Books for Black History Month

Reading books is one of the most common ways people celebrate Black History Month and for good reason—it’s a wonderful way to relax while expanding your knowledge. Listed below are five book suggestions for your February reading list.

Reading List for Black History Month

SLAVERY AND THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

We start our Black History Month book list with an autobiography that will capture your heart and soul from page one. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was written by Harriet Jacobs in 1861. In the book, Jacobs gives a harrowing account of her life as a slave, including the sexual harassment she endured at the hands of her slave master and the heartbreak of being separated from her children. To escape, Jacobs spent seven years hiding in an attic before she could make her way north to freedom. She eventually joined the antislavery movement and helped freed slaves after the Civil War. Check out her book, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Civil War Classics): A Memoir of a Former” by Harriet A. Jacobs.

EMANCIPATION AND THE CONTINUING FIGHT

Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

Our next book is another autobiography. Up From Slavery was written by famed educator and civil rights activist Booker T. Washington. He was born a slave but became a teacher after the Civil War. In 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Institute, an institution of higher learning for African Americans (the school is now known as Tuskegee University). His views on race in America were hotly debated, especially within the Black community. Reading Washington’s beliefs in his own words provides helpful background to the great Washington vs. W.E.B. DuBois debate. You can find the book here: “Up From Slavery” by Booker T. Washington

TAKING THE FIGHT TO THE COURTS

Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America by Wil Haygood

This biography shines a spotlight on Thurgood Marshall. After graduating law school, Marshall became a civil rights lawyer, working with the NAACP and fighting injustice. One of Marshall’s greatest achievements is his landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. This 1954 Supreme Court ruling helped end America’s segregated school system. And years later, in 1967, Marshall was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court and he would eventually become America’s first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

If you want to learn more about Marshall you can find this book, “Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America”by Wil Haygood, in stores or your local library.

1965 AND ONWARDS

And Still I Rise: Black American Since MLK by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Kevin M. Burke

Our next book is more of an educational resource, but it is still a fascinating read. This book is a companion to Gates’ PBS series, And Still I Rise. It includes some of the most important events in Black n history from the past 50 years. The book unfolds as an extended timeline starting with Martin Luther King, Jr. in January 2, 1965 and ending in 2015. It’s the perfect commuter book as you can read one event at a time. Learn more or download the ebook of “And Still I Rise: Black American Since MLK” by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Kevin M. Burke.

THE FUTURE

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? By N.K. Jemisin

A well-rounded book list needs variety and this collection of short stories provides just that. Written by acclaimed sci-fi writer, N.K. Jemisin, these stories fantasize the future while reimagining the past. Jemisin is a master at her craft and many of her stories are inspired by the history of Black Americans. This book would make a wonderful addition to your book club.  Learn more about“How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?” By N.K. Jemisin

Bonus. Looking for other books to read? Check out our book list about women in history.