In Memoriam: Leroy (Lee) Soper

Lee-Soper

Leroy Soper, photograph by Mary Randlett.

Leroy (Lee) Soper, a longtime member of the University of Washington Press advisory board, passed away on Tuesday, February 2, 2016, the eve of his ninety-second birthday.

University of Washington Press director Nicole Mitchell notes, “Lee was an ardent supporter of books generally and the University of Washington Press in particular. We were incredibly fortunate to have Lee’s support over the decades, and his presence will be greatly missed not only by the press and Seattle’s literary community, but also by book buyers and readers throughout the region.”

Lee began his career at the Walla Walla Bookshop in 1952 and worked for the University Book Store from 1959 to 1969. He left to establish the Raymar Northwest Book Company, the first large-scale regional book wholesaler in the Pacific Northwest. By offering timely access to stock, Lee’s wholesale business was key to helping bookstores across the region expand and flourish.

Lee returned to the University Book Store in 1977 as general book manager, and he remained there until he retired in 1993. He founded the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, still a dynamic resource for bookstores, booksellers, librarians, and media around the region, and he was a member of the American Booksellers Association. Lee helped judge the Governor’s Writers Award (now the Washington State Book Award), and he served on the University of Washington Press advisory board for twenty-six years, from its founding in 1988, helping the press earn its worldwide reputation as a leading publisher of high-quality academic and regional trade books.

Former University of Washington Press director Pat Soden writes, “Leroy Soper was Seattle’s ‘Mr. Books.’ He was an extraordinary bookman and dear friend to the generation of publishers and booksellers he trained and mentored. The general book department of the University Book Store is the monument Lee built, but his lasting legacy is the great book town Seattle has become. I will miss him beyond words.”

The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City

Burke-PortlandBlackPanthersFrom Ferguson, Missouri to Flint, Michigan, African American communities across the nation continue to struggle for the same basic rights, protections, and social services demanded by the civil rights movement exactly a half century ago. In their timely new book, The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City, authors Lucas N. N. Burke and Judson Jeffries remind us of an earlier case of concerned citizens, in a similarly overlooked black community, who took matters into their own hands when they felt they weren’t being heard by local leaders. While most of us easily associate the Black Panthers with berets and bullet belts, Burke and Jeffries show us that the Portland branch, which was much smaller than its more infamous counterparts in the Bay area, was more concerned with taking care of neighborhood kids and opening a free health clinic for the community.

Though there definitely are stories of violence, angry protests, police brutality, and other more dramatic episodes in their book, the excerpt I’ve chosen focuses on the group’s early attempts (before it was an official Black Panther branch) to start a free breakfast program for kids in the Albina district. I chose this passage for several reasons. For starters, it’s a warm, “feel good” moment that demonstrates the Portland Panthers’ ability to build community, countering the stereotype that portrays them only as angry and combative. Instead, we see Kent Ford and other Portland Panthers working to secure food donations, and organizing early morning schedules for cooks and servers, actions that clearly take a great deal of planning and effort. Secondly, we see through the press coverage how the Portland branch challenged those very preconceived notions about the Black Panthers. Reporters came in expecting militant ideology and instead found pancakes and syrup.

Finally, I chose this particular excerpt because it also speaks to the vision of the Panthers. Providing free breakfast to school kids might seem like a minor thing, but, as they argued, the idea that everyone is entitled to a healthy diet is truly a revolutionary concept. These days that concept is known as the “food justice” movement, but, as the authors show, it was being fought for in Portland long before it had an official name. Though the Portland Black Panthers branch dissolved by the 1980s, its legacy lives on in the city through the various activist groups fighting for fair housing, living wages, environmental justice, and an end to police brutality, among other issues. By shining the spotlight on the little known Portland Black Panther branch, Burke and Jeffries show us how even the smallest group—in the unlikeliest of places—can affect major change by building up its community and relentlessly pushing back against the powers that be.

Ranjit Arab, Senior Editor

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City, by Lucas N. N. Burke and Judson Jeffries:

Even though they were not yet card-carrying members of the Black Panther Party, NCCF (National Committee to Combat Fascism) members in Portland worked diligently in the fall of 1969 to establish a free breakfast program for school kids. “The government had money to fight a war thousands and thousands of miles away . . . and send astronauts to the moon,” Kent Ford said, “but ensuring that kids received a well-balanced meal before heading off to school was not a priority . . . so the Panthers made it a priority.” In 1967, the US government spent a mere $600,000 on breakfast programs nationwide. But as more and more Panther branches started their own free breakfast programs, government-sponsored breakfast initiatives proliferated. By 1972, government-sponsored breakfast programs were feeding more than a million children of the approximately five million who qualified for such aid.

Doing the work of a Panther without being acknowledged as a Panther frustrated some of the Portland members. Their community survival initiatives, among other things, were indicative of the NCCF’s burning desire and commitment to be recognized as full-fledged Panthers. Becoming an official Panther came with a tremendous amount of responsibility, but to some it was not significantly different from what they had become accustomed to doing as members of the NCCF. Oscar Johnson remembers how he structured his days around Panther activities: “My work as a Panther was not all that different than what I was doing as a member of the NCCF. I worked nights, so I was the driver. I’d finish my shift and pick up kids who needed a ride to breakfast. Go home and sleep. We solicited cash and food from neighborhood businesses in the afternoon and attended political education classes at night. It felt good. . . . We were doing something. We had the respect of the community.” Drawing on a small but diverse group of young working-class and student activists, these African American men and women used a variety of networks and connections to build a robust breakfast program. The Portland NCCF made the announcement that it was going to start a free breakfast program at a community meeting. “From the outset, people were receptive to the program,” said Black Panther Patty (Hampton) Carter. Believing the program to be a worthwhile endeavor, Rev. Samuel L. Johnson, head pastor of the Highland United Church of Christ, offered his church as the venue for the program. The church, located at 4635 NE Ninth Ave, was ideal, as it was spacious, met building and health code inspections, and was in close proximity to Martin Luther King Elementary School, which was located at 4906 NE Sixth Avenue. One week into the 1969–70 school year, NCCF members distributed leaflets (outlining the schedule, goals, and objective of the free breakfast program) to various community groups and passed them out to kids as they walked to and from school. Ford remembered that “people were so supportive of the program. . . . Rev. Johnson didn’t charge us a dime . . . neither did the Wonder Bread company that gave us fifty loaves of bread each week, no questions asked . . . then there was this one nice lady who (within a month of starting the breakfast program) came in one day with seventy-five cartons of eggs. When I attempted to pay her for her trouble, she turned me down flat saying, ‘You guys are doing good work.’ ”

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Behind the Covers: ‘Black Women in Sequence’

BehindCovers-BlackWomen-00As we head into the 40th Black History Month (AKA African American History Month and #BlackFutureMonth), we feature a guest post from UW Press Senior Designer Thomas Eykemans on the creative process behind Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime by Deborah Elizabeth Whaley. The book won an award in the Scholarly Illustrated category of the 2016 AAUP Book, Jacket and Journal Show.

As the first detailed investigation of Black women’s participation in comic art, Black Women in Sequence examines the representation, production, and transnational circulation of women of African descent in the sequential art world. In this groundbreaking study, which includes interviews with artists and writers, Whaley suggests that the treatment of the Black female subject in sequential art says much about the place of people of African descent in national ideology in the United States and abroad. Below, Eykemans walks us through the collaborative design.

Comics are one of my favorite visual mediums, so it was a pleasant surprise to learn that I would have the opportunity to work on this book. With a diverse range of imagery to draw from and challenging themes to approach, I reached out to the author to help clarify the intention of her book and how I might best represent that in the cover design. Deborah identified the comic strip Friday Foster as the ideal source for a striking cover image. Friday Foster was the first black female comic strip character in a mainstream publication.

BehindCovers-BlackWomen-03

“Friday Foster,” Chicago Tribune, May 5, 1972.

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Fred Korematsu Day 2016

Since 2010, six states—California, Hawai’i, Utah, Illinois, Georgia, and Virginia—have designated January 30th as Fred Korematsu Day, the first day in U.S. history named after an Asian American. The recognition honors the birthday of the civil rights leader best known for resisting Japanese American incarceration during World War II. Several other states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania, have or are considering legislative recognition. This year’s Fred Korematsu Day celebration in San Francisco, which would have been Fred’s ninety-seventh birthday, features a panel that includes Lorraine K. Bannai, author of Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice, which the UW Press released in November. As a young attorney in the 1980s, Bannai was part of the volunteer legal team that resurrected Korematsu’s case and got his unjust conviction overturned.

The following excerpt from Bannai’s book reflects on Fred Korematsu’s growing legacy.

“Stand Up for What Is Right”: 6th Annual Fred Korematsu Day Celebration

Saturday, January 30, 2016
Herbst Theatre, War Memorial & Performing Arts Center / 401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco
VIP Reception at 6:00 PM
Program at 7:30 PM

Re(ad)dressing Racial Injustice: From Japanese American Incarceration to Anti-Muslim Bigotry

FEATURED PANEL
Moderator: John Diaz, Editorial Page Editor, San Francisco Chronicle
Grande H. Lum, Director Community Relations Service, U.S. Department of Justice
Farhana Khera, President & Executive Director, Muslim Advocates
Lorraine K. Bannai, Author, Enduring Conviction

SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER
The Honorable Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, California Supreme Court Justice

MASTER OF CEREMONIES
John Sasaki, KTVU Fox 2

For ticketing and additional information, visit www.korematsuinstitute.org

Since Fred’s passing, the relevance of his life and case has only grown. His story has remained important as the nation has continued to try to heal the wounds of the wartime incarceration. On May 20, 2011, for example, Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal publicly acknowledged the improper actions of his World War II predecessor, Charles Fahy, when arguing Fred’s case before the Supreme Court. In his blog post “Confession of Error: The Solicitor General’s Mistakes during the Japanese-American Internment Cases,” Katyal explained that while solicitor generals have played important roles throughout history in advancing civil rights, “it is also important to remember the mistakes.”

Citing the evidence presented in Fred Korematsu’s and Gordon Hirabayashi’s coram nobis cases, Katyal related that Fahy was aware of “key intelligence reports that undermined the rationale behind the internment” but failed to disclose those reports to the Court. “And to make matters worse,” Katyal continued, “[Fahy] relied on gross generalizations about Japanese Americans, such as they were disloyal and motivated by ‘racial solidarity.’” He concluded, “Today, our Office takes this history as an important reminder that the ‘special credence’ the Solicitor General enjoys before the Supreme Court requires great responsibility and a duty of absolute candor in our representations to the Court. Only then can we fulfill our responsibility to defend the United States and its Constitution, and to protect the rights of all Americans.” Peter Irons commented that he thought the statement was “good and very long overdue.” “This was a deliberate, knowing lie by Fahy to the Supreme Court. For the nation’s highest counsel to make that statement now is quite noteworthy and admirable.”

Fred’s words have further echoed hauntingly as the country has continued to grapple with issues of race, profiling, and the protection of civil liberties during times of crisis. For example, provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) again raise the specter of indefinite military detention without charges or trial, and Fred’s name and case have been invoked to warn of the danger of compromising due process guarantees. Section 1021 of the NDAA of 2012, still in effect, affirms the authority of the military to indefinitely detain individuals who, in the judgment of military authorities, are considered to have “substantially supported” terrorist organizations. Many criticize that this language is so vague it would allow the indefinite detention of innocent individuals, including American citizens, if the military believed them to be “supporting” terrorism, without charges or trial or other judicial review.

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New in Art History and Visual Culture for CAA 2016

From February 3-6, we will be at the annual meeting of the College Art Association in Washington, DC. UW Press Advancement and Grants Manager Beth Fuget will be representing the Press, unveiling several new books, and meeting with partners to discuss our Mellon Foundation-funded collaboration, the Art History Publication Initiative.

Here is a taste of some recent and forthcoming titles in art history and visual culture we’ll be featuring at the conference, but be sure to stop by our booth (#322) to see our full slate of books. Follow along on social media with #caa2016.

Art History Publication Initiative Books

New and Recent Books

Forthcoming Books

Bhupen Khakhar: You Can’t Please All
Edited by Chris DeDercon and Nada Raza
Forthcoming June 2016
Published with Tate Publishing

This publication presents a fresh take on Bhupen Khakhar’s artistic, social, and spiritual interests. With personal and touching contributions by those who knew him, this richly illustrated book is an essential reference to one of the most compelling and unique voices in 20th century art, as well as a significant contribution to the field of international modernism.

Endeavouring Banks: Exploring Collections from the Endeavour Voyage 1768–1771
By Neil Chambers
With Contributions by Sir David Attenborough, John Gascoigne, Jeremy Coote, Andrew Cook, and Anna Agnarsdottir
Forthcoming Spring 2016
Published with Paul Holberton Publishing

The objects featured in this book tell the story of the Endeavour voyage and its impact ahead of the 250th anniversary of this seminal mission’s launch. The surviving illustrations are the most important body of images produced since Europeans entered this region, matching the truly historic value of the plant specimens and artifacts that will be seen alongside them.

Africa in the Market
Edited by Silvia Forni and Christopher Steiner
Forthcoming Spring 2016
Distributed for Royal Ontario Museum

The collection contains a wide range of mostly 20th century pieces that illustrate the creative achievements and cultural meanings of art objects produced and collected at a time of great international expansion of the market for African art. The objects are framed and interpreted within academic essays that highlight the significant role that African makers and dealers have played in shaping Western understanding of African art.

Chicana/o Art since the Sixties: From Errata to Remix
By Karen Mary Davalos
Forthcoming Spring 2016
Distributed for UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press

Davalos combines decolonial theory with extensive archival and field research to offer a new critical perspective on Chicana/o art. Using Los Angeles as a case study, she presents her most ambitious project to date in this examination of fifty years of Chicana/o art production in a major urban area.

Beyond “I Have a Dream”: Reading for MLK Week

As we head into the national Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday and African American History Month, we are rounding up a selection of readings from the archives which celebrate the vital and varied contributions of black Americans today and throughout US history. These guest posts and books address social justice organizing and activism around issues of race, gender, sexuality, and difference in keeping with Dr. King’s life, work, and lasting legacy.

Stars for Selma (Guest post from Emilie Raymond, author of Stars for Freedom: Hollywood, Black Celebrities, and the Civil Rights Movement | Read an excerpt)

Before #BlackLivesMatter: A History Lesson from the Black Panther Party (Guest post from Craig J. Peariso, author of Radical Theatrics: Put-Ons, Politics, and the Sixties)

Talking about Critical Mixed Race Studies in the Wake of Ferguson (Guest post from Laura Kina, coeditor of War Baby / Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art)

Uncovering African American History in the Pacific Northwest (Guest post from Lorraine McConaghy and Judy Bentley, authors of Free Boy: A True Story of Slave and Master)


Other books of note:

If you are located in Seattle, Bothell, or Tacoma, don’t miss the MLK Week 2016 calendar of events and social media tool-kit. This year, the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center, the Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity, and the Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center at the University of Washington have partnered on this suite of collaborative events inspired by past and current social justice work in the UW community around the MLK Day holiday (#UWMLKWeek).

Three Voices: Talking about Interfaith Trialogue in the Wake of Paris and San Bernardino

In this guest post, John K. Roth, coeditor of Encountering the Stranger: A Jewish–Christian–Muslim Trialogue, discusses the importance of including Muslim voices in ongoing interfaith discussions, especially following the mass shootings in Paris and San Bernardino.

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy wrote in Vanity Fair last month that our troubled world needs “a Nostra Aetate for three voices.” That remarkable 1965 Catholic document, he rightly says, “marked the beginning of the end of Catholic anti-Semitism.” Fifty years on, relations between Christians and Jews are immensely better than they have been for centuries. As Lévy underscores, however, a third voice—Muslim—needs to be added more than it has been, and indeed more than ever, to the Christian–Jewish dialogue that continues to make valuable progress.

In the wake of murder committed in Paris and San Bernardino in the late autumn of 2015 by ISIS-instigated terrorists, widespread anti-Muslim campaigns inflame xenophobic fear and hateful acts of revenge. In the two weeks after the December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, at least three dozen threats and attacks against Muslim Americans and mosques in the United States have been documented by Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. How large that number will grow remains to be seen, but there can be no doubt that the imperative for Jews, Christians, and Muslims to stand together in solidarity that resists radicalization and its pervasive violence is ignored at humanity’s peril.

Good models for that solidarity exist. Some of them can be found in Encountering the Stranger. Convinced that the Holocaust, Nazi Germany’s genocide against the Jewish people, profoundly showed what can happen when individuals and religious traditions fail to regard the other as inviolable, the contributors to this book—six from each of the Abrahamic traditions—began their face-to-face work at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, DC, where they explored how the Holocaust’s implications for interreligious engagement could advance understanding, cooperation, and mutual support among Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Obviously, this work took place before the mass killing in Paris and San Bernardino in late 2015, but the writers well knew that events of that kind could happen even as we tried to raise voices to prevent such atrocities.

At USHMM, minefields tested even the mettle of a group committed to Jewish–Christian–Muslim trialogue. Primarily provoked by interfaith disagreements about conflict in the Middle East and by intrafaith controversies concerning how a tradition’s scripture and teachings should be interpreted, unruly passions arose from time to time in our deliberations. But we were able to tame them, and our engagement encouraged friendship that has lasted far beyond our joint effort in producing a book. The reader will be the judge, but Encountering the Stranger offers reflection and insight that can encourage the steps that need to be taken to increase not only the safety and security but also the generosity and hospitality that mending of the world presently and urgently requires.

The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber wisely observed that “when a man is singing and cannot lift his voice, and another comes and sings with him, another who can lift his voice, the first will be able to lift his voice too.” As we head into 2016, the need is for three voices—Jewish, Christian, Muslim—to find ways to sing together in ways that lift each other and all of humankind.

John K. Roth is the Edward J. Sexton Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Claremont McKenna College and coeditor with Leonard Grob of Encountering the Stranger: A Jewish–Christian–Muslim Trialogue (Stephen S. Weinstein Series in Post-Holocaust Studies). Roth’s latest books include The Failures of Ethics: Confronting the Holocaust, Genocide, and Other Mass Atrocities (Oxford University Press, 2015).