Literature has always been a way for prominent black figures within history to express themselves and allow the world to experience the joy and brutality many black people have experienced. Words have always been a powerful tool for black people to fight against systematic racism and oppression. Novels stemming back to 18th century continue to educate generations to come and narrate beautiful stories about the way black people have lived, loved and survived. As we enter Black History Month, we have put together an essential list of books you must-read this month. Hope you enjoy!
Slay In Your Lane was created by friends Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebineńe. Also known to many as the ‘Black Girl Bible’ the book tackles the many issues that black women face around education, work, representation, dating and health. The book is a manual to success as a black woman and in it they talk of the “concrete ceiling”, the generational idea that we must work 10x harder than our counterparts and the “impenetrable glasshouses”
The Golden Age of Gospel created by Horace Clarence Boyer tells the story of African American gospel. Boyer discusses the presentation of some of gospel’s greatest performances for anyone who loves early and golden age gospel. He infuses his own knowledge of musical and vocal forms to explore some of gospel’s most creative musicians and its long and powerful history within the black community.
A Promised Land by Barack Obama is a memoir of the 44th President of the United States. The book is the first of two volumes which explores his childhood, the start of his life as a writer, community organizer and his life as a student at Harvard University’s law school. It also explores the events surrounding the killing of Osama Bin Laden in 2011. Obama said in a tweet that the book aims to “provide an honest accounting of his presidency” – an interesting and inspirational read.
Windrush by broadcaster Trevor Phillips and Mike Phillips explores the human story of Britain’s first West Indian immigrants and their descendants who arrived in the UK in 1948 and follows their story all the way through to the present day. Not only does this book allow the migrants to tell an epic tale of British life in the 20th century, but it also includes the testimonies of politicians who made influential and key decisions during that time alongside those who were opposed to the idea of black settlers residing in their country. Windrush is a celebration of the black British identity, and this book explores this theme in great depth.
The Making of Black Lives Matter by Christopher J Lebron explores the development and birth of one of the most powerful social campaigns that shook the whole world over in such a short period of time. It starts at the wake of George Zimmerman’s 2013 acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin to the death of George Floyd and the unjustified treatment of black people by law enforcement in the United States. In this book #BlackLivesMatter is explored in a way that allows people to understand the foundation and roots that birthed the campaign we now know today.