Get ready to deepen your understanding of Black history this February and beyond by exploring 29 amazing books written by some incredible African American authors. From insightful memoirs to groundbreaking historical accounts, these works present a powerful opportunity for reflecting on the immense contributions made by Black people in America – as well as acknowledging the many injustices they have endured over time.
29 of the best Black History Month books that will leave you emotionally moved and intellectually stimulated. They have the potential to educate, inspire and even transform your life in powerful ways!
Learning more about Black History Month doesn’t have to end with books! There are plenty of Black History podcasts we’ve featured on the site hat make it easy and enjoyable to further your knowledge.
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1. Black Birds in The Sky
In the act of racial violence and hatred, 35 square blocks were destroyed in mere hours – leaving hundreds dead. How did this tragedy come to be? Award-winning author Brandy Colbert is one of the black authors on this list that does a more than fair job of seeking to uncover the heartbreaking truth behind the Tulsa Race Massacre with this nonfiction.
She explores a mix of emotions that led to it: white resentment, the resurgence of white supremacy groups, and media manipulation. Through her unflinching narrative account comes a sobering story about the legacy of racism – all too familiar for many today.
2. Black Fortunes
These six entrepreneurs faced unimaginable odds on their road to wealth and success. Yet, despite the dangers of being born into slavery or Jim Crow laws, they defied all expectations by becoming millionaires. Unfortunately, this feat grew more complicated as society sought to remove what was rightfully theirs.
Hear firsthand about these incredible stories of survival and resilience, showcasing how individuals can overcome even the most daunting obstacles. It’s the first novel that opened my eyes beyond the stories of the self-made millionaire Madame CJ Walker.
Black Homeownership is an inspiring journey of resilience, strength and pride. This book pays tribute to the struggles faced throughout generations while shining a light on beautiful interior design styles and powerful stories of family, culture and community. A must-read for anyone who wants to honor this incredible legacy.
4. My People
You may recall learning about Gault in Black History Facts. She was the first black woman admitted to the University of Georgia in 1961.
Charlayne’s monumental work, My People, is a timeless testament to her lifetime dedication to perceiving and communicating the Black experience in its entirety – honoring their trials, tragedies, and triumphs.
Through this invaluable collection featuring stories from the Civil Rights Movement until America’s first elected Black president took office – we’re invited to observe depth and complexity beneath each era of African American history unlike ever before.
5. Black and British
Connecting us to the distant past, Black and British history illustrate how intertwined our shared cultural heritage is. From Roman Britain through Elizabethan’ blackamoors’ to industrial 19th century America fed by slavery – this history spans many centuries with powerful stories of courage from black Britons who fought in both World Wars.
Recently released, this is a classic novel that deserves to be read, understood, and discussed.
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6. Half American
Half American highlights the inspiring stories of Black heroes who fought to make a difference in times of war and peace. Thurgood Marshall was determined to challenge discrimination against African-American troops and veterans; Benjamin Davis Jr. valiantly leading the Tuskegee Airmen; Ella Baker stood up for civil rights back home.
African americans have been a vital part of the fabric of America from its inception. This book is essential for anyone looking to better understand their contributions.
7. From Protest to President
Young readers looking to get a glimpse into the life of George Pruitt should check out this biographical account – an inspiring journey that illustrates why he’s become so influential today.
From Protest to President recounts a young Black reformer’s remarkable journey, rising from humble beginnings in the deep South of Mississippi to Chicago during an era of profound upheaval all the way up to leading one college through 35 years as president. A powerful testament to resilience and drive for social justice!
8. You Are Your Best Thing
Burke and Brown are the ideal stewards for this intense set of essays about Black shame and how to mend it. They, along with the authors featured in their anthology, cultivate an atmosphere where we can openly acknowledge our distress from white supremacy’s oppressive weight and celebrate all aspects of being a Black person wholeheartedly.
9. The Warmth of Other Suns
In The Warmth of Other Suns, Wilkerson masterfully weaves together stories and data to tell the powerful story of a six million-person exodus between 1915-1970. The Great Migration shaped American cities, communities, and people’s lives in astonishing ways that remain unrecognized yet undeniable even today.
Documenting over one thousand interviews, readers are taken on an emotional roller coaster ride through America’s past as both sorrowful nostalgia and collective pride abound each page-turner.
10. The Black Book
The Black Book is an awe-inspiring celebration of African American identity and heritage. It equips us with invaluable links to our history, enabling us to stay connected with the past while fostering a collective hope for what awaits in the future.
Incredibly thoughtfully created by esteemed author Toni Morrison – this timeless masterpiece is a loving reminder that no matter how far we move forward, there will always be something inspiringly unique behind each step along the journey.
11. Illustrated Black History
This 145-piece collection pays tribute to individuals’ groundbreaking accomplishments in various fields, including politics, science, literature, and music. It provides an insightful glimpse into their stories with original portraits by an award-winning graphic designer – celebrating diversity as we recognize Black pioneers, both famous and lesser known.
12. Black People Invented Everything
Did you know that Black people have been behind some of the most influential discoveries and creations in modern times? The towering legacy of African-American inventors extends for millennia before European colonization.
In this eye-opening exploration into our shared past, uncover untold stories about genius minds who helped shape humanity’s tomorrow through creative problem-solving solutions crafted today.
Through UNSEEN, a remarkable collection of never-before published photographs from The New York Times’ archives is coming to light for the first time. These stunning images commemorate Black history and its people with powerful stories that have gone untold until now.
Textures explore the layered cultural, historical, and societal implications of Black hair through a unique lens. Artwork from renowned black writers and creatives brings to light how this often-fraught topic has been viewed throughout history and its modern manifestations in self-expression and identity today.
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15. African American Dance
Capturing the unyielding spirit of African American dance throughout centuries of persecution and marginalization, this illustrated history combines a rich cultural exploration with ten distinct characteristics defining its unique style.
From Africa to America’s slavery era through today, each chapter provides remarkable insight into how black vernacular has not just endured the uneasy balance of showcasing black dance as art but truly thrived despite immense adversity.
16. High on the Hog
Follow the incredible journey of African American cuisine and its people, told by award-winning author Jessica B. Harris in her New York Times bestseller High on The Hog, now a Netflix Original Series! This remarkable narrative provides an emotional recount of how enslaved Africans brought with them not just their talents for labor but also recipes that form an indelible part of our nation’s culture today.
17. Farming While Black
Farming While Black is an essential resource for aspiring agriculturists of African heritage to make their unique mark on sustainable farming.
With a comprehensive guide covering everything from business planning to preserving the harvest, this book serves as an empowering source of knowledge that celebrates the dignity and technical contributions that African-heritage people have made in modern agriculture outside of their promised land.
18. Zora Neale Hurston on Florida Food
Experience the mouth-watering flavors of Florida native Zora Neale Hurston’s ethnographic writing, which captures the essence and heartwarming traditions that have shaped people’s dining experiences through simple recipes. From comforting dishes to festive treats, her work celebrates both everyday meals and special occasions.
For Florida natives like myself, you’ll have a great time reading through Hurston’s research, you’ll learn what it meant to live in rural Florida during the early twentieth century.
19. Bertha Maxwell-Roddey
Bertha Maxwell-Roddey was an inspirational, educational activist and Black studies forerunner whose courageous leadership pioneered desegregation in the South. From the late 1960s to the early 1990s, her determination helped bolster civil rights and feminist milestones into meaningful accomplishments that impacted North Carolina’s rich history and beyond its borders.
If you’re up for a biography book, this one will take you through the life and legacy of Bertha Maxwell-Roddey.
20. Enslaved, Indentured, Free
Although enslaved, five remarkable women living in the Upper Mississippi River Valley never gave up hope. Instead, they were empowered to take matters into their own hands through their resourcefulness and strong bonds with one another.
Mary Elise Antoine has preserved these uplifting stories of courage by uncovering legal documents, military records, court transcripts, and personal correspondences showing how each woman eventually freed themselves from slavery despite all odds with this American literature history book.
21. A Well-Paid Slave
Without a doubt, Curt Flood was a pioneer. Refusing to sacrifice his loyalty for the demands of Major League Baseball’s archaic system, he made an admirable decision. He took one giant leap by initiating legal action against MLB to gain freedom from being traded without choice.
His brave decision cost him dearly in terms of his career but ultimately opened doors for free agency, allowing future generations greater player autonomy and choice than ever imagined!
22. More Than Our Pain
Confronting the devastating reality of systemic racism, Black Lives Matter activists have used creative and passionate action to mobilize for social justice. More Than Our Pain illuminates how powerful emotions such as rage, grief, joy and fatigue response can drive collective political change in a nation where black Americans are marginalized by oppressive laws that trap them within an unjust system.
This inspiring exploration reveals what’s possible when individuals defy expectations while striving towards a shared goal: freedom from oppression through a racial equity. It’s one of those nonfiction books local activists need when it comes to remembering your “why”.
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23. Scars on the Land
For two centuries, slavery transformed the Southern landscape and reshaped the lives of enslaved people in a way that was fundamentally linked to their environment. Scars on the Land tells this story by exploring how slave-owners exploited an insidious calculation: they sought not outputs per acre, but what labor could be forcibly extracted from those they held captive.
24. The Black Experience in Design
This anthology highlights the essential links between design, collaboration, and multidisciplinarity. It offers accessible insights into African diasporic perspectives – valuable resources for students and young people, educators and professionals alike to form meaningful connections with their work in any field or discipline.
By sharing ideas through lived experiences of Blackness it acts as an invaluable inspiration that will inform how we create our future together. So the next time you are looking for a great book to challenge you, pick this one up.
25. Subversive Habits
African-American Catholic nuns have persevered through centuries of discrimination and are the forgotten prophets of Catholicism. Subversive Habits unveils their remarkable stories, as told by Shannen Dee Williams in her revelatory history book based on oral histories and previously sealed Church records.
A tribute to both women’s religious life advocating for social change to the painfully lived African American experience in the Catholic church.
William Still’s story is an incredible and motivating testament to his selfless devotion to freeing hundreds from the bonds of slavery. His valuable contribution lay in managing a significant part of the Underground Railroad near Philadelphia—the free state just north of Maryland- giving many people hope for emancipation.
This should be on a list of essential books to read that pays tribute to one of the incredible historical figures, William Still. Every school, college student, or beyond must experience it!
27. Requiem for the Massacre
With a combination of investigative skill, heartfelt emotion, and optimism for the future, Requiem for the Massacre offers an important look into Tulsa’s legacy – one hundred years since experiencing what is deemed to be the United States most devastating act of racial violence on black men, women, and children.
28. A Taste of Power
Elaine Brown made history when she became the first and only female leader of the Black Panther Party in 1974. This powerful, male-dominated organization was flourishing across America in the black community – yet facing ever-increasing pressures from police forces and within its own ranks through violence.
Her journey to power is an inspiring story of courage, determination, self-discovery, and bravery that deserves recognition everywhere. A true story that deserves to be on book lists for black women and men to read.
29. The Talk
Thirty luminaries from the literary world come together to inspire a movement in this groundbreaking call to action. Join America’s leading authors and illustrators as they talk candidly with their children about race, unleashing an urgent discussion that invites all families everywhere to become anti-racists and create lasting change.
Like all of the others, this book should be on your reading list, on your bookshelf next to your other favorite books.