Reading Guides: African-American History

African American History Books

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Suggested Titles

Alexander, Michelle/ The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness --- HV9950 .A437 2012
Argues that the War on Drugs and policies that deny convicted felons equal access to employment, housing, education, and public benefits create a permanent under caste based largely on race.
Baptist, Edward / The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism --- E441 .B337 2014
Historian Edward Baptist reveals how the expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States.
Broadnax, Samuel L. / Blue Skies, Black Wings: African American Pioneers of Aviation --- TL539 .B75 2007
Includes information on Charles Wesley Peters, Eugene Bullard, Freeman Field mutiny, Alfred C. Anderson, Army Air Corps, Army War College, Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA), Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP), Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., 477th Medium Bomber Group, Keesler Field, 99th Fighter Squadron, Officer’s Club, Orangeburg (South Carolina), Noel Parrish, Frederick Patterson, racism, Robert Selway, 332nd Fighter Group, Tuskegee Airmen, Tuskegee Army Air Base (TAAF), Tuskegee Institute, Walterboro (South Carolina), War Department, G.L. Washington, Walter Weaver, Grove Webster, Les Williams, Robert Wilson, etc.
Coates, Ta Nehisi / The Beautiful Struggle --- F189.B153 C63 2008
An exceptional father-son story from the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me about the reality that tests us, the myths that sustain us, and the love that saves us.(Amazon)
Douglass, Frederick / Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave --- E449 .D749 2003
This volume is a memoir written by famous American orator and ex-slave, Frederick Douglass (1818-1895). This work is generally held to be the most famous of a number of narratives written by former slaves during the same period. In factual detail, the text describes the events of Douglass' life and is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement of the early 19th century in the United States, recounting Douglass' life as a slave and his ambition to become a free man.
Gates, Henry Louis / And Still I Rise: Black America Since MLK --- E185.86.G3734 2015
Beginning with the assassination of Malcolm X in February 1965, And Still I Rise explores the last half-century of the African American experience. More than fifty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the birth of Black Power, the United States has both a Black president and Black CEOs running Fortune 500 companies—and a large Black underclass beset by persistent poverty, inadequate education, and an epidemic of incarceration.
Gill, Jonathan / Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History from Dutch Village to Capital of Black America --- F128.68.H3 G55 2011
Presents a history of the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem, beginning with Hudson's first experiences in the area, through its early growth as a Dutch village and colonial agricultural center, to its transformation into an iconic modern neighborhood.
Hobbs, Tameka B. / Democracy Abroad, Lynching at Home: Racial Violence in Florida --- HV6465.F6 H63 2015
In this book, Tameka Hobbs investigates the history of racial violence and lynchings in Florida, focusing especially on a string of brutal lynchings that occurred during the 1940s. She argues that these lynchings created difficult diplomatic moments during both World War II and the Cold War period and that they forced the U.S. government to become more active in prosecuting racial violence.
King, Gilbert / Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America --- HV9956.G76 K56 2012
Chronicles a little-known court case in which Thurgood Marshall successfully saved a black citrus worker from the electric chair after the worker was accused of raping a white woman with three other black men.
Marable, Manning / Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention --- BP223.Z8 L57636 2011
This biography of Malcolm X draws on new research to trace his life from his troubled youth through his involvement in the Nation of Islam, his activism in the world of Black Nationalism, and his assassination. Years in the making, it is a definitive biography of the legendary black activist.
McWhirter, Cameron / Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America --- E185.61 .M47948 2011
A narrative history of one of America's deadliest episodes of race riots and lynchings traces how black Americans were brutally targeted by anti-black uprisings that culminated in hundreds of deaths and set the stage for the civil rights movement.
Thurston, Baratunde / How to Be Black --- PN6231.N5 T58 2012
Through stories of his politically inspired Nigerian name, the heroics of his hippie mother, the murder of his drug-abusing father, and other revelatory black details, Thurston shares with readers of all colors his wisdom and expertise in how to be black. Beyond memoir, this guidebook offers practical advice on everything from "How to Be The Black Friend" to "How to Be The (Next) Black President" to "How to Celebrate Black History Month."
Truth, Sojourner / Narrative of Sojourner Truth --- E185.97 .T8 W36 1993
This remarkable narrative, first published in 1850, offers a rare glimpse into the little-documented world of Northern slavery. Truth recounts her life as a slave in rural New York, her separation from her family, her religious conversion, and her life as a traveling preacher during the 1840s. She also describes her work as a social reformer, counselor of former slaves, and sponsor of a black migration to the West. (Amazon)
Wilkerson, Isabel / The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration --- E185.6 .W685 2010
In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America.
X, Malcom / The Autobiography of Malcolm X --- E185.97.L5 A3 1999
The controversial leader of the Black Muslims tells the story of his life and his part in the civil rights movement.

DVDs

12 Years a Slave --- MEDIA PN1997.2 .A153 2014
In 1841, the African-American violinist Solomon Northup is a free man, living with his wife and children in Saratoga Springs, New York. He is hired by two men for a two-week tour in Washington with their theatrical company. However Solomon is kidnapped and sold as a slave in New Orleans. For twelve years, he works in the plantations, until the day he meets the Canadian abolitionist Bass who promises to send a letter to his family.
42: The Jackie Robinson Story --- MEDIA PN1997.2 .A145 2013
History was made in 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the professional baseball race barrier to become the first African American MLB player of the modern era. 42 tells the life story of Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross --- MEDIA E185 .A38 2014
Explore with Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the evolution of the African-American people, as well as the multiplicity of cultural institutions, political strategies, and religious and social perspectives they developed-forging their own history, culture and society against unimaginable odds.
The Butler --- MEDIA PN1997.2 .B993 2014
Inspired by a true story about Cecil Gaines, a devoted husband, father, and White House butler who served eight Presidential administrations during the turbulent politics and civil rights battles of twentieth century America.
Eyes on the Prize --- MEDIA E185.61 .E94 2006
This award-winning series covers all of the major events of the Civil Rights Movement from 1954-1985, including the Montgomery bus boycott in 1954, the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the birth of the Black Power Movement, and the courageous acts of the crusaders that contributed along the way.(PBS)
Freedom Riders --- MEDIA E185.61 .F74 2009
This inspirational documentary is about a band of courageous civil-rights activists calling themselves the Freedom Riders. Gaining impressive access to influential figures on both sides of the issue, it chronicles a chapter of American history that stands as an astonishing testament to the accomplishment of youth and what can result from the incredible combination of personal conviction and the courage to organize against all odds.
Soundtrack for a Revolution --- MEDIA E185.61.S68 2010
The story of the American civil rights movement through its music, the freedom songs protesters sang on picket lines, in mass meetings, and more, as they fought for justice and equality. Includes new performances of the freedom songs by top artists, archival footage, and interviews with civil rights foot soldiers and leaders. Freedom songs evolved from slave chants, from the labor movement, and even from the black church.

Last Updated: February 2016

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