Books for Black History Month
Check out the library’s picks for Black History Month!
January 26, 2022
The 1619 Project
A New Origin Story
Nikole Hannah-Jones, Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman,, Jake Silverstein
The animating idea of The 1619 Project is that our national narrative is more accurately told if we begin not on July 4, 1776, but in late August of 1619, when a ship arrived in Jamestown bearing a cargo of twenty to thirty enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival inaugurated a barbaric and unprecedented system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the country’s very origin. The 1619 Project tells this new origin story, placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.
Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights
Chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Wright—friends and neighbors in Auburn, New York—discussing their vital roles in the Underground Railroad, abolition, and the early women’s rights movement.
All That She Carried
The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake
The story of how three generations of Black women have passed down a family treasure—a sack filled with a few precious items given from an enslaved woman to her daughter in 1850s South Carolina.
James Baldwin’s America and It’s Urgent Lessons for Our Own
Eddie S. Glaude Jr
James Baldwin grew disillusioned by the failure of the Civil Rights movement to force America to confront its lies about race, and the author explores what Americans can learn from Baldwin’s struggle in the era of President Trump.
Between the World and Me
The author presents a history of racial discrimination in the United States and a narrative of his own personal experiences of contemporary race relations, offering possible resolutions for the future.
The Black Church
This is Our Story, This is Our Song
Henry Louis Gates, Jr
The Harvard University professor, NAACP Image Award recipient and Emmy Award-winning creator of The African Americans presents a history of the Black church in America that illuminates its essential role in culture, politics and resistance to white supremacy.
The true story of Detective Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, who in 1978 went undercover to investigate the KKK.
The Black Panther Party
David F. Walker
A bold and fascinating graphic novel history of the revolutionary Black Panther Party.
Brothers in Arms
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Anthony Walton
Presents the story of the first all-African American tank battalion to see combat in World War II, documenting how its members struggled with racial discrimination in spite of their emergence as a highly decorated unit.
Buses Are a Comin’
Memoir of a Freedom Rider
A surviving original Freedom Rider recounts his firsthand experiences with the South’s historical and ongoing resistance to racial equality, sharing insights into what is required for progressive change to become possible in America.
The Origins of Our Discontents
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns identifies the qualifying characteristics of historical caste systems to reveal how a rigid hierarchy of human rankings, enforced by religious views, heritage and stigma, impact everyday American lives.
Civil Rights Queen
Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality
This biography of the first black woman to argue a case in front of the Supreme Court examines how she played a critical role in vanquishing Jim Crow laws throughout the South.
The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line
Dunkel traces the rise of a Bismarck integrated squad and follows them through their ups and downs, focusing on the 1935 season, and the first National Semi-Pro Tournament in Wichita, Kansas—a decade before Jackie Robinson broke into the Major Leagues!
The Compton Cowboys
The New Generation of Cowboys in America’s Urban Heartland
Tells the story of The Compton Cowboys, a group of African-American men and women who defy stereotypes and continue the proud, centuries-old tradition of black cowboys.
The Dead Are Arising
The Life of Malcolm X
Les Payne, Tamara Payne
A revisionary portrait of the iconic civil rights leader draws on hundreds of hours of interviews with surviving family members, intelligence officers and political leaders to offer new insights into Malcolm X’s Depression-era youth, religious conversion and 1965 assassination.
Four Hundred Souls
A Community History of African America, 1619-2019
Ibram X. Kendi, Keisha N. Blain
A “choral history” of African Americans covering 400 years of history in the voices of 80 writers, edited by the bestselling, National Book Award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain.
His Truth is Marching on
John Lewis and the Power of Hope
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hope of Glory presents a timely portrait of veteran congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis that details the life experiences that informed his faith and shaped his practices of non-violent protest.
How the Word is Passed
A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America
“How the Word is Passed’ is Clint Smith’s revealing, contemporary portrait of America as a slave-owning nation. Beginning in his own hometown of New Orleans, Smith leads the reader through an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks—those that are honest about the past and those that are not—that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation’s collective history, and ourselves.
Ida B. the Queen
The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells
Michelle Duster, Hannah Giorgis
Written by her great-granddaughter, a historical portrait of the boundary-breaking civil rights pioneer covers Wells’ early years as a slave, her famous acts of resistance, and her achievements as a journalist and anti-lynching activist.
The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama recounts his experiences as a lawyer working to assist those desperately in need, reflecting on his pursuit of the ideal of compassion in American justice.
The Last Slave Ship
The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning
The incredible true story of the last ship to carry enslaved people to America, the remarkable town its survivors founded after emancipation, and the complicated legacy their descendants carry with them to this day-by the journalist who discovered the ship’s remains.
Long Time Coming
Reckoning With Race in America
Michael Eric Dyson
From the New York Times best-selling author of Tears We Cannot Stop issues a passionate call to America to finally reckon with race and start the journey to redemption.
Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail
A Traveler’s Guide to the People, Places, and Events That Made the Movement
Deborah D. Douglas
Provides a guide to some of the most important sites in United States civil rights history.
My Remarkable Journey
The woman at the heart of the New York Times bestseller and Oscar-winning film “Hidden Figures” shares her personal journey from child prodigy in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia to NASA human computer and her integral role in the early years of the U.S. space program.
Olympic Pride, American Prejudice
Deborah Riley Draper, Travis Thrasher
Describes the inspiring story of 18 African Americans, including Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson’s brother Mack, who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics despite the racism at home and abroad in this companion to the upcoming documentary.
In this intricately woven tapestry of American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas in the 1850s, recounts the origins of Juneteenth and explores the legacies of the holiday that remain with us.
The Epic Story of Four Men and the World Series That Changed Baseball
The riveting story of four men-Larry Doby, Bill Veeck, Bob Feller, and Satchel Paige-whose improbable union on the Cleveland Indians in the late 1940s would shape the immediate postwar era of Major League Baseball and beyond. In July 1947, not even three months after Jackie Robinson debuted on the Brooklyn Dodgers, snapping the color line that had segregated Major League Baseball, Larry Doby would follow in his footsteps on the Cleveland Indians.
A previously unpublished collection of personal writings and photographs by civil rights icon Rosa Parks draws on her private manuscripts and handwritten notes to reveal her inner thoughts, ongoing struggles and decision to become the person who stood up by sitting down.
She Came to Slay
The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman
Erica Armstrong Dunbar
A lively, informative and illustrated tribute to one of the most exceptional women in American history—Harriet Tubman—looks at a heroine whose fearlessness and activism still resonates today.
So You Want to Talk About Race
A Seattle-based writer, editor and speaker tackles the sensitive, hyper-charged racial landscape in current America, discussing the issues of privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “N” word.
Stamped From the Beginning
The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Ibram X. Kendi
A comprehensive history of anti-black racism focuses on the lives of five major players in American history, including Cotton Mather and Thomas Jefferson, and highlights the debates that took place between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and antiracists.
The Sword and the Shield
The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Peniel E. Joseph
The author of Stokely: A Life challenges popular misconceptions in a dual portrait of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. that reveals how in spite of conflicting ideologies the pair inspired each other’s achievements.
The Three Mothers
How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation
Anna Malaika Tubbs
A Gates Cambridge Scholar presents a tribute to the mothers of Malcolm X, James Baldwin and Martin Luther King, Jr., to share insights into the prejudices they endured, their commitment to education and their anti-racism advocacy.
The Warmth of Other Suns
The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
An epic history covering the period from the end of World War I through the 1970s chronicles the decades-long migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West through the stories of three individuals and their families.
Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments
Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval
Traces a lesser-known time of radical transformation of black life in early 20th-century America, revealing how a large number of black women forged relationships, families and jobs that were more empowered and typically indifferent to moral dictates.
You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays
Zora Neale Hurston
Spanning more than 35 years of work, this anthology showcases the writings of one of the most acclaimed artists of the Harlem Renaissance, providing a window into her world and time.
An American Marriage
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy, the living embodiment of the New South, are settling into the routine of their life together when Roy is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. An insightful look into the lives of people who are bound and separated by forces beyond their control.
Sethe, an escaped slave living in post-Civil War Ohio with her daughter and mother-in-law, is persistantly haunted by the ghost of her dead baby girl.
The Color Purple
The lives of two sisters—Nettie, a missionary in Africa, and Celie, a southern woman married to a man she hates—are revealed in a series of letters exchanged over thirty years.
An Extraordinary Union
During the Civil War two undercover agents, Elle Burns, a former slave, and Malcolm McCall a detective in Pinkerton’s Secret Service uncover a plot that could lead to a Confederate victory and vow to preserve the Union at any cost.
The story of a black man who passes for white and becomes a race-baiting U.S. senator. When he is shot on the Senate floor, the first visitor in hospital is a black musician-turned-preacher who raised him. As the two men talk, their respective stories come out.
Sisters in Arms
A Novel of the Daring Black Women Who Served During World War II
The first Black women allowed to serve in the army, Grace Steele and Eliza Jones, helping form the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, navigate their way through the segregated ranks, finally making it overseas where they do their parts for the country they love.
The Tubman Command
Harriet Tubman was a scout for the union army and led a successful raid up the Combahee River in South Carolina that freed 750 men, women, and children. This is the historical novel of her heroic raid.
The Underground Railroad
A magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South.