Celebrate Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month by checking out one of these recently published books about African Americans.


Compiled by:
Elizabeth G.
An African American Cookbook: Traditional and Other Favorite Recipes

Phoebe Bailey
641.59296 Bai

This book is a bountiful collection of favorite foods and the memories that go with them. The traditional foods reflect the ingenious, resourceful, and imaginative Africans who made them. Woven among the four hundred recipes are rich historic anecdotes and sayings. They were discovered or lived by the cookbook’s contributors, many of whose ancestors participated in the Underground Railroad or lived near where it was active. This is a cookbook rich in history and rich in easy-to-prepare, wonderfully tasty food! Recipes include:  collard greens with ham hocks, cornbread sausage stuffing, fried green tomatoes, yogurt and chives biscuits, and sweet potato pie. The author’s congregation in historic Lancaster, Pennsylvania has a long history with Underground Railroad activity. This cookbook celebrates those historic events, when this church fed and then helped to spirit enslaved Africans to safety.


Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates
305.896 Coa

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?
Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences.


The Castle Cross the Magnet Carter

Kia Corthron
Corthro

On the eve of America's entry into World War II, in a tiny Alabama town, two brothers come of age in the shadow of the local chapter of the Klan, where Randall--a brilliant eighth-grader and the son of a sawmill worker--begins teaching sign language to his eighteen-year-old deaf and uneducated brother B.J. Simultaneously, in small-town Maryland, the sons of a Pullman Porter--gifted six-year-old Eliot and his artistic twelve-year-old brother Dwight--grow up navigating a world expanded both by a visit from civil and labor rights activist A. Philip Randolph and by the legacy of a lynched great-aunt.  This novel sweeps American history from 1941 to the twenty-first century through the lives of four men--two white brothers from rural Alabama, and two black brothers from small-town Maryland--whose journey culminates in an explosive and devastating encounter between the two families.


Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York's Bravest

Ginger Adams Otis
363.3708 Oti

In 1919, when Wesley Williams became a New York City firefighter, he stepped into a world that was 100% white and predominantly Irish. Nearly a century later, many things in the FDNY had changed―but not the scarcity of blacks. Decades earlier, women and blacks had sued over its hiring practices and won. But the FDNY never took permanent steps to eradicate the inequities, which led to a courtroom show-down between New York City Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, and a determined group of black activist firefighters. At the center of this book are stories of courage―about firefighters risking their lives in the line of duty but also risking their livelihood by battling an unjust system. Among them: FDNY Captain Paul Washington, a second generation black firefighter, who spent his multi-decade career fighting to get minorities on the job. He faced an insular culture made up of relatives who never saw their own inclusion as favoritism.


God Help the Child

Toni Morrison
Morriso

“What you do to children matters…” This foreboding phrase informs the latest masterful novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. The story, at its heart, is about the devastating consequences of a light-skinned mother who rejects her dark-skinned child. Bride, the daughter, goes on to become a successful cosmetics mogul, but that success doesn’t translate to her personal life. Her inability to heal from childhood wounds stunts (even literally) her growth. But where there is darkness there is light, at least in Bride’s case, and this contrast serves to make her attempts at reshaping her destiny that much sweeter. And that is one of the most important and empowering lessons of God Help the Child-- that the sins of others need not define you, that what is done to children indeed matters. But how children—so vulnerable and yet so resilient--can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles matters all the more.


Living Black: Social Life in an African American Neighborhood

Mark S. Fleisher
305.896 Fle

Living Black breaks the stereotype of poor African American neighborhoods as dysfunctional ghettos of helpless and hopeless people. Despite real and enduring poverty, the community described here—the historic North End of Champaign, Illinois—has a vibrant social life and strong ties among generations. But it operates on its own nonjudgmental terms—teen moms aren’t derided, school dropouts aren’t ridiculed, and parolees and ex-cons aren’t scorned. Mark S. Fleisher offers a window into daily life in this neighborhood, particularly through the stories of Mo and Memphis Washington, who fight to sustain a stable home for their children, and of Burpee, a local man who has returned to the North End to rebuild his life after years of crime and punishment in Chicago.


March. Book Two

John Lewis
GN - 921 Lewis Lew

Congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, continues his award-winning graphic novel. After the success of the Nashville sit-in campaign, John Lewis is more committed than ever to changing the world through nonviolence — but as he and his fellow Freedom Riders board a bus into the vicious heart of the deep south, they will be tested like never before. Faced with beatings, police brutality, imprisonment, arson, and even murder, the movement’s young activists place their lives on the line while internal conflicts threaten to tear them apart. But their courage will attract the notice of powerful allies, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy... and once Lewis is elected chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, this 23-year-old will be thrust into the national spotlight, becoming one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement and a central figure in the landmark 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.


Oreo

Fran Ross
Ross

A pioneering, dazzling satire about a biracial black girl from Philadelphia searching for her Jewish father in New York City. Oreo is raised by her maternal grandparents in Philadelphia. Her black mother tours with a theatrical troupe, and her Jewish deadbeat dad disappeared when she was an infant, leaving behind a mysterious note that triggers her quest to find him. What ensues is a playful, modernized parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with wisecracking aplomb. Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios, brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering a mythic journey of self-discovery like no other.


The Sellout

Paul Beatty
Beatty

The Sellout is a biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court. Born in the "agrarian ghetto" of Dickens, CA and raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, the narrator spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father's pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family's financial woes. But when his father is killed, he realizes there never was a memoir. Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town's most famous resident―the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins―he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.


The Turner House

Angela Flournoy
Flourno

The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone—and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts—and shapes—their family’s future.The Turner House, a National Book Award finalist, brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It’s a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home.