2015 Black History Month Recent Reads

Breaking the Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Sport and Changed the Course of Civil Rights

Freedman, Samuel G.
Adult Nonfiction - 796.332 Fre

Breaking the Line brings to life the historic saga of the battle for the 1967 black college championship, culminating in a riveting, excruciatingly close contest. It traces the rise of Louisiana's Grambling College and Florida A&M as they storm through the season. Together they helped compel the segre­gated colleges of the South to integrate their teams and redefined who could play quarterback in the NFL, who could be a head coach, and who could run a franchise as general manager.


A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama's America

Jones, Jacqueline
Adult Nonfiction - 305.8009 Jon

Award-winning social historian Jacqueline Jones traces the lives of six African Americans from the colonial era to the late 20th century, using their stories to illustrate the complex ways in which racial ideologies in this country have changed since the first Africans arrived on the nation's shores hundreds of years ago. The very idea of "blackness," she shows, has changed fundamentally over this period.


The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World

Grandin, Greg
Adult Nonfiction - 306.362 Gra

The author of Fordlandia documents an extraordinary early 19th-century event that inspired Herman Melville's Beneto Cereno, tracing the cultural, economic and religious clashes that occurred aboard a distressed Spanish ship of West African pirates.


Fire Shut Up in My Bones: A Memoir

Blow, Charles M.
Adult Nonfiction - 070.92 Blow Blo

New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow mines the compelling poetry of the out-of-time African-American Louisiana town where he grew up -- a place where slavery's legacy felt astonishingly close, reverberating in the elders' stories and in the near-constant wash of violence.


How It Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement

Feldstein, Ruth
Adult Nonfiction - 323.1196 Fel

Ruth Feldstein examines celebrated black women performers, illuminating the risks they took, their roles at home and abroad, and the ways that they raised the issue of gender amid their demands for black liberation. Feldstein focuses on six women who made names for themselves in the music, film, and television industries: Nina Simone, Lena Horne, Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll, and Cicely Tyson.


I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom's Highway

Kot, Greg
Adult Nonfiction - 780.92 Staples Kot

This is the untold story of living legend Mavis Staples—lead singer of the Staple Singers and a major figure in the music that shaped the civil rights era. Now in her seventies, Mavis has been a fixture in the music world for decades. One of the most enduring artists of popular music, she and her family fused gospel, soul, folk, and rock to transcend racism and oppression through song.


Jackie & Campy: The Untold Story of Their Rocky Relationship and the Breaking of Baseball's Color Line

Kashatus, William C.
Adult Nonfiction - 796.357 Kas

As star players for the 1955 World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers, and prior to that as the first black players to be candidates to break professional baseball's color barrier, Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella would seem to be natural allies. But the two men were divided by a rivalry going far beyond the personality differences and petty jealousies of competitive teammates. Behind the bitterness were deep and differing beliefs about the fight for civil rights. Drawing on interviews with former players such as Monte Irvin, Hank Aaron, Carl Erskine, and Don Zimmer, Jackie and Campy offers a closer look at these two players and their place in a historical movement torn between active defiance and passive resistance.


March: Book One

Lewis, John and Aydin, Andrew
Graphic Novels - 921 Lewis Lew

A vivid first-hand account of Congressman John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. Artwork by Nate Powell.


Men We Reaped: A Memoir

Ward, Jesmyn
Adult Nonfiction - 800.92 Ward War

Author Ward, the first in her family to escape the rural poverty and racism of small-town DeLisle, Mississippi, reflects on the loss of five young Black men of DeLisle, including her beloved brother, over the course of four years, their lives cut short by drugs, violence, and suicide. She travels back in time to their early years to find the roots of destructive patterns, and reflects on the many factors that conspire against Black men in the South.


The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation

Davis, David Brion
Adult Nonfiction - 306.362 Dav

A conclusion to the award-winning historian's three-volume history of slavery in Western culture includes coverage of the influential Haitian revolution, the complex significance of colonization and the less-recognized importance of freed slaves to abolition.


The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League

Hobbs, Jeff
Adult Nonfiction - 921 Peace Hob

When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert's life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn't get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, "fronting" in Yale, and at home. The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love.


Stokely: A Life

Joseph, Peniel E.
Adult Nonfiction - 921 Carmichael Jos

Stokely Carmichael, the charismatic and controversial black activist, stepped onto the pages of history when he called for "Black Power" during a speech one Mississippi night in 1966. A firebrand who straddled both the American civil rights and Black Power movements, Carmichael would stand for the rest of his life at the center of the storm he had unleashed that night. In Stokely, preeminent civil rights scholar Peniel E. Joseph presents a groundbreaking biography of Carmichael, using his life as a prism through which to view the transformative African American freedom struggles of the twentieth century.


Things I SHould Have Told My Daughter: Lies, Lessons, and Love Affairs

Cleage, Pearl
Adult Nonfiction - 800.92 Cleage Cle

In addition to being one of the most popular living playwrights in America, Pearl Cleage is a bestselling author with an Oprah Book Club pick and multiple awards to her credit, but there was a time when such stellar success seemed like a dream. In this revelatory and deeply personal work, Cleage takes readers back to the 1970s and '80s, retracing her struggles to hone her craft amid personal and professional tumult.


William Wells Brown: An African American Life

Greenspan, Ezra
Adult Nonfiction - 800.92 Brown Gre

Born into slavery, raised on the Western frontier, "rented" out in adolescence to a succession of steamboat captains on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the young man known as "Sandy" reinvented himself as "William Wells" Brown after escaping to freedom. He lifted himself out of illiteracy and soon became an innovative, widely admired, and hugely popular speaker on antislavery circuits and went on to write the earliest African American works in a plethora of genres: travelogue, novel (the now canonized Clotel), printed play, and history. He also practiced medicine, ran for office, and campaigned for black uplift, temperance, and civil rights.


Without Mercy: The Stunning True Story of Race, Crime, and Corruption in the Deep South

Beasley, David
Adult Nonfiction - 364.66 Bea

On December 9, 1938, the state of Georgia executed six black men in eighty-one minutes in Tattnall Prison's electric chair. The executions were a record for the state that still stands today. The new prison, built with funds from FDR's New Deal, as well as the fact that the men were tried and executed rather than lynched were thought to be a sign of progress. They were anything but. While those men were arrested, convicted, sentenced, and executed in as little as six weeks, E. D. Rivers, the governor of the state, oversaw a pardon racket for white killers and criminals, allowed the Ku Klux Klan to infiltrate his administration, and bankrupted the state.