Crystal, reference supervisor at the Morgantown Public Library downtown branch, compiled these recommended titles to commemorate Juneteenth.
On Juneteenth/ Annette Gordon-Reed
Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing
episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a
historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its
origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have
endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and
The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States / Ira Berlin
In The Long Emancipation, Ira Berlin draws upon decades of study to offer a
framework for understanding slavery’s demise in the United States. Freedom
was not achieved in a moment, and emancipation was not an occasion but a
near-century-long process–a shifting but persistent struggle that involved
thousands of men and women.
Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 / edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African
Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have
assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year
period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods
through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal
vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various
perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold
stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes
of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the
book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds,
reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the
idea that Africans in America are a monolith–instead it unlocks the
startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within
the community of Blackness.
A Black Women’s History of the United States: Revisioning American history / Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
A Black Women’s History of the United States is a critical survey of black
women’s complicated legacy in America, as it takes into account their
exploitation and victimization as well as their undeniable and substantial
contributions to the country since its inception
She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman / Erica Armstrong Dunbar.
YA B Tubman
She Came to Slay reveals the many complexities and varied accomplishments of
one of our nation’s true heroes and offers an accessible and modern
interpretation of Tubman’s life that is both informative and engaging.
The Fire This Time/ James Baldwin
At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing
examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal
and provocative document from the iconic author. It consists of two “letters,” written
on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort
Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Described by
The New York Times Book Review as “sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition,
testament, and chronicle…all presented in searing, brilliant prose,” The Fire Next Time
stands as a classic of literature.
Juneteenth / Ralph Ellison; ed. by John F. Callahan
The story of a black man who passes for white and becomes a race-baiting U.S.
senator. When he is shot on the Senate floor, the first visitor in hospital is a
black musician-turned-preacher who raised him. As the two men talk, their
respective stories come out.
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man / Emmanuel Acho
In Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, Acho takes on all the
questions, large and small, insensitive and taboo, many white Americans are
afraid to ask–yet which all Americans need the answers to, now more than
ever. With the same open-hearted generosity that has made his video series a
phenomenon, Acho explains the vital core of such fraught concepts as white
privilege, cultural appropriation, and “reverse racism.” In his own words, he
provides a space of compassion and understanding in a discussion that can lack
both. Heasks only for the reader’s curiosity–but along the way, he will
galvanize all of us to join the antiracist fight.
Who Will Pay Reparations on My Soul?: Essays / Jesse McCarthy
Jesse McCarthy’s bracing essays investigate with virtuosic intensity the art,
music, literature, and political stances that have defined the twenty-first
century. Even as our world has suffered through successful upheavals,
McCarthy contends,”something was happening in the world of culture: a
surging and unprecedented visibility at every level of black art making.” Who
Will Pay Reparations on My Soul? Reckons with this resurgence, arguing for the
central role of art and intellectual culture in an age of widening inequality and
moral crisis. McCarthy reinvigorates the essay form as a space not only for
argument but for experimental writing that mixes and chops the old ways into
Stamped from the Beginning / Ibram X. Kendi
In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the
entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the
course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American
intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas
Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary
activist Angela Davis.As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance
or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched
discriminatory policies and the nation’s racial inequities.In shedding light on
this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose
racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope.