WMU News

'Black Eden' is finalist for two awards

April 25, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- A book written by two Western Michigan University professors about a famed black resort in Michigan is continuing to receive nationwide attention.

"Black Eden: The Idlewild Community," by Drs. Lewis Walker, professor emeritus of sociology, and Benjamin Wilson, professor and director of Africana studies, recently was named a finalist for both the 2002 Great Lakes Booksellers award and the 2002 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year award, in the history category.

In addition, Michigan's Department of History, Arts and Libraries has invited the two WMU professors to the Library of Michigan as special guests of the Michigan Week program. The library will be host to a lecture session based on "Black Eden." That session is set for Saturday, May 17.

The book, published by Michigan State University Press, also will be featured in May/June issue of "Crisis Magazine," the quarterly publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The NAACP is the oldest civil rights activist group in America.

Black Eden chronicles the rise and fall of Idlewild, once a thriving resort community in Michigan's Lake County. Idlewild was created as a recreational haven for the African-American community more than 90 years ago, at a time when America was segregated. It quickly became one of the country's most popular and lavish vacation spots for blacks. Before its fall in the mid-1960s, the lakeside community attracted as many as 25,000 people each year and drew some of the nation's greatest entertainers, including Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King and Sammy Davis Jr.

"Black Eden" has received national acclaim for giving a voice to Idlewild's rich historical and cultural significance. Since its publication in February 2002, the manuscript has received reviews in The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Detroit Free Press.

Related WMU News articles

WMU professors chronicle rise and decline of "Black Eden" (June 12, 2002) New book sheds light on former thriving African-American resort community.

Media contact: Tonya Hernandez, 269 387-8400, tonya.hernandez@wmich.edu

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