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8 Books to Read for Black History Month

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8 Books to Read for Black History MonthFebruary marks Black History Month, and with it a spotlight on the historical and cultural contributions of African-American artists, authors, activists, musicians, scientists, and academics. To celebrate, we rounded up some of favorite books by black writers, from graphic novels and stage plays to classic novels and historical narratives.

March Trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell Black History Month Books March Trilogy by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
From sit-ins and freedom rides to the March on Washington and Selma, this award-winning graphic memoir – as told by congressman John Lewis – traces the historic highlights of the civil rights pioneer and his fellow Big Six.


Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Strong women, check. Romantic tearjerker, check. Overcoming adversity (and causing some too), check. One of the best pieces of American literature? Check.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison Black History Month Books The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
When it comes to Toni Morrison, just start at the beginning and read forward. In a banned books story from last year, we espoused on Pecola Breedlove’s world of big hopes and failed dreams.

The Century Cycle by August Wilson The Century Cycle by August Wilson
You’ve seen “Fences” – now read it – along with the other 9 plays that make up Wilson’s century-spanning cycle set in Pittsburgh. From the post-abolition, turn-of-the-century times of “Gum of the Ocean” to the inner-city gentrification of the 1990s in “Radio Golf,” Wilson’s work is a pillar of American theater.


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Fashioned after James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time,” Coates penned this powerful book-long letter to his 13-year-old son about the racial divide in America and his tempered hopes for the future.


The Music of Black Americans: A History by Eileen Southern Black History Month Books The Music of Black Americans: A History by Eileen Southern
You could pick Robert Palmer’s “Deep Blues,” Peter Guralnick’s “Sweet Soul Music,” a Robert Johnson biography, or any of the dozens of other worthy books about black music, but Southern’s tome is commanding and comprehensive, tracing the roots of black music from Africa and Colonial-era America up through jazz, big band, and rock ’n’ roll.


Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington
Washington’s autobiography details his upbringing as a slave child on a Virginia farm to the founder of the Tuskegee Institute. His dedication to trade education and foremost belief of “self-help” shaped his philosophy on how to forge the path of racial injustice and opportunity.


The Souls of Black Folk by W.E. Du Bois The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
Oh, you didn’t think Du Bois was gonna let us get out of here without saying something about ol’ Booker, did you? A sharp critic of Washington’s conciliatory approach, Du Bois had a more vocal and assertive tack, focusing efforts on activism and protest. This collection of 14 essays, personal narratives, and short stories touches on the pursuit of equal rights, importance of education, the role of church, and the power of music.

 
What will you be reading in honor of Black History Month? Head over to Facebook and let us know.