Black History Month Reading List

In celebration of Black History Month, we are sharing a wonderful selection of titles exploring Black spaces, ideas, communities, history, and voices. Here are twelve books exploring those important topics of which we can always strive to further our education about.

Put Your Hands on Your Hips and Act Like a Woman by Gale P. Jackson

In a gathering of griot traditions fusing storytelling, cultural history, and social and literary criticism, Put Your Hands on Your Hips and Act Like a Woman “re-members” and represents how women of the African diaspora have drawn on ancient traditions to record memory, history, and experience in performance.

A Glorious Liberty by Damon Root

2021 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Frederick Douglass, the former slave who had secretly taught himself how to read, would teach the American people a thing or two about the true meaning of the Constitution. This is the story of a fundamental debate that goes to the very heart of America’s founding ideals—a debate that is still very much with us today.

African American Officers in Liberia by Brian G. Shellum

African American Officers in Liberia tells the story of seventeen African American officers who trained, reorganized, and commanded the Liberian Frontier Force from 1910 to 1942. In this West African country founded by freed black American slaves, African American officers performed their duties as instruments of imperialism for a country that was, at best, ambivalent about having them serve under arms at home and abroad.

Black Montana by Anthony W. Wood

Black Montana depicts the history of Montana’s Black community from 1877 until the 1930s, a period in western American history that represents a significant moment and unique geography in the life of the U.S. settler-colonial project.

Buffalo Soldiers in Alaska by Brian G. Shellum

The town of Skagway was born in 1897 after its population quintupled in under a year due to the Klondike gold rush. Balanced on the edge of anarchy, the U.S. Army stationed Company L, a unit of Buffalo Soldiers, there near the end of the gold rush. Buffalo Soldiers in Alaska tells the story of these African American soldiers who kept the peace during a volatile period in America’s resource-rich North. It is a fascinating tale that features white officers and Black soldiers safeguarding U.S. territory, supporting the civil authorities, protecting Native Americans, fighting natural disasters, and serving proudly in America’s last frontier.

Different Strokes by Cecil Harris

Different Strokes chronicles the rise of the Williams sisters, as well as other champions of color, closely examining how Black Americans are collectively faring in tennis, on the court and off. Despite the success of the Williams sisters and the election of former pro player Katrina Adams as the U.S. Tennis Association’s first Black president, top Black players still receive racist messages via social media and sometimes in public. The reality is that while significant progress has been made in the sport, much work remains before anything resembling equality is achieved.

Invisible Men by Donn Roggosin

This remarkable narrative is filled with the memories of many surviving Negro League players. What emerges is a glorious chapter in African American history and an often overlooked aspect of our American past. This edition features a new introduction by the author.

Cobra by Dave Parker and Dave Jordan

Finalist for the 2021 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year

Dave Parker was one of the biggest and most badass baseball players of the late twentieth century. He stood at six foot five and weighed 235 pounds. He was a seven-time All-Star, a two-time batting champion, a frequent Gold Glove winner, the 1978 National League MVP, and a World Series champion with both the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Oakland A’s. Here the great Dave Parker delivers his wild and long-awaited autobiography—an authoritative account of Black baseball during its heyday as seen through the eyes of none other than the Cobra.

Living the California Dream by Alison Rose Jefferson

2020 Miriam Matthews Ethnic History Award from the Los Angeles City Historical Society
 
As Southern California was reimagining leisure and positioning it at the center of the American Dream, African American Californians were working to make that leisure an open, inclusive reality. By occupying recreational sites and public spaces, African Americans challenged racial hierarchies and marked a space of Black identity on the regional landscape and social space.

Stolen Dreams by Chris Lamb (forthcoming this April)

Stolen Dreams is the story of the Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars and of the early civil rights movement. It’s also the story of centuries of bigotry in Charleston, South Carolina—where millions of enslaved people were brought to this country and where the Civil War began, where segregation remained for a century after the war ended and anyone who challenged it did so at their own risk.

Black Cowboys of Rodeo by Keith Ryan Cartwright

Black Cowboys of Rodeo is a collection of one hundred years of stories, told by these revolutionary Black pioneers themselves and set against the backdrop of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, segregation, the civil rights movement, and eventually the integration of a racially divided country.

Oscar Charleston by Jeremey Beer

2020 SABR Seymour Medal 
2019 CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year

Charleston’s combined record as a player, manager, and scout makes him the most accomplished figure in Black baseball history. His mastery of the quintessentially American sport under the conditions of segregation revealed what was possible for Black achievement, bringing hope to millions. Oscar Charleston introduces readers to one of America’s greatest and most fascinating athletes. 

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