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Books for Black History Month

Check out the library’s picks for Black History Month!

January 25, 2024

February is black history month!

Dive into Black History Month with a book! Discover gripping non-fiction, personal memoirs, and inspiring biographies shedding light on pivotal moments and extraordinary individuals. Immerse yourself in fiction that celebrates the richness of Black culture. Explore, learn, and celebrate the stories that shape our history.

This list includes:

Check out lists from previous years: 2023 | 2022 | 2021

 

Nonfiction

Viral Justice by Ruha Benjamin

Viral Justice
How We Grow The World We Want

Ruha Benjamin

Part memoir, part manifesto, the author, in this thought-provoking book on race, technology and justice, recounts her personal experiences and those of her family, showing how seemingly minor decisions and habits could spread virally and have exponentially positive effects.

Black Gun, Silver Star by Art T Burton

Black Gun, Silver Star
The Life And Legend Of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves

Art T Burton

In this new edition of the biography of Bass Reeves, who was formerly enslaved and then served as a peace officer in and around late nineteenth-century Indian Territory, Art Burton traces Reeves’s presence in contemporary national media and in popular modern media.

A Fever In The Heartland by Timothy Egan

A Fever In The Heartland
The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot To Take Over America, And The Woman Who Stopped Them

Timothy Egan

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist traces the Ku Klux Klan’s rise to power in the 1920s, driven by the con man D.C. Stephenson, and how a seemingly powerless woman named Madge Oberholtzer brought them to their knees.

In The Pines by Grace Elizabeth Hale

In The Pines
A Lynching, A Lie, A Reckoning

Grace Elizabeth Hale

An award-winning scholar of white supremacy tackles her toughest research assignment yet: the unsolved murder of a black man in rural Mississippi while her grandfather was the local sheriff–a cold case that sheds new light on the hidden legacy of racial terror in America.

Say Anarcha by J. C. Hallman

Say Anarcha
A Young Woman, A Devious Surgeon, And The Harrowing Birth Of Modern Women’s Health

J. C. Hallman

Through extensive research, the author provides the first evidence ever found of Anarcha, a young enslaved woman who endured experimental surgical procedures at the hands of a young surgeon considered “The Father of Gynecology,” illuminating the sacrifice of this woman who changed the world only to be forgotten by it–until now.

Madness by Antonia Hylton

Madness
Race And Insanity In A Jim Crow Asylum

Antonia Hylton

Tracing the legacy of slavery to the treatment of Black people’s bodies and minds in our current healthcare system, a Peabody and Emmy award-winning journalist tells the 93-year-old history of Crownsville Hospital, one of the nation’s last segregated asylums.

Teddy And Booker T. by Brian Kilmeade

Teddy And Booker T.
How Two American Icons Blazed A Path For Racial Equality

Brian Kilmeade

The New York Times best-selling author of George Washington’s Secret Six and Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates turns to two other heroes of the nation: Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington.

You Have To Be Prepared To Die Before You Can Begin To Live by Paul Kix

You Have To Be Prepared To Die Before You Can Begin To Live
Ten Weeks In Birmingham That Changed America

Paul Kix

Taking readers behind the scenes of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s pivotal 10-week campaign in 1963 to end segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, a journalist zeroes in on its specific history and its echoes throughout our culture now.

Built From The Fire by Victor Luckerson

Built From The Fire
The Epic Story Of Tulsa’s Greenwood District, America’s Black Wall Street: One Hundred Years In The Neighborhood That Refused To Be Erased

Victor Luckerson

Focusing on one family’s experiences, this history of Tulsa’s Greenwood district, known as the “Black Wall Street” traces its origins, the 1921 race massacre that decimated the area and its eventual urban renewal and gentrification.

A Most Tolerant Little Town by Rachel Louise Martin

A Most Tolerant Little Town
The Explosive Beginning Of School Desegregation

Rachel Louise Martin

This portrait of the first school to attempt to implement court-ordered desegregation in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education focuses on its impact on Clinton, Tennessee, a small town living through a tumultuous turning point for America.

A Madman's Will by Gregory May

A Madman’s Will
John Randolph, 400 Slaves, And The Mirage Of Freedom

Gregory May

The untold saga of John Randolph’s 383 slaves, freed in his much-contested will of 1821, finally comes to light.

Invisible Generals by Doug Melville

Invisible Generals
Rediscovering Family Legacy, And A Quest To Honor America’s First Black Generals

Doug Melville

A descendant of America’s first two Black generals, who helped integrate the American military and created the Tuskegee Airmen, tells his family’s story across five generations, from post-Civil War America to modern day Asia and Europe.

White Women by Regina Jackson, Saira Rao

White Women
Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism And How To Do Better

Regina Jackson, Saira Rao

A no-holds-barred guidebook aimed at white women who want to stop being nice and start dismantling white supremacy from the team behind Race2Dinner and the documentary film, Deconstructing Karen.

Medgar And Myrlie by Joy-Ann Reid

Medgar And Myrlie
Medgar Evers And The Love Story That Awakened America

Joy-Ann Reid

Tracing the extraordinary lives and legacy of two civil rights icons, this gripping account of Medgar and Myrlie Evers is told through their relationship and the work that went into winning basic rights for black Americans, and the repercussions that still resonate today.

Flee North by Scott Shane

Flee North
A Forgotten Hero And The Fight For Freedom In Slavery’s Borderland

Scott Shane

This riveting account of the little-known abolitionist, liberator and writer recounts how he organized mass escapes from Washington, Baltimore and surrounding counties to freedom in the north, risking his own freedom to battle what he called “the most inhuman system that ever blackened the pages of history.The New York Times best-selling author of George Washington’s Secret Six and Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates turns to two other heroes of the nation: Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington.

To Free The Captives by Tracy K Smith

To Free The Captives
A Plea For The American Soul

Tracy K Smith

In this thought-provoking personal manifesto on memory, family and history, the author, heartsick from constant assaults on Black life, finds herself soul-searching and digging into the historical archive to understand who we are as a nation and what we might hope to mean to one another.

Africatown by Nick Tabor

Africatown
America’s Last Slave Ship And The Community It Created

Nick Tabor

The story of the slave ship Clotilda that carried last group of enslaved people ever brought to the U.S. from West Africa and the community they established outside Mobile, Alabama that still exists today.

Driving The Green Book by Alvin Hall

Driving The Green Book
A Road Trip Through The Living History Of Black Resistance

Alvin Hall

An award-winning broadcaster and educator presents his experiences following the path of African Americans who traveled the country during the age of segregation using The Green Book, a guide which helped Black people travel safely.

 

Biography & Memoir

John Lewis by Raymond Arsenault

John Lewis
In Search Of The Beloved Community

Raymond Arsenault

Presents the first full-length biography of civil rights hero and congressman John Lewis.

King by Jonathan Eig

King
A Life

Jonathan Eig

Drawing on recently declassified FBI files, this first major biography in decades of the civil rights icon reveals the courageous and often emotionally troubled man who demanded peaceful protest but was rarely at peace with himself, while showing how his demands for racial and economic justice remain just as urgent today.

Leslie F-Cking Jones by Leslie Jones

Leslie F-Cking Jones

Leslie Jones

Introducing the woman behind the laughs, this audacious memoir reveals what it took to for Leslie Jones to become one of America’s most beloved and plain-speaking superstars, encouraging others to let go of the fear and self-doubt holding them back to live a bigger life than ever imagined.

The Kneeling Man by Leta McCollough Seletzky

The Kneeling Man
My Father’s Life As A Black Spy Who Witnessed The Assassination Of Martin Luther King Jr.

Leta McCollough Seletzky

The author presents this intimate and heartbreaking story of her quest for the truth about her father, the Black undercover police officer who famously kneeled down beside the assassinated Martin Luther King Jr., trying save him, whose true identity challenged her understanding of what it meant to be Black in America.

 

Fiction

The Art Of Scandal by Regina Black

The Art Of Scandal

Regina Black

After discovering her husband is having an affair, Rachel Abbott agrees to keep playing the ideal Black trophy wife until after his reelection campaign but finds it hard to keep her side of the bargain when she falls in love with an artist whose secrets blow everything wide open.

The Reformatory by Tananarive Due

The Reformatory

Tananarive Due

In the Jim Crow South, twelve-year-old Robbie Stephens, Jr., who can see ghosts, is sent to The Reformatory where boys forced to work to remediate their so-called crimes have gone missing, while his sister Gloria rallies everyone in Florida to get him out before it’s too late.

The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forest

The Neighbor Favor

Kristina Forest

Enlisting the help of her new neighbor to find a date for her sister’s wedding, not realizing he is her favorite fantasy author-the very same one who ghosted her months ago–aspiring children’s book author Lily Greene finds this simple favor between them becoming anything but.

Life And Other Love Songs by Anissa Gray

Life And Other Love Songs

Anissa Gray

When her husband disappears on his 37th birthday, Deborah and her daughter, in the days, months and years to follow, look backward and forward as they piece together the life of the man they love, but whom they come to realize they might never have truly known.

Promise by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Promise

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

In 1957 Salt Point, Maine, the Kindred sisters–as parts of the country call for freedom, equality and justice for black Americas–are seen as threats along with the town’s only other black family, and amid violence, prejudice and fear, they commit great acts of heroism and grace to survive.

Time's Undoing by Cheryl A Head

Time’s Undoing

Cheryl A Head

Searching for answers in the unsolved murder of her great-grandfather decades ago, Meghan Mackenzie, the youngest reporter at the Detroit Free Press, spurred by the urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement, travels to Birmingham where she uncovers secrets that put her own life in danger.

The Unsettled by Ayana Mathis

The Unsettled

Ayana Mathis

In a multi-generational novel set in the 1980s in racially and politically turbulent Philadelphia and in the tiny town of Bonaparte, Alabama, a mother fights for her sanity and survival.

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store

James McBride

When a skeleton is unearthed in the small, close-knit community of Chicken Hill, Pennsylvania, in 1972, an unforgettable cast of characters–living on the margins of white, Christian America–closely guard a secret, especially when the truth is revealed about what happened and the part the town’s white establishment played in it.

Touched by Walter Mosley

Touched

Walter Mosley

When he wakes up with the knowledge that humanity is a virus destined to destroy all existence and he is the cure, Martin, uses his new physical strengths to violently defend his family–the only Black family in their neighborhood in Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles–against pure evil.

What Napoleon Could Not Do by DK Nnuro

What Napoleon Could Not Do

DK Nnuro

Envious of his sister, who achieved, as their father put it, “what Napoleon could not do,” by graduating law school in the U.S. and marrying a wealthy black businessman from Texas, Jacob, fighting for a visa to join his wife in Virginia, must learn from his dashed hopes to fulfill his own dreams.

Symphony Of Secrets by Brendan Slocumb

Symphony Of Secrets

Brendan Slocumb

A gripping page-turner from the celebrated author of book club favorite The Violin Conspiracy: Music professor Bern Hendricks discovers a shocking secret about the most famous American composer of all time–his music may have been stolen from a Black Jazz Age prodigy named Josephine Reed. Determined to uncover the truth that a powerful organization wants to keep hidden, Bern will stop at nothing to right history’s wrongs and give Josephine the recognition she deserves.

Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward

Let Us Descend

Jesmyn Ward

In the years before the Civil War, Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, struggles through the miles-long march, seeks comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother, opening herself to a world beyond this world.

Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead

Crook Manifesto

Colson Whitehead

A furniture store owner and ex-grifter leaves the straight and narrow path when he needs Jackson 5 tickets for his daughter in 1971 Manhattan.