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BOOK CLUB Report: The Riverside Book Club

Anyone who knows me knows that I am all about the written word and I love a good discussion about great books. As What's The 411TV's Book Editor, I had the opportunity to participate in a discussion when I visited The Riverside Book Club at The Riverside Church in Manhattan on Saturday, September 13, 2014.

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The Riverside Book Club meeting od September 13, 2014

The book under discussion:

HARLEM NOCTURNE: Women Artists & Progressive Politics During World War II
(New York: Basic Civitas, 2013)

Author: Farah Jasmine Griffin


As World War II raged overseas, Harlem witnessed a battle of its own. Brimming with creative and political energy, Harlem's diverse array of artists and activists launched a bold cultural offensive aimed at winning democracy for all Americans, regardless of race or gender. In HARLEM NOCTURNE, esteemed scholar, Farah Jasmine Griffin, tells the stories of three black female artists whose creative and political efforts fueled this movement for change: novelist Ann Petry, a major new literary voice; choreographer and dancer Pearl Primus, a pioneer in her field; and composer and pianist Mary Lou Williams, a prominent figure in the emergence of Bebop.

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Author Farah Jasmine Griffin listens intently as members of The Riverside Book Club discuss her book, HARLEM NOCTURNE: Women Artists & Progressive Politics During World War II

As Griffin shows, these women made enormous strides for social justice during the war, laying the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement before the Cold War temporarily froze their democratic dreams. HARLEM NOCTURNE captures a period of unprecedented vitality and progress for African Americans and women in the United States.

(This overview is taken from:

My Take-Away from The Riverside Book Club's discussion:

HARLEM NOCTURNE sparks memories for book club members who either lived in Harlem during the 1940s or who recall being told stories about that time in Harlem. Oral history keeps the stories of Harlem's history alive and vibrant, even in the face of enormous change today, with Harlem's gentrification.

Meeting Info: The Riverside Book Club meets every month on the 2nd Saturday, from 11am to 1pm.

Contact: Mary Biggs at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more about The Riverside Book Club

Invite What's The 411TV Book Editor, Luvon Roberson, to your next book club meeting!

Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or @LuvonRwriter on Twitter.

Luvon Roberson

Luvon-Roberson Wine-Tour 411-website-bio-page 500x678Luvon Roberson is happiest when she's reading a book or talking about one. She gets to do both as What's The 411 Book Editor. The daughter of a single mom who worked the night shift, she and her sister were "latch-key" kids. She spent hours reading on her bed and writing stories and poems. And, so began her lifelong love of books and storytelling. What's The 411 marks Luvon's return to TV, after a much earlier stint at WTNH-TV as a field producer/researcher, which she nabbed by beating out 50 others for the job.

She then teamed up with now-writer Ifa Iyaun (whose sister is Ntozake Shange) to develop The Book Team Folklore Project for the New Haven Board of Education. From there, she headed to the University of London, for her first Master's degree, returning to the US two years later to begin Ph.D. studies in the anthropology department at Columbia University. Zora Neale Hurston, her favorite novelist-folklorist-anthropologist, studied in the same department. Leaving Columbia with her second Master's, she moved to a focus on books and writing: She was an Associate Editor at NASW Publications, taught English literature to gifted students of color in the acclaimed Prep for Prep program, and taught Journal Writing to adult students at The College of New Rochelle. Then she began a long career in public relations, ranging from NYC's iconic Howard J. Rubenstein agency to global giant Omnicom, where she was a Senior Vice President at Fleishman-Hillard.

Among her recent adventures with books and writing, Luvon lists: Columnist, features writer, copy editor at Harlem News; book reviewer at; facilitator of book talks, literary-Biblical classes, and coordinator of large-scale book events for hundreds at The Riverside Church. Luvon is especially grateful to Gloria Steinem and NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray for using their skills as writers and their national and global visibility to showcase a new book, Breaking Through: 2014 Anthology from the Next Generation of Woman Writers. Luvon is the copy editor of Breaking Through and volunteers with Girls Write Now.

She calls herself "bookish," and reads at least one book each week. She's currently reading three books – Harlem Nocturne, by Farah Jasmine Griffin; My Secret History, by Paul Theroux; and – for the fourth time -- Moses, Man of the Mountain, by Zora Neale Hurston. Luvon belongs to three book clubs. And, she will accept all invitations to visit your book club! She wants to know what you're reading...What's The 411 on your bookshelf, Nook, or Kindle?

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