Markita's Book Bites: Black History Month

African American History Month was first created in September 1915 (50 years after the 13th Amendment was enacted for the abolishment of slavery) by Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. MoorlandSince 1976, the U.S. has officially identified February as Black History Month. The purpose of Black History is to recognize the accomplishments by African Americans to society in fields such as STEM, politics, entertainment, sports, etc. Below are some notable reads that have been lauded in American literature for decades, followed by a more extensive list of recommended titles.  

Notable Reads:

An essential read to understanding African American history would be Roots by Alex Haley.

If you are interested in poetry, try Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes.

For the younger ones, we have Sulwe by the Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, as well as the beautiful tribute depicted in Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes.



Manchild in the Promised Land, Claude Brown

The Bondwoman's Narrative, Hannah Crafts

The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave, Frederick Douglass

The Kidnapped Prince: Life of Olaudah Equiano, Olaudah Equiano

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X

Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography, Zora Neale Hurston

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Harriet Jacobs

Thirty Years as a Slave and Four Years in the White House, Elizabeth Keckley

The Color of Water, James McBride

Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama

My American Journey, Colin Powell

No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington, Condoleezza Rice

Assata, Assata Shakur


Essential Fiction

Another Country, James Baldwin

If Beale street could talk, James Baldwin

A Lesson Before Dying, Ernest J. Gaines

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

Beloved, Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison

The Women of Brewster Place, Gloria Naylor

Precious: Based on the novel Push, Sapphire

Down These Mean Streets, Piri Thomas

Cane, Jean Toomer

The Color Purple, Alice Walker

Jubilee, Margaret Walker

Uncle Tom's Children, Richard Wright



The White Boy Shuffle, Paul Beatty

The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett

Your Blues Ain't Like Mine, Bebe Moore Campbell

Juneteenth: a novel, Ralph Ellison

The Known World, Edward Jones

Passing, Nella Larsen

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, Ayana Mathis 

Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan

How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Terry McMillan

The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley

The Street, Ann Petry

The Coldest Winter Ever, Sister Souljah

Red River, Lalita Tademy 

Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward

The Wedding, Dorothy West

The Intuitionist, Colson Whitehead

Native Son, Richard Wright


Historical Fiction

Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin

Roots, Alex Haley



The Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B Du Bois

Up from Slavery, Booker T. Washington

Caste, Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson



I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks, Gwendolyn Brooks

The Ways of White Folks, Langston Hughes

Not Without Laughter, Langston Hughes

Complete Poems, Claude McKay

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide, when the Rainbow Is Not Enuf, Ntozake Shange


Science Fiction

KindredOctavia Butler

Parable of the TalentsOctavia Butler



Picture Books 

Henry’s Freedom Box, Ellen Levine 

Sulwe, Lupita Nyong’o 

Hair Love, Matthew Cherry 

The Moon Over Stars, Dianna Hutts Aston 

Crown: An ode to the fresh cut, Derrick Barnes 


Middle Grade Books 

Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson 

Roll Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor 

Ghost, Jason Reynolds 

Clean Getaway, Nic Stone 


Young Adult Fiction 

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas 

American Street, Ibi Zoboi 

Monster, Walter Dean Myers 

With the fire on high, Elizabeth Acevedo 

A Blade So Black, L.L. Mckinney 


Young Adult Nonfiction 

Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice, Phillip Hoose 

I have a Dream, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  

The Undefeated,  Kwame Alexander 

Hidden Figures: The true story of four black women and the space race, Margot Lee Shetterly 


Graphic Novel 

March, John Lewis