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What Mama Taught Me (Brown) - Book Reviews

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In a meandering volume full of personal anecdotes and indirectly phrased advice, Brown uses himself as an informal case study to prove that self-empowerment is the key to success. The conviction was bred into him by the woman he called Mama: Elizabeth Sanford, who was not a relation, rescued him at the age of two months from near starvation and raised him as her own. And Brown (Black Lies, White Lies), host of PBS's Tony Brown's Journal, attributes his achieve-ments to the lessons he learned from her as a child. A poor, uneducated black Charleston maid, Sanford nonetheless instructed her adopted son in what she saw as life's fundamental values. In an atmosphere of unquestioning love she taught him to be true to himself, to invest in his abilities and to live joyfully. Brown participated in the early Civil Rights struggle with Martin Luther King, Jr., and soon decided that mass media was the best way to get his message across. A firm believer in black self-empowerment, he criticizes welfare and race-based college admission programs, and charges some black leaders with encouraging followers to victimize themselves and play the "racial blame game." Among other ideas, he recommends that African-Americans empower themselves by investing and spending money in their own communities. While not all will agree with his beliefs, many will enjoy his personal recollections of a childhood he spent with an inspiring woman.
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