Written By: Isa Gonzalez Montilla
February 2021 marks the 45th anniversary of Black History Month in the United States. The Black community has gone through a lot in the last couple of months leading up to this annual celebration that commemorates all the contributions Black American’s have done for the nation and American society. In efforts to remind our readers of the unique experiences our Black neighbors go through, as well as providing helpful ways we can all reflect and re-educate ourselves on how to interact on topics like race and racism, here are three books I think you should check out this Black History Month.
The first book on the list is titled My Soul is Rested: Movement Days in the Deep South Remembered by Howell Raines. This 1977 publication explores personal recollections of individuals depicting their outstanding braveness and everlasting faith which launched the Civil Rights Movement in 1954. A wide range of events is presented in the book like the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1956, the emergence of Freedom Riders in 1961 and the death of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
Even voices who supported the “Down-Home Resistance” and praised George Wallace, Bull Conor and the “traditions” of the Old South are laid out for readers to realize the terrain in which White and Black Americans stood on as they battled racial segregation, discrimination, and injustice. This book is the perfect start to Black History Month because it reminds us of the struggles and obstacles Black American’s had to overcome so that today we can walk alongside each other with respect and peace.
This novel should also act as a reminder of why we fight against this irrational hatred and violence so that we never reach such a dehumanizing point in our society again.
Next up is Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America edited by National Book Award Finalist, Ibi Zoboi. This anthology is a collection of 17 coming-of-age stories, each written by a different Black author, about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.
It dives into a variety of unspoken experiences, imprisoned thoughts, and the daily struggles of what it's like to be a Black teenager in the United States. Black Enough showcases a wide spectrum of cultures, identities, and backgrounds such as urban and rural, wealthy and poor, individuals of mixed race, immigrants, and more.
This book is a great second pick for the month because it emphasizes that one's life experience is always going to be unique and different from someone else. Therefore, we should be open-minded, understanding, and empathetic to other people's realities so that we can come together as a stronger global community.
Last but not least, Ijeoma Oluo wrote a New York Times best-selling book that everyone and their mothers should read titled So You Want To Talk About Race?. Aspects of white supremacy have been depicted time and again on the media, for example, police brutality cases, mass incarcerations of Black Americans, and last month’s riot at the Capitol. How do we talk about such difficult and complex topics like privilege, race, and racism? That's why Oluo wrote this book.
This book aims to help readers from all races to have honest and constructive conversations about race and racism, and how both of these subjects contaminate every facet of American life. This fantastically blunt, yet inviting novel helps readers everywhere gain the knowledge and confidence to properly engage in more productive conversations about race, racism, and privilege than ever before.
This is a great book to end Black History Month because of the effective explanations Oluo provides on how to participate in anti-racist action and dialogue.