Black History Month Reading List

Mon, 02/13/2017 - 11:52am -- jrusnak

Black History month truly began in 1926 when a historian by the name of Carter Woodson announced that the second week of February would be “Negro History Week”. This week, chosen because it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas, was used to coordinate teaching of black history in public schools. Though initially it had a lukewarm response it grew annually until 1976 when the leaders of the Black United students of Kent State University proposed to expand it to the entire month, a move the federal government would repeat the same year under President Ford. Today, Black History Month is celebrated in the United States and in Canada during the month of February and in the United Kingdom during the Month of October.


 Come in to the Redwood Library and check out some of the books below in honor of Black History Month!


The Slave Ship: a Human History

by Marcus Buford Rediker 

     In this widely praised history of an infamous institution, award-winning scholar Marcus Rediker shines a light into the darkest corners of the British and American slave ships of the eighteenth century. Drawing on thirty years of research in maritime archives, court records, diaries, and firsthand accounts, The Slave Ship is riveting and sobering in its revelations, reconstructing in chilling detail a world nearly lost to history: the "floating dungeons" at the forefront of the birth of African American culture.



The First Emancipator : the Forgotten Story of Robert Carter, the Founding Father who freed his Slaves

by Andrew Levy 

Robert Carter III, the grandson of Tidewater legend Robert “King” Carter, was born into the highest circles of Virginia’s Colonial aristocracy. He was neighbor and kin to the Washingtons and Lees and a friend and peer to Thomas Jefferson and George Mason. But on September 5, 1791, Carter severed his ties with this glamorous elite at the stroke of a pen. In a document he called his Deed of Gift, Carter declared his intent to set free nearly five hundred slaves in the largest single act of liberation in the history of American slavery before the Emancipation Proclamation.



A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South, from Slavery to the Great Migration

by Steven Hahn

This is the epic story of how African-Americans, in the six decades following slavery, transformed themselves into a political people--an embryonic black nation. As Steven Hahn demonstrates, rural African-Americans were central political actors in the great events of disunion, emancipation, and nation-building. At the same time, Hahn asks us to think in more expansive ways about the nature and boundaries of politics and political practice.

 The Warmth of Other Suns: the Epic Story of America's Great Migration

by Isabel Wilkerson     

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.

Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary

by Juan Williams 

Washington Post correspondent and TV commentator Juan Williams has produced an illuminating look at a true giant of 20th-century American politics. Williams retells the story of Thurgood Marshall's successful desegregation of public schools in the U.S. with his victory in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, followed by his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1967 for a 24-year term. But he also recounts how W.E.B. Du Bois, then the head of the NAACP, gave a cold shoulder to the younger Marshall, and describes the tug of war between Marshall and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, as well as the mind games Lyndon Johnson played on Marshall before nominating him for the Supreme Court. Readers also learn about Marshall's relationship with his replacement, Clarence Thomas, which was surprisingly civil given their contrary views on affirmative action. Williams has captured many examples of Thurgood Marshall's heroism and humanity in this comprehensive yet readable biography of a complex, combative, and courageous civil rights figure.



The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King 

 Created as a living memorial to the philosophies and ideas of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this essential volume includes more than 120 quotations from the greatest civil rights leader’s speeches, sermons, and writings selected and introduced by Coretta Scott King.



On the Bus with Rosa Parks: Poems

by Rita Dove

In these brilliant poems, Rita Dove treats us to a panoply of human endeavor, shot through with the electrifying jazz of her lyric elegance. From the opening sequence, "Cameos", to the civil rights struggle of the final sequence, she explores the intersection of individual fate and history.

Rise of the rocket Girls: the Women who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

by Nathalia Holt

      In the 1940s and 50s, when the newly minted Jet Propulsion Laboratory needed quick-thinking mathematicians to calculate velocities and plot trajectories, they didn't turn to male graduates. Rather, they recruited an elite group of young women who, with only pencil, paper, and mathematical prowess, transformed rocket design, helped bring about the first American satellites, and made the exploration of the solar system possible.

The Bridge: the Life and Rise of Barack Obama

by David Remnick

      In this nuanced and complex portrait of Barack Obama, Pulitzer Prize-winner David Remnick offers a thorough, intricate, and riveting account of the unique experiences that shaped our nation’s first African American president.