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Black History BooksBooks about black history are some of the most powerful tools for understanding and learning about the struggles and triumphs of African...

Black History Books

Books about black history are some of the most powerful tools for understanding and learning about the struggles and triumphs of African Americans, as well as cultural and political influences that have shaped and continue to shape our nation. The immense wealth of knowledge found within these books is invaluable, exposing readers to a history that is often overlooked or forgotten. From books about the civil rights movement to studies on mass incarceration, black history books provide unparalleled insight into a complicated and often controversial area of American history.

Understanding why black history books and literature are culturally important today

At a time when the fight for racial justice and equality has been thrust into the spotlight, the importance of black history books can hardly be overstated. Not only do these books provide a platform for writers of color to share their stories, but they also bring attention to issues related to racism and power disparities in our society. By presenting factual information and personal accounts from a variety of perspectives, these reading materials offer a unique glimpse into African American history—one that is often missing from mainstream discourse or popular media. In addition to providing a more complete understanding of the African American experience, black history books can also help to foster a sense of pride and belonging in readers. By highlighting the accomplishments of African Americans throughout history, these books can help to inspire readers to strive for greatness and to recognize the value of their own unique contributions to society.

The complexities of African American history in America

Black history may be long and complicated, but it is an integral component of our nation’s history. From the days of slavery to the civil rights movement and beyond, African Americans have played a pivotal role in shaping our society. By reading stories from different authors and eras, readers can gain a better understanding of how issues of racism, discrimination, and inequality have impacted people of color in America. From slave narratives to contemporary accounts of oppression, these books offer an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the nuances of black history. In addition to reading books, there are many other ways to learn about African American history. Visiting museums, attending lectures, and engaging in conversations with members of the African American community are all great ways to gain a better understanding of the complexities of this history. By engaging in these activities, we can all gain a more comprehensive understanding of the struggles and triumphs of African Americans throughout history.

Best Black History Books

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow is an exhaustive exploration of the deep flaws in our criminal justice system. Written by civil rights lawyer and legal scholar Michelle Alexander, this book examines the disparities between the way people of color are treated by the justice system versus their white counterparts. Alexander analyzes how systemic oppression has shaped laws, policies, and practices, resulting in an epidemic of mass incarceration. This book sheds light on this critical issue and serves as a powerful call to action for readers to fight for criminal justice reform. Alexander's work is an important contribution to the conversation about race and justice in America. She provides a comprehensive overview of the history of racism and its impact on the criminal justice system, and offers a compelling argument for the need for reform. The New Jim Crow is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the current state of our criminal justice system and the urgent need for change.

Listen to The New Jim Crow audiobook with Speechify here.

Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition

Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition is a must-read anthology of firsthand accounts from those who lived through slavery and the struggle for abolition. Editor Erin Bartram has compiled first-person testimonies from those who persevered amidst oppression through courage and resilience. Through their gripping stories, readers gain an intimate look into what life was like for those affected by slavery and racial injustice. The anthology also includes essays from leading scholars in the field of African American history, providing a comprehensive overview of the history of slavery and abolition in the United States. Unsung is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in understanding the history of slavery and the fight for abolition.

The Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin is a powerful classic examining themes of race, religion, and identity. Written from Baldwin’s experience growing up as an African American in an era of unequal rights, this book offers personal accounts that are just as relevant today as they were when they were written in the 1960s. Baldwin’s essays explore how racism has shaped the lives of black Americans throughout our nation’s past and continue to influence their lives today.   The Fire Next Time is an important work of literature that has been widely praised for its insight and eloquence. Baldwin’s writing is both poetic and powerful, and his words have inspired generations of readers to think critically about the issues of race and justice. This book is a must-read for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of the history of racism in America and its lasting effects.

Listen to a sample of The Fire Next Time audiobook with Speechify here.

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color and edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua

This Bridge Called My Back is an anthology of writings on race and gender by writers who identify as Chicana and/or queer. The book explores the intersectional experiences faced by women of color during the second wave women’s movement. This selection of essays is part poetry, part political analysis, and part fiction—all offering unique perspectives on racism, patriarchy, homophobia, and the tangled systems that perpetuate inequality.

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs

In The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation, author Anna Malaika Tubbs examines the influence of parents on civil rights icons such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. Tubbs looks at the history of racism and segregation in America alongside the stories and struggles experienced by three mothers—Alydia King, Wilfred Little, and Berdis Baldwin—as they each raised their sons to become revolutionary forces for change.

Listen to a sample of The Three Mothers audiobook with Speechify here.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad tells the gripping story of Cora, a slave escaping bondage in a bid for freedom via the Underground Railroad—the clandestine network offering slaves safe passage to freedom. This Pulitzer Prize-winning book from author Colson Whitehead is an imaginative retelling with equal parts horror and hope. Through Cora’s story, The Underground Railroad offers an unforgettable exploration into America’s shameful past.

Four Hundred Souls’ by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America 1619-2019, co-edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N Blain is an ambitious exploration into African American four hundred year-long history. Featuring ninety original essays written by leading scholars, this essential anthology offers critical scholarship on topics ranging from colonization to the Obama presidency. Through this collective work by some of today’s most influential authors, readers gain an unparalleled look at how people of color have shaped our nation’s history.

You Don’t Know Us Negroes and Other Essays’ by Zora Neale Hurston, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Genevieve West

You Don't Know Us Negroes and Other Essays, edited by Zora Neale Hurston, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Genevieve West is an essential collection of essays that explore the story of African Americans from 1850 through modern day. Through firsthand accounts from writers like civil rights activists Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer, as well as cultural critics Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin, this anthology provides invaluable insight into our nation’s rich black history at pivotal moments.

Listen to You Don’t know Us Negroes and Other Essays’ audiobook with Speechify here.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley’ by Malcom X

This classic autobiography of one of the most influential figures of the civil rights movement, written by Malcom X with help from author Alex Haley, is as powerful today as it was when it was first published in 1965. Through Malcolm’s own words, readers are gain profound insight into not only his internal life and thought processes but also the changing social, political and cultural dynamics in the United States during a decisive period in its history. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the civil rights movement and the history of race relations in the United States. It is a testament to the power of the human spirit and the courage of those who fought for justice and equality. It is a book that will stay with readers long after they have finished it, and will continue to inspire generations to come.

Their Eyes Were Watching God’ by Zora Neal Hurston

Published in 1937, Zora Neale Hurston's novel is considered a masterpiece of both American and African American literature, as well as being an important feminist novel. The story follows Janie Crawford, an African American woman living in Florida during the early 20th century, as she searches for self-fulfillment. Through vivid prose and enduring characters, Hurston paints a nuanced portrait of society in the Jim Crow South. Their Eyes Were Watching God is an essential read for anyone interested in learning about African American life during this era. The novel has been praised for its exploration of themes such as identity, freedom, and the power of language. Hurston's use of dialect and her vivid descriptions of the Florida landscape bring the story to life. The novel has been adapted into a play, a television movie, and an opera, and continues to be a source of inspiration for writers and readers alike.

Listen to Their Eyes Were Watching God audiobook with Speechify here.

Support black authors and their amazing books for Black History Month

As the United States celebrates Black History Month, many people are looking for ways to honor the Black experience and to recognize the work of African American writers. There is no shortage of books to choose from, and each book has something special to offer readers. Listen to your favorite black authors and their audiobooks with Speechify audiobooks today! WIth over 30,000 audiobooks to choose from - Speechify offers the best selection of audiobooks in the industry.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.