An annual celebration of achievements made by African Americans, Black History Month is a great time to consider how Black people have played a central role in American history. Aside from watching films featuring Black talent, listening to music by Black artists, and consuming other forms of Black art, one great way to learn more about the history of Black America is by reading books on the topic. These 3 non-fiction books are highly recommended reads that aim to enlighten readers about the past and current state of Black America. Check them out this month!
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley
There’s a reason why Black historians talk about Malcolm X. The revolutionary activist remained at the forefront of the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and ‘60s, and though he was often criticized for taking a more aggressive stance toward racism than his contemporary, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., there’s no denying that Malcolm X will forever be a prominent figure in Black history. This book, which is based on a compilation of Malcolm X’s interviews, encourages us to not only learn more about this important, sometimes controversial figure but also examine how the issues he faced are still relevant today.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Unfortunately, Black history in America goes hand-in-hand with mass incarceration – an issue that The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness cracks wide open. The book forces readers to examine the link between the war on drugs and incarceration, which author, civil rights litigator, and legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues has fractured Black communities and caused lasting harm to Black America. If you want to take a long, hard look at how imprisonment has resulted in second-class citizenship for Black Americans, this stunning book is one you’ll want to read.
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
If you’ve ever wondered how ideas surrounding racism were spread and deeply rooted in our society, pick up this book by Ibram X. Kendi, which is a New York Times and Washington Post bestseller and the winner of the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Stamped from the Beginning delves into the lives of five Black figures and discusses how their place in history was influenced by racist ideology. Pick up this book and you’ll be immersed in what The Atlantic calls “a deep (and often disturbing) chronicling of how anti-Black thinking has entrenched itself in the fabric of American society."
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