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« Church & State | Main | How Are You Doing? »

Book Suggestions for Black History Month

By Angelo Lopez
February 16, 2013

This February we celebrate Black History Month, a time when we can celebrate the significant contributions of African Americans to our history. According to wikipedia, Black History Month had its beginnings in 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week". This week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. This idea grew in popularity over the decades, and in 1969, the Black United Students at Kent State University expanded the celebration of Black History from a week to a month. The first celebration of Black History Month occurred at Kent State in February of 1970. In 1976, the federal government recognized Black History Month. The United Kingdom first celebrated Black History Month in the month of October in 1987, with Canada recognizing February as Black History Month in 1995.

Here are some book suggestions that I found in the library for Black History Month. If possible, I tried to find youtube videos of the book.

BLACK HISTORY MORE THAN JUST A MONTH by Mike Henry gives an overview of the African American war heroes, inventors, celebrities, athletes and other leaders of our history.

MALCOLM X: A LIFE OF REINVENTION by Manning Marable is the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History book that examines Malcolm X's life, from his parents' activism as followers of Marcus Garvey through his ministry with the Nation of Islam to his final growth as an important voice in the civil rights struggle of the mid 1960s. Here is a lecture by Viking Books editor Wendy Wolf, who worked closely with Manning Marable on his book.

SHARED DREAMS: MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY by Marc Schneier tells the story of how Jews and African Americans worked together in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

AT THE DARK END OF THE STREET: BLACK WOMEN, RAPE, AND RESISTANCE-- A NEW HISTORY OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT FROM ROSA PARKS TO THE RISE OF BLACK POWER by Danielle McGuirre describes how African American women’s protests against sexual assault and interracial rape that began during World War II fueled civil rights campaigns throughout the South. Especially important is the role of Rosa Parks, who was the NAACP organizer who in 1944 investigated the rape of Recy Taylor, a black sharecropper who was attacked by seven white men on her way home from church. Here is a youtube video of Danielle McGuirre giving a lecture of her book.

YOU NEED A SCHOOLHOUSE: BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, JULIUS ROSENWALD, AND THE BUILDING OF SCHOOLS FOR THE SEGREGATED SOUTH by Stephanie Deutsch describes how Booker T. Washington, the founder of Tuskegee Institute, and Julius Rosenwald, the president of Sears, Roebuck, and Company, worked to bring thousands of modern schoolhouses to African American communities in the rural South in the era leading up to the civil rights movement. Here is a youtube video interview of Marty Pay interviewing Stephanie Deutsch on her book.

CAPITOL MEN: THE EPIC STORY OF RECONSTRUCTION THROUGH THE LIVES OF THE FIRST BLACK CONGRESSMEN by Philip Dray tells the story of the nation's first black members of Congress from the Reconstruction era to the dawn of Jim Crow. Here is a youtube video of Philip Dray giving a lecture on his book.

MEDGAR EVERS: MISSISSIPPI MARTYR by Michael Vinson Williams talks about the life Medgar Evers, the NAACP's first full-time Mississippi field secretary and a courageous civil rights activists who organized economic boycotts, sit-ins, and street protests and reported to a national audience the rapes, murders, beatings, and lynching's of black Mississippians.

FANNIE LOU HAMER: THE LIFE OF A CIVIL RIGHTS ICON by Earnest N. Bracey chronicles the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, the civil rights leader of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which tried to unseat the predominantly white Democrats of Mississippi during the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

RALPH ELLISON: A BIOGRAPHY by Arnold Rampersad tells the story of the writer Ralph Ellison, the author of "The Invisible Man" which won the National Book Award in 1953 and has become a classic of American literature. Here is a Google Talk lecture by Arnold Rampersad on his book.

W.E.B. DuBois: A Biography by David Levering Lewis tells the life of the writer, activist and intellectual W.E.B. DuBois. Here is a youtube video of David Levering Lewis talking about his book and of writing biographies in general.

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