe was first published in 1982 and chronicles an important fight against gentrification in a west Austin neighborhood. Clarksville was founded in 1871 as black freedom town where former slaves reunited with family separated and displaced by slavery. In the late 70s, this community waged a battle against developers.
A second book was originally published in 1979 to accompany the Peoples History in Texas documentary, “Talkin’ Union.” The film uses oral histories and archival photos to tell the story of Texas women garment workers and pecan shellers who organized successful labor actions in the 30s. Women in the Texas Workforce: Yesterday and Today, edited by Richard Croxdale and Melissa Hield with an introduction by Glenn Scott, is an important addition to the documentary, relying on research and transcribed interviews.
Peoples History in Texas (PHIT), a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1975 by five women including a writer, an elementary school teacher, a librarian, and two graduate students. PHIT brings to life the stories of ordinary people and significant socio-political movements through its research, publishing, and media production.
PHIT’s first project in 1976 was the Women in Texas History Calendar, one of the first compilations of Texas women’s history facts. PHIT’s research uncovered stories of women workers and activists who organized labor unions in the 1930s and l940s. With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities Youth Grants Program and the Texas Committee for the Humanities, they collected oral histories of Texas women labor organizers and produced “Talkin’ Union” (1979, 58 mins., b/w film/video), an oral history of four women who participated in the pecan shellers and garment workers unions. In addition, they published Women in the Texas Workforce: Yesterday and Today (1979), essays on women’s work for wages.
Alice Embree, Austin writer and activist, is a frequent contributor to The Rag Blog and collaborator on Rag Radio. She helped launch Austin’s underground newspaper, The Rag in 1966. With Thorne Dreyer and Richard Croxdale, Embree edited Celebrating The Rag: Austin’s Iconic Underground Newspaper in 2016. She has written for The Texas Observer and contributed to the 1970 anthology, Sisterhood is Powerful, edited by Robin Morgan.
In Looking Glass, Embree explores the intimate terrain of grief, the memory of an earlier Austin, and the joys and challenges of living a creative life. The author introduces the collection with these words: “I find that through the alchemy of writing, I’m able to disperse the fog and find the light.”
Looking Glass is the second in a series by NJP Publishing that will feature women writers. Looking Glass is available online at Lulu.com, Amazon, Ingram and Barnes and Noble, and is sold in Austin at BookWoman.
Echoes of Mercy: Psalms from the Marrow Bone by Austin author Alyce M. Guynn is richly layered poetry and prose. Guynn, a reporter for the Austin American Statesman in the late 60s and an antitrust investigator, has a passion for writing. A prolific poet, she has been a contributor to The Rag Blog and a guest on Rag Radio. Her published work includes Deal Me In, a book of 52 love poems illustrated by Jesse ‘Guitar’ Taylor, a book of poetry entitled Beyond Blue: In Memory of Champ Hood and Feeding the Crow, a collection of poetry and prose.
Alyce Guynn’s memoir, Echoes of Mercy, lovingly records the language and rhythms of bygone, church-goin’ small-town Texas where Sunday lunch is called dinner, family members have nicknames like Toadie Mae and Aunt Sister, where caskets are left open, and teenagers swoon over Elvis, go the picture show, make out in old cars – and sometimes get ostracized as unwed mothers… — Sharon Shelton-Colangelo
Echoes of Mercy is the first in a series by NJP Publishing that will feature women writers. Echoes of Mercy is available online at Lulu.com, Amazon, Ingram and Barnes and Noble.
In 2016 the New Journalism Project published Celebrating The Rag: Austin’s Iconic Underground Newspaper. This first publishing effort in October 2016 coincided with a 50th-anniversary celebration and reunion of Rag staffers. Celebrating The Rag garnered national acclaim. Reviews are posted on The Rag Blog. Celebrating The Rag is available online at Lulu.com in paperback, hardback and as an e-book. The paperback Celebrating The Rag can also be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ingram. If you purchase through Amazon, please use Amazon Smile and designate the New Journalism Project as your charity of choice. In Austin, the book can be purchased at BookPeople, BookWoman and other locations.