Sistah Girls, we are celebrating Black History Month, every year I put together a list of books that I encourage everyone to read. This year I decided against playing the numbers game and took inventory of the books really resonated with me.
Each of these books in one way or another gave me an aha moment, I love learning about Black History but I also know that some books can be dense. I’ve added books that are contemporary, history books, and books that can be read for pure entertainment.
Black History is a celebration (in my opinion) of the past, present, and the future.
And as always…
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
Every year there is a book that stands out to me, I gift the book to friends and family members, and I usually yell to anyone who will listen that they must read the book. In 2020, Caste was the book.
Wilkerson breaks racism down to the bones and introduces caste. Using deep research and storytelling she masterfully takes you on a journey that once traveled cannot be undone. If you only read one book this month, let it be this one.
Ida B. the Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells by Michelle Duster
Most people know Ida B. Wells as one of the founders of the largest and oldest civil rights groups in America (N.A.A.C.P). Wells was born into slavery and was able to use journalism along with her voice to lead an antilynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s.
Wells was a teacher, journalist, activist, suffragist, wife, and mother who never allowed anyone to stop her. She is the epitome of Black excellence.
Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem: A Memoir by Daniel R. Day
“Wear a G on my chest, I don’t need Dapper Dan This ain’t a sewn outfit, holmes, holmes is about it.” -JAY-Z
This is by far one of the best memoirs I have ever read (and I have read a lot of them). Dapper Dan tells his life story while also telling the story of Harlem. Every chapter held two timelines that intertwined, Dapper Dan has lived a life that deserved a book.
From creating some of the dopest clothing that had rappers and drug dealers coming from all over to purchase his clothes. To losing everything and setting up shop outside on a Harlem street to sell t-shirts. This memoir is a must read.
The Black Book by Middleton A. Harris (Editor), Ernest Smith (Editor), Morris Levitt (Editor), Roger Furman (Editor), Toni Morrison (Foreword)
In 1974, Middleton A. Harris and Toni Morrison led a team of gifted, passionate collectors in compiling these images and nearly five hundred others into one sensational narrative of the black experience in America—The Black Book.
I purchased this book because it is the definition of Black History, here you have actual documents and images from our ancestors.
Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter by 50 Cent
Now some of you may have raised an eyebrow about this selection but if you’ve read the book then you know Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson delivered.
His tone is very different from his online persona, throughout the book Jackson shares personal stories and ties them into business and life lessons. It’s a good read, don’t sleep on 50.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Malcolm X (Author), Alex Haley, Attallah Shabazz (Author)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X will never get old and what I know for sure is that a lot of Black people still haven’t read this book.
This is not one of those slow burn autobiographies either, right out the gate you are captivated and held hostage until the very last page.
Reading this book as a child and reading it as an adult were two very different experiences. Malcolm X has always been one of my heroes and his story is one that constantly needs to be told.
Nobody Knows My Name by James Baldwin
James Baldwin’s writing is the answer to every woke Black person’s prayer. There comes a point where you question everything you once knew now that you know.
It can become frustrating to enjoy even the simplest of pleasures because as a Black American you already know that our joy is fleeting in the presence of white supremacy.
Baldwin takes us on a journey, he questions himself as a writer and as a Black man. This book reads like a diary that has been left open by accident.
Just as I Am: A Memoir by Cicely Tyson
Cicely Tyson was one of those legendary people who I personally thought would live forever. Tyson lived her life to the fullest and before her passing, she wrote a memoir.
I just received this book AND I already know that her wisdom mixed with her talent will definitely have me up until the wee hours of the night reading.
Sistah Girls, no matter how you decide to celebrate Black History Month know that you are enough and you stand on the shoulders of giants. Happy Black History Month!