Mark Reynolds, a PopMatters contributor since 2004, writes cultural criticism, reviews and essays from the intersection of history, race and culture.
Mark began his journalism career in 1986 in his native Cleveland as a talk show host and news reporter for NPR affiliate WCPN-FM. From 1992 to 1998, he covered politics, education, local history, music, literature and film for the alternative newspaper Cleveland Free Times. He also freelanced for several Cleveland publications, including the daily Plain Dealer and alt-weekly Scene. His March 2003 Urban Dialect essay about his experiences in the alternative newspaper industry received statewide first-place honors for best media criticism from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. Other credits include periods as a regular contributor to the trade magazine Black Meetings and Tourism, the weekly newspaper Philadelphia Tribune, and the entertainment magazine Hear/Say.
Concurrent with his journalism work, Mark spent 31 years with the U.S. Postal Service, mostly in corporate communications. From 1997 to 2003, he was the public relations representative for the Postal Service in Cleveland. He relocated to Philadelphia in 2004 to launch a monthly video newsletter for Postal Service employees in the Philadelphia region. In 2006, he moved to Chicago to serve as the district's corporate communications representative. Mark retired from the Postal Service in 2016 to accept a position at Antioch College (his alma mater) as Director of Marketing & Communications.
Mark's essays are included in two Belt Publishing anthologies: "Red State Blues: Stories from Midwestern Life on the Left" (2018); and "Black In the Middle: An Anthology of the Black Midwest" (2020).
Mark lives and works in Chicago, which is a pretty good place to pursue his particular beat. Wherever he roams in the world, Mark carries love for his wife and daughter, books he plans to read someday, and endless hope for Cleveland's confounding sports teams.
In this excerpt of Black in the Middle, PopMatters' Mark Reynolds compares the nearly identical racial divides in his cities, Cleveland and Chicago, that to this day are stubbornly entrenched.
John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.
A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.
E. James West's new book explores Lerone Bennett, Jr.'s impact as a popular Black historian. It's a gateway to a body of work that still speaks to Black rage, struggle and hope, yesterday and today.
Tim Brooks' detailed research tells us how blackface didn't die, but found ways to multiply as the entertainment industry grew.
There are various ways you can mine the bounty of your exquisite taste to while away an hour or two during this stressful time of coronavirus. But you've got to do it with some intentionality.
The unheralded and underappreciated PR exec. Moss Kendrix is the de facto hero in Brenna Wynn Greer's enlightening history of Black marketers and the evolving depiction of Black people in mass media.
Even as Black America continues to battle crime, violence, death, and a hostile political and economic policy, it can be soothing to peer through the haze and marvel at the richness of Black American stories. Two such stories: Floyd Patterson and Fats Domino.
The Staple Singers' Stax recording, Come Go with Me, captures their transformation from the church-wrecking gospel highway to the soul-filling pop charts.
Kathy Iandoli's personable history, God Save the Queens, shows how women in rap face up to the battles.
Roy Christopher's dense book-length essay, Dead Precedents, takes much of what is now axiomatic about hip-hop and reminds us how revolutionary its innovations and practices really were.
The major eight-CD collection, The Gospel According to Malaco, captures the evolution of gospel from the mid-'40s to the 21st century with many electrifying performances throughout.
The esteemed oral historian, Timuel Black, turns the microphone around to capture his amazing journey through 20th Century black America in Sacred Ground.
A new compilation shows how three teenaged girls helped pioneer the musical articulation of black consciousness in England in the 1970s.
'Jazz Is the Teacher, Funk Is the Preacher' Continues the Connection Between Black Power-era Art and Progressive Jazz and Funk
Soul Jazz Record's second tie-in to the Soul of a Nation art exhibit brings the funk, alongside a wide range of progressive populist jazz from the early '70s.
It's tempting to proclaim this moment in black pop as something akin to 2018's political Year of the Woman -- Year of the Sista, if you will. But today's unapologetically progressive female black pop artists stand on the shoulders of a most impressive cohort from the '90s and early '00s.
Robert Christgau is the rare critic who can write insightfully and passionately about a sweaty performance by a popular Congolese soukous band and a magisterial show by Senegal's Youssou N'Dour. That magic is captured in his latest anthology, Is It Still Good to Ya?
Well before artists were their own entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs became rock stars, A&R pros improvised a blueprint for the workings of the modern music industry.
"Lift Every Voice and Sing" has been embedded in black America's DNA for more than 100 years. We've sung it every February ever since Black History Month was a thing, and every December since Kwanzaa was a thing.
This reissue of Alice Coltrane's mid-'70s studio albums shows a logical progression of her twinned musical and spiritual journeys.
Linda Clifford's four late 1970s albums showcase her range, even if they don't stand out from the life-after-disco scene.
The latest installment in Soul Jazz Records' Boombox series, tracing the evolution of recorded rap in the late '70s and early '80s, provides us with the useful reminder that once upon a time, rap had a sense of wonder, newness, and joie de vivre.