Black History Month Reads


7 Black History Inspired Reads This Month

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February is Black History Month! To celebrate, we found 7 of some of the most amazing African American writers and authors to recommend their favorite books of all time. From Y.A. page turners to collections of poems, these books are evidence to the expressions of the black experience. These books are here to educate, thrill, inspire, entertain, and move readers no matter the occasion.

  1. Remaking Black Power, by Ashley D. Farmer

Farmer looks at women’s social, political, and cultural engagement with Black Power organizations and ideals. Farmer illustrates how female activists fought for more understanding of Black Power and social justice from developing new ideas that inspire black womanhood. “the Militant Black Domestic,” the “Revolutionary Black Woman”, and “The Third Woman,” created a debate of the importance of gender to Black Power among activists. This lead too many of the era’s leaders to support gender equality and redefine the patriarchy. Farmer shows how black women activates reinvented womanhood, the meaning of race, the topic of gender, and identity in the United States of America.

  1. Exiles of Eden, by Ladan Osman

This poetry collection is captivating. Black people are notorious for raw, honest, and deep poetry that is beautiful for readers. Ladan looks at the story of Adam, Eve, and their exile from the Garden of Eden.  This literary piece explores Somali tradition. Osman voices experiences and traumas from multiple generations. The characters encounter exile’s strangeness of knowing that you cannot come back from being sent out of Eden.

  1. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

An important book of the 20th century, this novel brings to life a Southern romance with the comedy and pathos found in the writing works of Zora Neale Hurston. “A deeply soulful novel that comprehends love and cruelty, and separates the big people from the small of heart, without ever losing sympathy for those unfortunates who don’t know how to live properly.” —Zadie Smith A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

  1. They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

Combining history of the South, African American history, and women’s history, this book examines the role of white women in American slavery. Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers is a historian that uses research to prove that slave-owning women were economic actors who benefited from the South’s slave market. Enslaved people were ultimately their source of wealth. White women refused to cede ownership of their slaves to their husbands and took on slave-owning techniques that were as brutal as slave owning men. White women used the slave market for their own profits and economic gain. Jones-Rogers gives a narrative that allows us to rethink the economics and social convention behind slaveholding America.

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  1. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison

This book is for all ages. This educates and inspires as it tells true stories of trailblazing American black women. This novel brings awareness to lesser known female figures in Black history. Some names are pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, filmmaker Julie Dash, and politician Shirley Chisholm. This biographies promote real life heroes, role models, and women who did amazing things. These bold women contributed to making the world a better place for women and girls to follow.

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  1. Heavy, by Kiese Laymon

“This was such a searing and honest memoir of African American boy-, man-, personhood, and it moved me in ways that I can only interpret in terms of its fullness. How it said so many things that have largely been left unsaid, and more. I think everyone should read this. Kiese Laymon talks about familial relationships, eating disorders, addiction, confusion, abuse, and his complicated and unconditional love for his mother. It is a stunning, gut-wrenching read.” —Yrsa Daley-Ward, author of The Terrible

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  1. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Celestial and Roy are newlyweds who represent the American Dream and the New South. She is an artist and he is an executive. As they settle down and begin their life routine together, they face challenges that alter their relationship. Roy is arrested and sentenced for 12 years for a crime Celestial swears he didn’t do. Celestial, takes comfort in Andre, her childhood friend and best man at her wedding. As Roy’s time continues in prison, she is unable to hold onto the love that has encompassed her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is overturned, and he returns to Atlanta to resume their life. This story looks into people who must reckon with the past while moving forward.

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