Black History Month will forever be a time of celebrating black visionaries who brought so much inspiration and empowerment to our culture through their life’s work—this includes all of the black women authors we’ve come to know and love throughout the years. Here are five books by black women that are must-reads this Black History Month.
Though she is already known for her groundbreaking literary works such as Mules And Men (1935) and Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), as well as being one of the most celebrated black writers of all time, author Zora Neale Hurston’s continues to reintroduce herself to new generations.
But instead of us revisiting the classics, a new book has been posthumously published for us to read for the first time. Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance is an incredible collection of stories covering everything from gender and class, to love and racism. The book features 8 of Hurston’s stories about the Harlem Renaissance that were archived and forgotten for many decades.
A Black Women’s History of the United States, Daina Ramey Berry, and Kali N. Gross
Exploring history is one thing, but exploring history through the eyes of a black woman is another. Our individual and collective stories are equal parts beautiful and tragic, but it’s through our continued fight for freedom and proper representation that we live to see progress and empowerment.
Authors Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross know these stories well and described how they’ve shaped American history in their book, A Black Women’s History of the United States. This book highlights the voices of diverse groups of black women—both the fearless and afraid—and puts them front in center of American history’s complex unfolding, instead of treating them merely as an afterthought.
Self-discovery is not reserved for people who’ve never known themselves. Sometimes, self-discovery is the rediscovering of who we are and a realization that we actually want to be something different.
Candice Carty-Williams deeply and hilariously relatable novel, Queenie, accurately details the ups and downs of this process through the life of 25-year-old, Queenie Jenkins.
After a breakup with her long-term boyfriend, Queenie finds herself in the middle of a tricky environment, a few bad decisions, and ongoing identity crisis, an undeniable need for something more than what she has been giving herself. Queenie is a fresh and honest look at what it means to find meaning in life and still be true to yourself.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is a historical fiction piece about two separated Ghanaian half-sisters who go onto live very different lives from each other—one marrying a well-off Englishman while the other is sold into slavery.
Homegoing is the story of both paths, as well as 8 generations of their descendants, respectively. From 18th century Ghana to Mississippi plantations and various stages of culture and life after being freed from slavery, Gyasi tells a fictional story of a legacy that is colored with the tragic and extraordinary reality of black-American ancestry that is powerful, compelling, and inspiring.
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, Asha Bandele, and Patrisse Cullors
In 2013, the black community was left shocked, saddened, and outraged when the killer of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin received a not-guilty verdict on all counts.
The blatant injustice created a spark within activists and community leaders that would light the way toward a crusade against racism, police brutality, and the unjust complexities of the criminal justice system for many years to come. For Patrisse Khan-Cullors, that spark lead her to co-found a pivotal movement in modern activism called Black Lives Matter.
In her memoir, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, Cullors explains how both the collective suffering of the black community as well as her personal pain led her to develop a political and social strength that would not only attempt to eradicate injustice but demand real solutions and accountability.
This book is a powerful promise of survival and triumph for Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Asha Bandele, and the community as a whole.