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Black History Month

Black History Month, February 2024. Theme: African Americans & the Arts

Reading List

African American Art

From early folk art to contemporary paintings, prints, and sculpture, a selection of 107 full-color illustrations presents the remarkable history of America’s Black artistic heritage.

African American Arts

Signaling such recent activist and aesthetic concepts in the work of Kara Walker, Childish Gambino, BLM, Janelle Monáe, and Kendrick Lamar, and marking the exit of the Obama Administration and the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, this anthology explores the role of African American arts in shaping the future, and further informing new directions we might take in honoring and protecting the success of African Americans in the U.S.

Antagonistic Cooperation

From the collages of Romare Bearden and paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat to the fiction of Ralph Ellison and Toni Morrison to the music of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, O’Meally explores how the worlds of African American jazz, art, and literature have informed one another. He argues that these artists drew on the improvisatory nature of jazz and the techniques of collage not as a way to depict a fractured or broken sense of Blackness but rather to see the Black self as beautifully layered and complex.

The Black Experience in Design

Excluded from traditional design history and educational canons that heavily favor European modernist influences, the work and experiences of Black designers have been systematically overlooked in the profession for decades. This anthology exemplifies the inherently collaborative and multidisciplinary nature of design, providing access to ideas and topics for a variety of audiences, meeting people as they are and wherever they are in their knowledge about design.

Black Music Greats

In this fun, fact-packed book from the 40 Inspiring Icons series, learn how these black musicians changed music, from the creation of blues to the invention of rap. Meet the Godfather of Funk, the High Priestess of Soul, and the King of Reggae. Learn how Marvin Gaye shaped the sound of Motown, how N.W.A. redefined rap, and what made the Supremes, supreme.

Building the Black Arts Movement

As it chronicles Fuller’s life, the book also address pivotal events and formative moments that grant insight into the ways the Black Arts Movement took shape at the local level; the ways artists shaped the Movement; how race, class, gender, sexuality, and corporate interests impacted the Movement; and, especially, how recovering Hoyt Fuller’s work fundamentally alters our knowledge of the Black Arts Movement.

Call Us What We Carry

A luminous poetry collection by bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman.

A Celebration of Black Film

Entertainment Weekly celebrates the rich legacy of Black film and filmmakers in more than 100 years of movies.

The Content of Our Caricature

Revealing the long aesthetic tradition of African American cartoonists who have made use of racist caricature as a Black diasporic art practice, Rebecca Wanzo demonstrates how these artists have resisted histories of visual imperialism and their legacies. Moving beyond binaries of positive and negative representation, many Black cartoonists have used caricatures to criticize constructions of ideal citizenship in the United States, as well as the alienation of African Americans from such imaginaries.

How to Read African American Literature

Drawing on psychoanalysis, memory studies, and feminist and queer theory, Levy-Hussen examines how works by Toni Morrison, David Bradley, Octavia Butler, Charles Johnson, and others represent and mediate social injury and collective grief. In the criticism that surrounds these novels, she identifies two major interpretive approaches: “therapeutic reading” and “prohibitive reading.”

Music in Black American Life, 1945–2020

Collects groundbreaking work that redefines our view of Black music and its place in American music history.

Tupac Shakur

The first and only Estate-authorized biography of the legendary artist, Tupac Shakur—a moving exploration of his life and powerful legacy, fully illustrated with photos, mementos, handwritten poetry, musings, and more.