Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their central role in U.S. history.
In commemoration, here is a listing of some new nonfiction works about African American history, heritage and culture, including slavery and the civil rights movement, as well as biographies/memoirs about seminal figures from the community. They are all available to borrow with your Livingston Library card.
Ain’t I A Woman? by Sojourner Truth
Presents a selection of the speeches of Sojourner Truth, the abolitionist and women’s rights leader, along with speeches by other nineteenth-century African American women.
A professor of history at Harvard chronicles the historical journey of an embroidered cotton sack, beginning with the enslaved woman who gave it to her 9-year-old daughter in the 1850s. Miles uses “an artifact with a cat’s nine lives” to tell “a quiet story of transformative love lived and told by ordinary African American women—Rose, Ashley, and Ruth—whose lives spanned the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, slavery and freedom, the South and the North.”
Hinton explores the origins and outcomes of Black rebellions of the twentieth century. While many uprisings were tied to acts of police brutality, many occurred after ongoing surveillance and harassment in under-resourced Black communities.
The Beautiful Struggle : A Memoir by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In this memoir, Coates details the challenges on the streets and within one’s family, especially the eternal struggle for peace between a father and son and the important role family plays in such circumstances.
Chronicles the rich history of an institution at the heart of the African American experience. Beginning with enslavement, traveling through Emancipation, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, the Civil Rights movement, and ending in the present-day, Gates takes viewers on a journey through time, focusing on the key events, charismatic figures, political debates, and musical traditions that have shaped, and been shaped by, the Black Church
Black Firsts : 500 Years Of Trailblazing Achievements And Ground-Breaking Events by Jessie Carney Smith
Significant accomplishments involving people, places, and events in Black history are chronicled.
Black Food : Stories, Art, And Essays edited by Bryant Terry
James Beard– and NAACP Image Award–winning vegan chef, food activist, and author Terry presents to readers a wonderfully deep dive into the food, culture, history, and people of the African Diaspora, exploring its wide range across Africa to the American South, the Caribbean, and Afro-Asia.
This book is an in-depth look at the events which shaped the lives and contributions of the African-American community in the United States of America, and is based on extensive research and documentation related to the African-American experience from the era of slavery until modern times. It is richly illustrated with 393 photos, maps, and illustrations that portray the real lives of African-Americans during slavery, the Civil War, reconstruction, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movement, and beyond.
Black Magic : What Black Leaders Learned From Trauma And Triumph by Chad Sanders
Sanders, a writer, director, and actor, assembles a cast of African American “high achievers” to demonstrate how power can be derived from the “trauma and suffering” involved in navigating Whiteness in the U.S. Illuminating the “magic” he has acquired as a Black man in America—abilities “that cannot be taught or bought”—the author augments his personal narrative with interviews with successful Black executives, journalists, activists, and others who also share their magic.
The Black Panther Party : A Graphic Novel History by David F. Walker
Containing the informational density of a textbook and the brisk page compositions, dramatic framing, characterful art, and rich colors of a comic book, this work covers the titular organization’s history as a revolutionary group and its less-documented dedication to community service.
A look at Lincoln’s extensive affiliations with Black leaders, from his law practice to the White House, as key indications of his egalitarian thoughts and feelings. Historian Burlingame, moves beyond Lincoln’s well-examined speeches and writings on African Americans to examine the personal relations he developed with Black leaders such as Frederick Douglass over time.
Buses Are A Comin’ : Memoir Of A Freedom Rider by Charles Person
A stirring memoir that offers a view of the legacy of the 1961 Freedom Rides on both micro and macro scales. This dynamic narrative effectively demonstrates the circumstances that led to the Freedom Rides and serves as a reflection of what it means to belong in America, then and now.
A chronicle of the long struggle for Black Americans to matter in movies. Drawing on interviews with directors, actors, producers, and screenwriters, as well as published and archival sources, journalist, biographer, and Guggenheim fellow Haygood creates an encyclopedic history of Blacks’ film presence, beginning with D.W. Griffith’s scandalous epic, The Birth of a Nation.
Dvořák’s Prophecy : And The Vexed Fate Of Black Classical Music by Joseph Horowitz
In 1893 the composer Antonin Dvorak prophesied a “great and noble” school of American classical music based on the searing “negro melodies” he had excitedly discovered since arriving in the United States a year before. But while Black music would found popular genres known the world over, it never gained a foothold in the concert hall. Horowitz ranges throughout American cultural history, from Frederick Douglass and Huckleberry Finn to Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and the work of Ralph Ellison, searching for explanations.
Elegy for Mary Turner : An Illustrated Account Of Lynching by Rachel Marie-Crane Williams
In late May 1918 in Valdosta, Georgia, ten Black men and one Black woman–Mary Turner, eight months pregnant at the time–were lynched and tortured by mobs of white citizens. Through hauntingly detailed full-color artwork and collage, this book names those who were killed, identifies the killers, and evokes a landscape in which the NAACP investigated the crimes when the state would not and a time when white citizens baked pies and flocked to see Black corpses while Black people fought to make their lives–and their mourning–matter.
Entertaining Race : Performing Blackness In America by Michael Eric Dyson
Spanning three decades, this collection by celebrated scholar, minister, public intellectual, and prolific writer Dyson is a holistic look into his commentary on Black culture, entertainment, and politics in America and beyond.
The story of New York in the roaring twenties and the first Broadway show with an all-Black cast and creative team to achieve success-and its impact on our popular culture. Amidst a culture actively whitewashing, controlling, or trying to prevent their stories from being told, these artists changed the course of American entertainment.
Four Hundred Souls : A Community History Of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi, and Keisha N. Blain
2019 marked the four hundredth anniversary of the first African presence in the Americas–and also launched the Four Hundred Souls project, spearheaded by Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Antiracism Institute of American University, and Keisha Blain, editor of The North Star. They’ve gathered together eighty black writers from all disciplines — historians and artists, journalists and novelists–each of whom has contributed an entry about one five-year period to create a dynamic multi voiced single-volume history of black people in America.
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 nations collective history, and ourselves.
A little Devil In America : Notes In Praise Of Black Performance by Hanif Abdurraqib
This book unravels all modes and methods of black performance, in this moment when black performers are coming to terms with their value, reception, and immense impact on America. With sharp insight, humor, and heart, Abdurraqib examines how black performance happens in specific moments in time and space–midcentury Paris, the moon, or a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio.
The Movement : The African American Struggle For Civil Rights by Thomas C. Holt
The civil rights movement was among the most important historical developments of the twentieth century and one of the most remarkable mass movements in American history. Holt provides an informed and nuanced understanding of the origins, character, and objectives of the mid-twentieth-century freedom struggle, re-centering the narrative around the mobilization of ordinary people.
Two unsung Black women, Cleo Silvers and Aylene Quin, used food as a political weapon during the civil rights movement, generating influence and power so great that it brought the ire of government agents down on them.
Tells the compelling stories of enslaved women, who comprised one-third of all runaways, and the ways in which they fled or attempted to flee bondage during and after the Revolutionary War. Bell demonstrates that there were in fact two wars being waged during the Revolutionary Era: a political revolution for independence from Great Britain and a social revolution for emancipation and equality in which Black women played an active role.
The 1619 Project : A New Origin Story created by Nikole Hannah-Jones and the New York Times Magazine
Journalist, academic, and MacArthur fellow Hannah-Jones launched The 1619 Project in 2019 in the New York Times Magazine to mark the four-hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the pirate-seized White Lion, which brought the first captive Africans to colonial soil in Virginia, and to take fresh measure of what followed as a new nation gradually coalesced, then failed to live up to its founding ideals. The response was passionate, paving the way for this volume of expanded and new essays, each preceded by an historical photograph and a history-inspired poem or work of fiction by Claudia Rankine, Yusef Komunyakaa, Jesmyn Ward, Tracy K. Smith, Yaa Gyasi, Natasha Trethewey, and many more.
Surviving The White Gaze : A Memoir by Rebecca Carroll
A stirring and powerful memoir from a black cultural critic recounting her struggle to overcome a completely white childhood in order to forge her identity as a black woman in America.
Offers informative, admiring biographical portraits of Alberta King, Louise Little, and Berdis Baldwin, women who shaped the lives and work of their sons Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin.
Baszile brings together essays, poems, photographs, quotes, conversations, and first-person stories to examine black people’s connection to the American land from Emancipation to today.
-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian