What to Read During Black History Month

UNP is celebrating Black History Month with—what else—books! Here is a list of titles that commemorate important figures and scholarship in African American History.

In Living the California Dream Alison Rose Jefferson examines how African Americans pioneered America’s “frontier of leisure” by creating communities and projects in Southern California during the nation’s Jim Crow era.

Different Strokes by Cecil Harris chronicles the rise of the Williams sisters, as well as other champions of color, closely examining how African Americans are collectively faring in tennis, on the court and off.

Brian G. Shellum explores U.S. foreign policy toward Liberia and the African American diaspora through the stories of seventeen African American Officers in Liberia who played a critical role in preserving the independence of Liberia.

Asserting that manhood and masculinity hold the potential for both tragedy and salvation, Salvific Manhood by Ernest L. Gibson III surveys the complex and difficult emotional choices made by the men of James Baldwin’s six novels.

Postcolonial Hauntologies is an interdisciplinary and comparative analysis of critical, literary, visual, and performance texts. Ayo A. Coly employs the concept of “hauntology” and “ghostly matters” to formulate explicative and theoretical frameworks for examining the pervasive silence about the female body in postcolonial texts by African women.

Drawing on research by scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds and countries, Félix Germain and Silyane Larcher’s collection Black French Women and the Struggle for Equality, 1848-2016 offers a fresh, multidimensional perspective on race, class, and gender relations in France and its former colonies, exploring how black women have negotiated the boundaries of patriarchy and racism over the past 150 years.

The Integration of the Pacific Coast League by Amy Essington traces the early history of the PCL, a Minor League with its own social customs, practices, and racial history on the West Coast, as it became one of the first leagues in any sport to completely desegregate all of its teams.

Author James W. Johnson follows the stories of Kenny Washington, Woody Strode, Ray Bartlett, Tom Bradley, and Jackie Robinson, aka The Black Bruins, who faced racial discrimination as together teammates at UCLA in the late 1930s and went on to become inspiring civil rights leaders in their separate careers and lives.

In The Black Migrant Athlete, Munene Franjo Mwaniki presents ten black African migrant athletes as a conceptual starting point to interrogate the nuances of white supremacy and of the migrant and immigrant experience playing sports with a global perspective.

At a time when social support resources were in decline and publicly funded HIV/AIDS care programs were being re-prioritized, Holding On by anthropologist Alyson O’Daniel reveals women’s daily struggles with chronic poverty, drug addiction, mental health, and neighborhood violence influenced women’s lives in sometimes unexpected ways.

Larry Doby, the first black player to integrate into the American League and the second black manager in the whole MLB, signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1947 only weeks after Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, and despite their similar backgrounds and skills, has been largely ignored in the history of baseball’s integration. Douglas M. Branson seeks to rectify this in his 2016 book, Greatness in the Shadows, sharing his achievements and firsts with a new generation.

She Can Bring Us Home is Diane Kiesel’s biography of Dorothy Ferebee (1898–1980), an African American obstetrician and civil rights activist from Washington DC who served as an adviser for governments both domestic and abroad on civil rights and public health issues, yet eventually faded from the public consciousness as African Americans achieved the political power for which she had fought.

A book in the UNP’s Women in the West Series, Amy Helene Forss’s Black Print with a White Carnation chronicles the life of Mildred Dee Brown (1905–89) who was the cofounder of Nebraska’s Omaha Star, the longest running black newspaper founded by an African American woman in the United States.

In Black Mayors, White Majorities, Ravi K. Perry explores the conditions in which black mayors of majority-white cities are able to represent black interests and whether blacks’ historically high expectations for black mayors are being realized.

With the help of Eric Brach, Billy “the Hill” McGill recounts how he went from the first African American to play basketball for the University of Utah and the highest scoring big man in NCAA history to sleeping in abandoned houses and washing up in a Laundromat sink in his autobiography, Billy “the Hill” and the Jump Hook.

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