Help us build our Black History Month reading list!

February is Black History Month, and that means it’s time to share the books that have interested, informed, and inspired you.  Here are a few of our recommendations:

EddieFor Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf
by Ntozake Shange

A series of 20 poems expressing the struggles and obstacles facing contemporary African-American women throughout their lives. This play, performed on Broadway and adapted as a film, deals with many of the hot-button issues that we face today, and does so with beautiful imagery and powerful characters.
— Eddie Porrello, Performance Marketing

At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance–A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power
by Danielle L. McGuire
A new look at the civil rights movement. This book is for anyone interested in history in general, black history, aggression and its horrid impact on society, women’s rights, women’s lib., or feminism. And as always black history is a branch of American history which should be integrated into American history in general, as all American peoples’ histories are of equal importance… we must embrace even the ugliest of truths if we wish to move forward as a united people.
— Nick Martin, QA

The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and thBarbarae Struggle for Equal Rights
Russell Freedman

Marian Anderson gained international fame for her awe-inspiring contralto voice throughout Europe, sang for kings and queens, but returned to her home in America and was denied entrance to the Constitutional Hall because she was “colored”.  Her appearance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before a crowd of 75,000 people of all races is a moment in history that should NEVER be forgotten.  This exemplifies that beauty (in all its forms) knows no race or cultural limitations.  Many of our youth do not even know who Marion Anderson was, her story should be brought to light.
—Barbara G. Barrett, Scanning Supervisor

So what’s your recommended reading for Black History Month? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll round up the best comments from here, Facebook, and Twitter, and post them a few days from now here on the blog.


  1. James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room

    This book reminds us that for many black people, sexual orientation and identity must be discovered in a world not too open and accepting of anything less than traditional masculinity and heterosexuality.

  2. Nancy J. Sukhia says:

    The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, a novel, by Walter Mosley.

    The description on the jacket cover says it best-
    ‘…Mosley charts new territory in the exploration of the complex tensions at the heart of race in America.’

  3. Pingback: Your Black History Month Recommendations | Better World Books

  4. Mary McComb says:

    Anne Moody’s Coming of Age in Mississippi is an amazing account of her growing up in the Jim Crow South and then participating in the Civil Rights movement. I highly recommend it.

  5. Nicole Truitt says:

    I know I’m too late, it’s March already… Octavia Butler’s “Kindred” is a riveting story, written by an exceptional black woman writer. Although I, like most Americans, sat through 12 years of cursory education in Social Studies class, I never *really* understood the concept of slavery, down in my bones. I consider myself a “purty smart gurl” but NOTHING prepared me for the raw, visceral picture that Kindred paints. Weaving a light thread of science fiction through the grim landscape of the slaveholding south, and cleverly juxtaposing contemporary culture with history, this is a phenomenal read.

  6. Nicole Truitt says:

    Not only was I too late, someone else had already mentioned Kindred. Somehow I ended up on this page without seeing the more current list. Hmmm. Sorry!

  7. Corregidora by Gayl Jones. The writing is unmatched and the story transcends “the black experience” to the universal struggle we all suffer at the hands of history.

  8. Mr. Browne and the Rose Show, by M. Beatryce Shaw

    The children’s book presents issues of social diversity and acceptance. Lovely graphics and a heart warming message is easily understood by youth.

  9. Susan A. Titus says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to list important books for not only Black History Month, but for reading at any time to understand our history of oppression of black americans, and dependance on their labor for the country’s wealth.
    1. Salvery by Another Name, The re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, by Douglas A. Blackmon, 2008, Doubleday, NY, NY.
    This is a powerful exposee of what happened “newly freed slaves” after the Civil War, which lead to their use as “contract labor” from local jails in mining and to the “Jim Crow” era. This should be reauired reading in high school history for all white Americans, and of historical interest to Black Americans. It is explored by tracing one slave family through that time.
    2. Bury the Chains, Prophets and Rebels in the Fidht to Free an Empire’s Slaves, by Adam Hochschild, 2005, Houghten Mifflin, NY,NY.
    This is not about the US, but is the historical narrative of the movement in Great Britain that lead to the abolution of the slave trade, and of slavery itself in the 1830’s. It is a powerful statement of the potential impact of a vision of a few men on national priorities, and the power of organizing many people to adopt a cause, and carry out personal actions (such as the boycott of sugar) to achieve visionary goals.

  10. M. Beatryce Shaw says:

    I’ve been wrestling with a decision to publish the third book of my “Brown Rose Series”. What a wonderful surprise to see the comment from Paula about “Mr. Browne and the Rose Show”. It solidifies moving forward. An author appreciates feed back, especially constructive. I would love to submit something for Black History Month 2015. Best wishes for continued success.

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