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Black History Month is a time to celebrate and honor the contributions of Black individuals to our society. Started by Carter G. Woodson first as just a week, Black History Month has now expanded into its own annual celebration. As heroic as Woodson's push for black education was in the 1920s, without the help of Black women writers, authors and chroniclers throughout the movement, many efforts would’ve never been known or accomplished. Because of this, we want to start the month by spotlighting some of our favorite Black women authors. These books will not only challenge your beliefs but also help you gain new perspectives from the women of the movement for freedom and justice for all.
Here are 10 books by Black women that provide valuable insight and understanding of Black history and culture:
1 - Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - We must start with a truly classic that is required reading. This classic novel tells the story of Janie Crawford, a strong-willed Black woman navigating the complexities of race, gender, and class in the early 20th century.
2 - Women, Race, and Class" by Angela Davis - The phenomenal Angela Davis is known for shaking the world at a very young age with her speeches and involvement in the Black Power Movement. This powerful work of nonfiction explores the intersection of race, gender, and class in the lives of Black women, and how these factors have shaped their experiences throughout history.
3 - Beloved by Toni Morrison - This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells the haunting and powerful story of a former slave and her daughter, and the lingering effects of slavery on their lives.
4- Communion by bell hooks - According to Amazon, “Communion is the heart-to-heart talk every woman -- mother, daughter, friend, and lover -- needs to have.” Communion is a remarkable book that encourages women to fearlessly search for the love they truly deserve. The book also highlights how the idea of love and women changed during the feminist movement.
5 - The Color Purple" by Alice Walker - This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells the story of Celie, a Black woman living in the South in the early 20th century, and her struggles for autonomy and self-expression.
6 - Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde - This collection of essays and speeches by the legendary Black lesbian feminist poet and activist explores themes of race, gender, sexuality, and power.
7- Critical Race Theory by Kimberlé Crenshaw - CRT has been a hot button topic over the last few years with schools banning books and classes that teach its overall curriculum. Kimberlé's book tells the origins of how Critical Race Theory came to be and all the key writings that formed the movement.
8 - Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi - This powerful novel tells the interconnected stories of two sisters, one living in Ghana and the other in America, and the impact of slavery and colonialism on their lives and the lives of their descendants.
9 - An American Marriage by Tayari Jones - A young Black couple, newlyweds Celestial and Roy, whose lives are torn apart by a wrongful conviction, and the impact it has on their relationship. An American Marriage is Oprah's Book Club choice and winner of a NAACP award for outstanding literary work.
10 - The Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson - Isabel’s nonfiction book tells the story of the Great Migration, the mass movement of Black Americans from the South to the North and West in the 20th century, through the lives of three individuals who lived through it. Isabel won a National Book Critics Circle Nonfiction Pulitzer Prize for this book!
Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah
These books offer a wide range of perspectives on Black history and culture, and provide valuable insight into the experiences of Black women in particular. They are powerful and thought-provoking, and are sure to inspire readers to learn more about Black history within America.