Saturday, July 16, 2016

Between the Lines: Terror in the City of Champions

by Zinta Aistars

for WMUK 102.1 FM
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate




Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guest: Tom Stanton

Tom Stanton at Ty Cobb's grave


Some of the darkest periods of Detroit's history have gotten buried over time. ButTom Stanton brings much of it to light again in his seventh book, Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball, and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-era Detroit(Lyons Press, June 2016). The book took the 16th spot on the New York Times’ Sports/Fitness Bestsellers list for July.

The book tells about the Black Legion, a secret terrorist organization in the 1930's similar to Ku Klux Klan that wrought corruption at every level in Detroit. Business, politics, high society — Stanton says all were darkened by the influence of the Black Legion.

“A lot of people are surprised to hear about the Black Legion,” Stanton says. “Back in its day, it was nationally known. People were familiar with it once it was exposed in May 1936. It was even more violent than the Ku Klux Klan. They were operating throughout the Midwest, particularly in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, and they flourished in factory towns like Detroit, Pontiac, Flint and Jackson. The numbers were estimated in the tens of thousands of members.”
CREDIT LYONS PRESS
Stanton says Legion members were sometimes forced to join after extreme pressure. People were pulled into the organization throughlies and threats. The Legion sometimes threatened to harm their families if they refused to join.
Stanton says, “They were tricked into going to a meeting they thought was perhaps a barbecue or a card game, then finding themselves surrounded by white Protestant men in black robes and hoods with skull and crossbones insignia with guns pointed at them.”
But Detroit wasn’t just a place of darkness in the 1930's. As the Black Legion flourished, so did ...



Sunday, July 03, 2016

Between the Lines: Made in Michigan

by Zinta Aistars

for WMUK 102.1 FM
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate




Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guests: M. L. Liebler and Michael Zadoorian 

Photo of ML Liebler by Shelly Liebler


The "Made in Michigan Writers Series" celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. It's published by Wayne State University in Detroit and has proven to be remarkably successful, showcasing the diverse work of Michigan writers. To celebrate, the Wayne State University Press has collected 22 short stories by some of Michigan’s best writers for the new anthology, Bob Seger’s House and Other Stories.

M. L. Liebler, the co-editor of the book with Michael Delp, got the difficult task of choosing the stories to be included in the anthology. He reminisces about how the "Made in Michigan Writers Series" came to be.

“Annie Martin, who is the acquisition editor of the Made in Michigan Writers Series, had this vision ten years ago to do a literary series,” Liebler says. “That’s pretty unusual for a university press. They’re not known for poetry and fiction as much as for academic books. She tapped me from the Detroit area and Michael Delp up at Interlochen. By putting us two together, she figured she could build a good series of eclectic writers.”
CREDIT WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Since it began in 2006, the series has produced 45 books of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry, with 200 writers, editors, and other contributors.
Detroit native Michael Zadoorian is one of those contributors. His collection of short stories, Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit, was published by the series in 2009.
“I was reading the foreword to the anthology about just how diverse the Michigan landscape is - its communities and types of people,” says Zadoorian. “It’s hard to pin down the idea of what makes a Michigan writer. I’m going to  be ...





Monday, June 27, 2016

Between the Lines: Bringing Black History Alive

by Zinta Aistars

for WMUK 102.1 FM
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate




Between the Lines is my weekly radio show about books and writers with a Michigan connection. It airs every Tuesday at 7:50 a.m., 11:55 a.m., and 4:20 p.m. (or listen anytime online), on WMUK 102.1 FM, Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate. I am the host of Between the Lines.

This week's guest: Sonya and Sean Hollins


Sonya and Sean Hollins
CREDIT SHAMIEL HOLLINS


We’ve all heard stories about the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth. But there are others about African-American history. Writer Sonya Hollins and her husband Sean Hollins, a graphic designer, have created a series of children’s books about African-Americans in Michigan who aren’t necessarily famous but whose stories are inspiring. The first is Benjamin Losford and His Handy Dandy Clippers. They published the book through their own company,Season Press, LLC, in January 2016. It's illustrated by Kenjji Jumanne-Marshall.

One of the reasons the couple decided to publish the series is because they feel the books fill a gap in traditional history books.
“A lot of kids learn history about people like Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman - a lot of people that are traditional in history,” says Sean Hollins. “But this book is bringing out a story about people who are right in our own community. We can touch the things they built. This brings history a lot closer.”
Benjamin Losford, the main character in the book, was rescued from a Kentucky slave plantation by his fugitive father, who had escaped earlier. The family moved to the town of Edmore in Michigan, where the father made a living as a barber for the white men in the community. 
CREDIT SEASON PRESS
While Benjamin was not initially impressed with barbering as a career, he learned the trade and eventually became one of three generations in the Losford family who gained respect for their work, and as the first African- Americans in their community. Their barber shop became the ...