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The black lives matter movement put the spotlight on the struggles of black people in the USA and all over the world. Consequently, people started reading books written by black authors, and anti-racist books sales soared following the death of George Floyd. Looking for some of the best black history books written by black authors? Check out this list! Black voices need to be celebrated, not only during black history month, but all year round!
Traveling while black
First off, I’ll start doing shameless self-promotion! Traveling while black is an essay I wrote telling what it’s like to travel the world as a black person (people who want to get a picture with us, those who touch our skin or our hair, those who assume we’re all rappers, athletes or prostitutes, solo travel as a black woman…). Click here to buy it.
The new Jim Crow
A must read! African-American represent 13% of the US population but make up 40% of the prison population. Michelle Alexander explains the link between the Jim Crow era, mass incarceration, slavery, and racism in the United States. This book shows how the criminal justice system has been weaponized against Black people. Click here to buy it.
I know why the caged bird sings
A difficult read. Maya Angelou wrote this autobiography, sharing with us her difficult and lonely childhood, how she overcame her horrendous experiences with racism and sexual trauma and the freedoms of her adulthood. Click here to buy it.
The underground railroad
A great fiction! We’re following Cora and Caesar as they’re navigating the underground railroad. They’re actually fleeing slavery, so we learn about their struggles and their journey toward freedom. This book is winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book. Click here to buy it.
This is a collection of 15 essays and speeches, reflecting on themes of racism, homophobia, sexism, ageism and class. Audre Lorde shares her own experiences of oppression but at the same time she offers messages of hope. Click here to buy it.
Freedom is a constant struggle
This is another collection of essays, speeches and interviews. Renowned activist Angela Y. Davis shows us how struggles around the world are all linked. She calls for international solidarity among oppressed groups and equality all over the world. Click here to buy it.
The fire next time
A great James Baldwin book! It contains two essays. The first one delves into racial issues in the US and how it shaped the US brutal history. The second one examines how race and religion are linked, especially the black Christian church and the Islamic movement at the time. Click here to buy it.
Assata: an autobiography
Assata Shakur wrote her autobiography from Cuba where she currently has asylum. We learn about the notorious New Jersey State Turnpike shooting that took the life of a police officer. This led her to being convicted and imprisoned but she escaped and fled to Cuba. Interesting read. Click here to buy it.
Mules and Men
Mules and Men is a great anthology, an enticing historical compilation of an extraordinary woman in an extremely challenging time in the United States. It’s hard to imagine the hardships of the times she endured. Still, each account of a story or event is excellent. A must read! Click here to buy it.
This book tells the story of Alex Haley’s family tree. We’re following his matriarchal forefather’s journey from Africa, through the middle passage and into slavery, and then generations of farmers, blacksmiths, etc. A must read if you’re interested in genealogy! Click here to buy it.
This book tells the story of a nameless black man who grows up in a Black Southern community. This is an allegory for the entire black race which is cast aside in such a way that it may as well be invisible. Click here to buy it.
Go tell it on the mountain
This is a semi-autobiographical story of a teenager growing up in Harlem in the 1930s. This young man is attempting to negotiate being black, unloved, religious, and possibly gay. Click here to buy it.
The color purple
This is the story of Celie, a black woman growing up in poverty in segregated Georgia. A book about black trauma, toxic masculinity, and survival. It was adapted in a movie by Steven Spielberg in 1985. Click here to buy it.
Janet Mock chronicles her experience growing up as a low-income, multiracial, transgender woman in Hawaii. She’s completely honest and shares all the challenges she faced. A crucial and inspiring read. Click here to buy it.
Esi and Effia are two half-sisters born in two different villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia marries a British slaver in charge of Cape Coast Castle. Esi is tortured, sold into slavery and shipped to America. The book follows these two families and descendants that follow. Click here to buy it.
Sing, Unburied, Sing
This novel takes place in a fictional rural town in Mississippi and Parchman, a notorious maximum security prison. It follows Jojo, a biracial 13-year-old boy and his family: Leonie is his drug-addict mom and his father is just released from prison. Click here to buy it.
How we fight for our lives
Saeed Jones’ memoir shares what it was like to grow up in the South as a black, gay man. He’s exploring complicated relationships with friends, family and lovers. Touching read. Click here to buy it.
How to be an antiracist
If you’re looking for an anti-racist book, you have to buy this one. Ibram X. Kendi explains clearly the depth of discrimination in today’s society. He also shares anti-racist ideas and how we can stand against racism. Click here to buy it.
The bluest eye
A great novel by Toni Morrison. Pecola Breedlove, the main character, longs for blonde hair and blue eyes, synonymous with beauty. It’s a story about race, gender and class. Click here to buy it.
A great memoir written by Michelle Obama. She opens up about many subjects such as her marriage, her husband and her daughters, life before and after the White House, and Donald Trump. Click here to buy it.
A promised land
I mentioned Becoming so I had to mention Barack Obama’s memoir. This is a fascinating read about the journey of Barack Obama from his earliest political aspirations to his first years as the President of the United States of America. A must read! Click here to buy it.
That’s it! Now you have numerous books to add to your TBR list! I hope there’s at least one book in this list that you’ll enjoy reading! Looking for more books? Here are the best black travel books! Also take some time to read this list of black explorers who made a mark in history!
- Traveling soon? Check out my travel resources page! This list of travel accessories can also be useful!
- Never ever travel without a travel insurance! Here’s why you should get travel insurance!
- Traveling soon and you want a tailor-made trip? Get a free quote here!
- Always use a VPN when traveling. I use ExpressVPN and I love it! Here’s why use a VPN when traveling.