20 books every African American should read
Table of Contents
- 1. The white boy shuffle by Paul Beauty
- 2. The warmth of other suns written by Isabel Wikerson
- 3. Annie Allen
- 4. Go tell it on the mountain
- 6. King of cats
- 7. Their eyes were watching God
- 8. Salvage the bones
- 9. Don’t call us dead
- 10. The hate you give by Angie Thomas
- 11. The blacker the berry
- 12. The bluest eye
- 13. Beloved by Toni Morrison
- 14. Up from slavery
- 15. Fire shut in my bones by Charles M. Blow
- 16. The invisible man by Ralph Ellison
- 17. Breathe, eyes, memory by Edwidge Danticat
- 18. I know why the caged bed sings
- 19. Assata
- 20. The incident in the life of a slave girl – Harriet Ann Jacobs
The month of February represents “black month”. It’s a month to ponder on the things our ancestors did to get us here.
It’s a time to reflect on the challenges they had to go through to fight slavery and racial discrimination.
You can’t do all of these ponderings without going down history to familiarize yourself with what our forefathers did.
Here are some books to familiarize yourself with.
20 books every African American should read focuses on the challenges, failures, and success of our forefathers
1. The white boy shuffle by Paul Beauty
It is a tale about a black boy who struggled with his identity while growing up, he just didn’t fit in both African (black) and American (white) world.
In the pursuit of understanding his identity, Gunnar Gaufman became a prominent/renowned poet and basketballers.
He became a voice for the blacks.
2. The warmth of other suns written by Isabel Wikerson
It covers the history of migration of African-Americans.
It covers basically the movement of three African-American, A sharecropper’s wife called Ida Rae Brandon Gladney, an agricultural worker named George Swanson Starling and a doctor named Robert Joseph.
3. Annie Allen
It’s a book written by Gwedolyn brooks, Annie Allen received an award making the author the first African-American to win a Pulitzer Prize.
Annie Allen is a compilation of poems that pictures the challenges the author experienced from childhood to adulthood living a life encircled by Poverty, expectations from Parents and racism.
4. Go tell it on the mountain
It’s an autobiography of a boy named John Grimes in Harlem, in the 1930’s.
It was written by James Baldwin.
It focuses on the role of the Pentecostal church as a source of inspiration, pretense and repression.
5. Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
It’s an autobiography of the author’s life.
The story entails the details of how the author transcend from being a slave to a columnist and Orator.
6. King of cats
It’s a biography about a very prominent and renowned African-American politician. He represented Harlem 26 times in the house of representatives.
He was a prominent black politician before Barrack Obama, Collins Powell and Martin Luther King Jr.
Powell became an enemy of himself due to his frivolous lifestyle. He was a chronic womanizer and he lived a frivolous lifestyle.
7. Their eyes were watching God
Its a book written by Zora Neale Hurtson. It pictures an African-American woman living in Florida who found herself and learnt more about love after three failed marriages.
8. Salvage the bones
It’s a book written 2011 by Jesmyn Ward, it’s a story about a poor pregnant girl living with her three siblings and having to stay with an a father addicted to alcohol.
9. Don’t call us dead
Don’t call us dead a poem written by Danes Smith is based on the imagination of an afterlife where black men can be alive and fully live to their potentials.
10. The hate you give by Angie Thomas
It’s a story about an African-American girl named ‘starr Carter” who witnessed the killing of her best friend ‘Khalil’.
The story majors on racism, the hate that springs and grows in the heart of the one’s experiencing Racism’.
11. The blacker the berry
It’s a story about an African American girl child named “Emma Lou Morgana” who embraced the fact that she was black, but she hated her skin color, All hope from family members and folks to encourage her to embrace her skin color was futile.
12. The bluest eye
It’s a book by Tony Morrison about an African-American girl named ‘Pecola’ who refused to accept her identity as a black woman but wished she was a white girl with blue eyes, a definition of beauty, she had designed for herself.
13. Beloved by Toni Morrison
It’s about an African-American woman called Sethe who had experienced and had seen the anguish and sorrow that came from being a child slave.
Sethe decided to kill her children, in other to protect them from being enslaved. It was a very difficult decision for her, but she had to do it.
Her two sons and a daughter escaped death but her last child “beloved” died from it. The family was haunted continuously by a ghost they felt was ‘beloved’.
14. Up from slavery
A book written by Booker T Washington is a book about the author. The author explains the difficulty he faced as a child slave and also the challenges he overcame to be educated.
15. Fire shut in my bones by Charles M. Blow
The book focuses on the challenges the author faced as a child being a victim of childhood rape and how he came to the reality of his bisexuality.
The book was written for as many that are going through similar case.
16. The invisible man by Ralph Ellison
It’s about the struggles of an African-American man.
The struggles of wanting to be seen, heard and accepted in the 1920’s when racism was a very critical matter.
In 1953 the book received a National Book Award, making the author the first African-American to receive such reward.
17. Breathe, eyes, memory by Edwidge Danticat
It’s a book about a girl who got exposed at a very young age to things she wasn’t supposed to be exposed to.
After her mother’s death, she felt liberated.
18. I know why the caged bed sings
It’s a book about the life of the writer “maya angelou” She talked about the situations she faced while growing up that reshaped her life.
Her parent got divorced when she was very little and this really affected her, she moved from one states to another. Maya was also a victim of childhood rape, she was homeless and pregnant.
With these book she became the African-American to have a non-fiction best seller.
It’s an autobiography that explains the fate of an African-American woman named ‘Shakor’ who witnessed the killings of a white police trooper in may 1973.
Shaker who was badly wounded was handcuffed to the hospital bed and questioned by the officers.
20. The incident in the life of a slave girl – Harriet Ann Jacobs
The story pictures the life experience a slave young girl experience during the American Civil war.
The slave girls went through sexual harassment from her master and physical turmoil from her master’s Envious wife.