A Black History Month Book List

February is Black HIstory Month –– as well as the anniversary month of Trayvon Martin's death. Below, find a list of a few of our favorite books regarding our country's relationship to race and color. From poetry to essays to history, this list is only a start. Don't see anything you're looking for? Swing by the store and ask for more recommendations!

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780807075876
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Beacon Press - January 30th, 2018

In A More Beautiful and Terrible History award-winning historian Jeanne Theoharis dissects this national myth-making, teasing apart the accepted stories to show them in a strikingly different light. We see Rosa Parks not simply as a bus lady but a lifelong criminal justice activist and radical; Martin Luther King, Jr. as not only challenging Southern sheriffs but Northern liberals, too; and Coretta Scott King not only as a "helpmate" but a lifelong economic justice and peace activist who pushed her husband's activism in these directions.

By showing us the complex reality of the movement, the power of its organizing, and the beauty and scope of the vision, Theoharis proves that there was nothing natural or inevitable about the progress that occurred. A More Beautiful and Terrible History will change our historical frame, revealing the richness of our civil rights legacy, the uncomfortable mirror it holds to the nation, and the crucial work that remains to be done.


100 Amazing Facts about the Negro Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9780307908711
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon Books - October 24th, 2017

For African Americans of the Jim Crow era, Rogers's was their first black history teacher. But Rogers was not always shy about embellishing the "facts" and minimizing ambiguity; neither was he above shock journalism now and then.

With elan and erudition--and with winning enthusiasm--Henry Louis Gates, Jr. gives us a corrective yet loving homage to Roger's work. Relying on the latest scholarship, Gates leads us on a romp through African, diasporic, and African-American history in question-and-answer format. Among the one hundred questions: Who were Africa's first ambassadors to Europe? Who was the first black president in North America? Did Lincoln really free the slaves? Who was history's wealthiest person? What percentage of white Americans have recent African ancestry? Why did free black people living in the South before the end of the Civil War stay there? Who was the first black head of state in modern Western history? Where was the first Underground Railroad? Who was the first black American woman to be a self-made millionaire? Which black man made many of our favorite household products better?


The New Jim Crow Cover Image
By Michelle Alexander, Cornel West (Introduction by)
$19.95
ISBN: 9781595586438
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Press - January 16th, 2012

Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control--relegating millions to a permanent second-class status--even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action."

Called "stunning" by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Levering Lewis, "invaluable" by the Daily Kos, "explosive" by Kirkus, and "profoundly necessary" by the Miami Herald, this updated and revised paperback edition of The New Jim Crow, now with a foreword by Cornel West, is a must-read for all people of conscience.


When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781250171085
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - January 16th, 2018

From one of the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement comes a poetic memoir and reflection on humanity. Necessary and timely, Patrisse Cullors' story asks us to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love. Leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, a threat to America. But in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful. In this meaningful, empowering account of survival, strength, and resilience, Patrisse Cullors and asha bandele seek to change the culture that declares innocent black life expendable.


The Souls of Black Folk Cover Image
By W. E. B. Du Bois, Vann Newkirk (Introduction by), Steve Prince (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781632060976
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Restless Books - February 14th, 2017

Restless Classics presents The Souls of Black Folk W. E. B. Du Bois's seminal work of sociology, with searing insights into our complex, corrosive relationship with race and the African-American consciousness. Reconsidered for the era of Obama, Trump, and Black Lives Matter, the new edition includes an incisive introduction from rising cultural critic Vann R. Newkirk II and stunning illustrations by the artist Steve Prince.


The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781501126352
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - June 20th, 2017

In this bestselling, widely lauded collection, Jesmyn Ward gathers our most original thinkers and writers to speak on contemporary racism and race, including Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Young, Claudia Rankine, and Honoree Jeffers. "An absolutely indispensable anthology" (Booklist, starred review), The Fire This Timeshines a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestles with our current predicament, and imagines a better future.


Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment Cover Image
By Angela J. Davis (Editor)
$27.95
ISBN: 9781101871270
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Pantheon Books - July 11th, 2017

A comprehensive, readable analysis of the key issues of the Black Lives Matter movement, this thought-provoking and compelling anthology features essays by some of the nation's most influential and respected criminal justice experts and legal scholars.

Policing the Black Man explores and critiques the many ways the criminal justice system impacts the lives of African American boys and men at every stage of the criminal process, from arrest through sentencing. Essays range from an explication of the historical roots of racism in the criminal justice system to an examination of modern-day police killings of unarmed black men. 


The Underground Railroad Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780345804327
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - January 30th, 2018

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman's will to escape the horrors of bondage--and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.


They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781937512651
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Two Dollar Radio - November 7th, 2017

In an age of confusion, fear, and loss, Hanif Abdurraqib's is a voice that matters. Whether he's attending a Bruce Springsteen concert the day after visiting Michael Brown's grave, or discussing public displays of affection at a Carly Rae Jepsen show, he writes with a poignancy and magnetism that resonates profoundly.


Staff Pick Logo
The Sellout Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781250083258
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador USA - March 1st, 2016

A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality--the black Chinese restaurant.


Sing, Unburied, Sing Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501126062
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - September 5th, 2017

In Jesmyn Ward's first novel since her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing journeys through Mississippi's past and present, examining the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power--and limitations--of family bonds.


Silencer Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781328715548
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - September 5th, 2017

A suburban park, church, a good job, a cocktail party for the literati: to many, these sound like safe places, but for a young black man these insular spaces don't keep out the news--and the actual threat--of gun violence and police brutality, or the biases that keeps body, property, and hope in the crosshairs. Continuing conversations begun by Citizenand Between the World and MeSilencer sings out the dangers of unspoken taboos present on quiet Midwestern cul-de-sacs and in stifling professional settings, the dangers in closing the window on "a rainbow coalition of cops doing calisthenics around/a six-foot, three-hundred-fifty-pound man, choked back into the earth for what/looked a lot, to me, like sport." 


Olio Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781940696201
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wave Books - April 5th, 2016

Part fact, part fiction, Tyehimba Jess's much anticipated second book weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I. Olio is an effort to understand how they met, resisted, complicated, co-opted, and sometimes defeated attempts to minstrelize them.


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