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Black History Month

This guide goes beyond biographies of well-known activists, authors, and politicians. It features unique books about lesser-known historical figures and subtopics, which illustrate the profound impact the Black experience has had on American culture.

Black History Month, February 1 to March 1, 2022

Books -- Asterisks denote books that reflect this year's theme: Black Health & Wellness

Adventures in Shondaland

Shonda Rhimes is one of the most powerful players in contemporary American network television. Rhimes's work is attentive to identity politics, "post-" identity politics, power, and representation, addressing innumerable societal issues. Rhimes intentionally addresses these issues with diverse characters and story lines. 

African American Lives in St. Louis, 1763-1865

The African American presence in St. Louis began in 1763 with the arrival of several free men of color who accompanied Pierre Laclede from New Orleans to set up a fur trading fort on the Mississippi. Drawing on a wide range of sources, the author studies the history of slaves and free blacks in this city.

Articulate While Black

In this eloquently written and powerfully argued book, Alim and Smitherman provide new insights about President Obama and the relationship between language and race in contemporary society. Throughout, they analyze several racially loaded, cultural-linguistic controversies involving the President—from his use of Black Language and his "articulateness" to his "Race Speech," the so-called "fist-bump," and his relationship to Hip Hop Culture.
Also available as eBook

Bad News for Outlaws

Ages 8-12. Read about the fascinating life of Bass Reeves, who escaped slavery to become the first African American Deputy US Marshal west of the Mississippi.
Also available as eBook

Before Jackie Robinson

This volume presents a nuanced account of early Black American athletes' lives and their ongoing struggle for acceptance, relevance, and personal and group identity.

The Black History of the White House

The Black History of the White House presents the untold history, racial politics, and shifting significance of the White House as experienced by African Americans, from the generations of enslaved people who helped to build it or were forced to work there to its first black First Family, the Obamas.

Bound to the Fire

In grocery store aisles and kitchens across the country, smiling images of "Aunt Jemima" and other black cooks can be found on various food products and in advertising. Although these images are sanitized and romanticized in American popular culture, they represent the untold stories of enslaved men and women who had a significant impact on the nation's culinary and hospitality traditions even as they were forced to prepare food for their oppressors.
Also available as eBook

Contributions of African American Scientists

This book shows that African Americans made many contributions to the sciences, medicine, education, and inventions as slaves, as freed persons, and as immigrants. Their contributions had and continue to have an impact on the economy of the United States, and the convenience, education, health, safety, security, and welfare of its citizens.

Driving While Black

Cars have always held distinct importance for African Americans, allowing black families to evade the many dangers presented by an entrenched racist society and to enjoy, in some measure, the freedom of the open road. Gretchen Sorin recovers a forgotten history of black motorists, and recounts their creation of a parallel, unseen world of travel guides, black only hotels, and informal communications networks that kept black drivers safe.

Encyclopedia of Black Comics

The Encyclopedia of Black Comics focuses on people of African descent who have published significant works in the United States or have worked across various aspects of the comics industry.

Fire!! The Zora Neale Hurston Story

Through his skilled cartooning, Bagge turns what could be a rote biography into a bold and dazzling graphic novel, creating a story that reconstructs Zora Neale Hurston's vivid life in resounding full-color.

Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?

In Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?, Mumia gives voice to the many people of color who have fallen to police bullets or racist abuse, and offers the post-Ferguson generation advice on how to address police abuse in the United States.

Historians on Hamilton

Historians on Hamilton brings together a collection of top scholars to explain the Hamilton phenomenon and explore what it might mean for our understanding of America's history. The contributors examine what the musical got right, what it got wrong, and why it matters.
Also available as eBook

A Kid's Guide to African American History

For parents and teachers interested in fostering cultural awareness among children of all races, this book includes more than 70 hands-on activities, songs, and games that teach kids about the people, experiences, and events that shaped African American history.

Medicalizing Blackness*

In this fascinating medical history, Hogarth examines the creation and circulation of medical ideas about blackness in the Atlantic World during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She shows how white physicians deployed blackness as a medically significant marker of difference and used medical knowledge to improve plantation labor efficiency, safeguard colonial and civic interests, and enhance control over black bodies during the era of slavery.

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen*

Black women's strength is intimately tied to their unacknowledged suffering. An estimated eight in ten have endured some form of trauma—sexual abuse, domestic abuse, poverty, childhood abandonment, victim/witness to violence, and regular confrontation with racism and sexism. This informative guide shows Black women how to prioritize the self and find everyday joys in self-worth, as well as discover the fullness and beauty within both her strength and vulnerability.

100 Amazing Facts about the Negro

Relying on the latest scholarship, Gates leads us on a romp through African, diasporic, and African-American history in question-and-answer format. Among the one hundred questions: Who were Africa's first ambassadors to Europe? Who was the first black American woman to be a self-made millionaire? Which black man made many of our favorite household products better?

Pathfinders

Ages 10-14. In this insightful book, award-winning author Tonya Bolden commemorates the lives of sixteen Black individuals who dared to dream, take risks, and chart courses to success. They were Pathfinders.

The Rap Year Book

Shea Serrano deftly pays homage to the most important song of each year [1979-2014]. Serrano also examines the most important moments that surround the history and culture of rap music-from artists' backgrounds to issues of race, the rise of hip-hop, and the struggles among its major players--both personal and professional.

Reproductive Justice*

Written by two legendary scholar-activists, Reproductive Justice introduces students to an intersectional analysis of race, class, and gender politics. Ross and Solinger put the lives and lived experience of women of color at the center of the book and use a human rights analysis to show how the discussion around reproductive justice differs significantly from the pro-choice/anti-abortion debates that have long dominated the headlines and mainstream political conflict.

Sam Nightingale

Ages 9-12. As a boy, Sam Nightingale was taken from his home in Africa. He lived many years as a slave, but after the Civil War, Sam raised his family in freedom in Boonville, Missouri. Sam became a healer, a storyteller, and someone who used magic.

Skimmed*

Skimmed tells the heartbreaking story of America's first recorded African American quadruplets, their rise to fame and use as advertising symbols for baby formula companies, and the damage done both to their lives and the greater health and wellbeing of generations of African American families in the US. This book brings to light the true causes of the dramatic racial disparities in breastfeeding rates in America.

Spiritual Care in an Age Of #BlackLivesMatter*

This vital resource guide offers specific spiritual care strategies and interventions for African Americans dealing with particular physical, social and emotional health challenges in the midst of rising statistics of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia leading to violence in the United States.

Standing up Against Hate

Ages 10-14. Standing Up Against Hate tells the stories of the African American women who enlisted in the newly formed Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in World War II. They survived racial prejudice and discrimination with dignity, succeeded in jobs women had never worked before, and made crucial contributions to the military war effort.

Strange Fruit, Volume I

Strange Fruit Volume I is a collection of stories from early African American history that represent the oddity of success in the face of great adversity. Each of the nine illustrated chapters chronicles an uncelebrated African American hero or event.

Strange Fruit, Volume II

Joel Christian Gill offers historical and cultural commentary on heroes whose stories are not often found in history books, such as Cathay Williams, the only known female Buffalo Soldier, and Eugene Bullard, a fighter pilot who flew for France during World War I. These beautifully illustrated stories offer a refreshing look at remarkable African Americans.

Uncompromising Activist

Chaddock has written a long overdue narrative biography about Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard, who also exemplified America's discomfiting perspectives on race and skin color. Uncompromising Activist is a lively tale that will interest anyone curious about the human elements of the equal rights struggle.

The Underground Abductor

Meet Underground Railroad abductor Harriet Tubman in this installment of the New York Times bestselling graphic novel series!

Workers on Arrival

In his engrossing new history, Workers on Arrival, Joe William Trotter, Jr. traces black workers' complicated journey from the transatlantic slave trade through the American Century to the demise of the industrial order in the 21st century. At the center of this compelling, fast-paced narrative are the actual experiences of these African American men and women.