What We’re Reading: February 2024


Have you ever heard of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards? The literary prize, established in 1935, celebrates literature that confronts racism and explores diversity. Recognizing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, these prestigious awards honor works that contribute to our understanding of social justice and the human experience.

Over the years, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards has gained national and even international recognition. Yet, its origins are distinctly Cleveland.

Turns out that Edith Anisfield Wolf, the award’s founder, was deeply committed to celebrating diversity and examining racism. Her father, John Anisfield, had a successful career in the Cleveland garment industry and passed down his fortune to Edith. A committed social activist, Edith wrote poetry and worked with the Cleveland Public Library for decades. Upon her death, she left her home to the Cleveland Welfare Association, her books to the Cleveland Public Library, and her funds to the Cleveland Foundation. 

This month we’ve been checking out a 2023 winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Fiction Award, Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad by Matthew Delmont.

Half American dives into the untold stories of African Americans during World War II, revealing their pivotal role in the conflict. Delmont takes readers on a journey through the struggles and triumphs of Black soldiers who fought for their country both overseas and on the home front. From battling racism within the military to confronting segregation in their everyday lives, the book unpacks the complex intersection of race, war, and citizenship during this tumultuous period. 

With a mix of riveting anecdotes and historical analysis, Half American paints a vivid picture of the challenges faced by African Americans during World War II and their enduring fight for equality and recognition. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the overlooked contributions of Black soldiers to the war effort and their lasting impact on American history.

Finally – Teaching Cleveland wants to send out a special thank you to Karen Long for her exceptional leadership and dedication as the recently-retired director of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Her contributions have undoubtedly enriched the literary community, and her legacy will continue to inspire for years to come.



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