28 Black History Month Books

Updated: Jun 1


For 28 days this month, we shared a free book for our followers to check out on our Facebook page. Did you miss out on the greatness? Don't worry, check out the list below. You don't have to only educate yourselves this month only. These books can and should be read year round. I hope you enjoy, and if you have any suggestions, leave a comment on our Facebook page and we will get back to you.


1). African American Fraternities and Sororities: The Legacy and the Vision

This book explores the rich past and bright future of the nine Black Greek-Letter organizations that make up the National Pan-Hellenic Council. In the long tradition of African American benevolent and secret societies, intercollegiate African American fraternities and sororities have strong traditions of fostering brotherhood and sisterhood among their members, exerting considerable influence in the African American community, and being on the forefront of civic action, community service, and philanthropy. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Toni Morrison, Arthur Ashe, Carol Moseley Braun, Bill Cosby, Sarah Vaughan, George Washington Carver, Hattie McDaniel , and Bobby Rush are among the many trailblazing members of these organizations. The rolls of African American fraternities and sororities serve as a veritable who's who among African American leadership in the United States and abroad. African American Fraternities and Sororities places the history of these organizations in context, linking them to other movements and organizations that predated them and tying their history to one of the most important eras of United States history―the Civil Rights struggle.


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2). Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work

Zora Neale Hurston, one the first great African-American novelists, was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance and an inspiration for future generations of writers. Suitable for high school and college-level students, this book provides information on Hurston's life and work.


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3). The Mis-Education of the Negro



The thesis of this book is that African-Americans of the 1930s, when the book was first published, were being culturally conditioned, rather than taught, in American schools. "When you control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his actions."


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4). Moonlight Movie Transcript



A moving, transcendent, award-winning look at 3 defining chapters in the life of Chiron, a young man growing up in Miami. His epic journey to adulthood, as a shy outsider dealing with difficult circumstances, is guided by support, empathy and love from the most unexpected places.

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5). From Toussaint to Tupac



This focuses on three moments in global black history: the American and Haitian revolutions, the Garvey movement and the Communist International following World War I, and the Black Power movement of the late twentieth century. Contributors demonstrate how black internationalism emerged and influenced events in particular localities, how participants in the various struggles communicated across natural and man-made boundaries, and how the black international aided resistance on the local level, creating a collective consciousness.


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6). The Cultural Unity of Black Africa



This is a profound contribution to the universal store of knowledge in that it situates the geographical and cultural origins of patriarchy and matriarchy in Europe and Africa respectively, and shows that social systems evolve out of specific climatic and environmental factors.


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7). Black Feminist Thought



In spite of the double burden of racial and gender discrimination, African-American women have developed a rich intellectual tradition that is not widely known. In Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins explores the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals as well as those African-American women outside academe. She provides an interpretive framework for the work of such prominent Black feminist thinkers as Angela Davis, bell hooks, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde. The result is a superbly crafted book that provides the first synthetic overview of Black feminist thought.


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8). The Story of the SNCC



The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was one of the major Civil Rights Movement organizations of the 1960s. It emerged from the first wave of student sit-ins and formed at a May 1960 meeting organized by Ella Baker at Shaw University.


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9). Unsung Heroes



Famed women's rights advocate Elizabeth Ross Haynes presents this collection of short biographies on some of history's most influential, though least known, heroes. The text includes chapters on Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Paul Cuffé, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington and many more.


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10). Biko Lives!


This collection looks at the on-going significance of Black Consciousness, situating it in a global frame, examining the legacy of Steve Biko, the current state of post-apartheid South African politics, and the culture and history of the anti-apartheid movements.


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11). To Keep the Waters Troubled


In the generation that followed Frederick Douglass, no African American was more prominent, or more outspoken, than Ida B. Wells. Her crusade against lynching in the 1890s made her famous, or notorious, across America, and she was seriously considered as a rival to W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington for race leadership. This book is the first full biography of Wells, a passionate crusader for black people and women--and one who was sometimes torn by her conflicting loyalties to race and gender.

Wells' career began amidst controversy when she sued a Tennessee railroad company for ousting her from a first class car, a legal battle which launched her lifelong committment to journalism and activism. In the 1890s, Wells focused her eloquence on the horrors of lynching, exposing it as a widespread form of racial terrorism. Backing strong words with strong actions, she lectured in the States and abroad, arranged legal representation for black prisoners, hired investigators, founded antilynching leagues, sought recourse from Congress, and more. Wells was an equally forceful advocate for women's rights, but parted ways with feminist allies who would subordinate racial justice to their cause. She perpetually walked a tightrope between being an agitator and behaving like a "lady"--a designation prized by black women too often denigrated and exploited by white men. Using diary entries, letters, and published writings, McMurry illuminates Wells's fiery personality, and the uncompromising approach that sometimes lost her friendships even as it won great victories.

To Keep the Waters Troubled is an unforgettable account of a remarkable woman and the and the times she helped to change.


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12). Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory



Nat Turner's name rings through American history with a force all its own. Leader of the most important slave rebellion on these shores, variously viewed as a murderer of unarmed women and children, an inspired religious leader, a fanatic--this puzzling figure represents all the terrible complexities of American slavery. And yet we do not know what he looked like, where he is buried, or even whether Nat Turner was his real name.

In Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory, Kenneth S. Greenberg gathers twelve distinguished scholars to offer provocative new insight into the man, his rebellion, and his time, and his place in history. The historians here explore Turner's slave community, discussing the support for his uprising as well as the religious and literary context of his movement. They examine the place of women in his insurrection, and its far-reaching consequences (including an extraordinary 1832 Virginia debate about ridding the state of slavery). Here are discussions of Turner's religious visions--the instructions he received from God to kill all of his white oppressors. Louis Masur places him against the backdrop of the nation's sectional crisis, and Douglas Egerton puts his revolt in the context of rebellions across the Americas. We trace Turner's passage through American memory through fascinating interviews with William Styron on his landmark novel, The Confessions of Nat Turner, and with Dr. Alvin Poussaint, one of the "ten black writers" of the 1960s who bitterly attacked Styron's vision of Turner. Finally, we follow Nat Turner into the world of Hollywood.

Nat Turner has always been controversial, an emblem of the searing wound of slavery in American life. This book offers a clear-eyed look at one of the best known and least understood figures in our history.


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13). Another Dimension to the Black Diaspora



This is an engrossing study of black disease immunities and susceptibilities and their impact on both slavery and racism. Its pages interweave the nutritional, biological, and medical sciences with demography. The book begins with an examination of the pre-slavery era in Africa and then pursues its subject into the slave societies of the West Indies and the United States. This truly interdisciplinary approach permits the blending of two distinctive concepts of racial differences, that of the hard sciences based on gene frequencies and that of the social sciences stressing environmental factors. The authors investigate black health and white medical practice in the United States during the antebellum period, and establish a link between black-related diseases and white racism. A final section traces major black disease susceptibilities from the Civil War to the present, arguing that the different nutritional and medical needs of blacks are still largely unappreciated or ignored.


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14). In Search of Sisterhood



This history of the largest block women's organization in the United States is not only the story of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority (DST), but also tells of the increasing involvement of black women in the political, social, and economic affairs of America. Founded at a time when liberal arts education was widely seen as either futile, dangerous, or impractical for blacks, especially women, DST is, in Giddings's words, a "compelling reflection of block women's aspirations for themselves and for society."

Giddings notes that unlike other organizations with racial goals, Delta Sigma Theta was created to change and benefit individuals rather than society. As a sorority, it was formed to bring women together as sisters, but at the some time to address the divisive, often class-related issues confronting black women in our society. There is, in Giddings's eyes, a tension between these goals that makes Delta Sigma Theta a fascinating microcosm of the struggles of black women and their organizations.

DST members have included Mary McLeod Bethune, Mary Church Terrell, Margaret Murray Washington, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, and, on the cultural side, Leontyne Price, Lena Horne, Ruby Dee, Judith Jamison, and Roberta Flack. In Search of Sisterhood is full of compelling, fascinating anecdotes told by the Deltas themselves, and illustrated with rare early photographs of the Delta women.


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15). Leaders of the Civil War Era


Born a slave in Maryland, Frederick Douglass became one of the best orators and statesmen in America. He became a newspaper editor, political activist, and a representative for the rights of African Americans. He believed in equal rights for all people, and lived through the Civil War, the end of slavery and the beginning of segregation.


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16). The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal: A Life in the Balance



Mumia Abu-Jamal has been incarcerated on Pennsylvania's death row for over two decades. His case has generated more controversy and received more attention, both national and international, than that of any other inmate currently under sentence of death in the United States of America.

Mumia Abu Jamal, black, was convicted and sentenced to death in July 1982 for the murder of white police officer Daniel Faulkner on December 9, 1981. He has steadfastly maintained his innocence. Since the trial, those advocating his release or retrial have contested the validity of much of the evidence used to obtain his conviction. These accusations have been countered by members of the law enforcement community and their supporters, who have agitated for Abu-Jamal's execution while maintaining that the trial was unbiased.

Based on its review of the trial transcript and other original documents, human rights organization Amnesty International believes that the interests of justice would best be served by the granting of a new trial to Mumia Abu-Jamal. This pamplet explains why.


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17). The Dancing Mind



On the occasion of her acceptance of the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters on the sixth of November, 1996, Nobel laureate Toni Morrison speaks with brevity and passion to the pleasures, the difficulties, the necessities, of the reading/writing life in our time.


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18). Toward the African Revolution



This powerful collection of articles, essays, and letters spans the period between Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961), Fanon’s landmark manifesto on the psychology of the colonized and the means of empowerment necessary for their liberation. These pieces display the genesis of some of Fanon’s greatest ideas — ideas that became so vital to the leaders of the American civil rights movement.


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19). Blues, Legacies and Black Feminism



From one of this country's most important intellectuals comes a brilliant analysis of the blues tradition that examines the careers of three crucial black women blues singers through a feminist lens. Angela Davis provides the historical, social, and political contexts with which to reinterpret the performances and lyrics of Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday as powerful articulations of an alternative consciousness profoundly at odds with mainstream American culture.

The works of Rainey, Smith, and Holiday have been largely misunderstood by critics. Overlooked, Davis shows, has been the way their candor and bravado laid the groundwork for an aesthetic that allowed for the celebration of social, moral, and sexual values outside the constraints imposed by middle-class respectability. Through meticulous transcriptions of all the extant lyrics of Rainey and Smith−published here in their entirety for the first time−Davis demonstrates how the roots of the blues extend beyond a musical tradition to serve as a conciousness-raising vehicle for American social memory. A stunning, indispensable contribution to American history, as boldly insightful as the women Davis praises, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism is a triumph.


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20). Dark Matters



In Dark Matters Simone Browne locates the conditions of blackness as a key site through which surveillance is practiced, narrated, and resisted. She shows how contemporary surveillance technologies and practices are informed by the long history of racial formation and by the methods of policing black life under slavery, such as branding, runaway slave notices, and lantern laws.


Placing surveillance studies into conversation with the archive of transatlantic slavery and its afterlife, Browne draws from black feminist theory, sociology, and cultural studies to analyze texts as diverse as the methods of surveilling blackness she discusses: from the design of the eighteenth-century slave ship Brooks, Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, and The Book of Negroes, to contemporary art, literature, biometrics, and post-9/11 airport security practices. Surveillance, Browne asserts, is both a discursive and material practice that reifies boundaries, borders, and bodies around racial lines, so much so that the surveillance of blackness has long been, and continues to be, a social and political norm.


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21). Hammer and Hoe



A groundbreaking contribution to the history of the "long Civil Rights movement," Hammer and Hoe tells the story of how, during the 1930s and 40s, Communists took on Alabama's repressive, racist police state to fight for economic justice, civil and political rights, and racial equality.

The Alabama Communist Party was made up of working people without a Euro-American radical political tradition: devoutly religious and semiliterate black laborers and sharecroppers, and a handful of whites, including unemployed industrial workers, housewives, youth, and renegade liberals. In this book, Robin D. G. Kelley reveals how the experiences and identities of these people from Alabama's farms, factories, mines, kitchens, and city streets shaped the Party's tactics and unique political culture. The result was a remarkably resilient movement forged in a racist world that had little tolerance for radicals.

After discussing the book's origins and impact in a new preface written for this twenty-fifth-anniversary edition, Kelley reflects on what a militantly antiracist, radical movement in the heart of Dixie might teach contemporary social movements confronting rampant inequality, police violence, mass incarceration, and neoliberalism.


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22). Message to the People: The Course of African Philosophy


This book represents the last political will and testament of a man who stands without equal in the history of the worldwide mobilization of African peoples.


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23). Autobiography as Activism



Angela Davis, Assata Shakur (a.k.a. JoAnne Chesimard), and Elaine Brown are the only women activists of the Black Power movement who have published book-length autobiographies. In bearing witness to that era, these militant newsmakers wrote in part to educate and to mobilize their anticipated readers.

In this way, Davis's Angela Davis: An Autobiography (1974), Shakur's Assata (1987), and Brown's A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story (1992) can all be read as extensions of the writers' political activism during the 1960s.

Margo V. Perkins's critical analysis of their books is less a history of the movement (or of women's involvement in it) than an exploration of the politics of storytelling for activists who choose to write their lives. Perkins examines how activists use autobiography to connect their lives to those of other activists across historical periods, to emphasize the link between the personal and the political, and to construct an alternative history that challenges dominant or conventional ways of knowing.

The histories constructed by these three women call attention to the experiences of women in revolutionary struggle, particularly to the ways their experiences have differed from men's. The women's stories are told from different perspectives and provide different insights into a movement that has been much studied from the masculine perspective. At times they fill in, complement, challenge, or converse with the stories told by their male counterparts, and in doing so, hint at how the present and future can be made less catastrophic because of women's involvement.

The multiple complexities of the Black Power movement become evident in reading these women's narratives against each other as well as against the sometimes strikingly different accounts of their male counterparts.

As Davis, Shakur, and Brown recount events in their lives, they dispute mainstream assumptions about race, class, and gender and reveal how the Black Power struggle profoundly shaped their respective identities.


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24). The Veiled Garvey: The Life and Times of Jacques Garvey



In this biography, Ula Taylor explores the life and ideas of one of the most important, if largely unsung, Pan-African freedom fighters of the twentieth century: Amy Jacques Garvey (1895-1973).

Born in Jamaica, Amy Jacques moved in 1917 to Harlem, where she became involved in the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), the largest Pan-African organization of its time. She served as the private secretary of UNIA leader Marcus Garvey; in 1922, they married. Soon after, she began to give speeches and to publish editorials urging black women to participate in the Pan-African movement and addressing issues that affected people of African descent across the globe. After her husband's death in 1940, Jacques Garvey emerged as a gifted organizer for the Pan-African cause. Although she faced considerable male chauvinism, she persisted in creating a distinctive feminist voice within the movement. In her final decades, Jacques Garvey constructed a thriving network of Pan-African contacts, including Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore, and W. E. B. Du Bois.

Taylor examines the many roles Jacques Garvey played throughout her life, as feminist, black nationalist, journalist, daughter, mother, and wife. Tracing her political and intellectual evolution, the book illuminates the leadership and enduring influence of this remarkable activist.


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25). From Black Power to Hip-Hop


A provocative analysis of the new contours of Black nationalism and feminism in the context of the changing politics of race in America.


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26). Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of ANC



In the space of a single decade, the African National Congress has changed from a party for the poor and oppressed to the political home of the powerful and opulent. Yesterday’s freedom fighters are today’s corporate raiders. Boardrooms are the battleground now. Within the ANC different groups have contrasting backgrounds and political cultures: the exiles, back in Africa after many years in Europe, the USA and UK; the "islanders", a close knit group of former Robben Island prisoners; and the "inxiles", the local political activists who fought apartheid from within South Africa. But transformation comes at a price, and for the urbane Thabo Mbeki, this means nothing less than total loyalty and uncritical support.


As both his political adversaries and erstwhile allies have discovered to their cost, the man who followed in Nelson Mandela’s footsteps brooks no opposition, tolerates no dissent. In capturing the ANC’s soul, South Africa’s second black president has stifled its spirit. This book not only explains why and how he has done so, but also offers invaluable insights into the arcane machinations behind political decisions that touch the lives of millions every day. The first detailed analysis of the presidency of Nelson Mandela's successor, and possibly the most powerful man in Africa.


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27). The Autobiography of Malcolm X



Through a life of passion and struggle, Malcolm X became one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. In this riveting account, he tells of his journey from a prison cell to Mecca, describing his transition from hoodlum to Muslim minister. Here, the man who called himself "the angriest Black man in America" relates how his conversion to true Islam helped him confront his rage and recognize the brotherhood of all mankind.

An established classic of modern America, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" was hailed by the New York Times as "Extraordinary. A brilliant, painful, important book." Still extraordinary, still important, this electrifying story has transformed Malcom X's life into his legacy. The strength of his words, the power of his ideas continue to resonate more than a generation after they first appeared.


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28). Imprisoned Intellectuals: America's Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion



Prisons constitute one of the most controversial and contested sites in a democratic society. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the industrialized world, with over 2 million people in jails, prisons, and detention centers; with over three thousand on death row, it is also one of the few developed countries that continues to deploy the death penalty. International Human Rights Organizations such as Amnesty International have also noted the scores of political prisoners in U.S. detention.

This anthology examines a class of intellectuals whose analyses of U.S. society, politics, culture, and social justice are rarely referenced in conventional political speech or academic discourse. Yet this body of outlawed "public intellectuals" offers some of the most incisive analyses of our society and shared humanity.

Here former and current U.S. political prisoners and activists-writers from the civil rights/black power, women's, gay/lesbian, American Indian, Puerto Rican Independence and anti-war movements share varying progressive critiques and theories on radical democracy and revolutionary struggle.

This rarely-referenced "resistance literature" reflects the growing public interest in incarceration sites, intellectual and political dissent for social justice, and the possibilities of democratic transformations. Such anthologies also spark new discussions and debates about "reading"; for as Barbara Harlow notes: "Reading prison writing must. . . demand a correspondingly activist counterapproach to that of passivity, aesthetic gratification, and the pleasures of consumption that are traditionally sanctioned by the academic disciplining of literature."―Barbara Harlow [1]

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We hope you've enjoyed reading and educating yourselves. We want to take this time to highlight Charles Preston. He's an activist, an organizer, a journalist and an extraordinary black man. He pays money to have his own Black History Library available for us all to educate ourselves. It's people like him that make this world something special. People who shine their light in order to help others. So, thank you, Charles. You're a beacon of hope in the time of darkness. If you'd like to check out his library, please see below. There's more than these 28 books, so you'll have plenty of material to fill your minds with. ✊🏿


Charles Preston's Black History Month Library

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