NEWS & EVENTS
Here are some items and events of possible interest:
"A thoroughly researched and illuminating biography.... Washington gives a palpable sense of the myriad obstacles blacks faced.... An absorbing, fresh perspective on black history."
— Kirkus Reviews [starred review]
"In this illuminating debut biography, historian Washington celebrates a black New Yorker who won authority and influence in a segregated economy.... He paints a vivid portrait of the bustling golden age of train travel, and makes Williams a fitting exemplar of Harlem’s ambitious black middle class... The result is a rich, stirring social history of African-Americans’ struggle to succeed in an unfair system."
— Publishers Weekly
"Washington’s illustrated and well-researched work will have some appeal for rail fans, but its true value is for readers interested in the social condition of African Americans in New York during the period."
— Library Journal
"Written with a curator's eye for compelling detail . . . . Washington does a masterful job detailing the struggles and triumphs of a family determined to make America live up to its promise of democracy."
— Ginger Adams Otis, author of Firefight. The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York's Bravest
“[Washington] connects the dots with a deep and nuanced understanding of the people, the politics and the times.
Boss of the Grips really is a reclamation of the historical record with a respect and a reverence for James Williams and the people he knew in the community that he was a part of.”
— A'Lelia Bundles, author of
On Her Own Ground:
The Life and Times of
Madam C.J. Walker”
“The book is wonderful. . . [I]n addition to telling these stories and connecting the dots, . . . there are all these fabulous photographs, things that you wouldn’t know . . . about the regular everyday [Harlem] folks.￼”
— Sandra Bookman, host of
“Here and Now,” WABC-TV
“Few of us will have known anything about James Williams, and in this sense Washington’s book is similar to the overlooked lives featured these days in the New York Times obituary section. But as these fascinating obits tell us, these overlooked lives provide a fabulous insight into our shared history.”
— Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and executive director of the
Leon Levy Center for Biography
BOSS OF THE GRIPS
The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal
by Eric K. Washington
A long-overdue biography of the head of Grand Central Terminal’s Red Caps, who flourished in the cultural nexus of Harlem and American railroads.
In a feat of remarkable research and timely reclamation, Eric K. Washington uncovers the nearly forgotten life of James H. Williams (1878–1948), the chief porter of Grand Central Terminal’s Red Caps—a multitude of Harlem-based black men whom he organized into the essential labor force of America’s most august railroad station. Washington reveals that despite the highly racialized and often exploitative nature of the work, the Red Cap was a highly coveted job for college-bound black men determined to join New York’s bourgeoning middle class. Examining the deeply intertwined subjects of class, labor, and African American history, Washington chronicles Williams’s life, showing how the enterprising son of freed slaves successfully navigated the segregated world of the northern metropolis, and in so doing ultimately achieved financial and social influence. With this biography, Williams must now be considered, along with Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jacqueline Onassis, one of the great heroes of Grand Central’s storied past.
Author Talk Events:
Please note: several venues require prior reservations.
Click the bold underscored event titles below dates to register.
Tuesday, October 29, 2019:
515 Malcolm X Boulevard (West 135th Street), Manhattan — 6:30PM
Friday, November 8, 2019:
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue (34th Street), Manhattan — 6:30PM
Sunday, November 10, 2019 - Two (2) Events:
Jerome & Bainbridge Avenues, The Bronx — 2-4PM
Tuesday, November 12, 2019:
135 East 46th Street, Manhattan — 6PM
Thursday, November 14, 2019:
31 Chambers Street Manhattan — 6PM
Tuesday, November 19, 2019:
Columbia University, Manhattanville Campus
601 West 125th Street, Manhattan — 6:30PM
Sunday, November 24, 2019:
"Here and Now" with Sandra Bookman
abc7-TV — 12Noon
head of Grand Central Terminal's Red Caps" — [click to watch]
Tuesday, November 26, 2019:
"All Of It" with Alison Stewart | WNYC Radio — [click to listen]
New York Public Radio — 12Noon
Thursday, December 5, 2019:
2113 Amsterdam Avenue (at 165th Street), Manhattan — 6:30PM
Saturday, December 14, 2019:
C-SPAN2 BookTV — 7PM
Wednesday, February 26, 2020:
NY Transit Museum | Grand Central Terminal Store
Grand Central Terminal, Upper Concourse, Manhattan — 1PM
Thursday, March 5, 2020:
NY Transit Museum
99 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn — 6:30PM
Eric K. Washington est un historien indépendant et auteur basé à New York City qui travaillera sur Boss of the Grips, une biographie de James H. Williams, l'influent concierge en chef des «Red Cap» du Grand Central Terminal, prévue pour l'automne 2018.