Slavery Book Lists
5 Books Every Black Person Should Read
Slavery & Abolitionism - African American History: Books
Without understanding the past, it is difficult to grapple with the present. This became quite clear in the wake of the tragic attack in Charleston, when public dialogue swirled with myths, wishful thinking and deeply ideological readings of history, all too often camouflaged as solid historical analysis. Now, years after emancipation, it is high time to confront the legacy of slavery. No one alive today was enslaved or enslaved others, and no one bears personal responsibility for the brutal institution—but we live in its shadow, and contemporary debates on race relations cannot proceed without first acknowledging that. Indeed, without understanding slavery, it is impossible to understand the history of the United States. Over the course of more than two centuries, millions of Americans were enslaved, producing most of the commodities—from tobacco to rice, sugar to cotton—that established America on the world scene.
That's certainly true of race and power in America. Whether it's through thoughtful essays, gripping fiction, or haunting poems, contemporary black authors have been publishing a number of books that are shaping our conversations about race for readers of all ages. Read these classics of black literature next. Some books tackle larger issues like mass incarceration and police violence. Others offer intimate portraits of individual characters to showcase the world as experienced through different perspectives. But no matter the scope, black writers are using literature as a way to explore race and the effects of racism on the world around us. Without further ado, here are 14 books by black authors that are shaping our conversations about race.
The Friday Cover
Black History Month gives us 28 days to honor African Americans and the ever-expanding contributions they make to culture. Literature in particular has been a space for black authors to tell their stories authentically, and bookworms seeking good reads can choose from an array of fiction, poetry, historical texts, essays, and memoirs. From literary icons to fresh, buzzworthy talent, we're highlighting 25 books by African-American authors you should add to your reading list today. Octavia Butler's Kindred is one of a string of novels she penned centering on black female protagonists, which was unprecedented in a white-male dominated science and speculative fiction space at the time. This story centers Dana, a young writer in s Los Angeles who is unexpectedly whisked away to the 19th century antebellum South, where she saves the life of Rufus Weylin, the son of a plantation owner.
The book, which was written by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, focused on George Washington's enslaved cook, Hercules, and his daughter Delia, as the two overcome obstacles to make a cake for Washington's birthday. Many critics argued that it displayed an overly rosy view of a slave's life, and the book was deluged with one-star on Amazon reviews. It's not the first such misstep in recent months, however; last fall, McGraw-Hill apologized after a Texas mother, Roni Dean-Burren, publicly criticized her son's World Geography textbook for euphemistically describing Africans brought to America in the slave trade as "workers. While the writer-illustrator-editor team who worked on this book come from diverse backgrounds and are steeped in historically accurate renditions of black history, the fact remains that too many Americans -- particularly white Americans -- don't grasp, or prefer not to grasp, the depth and breadth of slavery's horrors. It's not uncommon to see clueless social media posts or read obtuse comments by politicians arguing that slavery ultimately benefited African-Americans because it brought them to America, or that they were better off under slavery than they are now. Many children, and, sadly, their parents, still need to learn that slavery wasn't idyllic, a boon to their family lives, or an improvement over remaining in their homelands.
The following books by black authors in alphabetical order by title were published last year and fall under a wide range of genres. In addition to making great gifts, these must-reads should be added to your list of books to dive into if you have not yet had the pleasure of reading them yet. Prepare to be moved at a soul level and have tissues nearby. Author Akwaeke Emezi is a talented millennial Nigerian fiction writer and artist with a graduate degree from New York University. In his hilarious yet soul-shaking truth-telling book, Hughley touches on politics, race, and life as a black American as only he can. Even when we had a black president! Her book Not That Bad is an informative anthology filled with transparent original pieces and some that have been previously published, highlighting the undeniable rape culture that has been formed and addressing the major issue of women often being second-guessed and discredited when they speak out about their experiences.