February is Black History Month, and we have many library resources to honor the achievements and experiences of African-Americans.
Learn about the figures that loom large in history like Malcolm X and James Baldwin, as well as the unsung heroes sending astronauts to the moon and fighting for the empowerment of gay black men. The library collection can help you learn about contemporary perspectives on #BlackLivesMatter and reflections on being a black woman in the U.S.
Maybe you prefer a story? Read tales of the spider trickster Anansi, Haitian immigrants encountering culture shock, or a novel by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about Sherlock Holmes’s brother Mycroft.
Keep reading for Black History Month recommendations from the library collection.
The Annotated African American Folktales edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar
Stacks; Call number: GR111.A47 A55 2018
A treasury of dozens of African-American folktales discusses their role in a broader cultural heritage, sharing such classics as the Brer Rabbit stories, the African trickster Anansi, and tales from the late nineteenth-century’s “Southern Workman.”
Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by J. R. Roberts and Johnny Smith
Stacks; Call number: GV1132.A44 R64 2016
In 1962, no one believed that the obnoxious Cassius Clay would ever become the heavyweight champion of the world. But Malcolm X saw the potential in Clay, not just for boxing greatness, but as a means of spreading the Nation of Islam’s radical message. Malcolm secretly molded Clay into Muhammad Ali–a patriotic boxing star in public, and a radical reformer behind the scenes. Soon, however, their friendship would sour, with disastrous and far-reaching consequences.
Not Straight, Not White: Black Gay Men from the March on Washington to the AIDS Crisis by Kevin J. Mumford
Ebook; read it here
This compelling book recounts the history of black gay men from the 1950s to the 1990s, tracing how the major movements of the times–from civil rights to black power to gay liberation to AIDS activism–helped shape the cultural stigmas that surrounded race and homosexuality. Drawing on an extensive archive of newspapers, pornography, and film, as well as government documents, organizational records, and personal papers, Mumford sheds new light on four volatile decades in the protracted battle of black gay men for affirmation and empowerment in the face of pervasive racism and homophobia.
This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America by Morgan Jerkins
New Books Collection; Call number: PS3610.E693 A6 2018
In her collection of linked essays, Jerkins takes on perhaps one of the most provocative contemporary topics: What does it mean to “be”– to live as, to exist as– a black woman today? Doubly disenfranchised by race and gender, often deprived of a place within the mostly white mainstream feminist movement, black women are objectified, silenced, and marginalized with devastating consequences, in ways both obvious and subtle, that are rarely acknowledged in our country’s larger discussion about inequality. Jerkins exposes the social, cultural, and historical story of black female oppression that influences the black community as well as the white, male-dominated world at large.
All the Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers
Stacks; Call number: PZ7.M992 Al 2012
The summer after his absentee father is killed in a random shooting, Paul works at a Harlem soup kitchen, where he listens to lessons about “the social contract” from an elderly African American man and mentors a seventeen-year-old unwed mother who wants to make it to college on a basketball scholarship.
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
New Books Collection; Call number: PZ7.1.Z64 Am 2017
On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie — a good life. But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s West Side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?
Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse
Popular Reading; Call number: F Abdul-Jabbar
Fresh out of university, the young Mycroft Holmes is already making a name for himself in government. Yet this most British of civil servants has strong ties to Trinidad, the birthplace of his best friend, Cyrus Douglas, and where his fiancee Georgiana Sutton was raised. Mycroft’s comfortable existence is overturned when Douglas receives troubling reports from home, rumors of spirits enticing children to their deaths. Upon hearing the news, Georgiana abruptly departs for the island. Mycroft convinces Douglas that they should follow her, drawing the two men into a web of dark secrets that grows more treacherous with each step they take.
Oreo by Fran Ross
Popular Reading; Call number: F Ross
Oreo, a biracial black girl from Philadelphia, searches for her Jewish father in New York City, navigating the labyrinth of sound studios, brothels, and subway tunnels of Manhattan in a journey of self-discovery.
I Am Not Your Negro
DVD Collection; Call number: E185.61 .I266 2017
I Am Not Your Negro is an examination of racism in America through the lens of James Baldwin’s unfinished book, Remember This House. Intended as an account of the lives of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., each of whom James Baldwin personally knew, only a 30-page manuscript of the book was ever completed. Combining Baldwin’s manuscript with footage of depictions of African-Americans throughout American history, I Am Not Your Negro uses Baldwin’s words to illuminate the pervasiveness of American racism and the efforts to curtail it, from the civil rights movement to #BlackLivesMatter.
DVD Collection; Call number: HV6483.F47 W467 2017
Told by the activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice, Whose Streets? is an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis, Missouri. Grief, long-standing racial tensions and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. As the national guard descends on Ferguson with military grade weaponry, young community members become the torchbearers of a new resistance. For this generation, the battle is not for civil rights, but for the right to live.
Dear White People
DVD Collection; Call number: PN1997 .D437 2015
A sharp and funny comedy about a group of African-American students as they navigate campus life and racial boundaries at a predominantly white college. A sly, provocative satire about being a black face in a white place. (Also adapted into a great series on Netflix.)
DVD Collection; Call number: PN1997 .H522 2017
As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.
Need help finding these or other titles about African-American experiences? We’re here for you at the 1st floor reference desk Monday-Thursday, 10:00am-12:00pm & 1:00-5:00pm.
Featured image (raised fist) in the public domain from Wikimedia