A great way to celebrate black history is to further educate ourselves on the issues African-Americans have faced both in the past and the present. Women have always been an important part of black history and many of them, like Rosa Parks, were very brave and unapologetic. She will always be remembered for her bold decision to not surrender her seat to a white passenger on the bus. This one action started a citywide boycott and helped launch a nationwide movement to end segregation. Today women strive to educate others about black history through their literature and poetry. Let’s pick up a book and learn!
The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination
Author: Alondra Nelson
Queen B’s 2016 Super Bowl performance brought about a lot of conversation about the Blank Panther Party—a group known for its militant rhetoric and actions. Her tribute to them in her Super Bowl performance has put their work in the spotlight again. As defined by The Marxist Internet Archive, T. Nelson draws from extensive historical research as well as interviews with Black Panther Party members to educate the public on the struggle for social justice, and in particular, for universal health care—a struggle that continues today in America. This novel dives deep into the history of this black nationalist and socialist organization making it a perfect, educational read for black history month!
Women, Race and Class
Author: Angela Y. Davis
Long-time author and political figure Angela Davis presents readers with the women’s movement and their fight for civil rights and working class issues. The novel brings light to the relationship between the anti-slavery campaign and the struggle for women’s suffrage. Throughout the novel, Davis reiterates her message: If we ever want equality, we are going to have to fight for it together. She also shows readers how the racist and classist bias of some people in the women’s movement divided its own membership.
Author: Octavia Butler
A science fiction novel that explores black history: Dana, a modern California woman of the 20th century, is transported back in time to meet her white slave-owner and her black ancestors, and in the process, witnesses harsh realities of life on a plantation. The reader is not told how Dana transports to the 19th century but Butler takes the reader on a journey through time and allows the reader to experience the positive moments of humanity and love, as well as the dark tragedies of rape and violence. Although this is a science fiction novel, readers do get some insight into black history and the harsh realities of slavery.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Author: Maya Angelou
Famous author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou has always been an outstanding member of the Black community. Her National Book Award winning novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an autobiography of her early years and family life. This book is as poetic as it is historical, and is a great novel for young people who want to understand how prejudice affected individuals and how it continues to affect them today.
Sweet Clara and The Freedom Quilt
Author: Deborah Hopkinson
The story of Sweet Clara and The Freedom Quilt explores the creativity and intelligence of young Clara and her desire to be reunited with her mother who lives on another plantation. Clara is a young seamstress who dreams of freedom. When she overhears two slaves talking about the Underground Railroad, she thinks of a genius way to hide a map of the freedom land—in a quilt made from her cloth scraps. Clara’s sewing proves to be of more use than her field work. The quilt is known as a freedom quilt and something the slave owners don’t even suspect. Based on true events, the novel follows Clara and her fellow slaves on their journey to freedom and her determination to be reunited with her mother.