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philip dray capitol menIf someone says to me “You wanna work a good room?” Yes, there are good rooms: the editorial room at DallasPenn.com, Combat Jack’s Today’s Mathematics, Kevin Walsh’s Forgotten New York, Justine Carroll’s Greenpointers (blowing minds at Oasis Roller World in Ridgewood)— those are good rooms, but certainly not the Copa over this, or this, or some burlesque gig on 52nd Street: all the same. Now this bit is about historian Philip Dray, who wants to work a good room and this Sunday he’ll be working one of the best rooms there is: the Zweck Auditorium at the Brooklyn Public Library. It’s true! Although the BPL has been closed Sundays since early January— a situation maddening to bibliophiles, genealogists, microfilm fiends and others who think public money should go to, ya’ll know, public institutions and not the goddamn Yankees, or Mets, or Bruce Ratner— but the Zweck is keeping the lights on, Sundays included. In the words of the author, who’ll be discussing his brilliant new book Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through The Lives of the First Black Congressmen:

Political intrigue, a stolen boat, men on horses, some arguments over the price of cotton, a good guy called “Daddy,” a bad guy named “Pitchfork”…there’s a bit of something in it for everyone.  So join me if you will at:

Brooklyn Public Library
Dweck Auditorium
10 Grand Army Plaza
Sunday, Feb. 15, 1:30 pm

Since it’s possible that black history enthusiasts don’t also ride with black blog writers, let me briefly introduce two of them. I don’t know the whole Combat Jack story yet; I think he’s in the entertainment biz, went to Cornell University and Georgetown and lives in Crown Heights. His recent post about Public Enemy is a must read. Dallas I know is a Queens kid who writes about politics, sports, sneakers, his hilariously hard-earned “wisdom” (such as it is), Polo, comics, hip-hop, the genius of Ralph Bakshi and whatever else crosses his path. I believe Dallas is also a Brooklyn Tech alum. (Combine Brooklyn Tech + Cornell and what do you get? Richard Farina.) Although Dallas coverted me to Kanye, the pro sports shit leaves me cold—  once I checked out on the Knicks (which every sensible person should have done even before Van Gundy split), I quit it all. That said, I still have Walt Frazier and Charles Oakley jerseys in the closet (ll) and for those of ya’ll who do believe… Let me present the future of the NBA…

Brooklyn’s own Dontrevius Wenters:


For more see “Draft Daze Part II” and also, of course, my epic four-part Philip Dray interview: Historians Are What’s Happening. — Brian Berger

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