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The observance of Black History Month began in 1926 as Negro History Week by noted African American historian, scholar, educator and publisher Carter G. Woodson. President Gerald Ford made Black History Month official in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Our suggested reading list addresses the struggles and celebrations through history to current day for Black Americans in YA, middle reader, and children's picture books, and in fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and cookbooks.
A debut YA novel that condemns racism within the criminal justice system, mass incarceration and capital punishment.
Frederick Joseph's life as a transfer student in a largely white high school was full of underlying racial moments that he often let go. Later in his life he wrote this YA book to spread awareness to those white people who weren't aware of their negative impact.
This YA non-fiction book addresses the overlooked roles Black women played in the efforts to end slavery and in the women's suffrage movement.
A powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated.
A YA debut novel in which readers are introduced to a meticulously-built world of magic, with roots in Arthurian legend and traditions of the African American South.
From Frederick Douglass to Oprah Winfrey, and the achievements of ancient African kingdoms to those of the US Civil Rights Movement, this just released picture book for readers aged 9-12 takes kids on an exceptional journey from prehistory to modern times.
A young readers biography that looks at Rosa Parks’s life and her 60 years of activism, bringing to life the decades-long civil rights movement in the North and South.
Written for young readers, Rosa Parks describes her life from childhood to the present and recounts the events that shook the nation.
Clover's mom says it isn't safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups' rules by sitting on top of the fence together in Jacqueline Woodson's classic illustrated book for young readers.
A colorful graphic book for children that celebrates Black accomplishments in music, art, literature, journalism, politics, law, science, medicine, entertainment, and sports, and honoring the fortitude of Black role models who have achieved greatness despite the grinding political and social constraints on Black life.
The uplifting true story of the four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program. An inspiration for young readers.
Written as a letter from civil rights activist and icon Ruby Bridges to the reader, this inspiring children's book is a recounting of Ruby’s experience as a child who had to be escorted to class by federal marshals when she was chosen to be one of the first black students to integrate into New Orleans’ all-white public school system, as well as an appeal to generations to come to effect change.
National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, heartening children's picture book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.
An inspiring story of sisterhood, hard work, and determination that's perfect for budding athletes or any young reader with a big dream.
Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of Black icons in this celebratory colorful picture book that was written in the spirit of Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.”
This children's picture book poem is a love letter to Black life in America, highlighting the trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes.
Just published, this children's picture book is a biography about Justice Thurgood Marshall, who fought for equality during the Civil Rights Movement and served as the first Black justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
A vibrant illustrated portrait of Aretha Franklin that pays her the R-E-S-P-E-C-T the Queen of Soul deserves.
Anyone who's ever been underestimated or overshadowed will find inspiration in this empowering new picture book from Meena Harris, New York Times bestselling author of "Kamala and Maya's Big Idea," which is based on a true story about her aunt, Vice President Kamala Harris, and her mother, Maya Harris.
Inspired by a true story from the childhood of Vice Presidet Kamala Harris, this is a beautiful, empowering picture book about two sisters who work with their community to effect change.
A picture book for children to discover the incredible story of a young daughter of immigrants who would grow up to be the first woman, the first Black person, and the first South Asian American ever elected Vice President of the United States.
From Vice President Kamala Harris comes a picture book with an empowering message: Superheroes are all around us and if we try, we can all be heroes too.
Letter by alphabet letter, "The ABCs of Black History" celebrates a story that spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and joy in Black culture. In addition to rhyming text, this colorful picture book includes information on events, places, and people from Mae Jemison to W. E. B. Du Bois, Fannie Lou Hamer to Sam Cooke, and the Little Rock Nine to DJ Kool Herc.
A stirring, dramatic children's picture book story of a slave who literally mails himself to freedom in a crate.
Throughout her culinary career, Toni Tipton-Martin has shed new light on the history, breadth, and depth of African American cuisine. She’s introduced us to black cooks, some long forgotten, who established much of what’s considered to be our national cuisine in this cookbook what features more than 100 recipes.
Chef, author, and television star Marcus Samuelsson gathers together an unforgettable feast of food, culture, and history to highlight the diverse deliciousness of Black cooking today.
In this inspirational memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, reknowned Black chef Kwame Onwuachi shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age.
President Barack Obama's beautifully written and powerful book captures his conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.
From New York Times bestselling author of "Deacon King Kong," journalist and musician James McBride explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage in in this 2006 debut autobiography.
American literary critic and scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is known for his pioneering theories of African literature and African American literature. His history of the Black church in America as the Black community's abiding rock and fortress is the companion book to the upcoming PBS series.
Until recently, Rosa Parks’s personal papers were unavailable to the public. In this compelling new book from the Library of Congress, where the Parks Collection is housed, the Civil Rights icon is revealed for the first time in print through her private manuscripts and handwritten notes. Read her inner thoughts, her ongoing struggles and how she came to be the person who stood up by sitting down.
The story of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s imprisonment in the days leading up to the 1960 presidential election and the efforts of three of John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights staffers who went rogue to free him, in a move that changed the face of the Democratic Party and propelled Kennedy to the White House.
John Lewis, who at age twenty-five marched in Selma, Alabama and was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, was a visionary and a man of faith. Drawing on decades of wide-ranging interviews with Lewis, Jon Meacham writes of how this great-grandson of a slave and son of an Alabama tenant farmer was inspired by the Bible and his teachers in nonviolence, to put his life on the line in the service of what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”
Congressman John Lewis draws from his experience as a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement to offer timeless wisdom, poignant recollections, and powerful principles for anyone interested in challenging injustices and inspiring real change toward a freer, more peaceful society.
Mixing biography, drawn partially from newly uncovered interviews, with history, memoir, and incisive analysis of our current moment, this book is Glaude’s endeavor, following Baldwin, to bear witness to the difficult truth of race in America today.
In this collection of essays, renowned social-justice advocate Tim Wise confronts racism in contemporary America. Seen through the lens of critical moments during the Obama and Trump years, "Dispatches from the Race War" faces the consequences of white supremacy in all its forms.
Acclaimed historian Martha S. Jones offers a new history of African-American women's political lives in America, portraying how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons.
Black women have never been more visible or more publicly celebrated than they are now. But for every new milestone, every magazine cover, every box office record smashed, every new face elected to public office, the reality of everyday life for black women remains a complex, conflicted, contradiction-laden experience.
When most people think about street addresses, if they think of them at all, it is in their capacity to ensure that the postman can deliver mail or a traveler won’t get lost. But street addresses were not invented to help you find your way; they were created to find you. In many parts of the world, your address can reveal your race and class.
National leader Stacey Abrams has written the guide to harnessing the strengths of being an outsider and succeeding anyway.
In 1966 in a small town in Louisiana, a 19-year-old black man named Gary Duncan pulled his car off the road to stop a fight. Duncan was arrested a few minutes later for the crime of putting his hand on the arm of a white child. In this powerful work of character-driven history, journalist Matthew Van Meter vividly brings alive how this seemingly minor incident brought massive, systemic change to the criminal justice system.
A powerful exploration of Black achievement in a white world based on honest, provocative, and moving interviews with Black leaders, scientists, artists, activists, and champions.
A collection of work in images, photos, essays, memes, dialogues, recipes, tweets, poetry, and more that tell the story of the radical, imaginative, provocative, and gorgeous world that Black creators are bringing forth today.
This is the story of one woman’s lessons through years of bringing people together to create change. In 2013, Alicia Garza wrote what she called “a love letter to Black people” on Facebook, in the aftermath of the acquittal of the man who murdered seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin. Long before #BlackLivesMatter became a rallying cry for this generation she wrote: Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter.
Political commentator and strategist, Heather McGhee’s specialty is the American economy and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. She embarked on a personal journey across the country to find proof of what she calls the Solidarity Dividend: gains that come when people come together across race, to accomplish what we simply can’t do on our own.
Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.
A group of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present. Edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of "How to Be an Antiracist," and Keisha N. Blain, author of "Set the World on Fire."
In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. He shares with his son, and readers, the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder.
A stunning coming-of-age memoir about a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears.
Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s "The New Jim Crow." Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund and spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations.
Social critic bell hooks has always maintained that eradicating racism and eradicating sexism must go hand in hand. But whereas many women have been recognized for their writing on gender politics, the female voice has been all but locked out of the public discourse on race. These speak to this imbalance and are written from a black and feminist perspective, tackling the bitter difficulties of racism by envisioning a world without it.
Kendi weaves a combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism in this an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.
James Baldwin was a uniquely prophetic voice in American writing. His brilliant and provocative essays and novels made him the literary voice of the Civil Rights Era, and they continue to speak with powerful urgency to us today, whether in the swirling debate over the Black Lives Matter movement.
A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, "The Fire Next Time" galvanized the nation, gave passionate voice to the emerging Ciivil Rights movement and still lights the way to understanding race in America today. A powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document from the author of "If Beale Street Could Talk" and "Go Tell It on the Mountain," and numerous other novels and essays.
Reporting on aspects of white supremacy, from police brutality to the mass incarceration of Black Americans, has put a media spotlight on racism in our society. Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to "model minorities" in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.
A bold graphic novel history of the revolutionary Black Panther Party that brings to light the major events, people, and actions of the Party that was founded in Oakland, California in 1966, and the cultural and political influences and enduring legacy of the Party.
A powerful manifesto and call to action for Black Americans to amass political power and fight white supremacy.
Claudia Rankine’s "Citizen" changed the conversation about white supremacy. "Just Us" urges all of us into it that conversation. Like her previous work, "Just Us" collages poetry, criticism, and first-person prose, remixing historical documents, social-media posts, and academic studies.
The most ambitious anthology of Black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present.
A complete collection of over 300 poems from one of the country's most influential black/lesbian poets.
An enthralling literary tour-de-force that pays tribute to Detroit's legendary Black Bottom neighborhood, a mecca for jazz, sports, and politics. This novel is a powerful blend of fact and imagination.
A singular and stunning debut novel about the forbidden union between two enslaved young men on a Deep South plantation, the refuge they find in each other, and a betrayal that threatens their existence.
The visionary author’s masterpiece story pulls us—along with her Black female hero—through time to face the horrors of slavery and explore the impacts of racism, sexism, and white supremacy then and now.
A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, "Such a Fun Age" is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.
From the bestselling author of "We Should All Be Feminists" and "Half of a Yellow Sun," the story of two Nigerians making their way in the U.S. and the UK raises universal questions of race, belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for identity and a home.
Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad in this moving story of love in the face of injustice.
Following the parallel paths of two half sisters who are born into different villages and each unaware of the others, and their descendants through eight generations from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem.
The best-selling novel since it's mid-2020 release, and one of Barack Obama's 2020 favorite books, about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.
Bound together by shared experience but pulled apart by their changing fortunes, four young friends coming of age in the pos-tindustrial enclave of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, struggle to liberate themselves from the legacies left to them as black men in America.
Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all—regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability—have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature.
In this follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller "The Underground Railroad," Colson Whitehead dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the Black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local Black college. But for a Black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides "physical, intellectual and moral training" so the delinquent boys in their charge can become "honorable and honest men."