Black History Month Reading

Black History Month is a time for everyone to educate themselves on the history and culture of African-Americans in the United States, but many people simply don’t know where to start. To help you, The Voice-Tribune along with our friends at Carmichael’s have assembled a list of tantalizing reads on the subject. Rock star journalist for The Atlantic, National Book Award-winner and upcoming writer for Marvel’s Black Panther monthly comic, Ta-Nehisi Coates also revealed a “required reading” list of books (full list can be found at nypl.org) he considers helpful for anyone in this endeavor. We’ve used some of those books and also picked a few more. Try cracking one open this month and learn something new!

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“The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” by Edward E. Baptist – Historian Edward Baptist reveals in “The Half Has Never Been Told” how the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States.

“Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America” by Wil Haygood – This stunning new biography by the author of “The Butler” reveals how Thurgood Marshall brought down the separate-but-equal doctrine, integrated schools and not only fought for human rights and human dignity but also made them impossible to deny in the courts and in the streets.

“March” by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell – This graphic novel series is a firsthand account of Congressman John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights.


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“The Sellout” by Paul Beatty – A biting satire about the isolated upbringing of a young man from the southern outskirts of Los Angeles and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court.

“The White Boy Shuffle” by Paul Beatty – If you liked “The Sellout,” you might try Paul Beatty’s first novel. It’s a scathingly irreverent look at modern day African-American “street” culture and some of it’s more ludicrous characteristics.

“‘Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?’” by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D. – Beverly Daniel Tatum emerged on the national scene in 1997 with “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” – a book that spoke to a wide audience about the psychological dynamics of race relations in America. Tatum’s unique ability to get people talking about race captured the attention of many, from Oprah Winfrey to President Clinton, who invited her to join him in his nationally televised dialogue on race.

“Welcome to Braggsville” by T. Geronimo Johnson – Born and raised in the heart of old Dixie, D’aron Davenport is a small-town fish floundering in the depths of the large, hyper-liberal pond of UC Berkeley. Everything changes in his American History class, when D’aron lets slip that his hometown hosts an annual Civil War re-enactment.

“God Help the Child” by Toni Morrison – The newest novel by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison explores the brokenness of adults caused by their traumatic childhoods. At the heart of the novel is a love story between a woman named Bride and a man named Booker.

“Citizen” by Claudia Rankine – Claudia Rankine’s National Book Award in Poetry finalist recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in 21st century daily life and in the media.

“Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates – Ta-Nehisi Coates’ latest book serves as the current winner of the National Book Award for Non-Fiction. In a letter to his adolescent son, Coates  pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son.

“The Beautiful Struggle” by Ta-Nehisi Coates – This earlier book could serve as an interesting follow-up to “Between the World and Me,” as Coates recounts stories of his own father.

“Dr. King’s Last Day” by Senator Georgia M. Powers – A former Kentucky Senator describes the hours before the assassination of one of American history’s biggest proponents for change.