Books that Celebrate Black History

Black History Month is here. I'm a firm believer that we should be celebrating the accomplishments of African American's all year round. 

Our achievements weren't accomplished in one month, so why should we only be given 28 days to emphasize them? Nevertheless,  I want to take this time to highlight the many accomplishments of those who came before me.

The more that I dig into my roots, I am entranced by what I find. I can go back as far as my great- great-grandparents, which, to many African-Americans is as far back as they can trace. I'll never know what they look like, but they are part of my history and that of America's. They will never know the impact they had on a country that failed to realize their worth. 

Below are some of my favorite books by African-Americans, those also part of the African diaspora, or about black culture and life in general. Check them out and when you've finished tell me what your favorites are in the comments below. 

For Colored Girls who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf

I first came across For Colored Girls when I was a first year student at Kingston University in London, England. My professor and I were talking about books and she asked if I had ever read it. I had never even heard of it. Giving me her own copy, I devoured For Colored Girls and the second I finished I knew I had to perform the play. Gathering a few actors, myself included, I directed and performed in my own production of For Colored Girl Who have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. For us, we weren't just acting out words on a page, we were emitting emotions, giving voice to the pain each character felt, pain that we felt as well.

 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, turned my life upside down, inside out. I felt like I was listening to words of a friend, not just reading words in a book. I would suggest that everyone go out and read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. There is something in this book that we all can learn from Maya Angelou.

 

Reminiscences of my Life in Camp: An African American Woman's Civil Way Memoir by Susie King Taylor

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Have you heard of Susie King Taylor? I hadn't until I came across her memoir and devoured it in a matter of hours. Susie King Taylor was born a slave, was secretly taught to read and write, then went on to nurse the sick and wounded of black Union soldiers. 

Day of Tears by Julius Lester

On March 2nd and 3rd, 1859, 400 slaves were sold in Savannah, Georgia. It rained tremendously during those two days, only stopping when the auction ended. Lester uses names of actual slaves sold to create a story that is sure to make you weep, yearn for those who endured and ponder your own humanity.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

Written by author Jacqueline Woodson, Each Kindness is not only a book for children, adults can learn a thing or two about how to treat others. This book has stuck with me from the day I first read it. You don't get a second chance to be kind to someone and each kindness you show, counts.

More to come!