20 best black history books

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You know how the saying goes: those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. But when we are still not out of the lingering effects of our past, taking the time to learn where those strengths came from and how we got to where we are today becomes even more important. Reading books written by black authors can help add important context to the world we live in, as well as shed light on systemic racism and discrimination for those who are privileged not to feel their impact. first hand. Literature is a powerful force. It can help advance our own anti-racist education, raise voices that have historically been left out of the conversation, and ease the emotional burden on black friends and colleagues to educate others as well. Reading does not exempt us from taking meaningful action against injustice, but it is a start.

When most of us went to school, we learned about history from a largely white-centered perspective. The history of Africa and the history of black lives in the United States were not very present (if at all) in most of these conversations. But there is no time like the present to fill in the gaps. Here are some of our favorite black history books to add to your TBR list.

King of the coasts

Ladee Hubbard
librairie.org

$ 25.75

August is a black man who works for the Barclays, a white family that has gone through tough times. To get by, they decide to sell the rib sauce of their black cook, Miss Granny, with August’s face on the label. But neither of them will see a dime. Taking a critical look at racial stereotypes and how elements of black culture have been exploited, this novel is as delicious as it is thought-provoking.

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation

Anna malaika tubbs
librairie.org

$ 26.67

You have heard the expression “it takes a village”. But we know so little about the mothers who raised civil rights titans like Martin Luther King, Jr .; Malcolm X and James Baldwin. This book changes that in a long-awaited celebration of black motherhood.

RELATED: 20 best books on anti-racism

Unsung: Unannounced Tales of American Slavery and Abolition

We hear a lot about the experience of blacks during the civil rights movement, but the stories of abolitionists and enslaved people are often lost in history. This collection seeks to change that, with voices from anti-slavery speakers like Sarah Mapps Douglass and James Forten Jr., stories from former slaves of how they found joy in the midst of their circumstances, and a look on how the arts were part of the anti-slavery movement.

yellow woman

Sadeka johnson
librairie.org

$ 23.92

For most of her life, Pheby Delores Brown was relatively protected from the worst of slave life by her mother’s position as a plantation wife and by the favor of the master’s sister. But that all changes when she is 18 and finds herself pushed into Devil’s Half Acre, a horrific prison in Richmond. There, she must carefully navigate the jailer’s contradictory nature in order to survive. This incomprehensible story hardly lets you breathe.

Caste: the origins of our discontent

Isabelle Wilkerson
librairie.org

$ 29.44

If you think there is no caste system in America, this survey book will open your eyes. It explores the hidden hierarchies that exist within our society that investigate connections between how the Nazis studied racial systems in the United States, as well as the health, cultural, and political ramifications of our striated culture.

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019

Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
librairie.org

$ 29.44

This literary feat charts the 400-year history of black people in America, with 90 different writers each over a five-year span. It is a story of hope and struggle, of resistance and oppression, of historical icons and ordinary people that dispels the idea that all people are a monolith.

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches

Audre Lorde
librairie.org

$ 15.63

This collection of 15 essays and speeches tackles racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and class in the beautiful, searing language that canonized Lorde as an icon of both the civil rights movement and literature. His words will stay with you long after you close the lid.

Freedom is a constant struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the foundations of a movement

Angela Y. Davis
librairie.org

$ 14.67

Powerhouse activist Angela Y. Davis reveals the connection between black feminism, the abolition of prisons and the liberation struggle from South Africa to Ferguson and Palestine. This must-read collection of essays, speeches and interviews shows how all humans yearn for freedom and equality around the world.

RELATED: 25 black authored books to add to your reading list

The bluest eye

Toni Morrison
librairie.org

$ 13.75

If you’ve never read Toni Morrison, her debut novel is a great place to start. You’ll meet yearning Pecola Breedlove, with blue eyes and blonde hair that she (and her white comrades) consider to be the pinnacle of beauty. It tackles gender, race and class in a story that is as beautiful as it is educational.

Fire next time

James baldwin
librairie.org

$ 12.83

Get to know the Harlem street civil rights icon James Baldwin called home while digesting the ramifications of racial injustice in this foundational text. Part sermon, part history lesson, this is Baldwin at his best.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blind

Michelle alexandre
librairie.org

$ 25.75

The criminal justice system has been disproportionately armed against black people and this in-depth explanation of prison status should be required reading for all of us. Now in its tenth anniversary, this edition begins with a new preface by the author on the progress of the movement since its first publication.

The damned of the earth

Frantz Fanon
librairie.org

$ 14.72

Unfortunately, racism is not just an American institution. A psychoanalyst who participated in the Algerian Nationalist Movement contributes to breaking down the struggle against colonization in this ample and somewhat dense text. It really explains how ingrained racism is in our society and the changes we will need to truly eradicate it.

Assata: an autobiography

Assata Shakur
librairie.org

$ 17.43

If you only know the name Assatat Shakur (and especially if you don’t know it), learn the rest of Black Panther’s story from his own tongue-in-cheek voice. She will take you from where she now lives in Cuba to her escape from prison following her conviction after the Jersey State toll highway shooting that claimed the life of a police officer.

This Bridge Called Me: Writings of Radical Women of Color

Cherrie Moraga; Gloria anzaldua
librairie.org

$ 34.95

Women of color are often left out of the big conversations about race, but their experiences matter and are worth sharing. This anthology of essays, poetry, criticism and visual art explores the intersection between race, class and feminism.

Am I not a woman: black women and feminism

Bell Hooks
librairie.org

$ 41.94

The title of this classic book says it all. Feminism has always been very white, and this groundbreaking book will help explain why and how this impacts the people at BIPOC while challenging societal assumptions.

A taste of power: the story of a black woman

elaine brown
librairie.org

$ 17.43

You’re probably at least a little familiar with the life stories of black male icons like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Lewis. But unless you’ve been looking for her, you might never have heard of Elaine Brown, the first and only female boss of the Black Panthers. This book will help remedy that.

I know why the caged bird is singing

Maya angelou
librairie.org

$ 7.35

Angelou’s heartbreaking and brilliantly written memoir of coming of age tells the story of a difficult and lonely childhood. After suffering sexual assault in his youth, his strength of mind and his discovery of literature brought him through tragedies and trauma. It is difficult reading, but necessary.

Mules and Men

Zora Neale Hurston
librairie.org

$ 14.71

By the author of Their eyes looked at God comes an anthology of folklore, sermons, tales and other stories that have made up the rich cultural fabric of black families in the South. These elements are also an important part of the story, even though they are vastly under-represented in popular culture. This book will help you expand your folk diet.

Roots: the saga of an American family

Alex haley
librairie.org

$ 17.46

After the family of an African man, through the middle passage and into slavery, then six generations of farmers, blacksmiths, porters, lawyers and architects, this rich text will be addressed to all those who have always dreamed of knowing their own family history. Read it first, then watch the History Channel series.

The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead
librairie.org

$ 15.59

In Whitehead’s tale, the Underground Railroad is more literal than it was in real life, but its characters’ struggles as they flee slavery are all too real. This brilliant book gives faces and names to the journey to freedom, and the unfulfilled promise that keeps.

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