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December 7, 2020


#Christmas 2020 African American Christmas Stories

by N@ncy



  1. EXCELLENT collection of Christmas stories written by
  2. African-American journalists, activists, and  writers from
  3. …the late 19th century to the modern civil rights movement.
  4. I’m reading  this book because I want to let it show me
  5. how white our Christmas reading world is.
  6. I was so impressed how various authors found a way
  7. to use the theme of Christmas… highlight way
  8. African Americans experience the holiday.
  9. #DeeplyMoving
  10. #MustRead….this is a gem!


Strong Point:

  1. Each story is short…..and 4 poems
  2. are presented with an introduction about the author
  3. and in what context the story/poem was published.
  4. This is very informative because it is difficult to find information
  5. about little known writers in the book!


  1. Personal choice: I read the intro’s before reading the story
  2. …just to get a feel about the writer.
  3. an obscure short story writer (Leila Plummer)
  4. an editor of The Colored American  Magazine (1902-1904) (Pauline Hopkins)
  5. a vaudeville performer/producer/writer (Salem Tutt Whitney)
  6. Brown Univ, Harvard Law prominent lawyer and civil rights advocate (Louis Redding)



  1. Included in this book is a simple story “Mirama’s Christmas Test”.
  2. I discovered  Timothy Thomas Fortune.
  3. Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington
  4. considered …him an equal,
  5. …if not a superior, in social and political thought!



  1. While researching these stories
  2. I discovered many writers of color
  3. who played an important role in literature in the early 20th C.
  4. I can add them to my TBR 2021
  5. ….for my year of reading only authors of color.
  6. Langston Hughes  poet/writer
  7. international correspondent Ethel Payne
  8. poet Gwendolyn Brooks
  9. author Willard Motley
  10. journalists Ida B. Wells
  11. Louis Lomax (1922-1970) . first African-American television journalist.
  12. Timothy Thomas Fortune –  journalist, writer, editor and publisher


Table of Contents:

  1. The Sermon in the Cradle W.E.B DuBois (1868-1963)
  2. The title says it all….it is a moving sermon!
  3. Du Bois was a prolific author.
  4. His collection of essays, The Souls of Black Folk,
  5. is a seminal work in African-American literature.


  1. A Carol of Color – Mary Jenness  (poem) 
  2. Poet of the Harlem Renaissance (not well known)


  1. The Christmas Reunion Down at Martensville – A. Hodges (poem) 
  2. The story is set in Kentucky in 1893.
  3. Three generations  of a family  gather to celebrate Christmas.
  4. This story has the rhythm and rhyme  of 
  5. “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”.


  1. The Children’s Christmas Alice Dunbar (1875 – 1935)
  2. The story of 5 different children  who
  3. through no fault of their own
  4. …do not experience the joy,
  5. …spirit, and the meaning  of Christmas.
  6. Very touching….it was written in 1897, but could be true today,
  7. ….timeless.


  1. Christmas Eve Story – Fanny Coppin (1837-1913)
  2. The story is written in a fairy tale style to appeal to young readers.
  3. It brings to light the concerns she had for poor black children
  4. …she saw in the streets of Philadelphia.
  5. ”Once upon a time….”


  1. Mollie’s Best Christmas Gift Mary E. Lee
  2. 19th C holiday story emphasizes the
  3. importance of putting Christ back into Christmas.
  4. Also it gives the reader a glimpse of what Christmas was like for
  5. middle class black children in the late 19th C.


  1. A Christmas Story – Carrie Thomas
  2. The story was written for middle class black children.
  3. …and their expectations of Christmas and Santa Clause 
  4. No matter how old we are
  5. ….we never tire waiting for Santa Claus!


  1. Fannie May’s ChristmasKatherine Tillman (1870-1923)
  2. …uses the theme of Christmas
  3. …to also highlight role of women.
  4. So Christmas-y, uplifting story…..good feelings!


  1. Elsie’s Christmas  – S. Whitney
  2. The author uses the theme of Christmas 
  3. and illustrates important the role of Santa Claus.
  4. Power of prayer….a family reunited!


  1. General Washington: A Christmas Story – Paulien Elizabeth Hopkins 
  2. The story uses a biographical sketch of
  3. “General Washington” ( …person in the neighborhood)
  4. as social commentary on racism, religion and child neglect.


  1. The Autobiography of a Dollar Bill Leila Plummer
  2.  …no biographical info about this short story writer.
  3. Dollar Bill is a metaphor for a slave: both are commodities.
  4. Such a clever idea…
  5. one-dollar bill that talks and tells his story!


  1. Mirama’s Christmas Test – Timothy Thomas Fortune
  2. The story (setting: Jason, Florida)
  3. …reflects the concerns of black educated women
  4. who wish to marry a men of equal stature.
  5. Alex and Mirama…do opposites attract?   
  6. Read and find out!


  1. A Christmas Party That Prevented a Split in the Church – Margaret Black
  2. Margaret Black sets the story in the village of St Michaels,
  3. in the church to emphasize the
  4. centrality of the institution in black lives.
  5. All of St. Michaels formed a detective bureau
  6. to watch the  young and single….Rev.Steele!
  7. Now….that must spark your reading curiosity.


  1. Three Men and a Woman – A. Hodges
  2. The story hinges on three Christmas Eves…starting in 1890
  3. when a woman hatches the plot to get rid of her husband!!
  4. It is a very long  “short” story.
  5. Hodges touches on important and
  6. explosive’ issues in this story
  7. …that many black newspapers would not have published.
  8. The story is finally serialized in
  9. Indianapolis Freeman…but abruptly
  10. ends with chapter 10.  Why?
  11. Read the introduction and story to fine out!


  1. It Came to Pass: A Christmas Story  – Bruce Reynolds
  2. The story opens on Christmas Eve in a large Northern city.
  3. The beauty and benevolance is seen in the business section of town
  4. ….Christmas lights, Christmas decorations in store windows.
  5. Reynolds juxtaposes the displays  of Christmas with the abject poverty
  6. and suffering for people like Ella and Edward.
  7. Oh….divine intervention knocks on Ella and Edward’s door!


  1. A Christmas Journey
  2. The story is set in Boston the story uses social realism
  3. to explore the  meaning of Christmas for the dispossessed. 
  4. There’s always a sad story…


  1. Uncle U.S. Santa Claus – James Jackson (poem)
  2. At the beginning of the Great Migration (1913)
  3. J.C. Jackson challenges the US government in this narrative poem
  4. to address the issues of  blacks who are leaving the South
  5. in droves to avoid lynching, poverty and discrimination.


  1.  Devil Spends Christmas Eve in Dixie Andrew Dobson (poem)
  2. He was a well known radio personality and journalist in Chicago 1930s.
  3. The poem uses the Christmas theme to
  4. bring attention to both lynching and
  5. anti-lynching bills pending in Congress.
  6. POWERFUL  poem…
  7. This story has the rhythm and rhyme  of 
  8. “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”.


  1. One Christmas Eve Langston Hughes (1901-1967)
  2. He was one of the most acclaimed  of
  3. poets, dramatists and novelists in the 20th C. 
  4. Arcie is a black domestic servant and
  5. …she tries to make Christmas a happy occasion for her  four year old son.
  6. Huges uses the Christmas theme to illustrate the
  7. vast economic gap between blacks and whites
  8. ....and the lack of concern whites have about the lives of their servants.
  9. Langston Hughes….is so good!


  1. Santa Claus is a  White ManJohn Henrik Clarke  (1915-1998)
  2. The story uses the theme of Santa Claus, a mythical icon
  3. of benevolence, love and generosity who transcends the boundaries of race.
  4. But the Southren White Santa Claus could be the opposite of this image.
  5. Cruel… Jim Crowism
  6. …even Santa Claus takes part terrifying a little boy.


  1. Merry Christmas Eve – Adele Hamlin 
  2. Angie is just out of a relationship (Rollins) .
  3. ..and starting a new one. (Doug).
  4. Angie asks herself the question which of these
  5. …men reflects the strength and character she wants in a man.
  6. Who does she want to spend Christmas Eve?
  7. Christmas Day?….and the rest of her life with?
  8. Luckily, there’s always a love story….


  1. White Christmas Valena Minor Williams
  2. Ms Williams uses the theme of “White Christmas” in 1953
  3. …on the eve of the Civil Rights Movement to
  4. capture the mood and attitudes of African Americans.
  5. ….and they SAVE THE BEST FOR LAST !!  
  6. Heartwarming story.
Read more from short story
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 9 2020

    Wow!! What an interesting book. Great review!!

    Thanks for linking up during A Literary Christmas reading challenge. If you finish any other holiday reads, please stop by and link up again!

    Merry reading! 🙂


    • Dec 9 2020

      This was a wonderfully refreshing collection of Christmas Stories….as seen through the eyes of others who make even hard times…festive in their own special ways.
      Thanks for hosting #ALiteraryChristmas



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