I love African American history. I always have. As a kid I loved February for many reasons and Black History Month was one of them. As a college student I studied African American history in my history courses and my views on Black History Month were challenged by the men in the prison book club I participated in (side note: I lead, with a group, a book club in a local men’s prison for 2 years in college). Whether you believe there should be a Black History Month or not, let’s take a minute to look at this part of American history.
For those that would like a background on why we have a Black History Month, check out this page from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. They are the ones that started this all.
My favorite book by an African American author (or any author really) is Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. This website has the whole thing online so you don’t have to buy it or check it out from the library. Douglass’ story is…I have no words for how powerful it is. Just read it. I promise it is worth everyone’s time to learn about Frederick Douglass and a time in history we haven’t known personally.
Kadir Nelson’s Heart and Soul is a beautiful book filled with amazing stories and some of the greatest illustrations you will ever see.
Bad News for Outlaws is a book I tend to push on all children. The illustrations are great and the story is, too, but my favorite part is that it’s about someone we don’t usually learn about. I didn’t know who Bass Reeves was before I read this. Here’s a bio on him from the U.S. Marshals Museum.
For more books check out the Coretta Scott King Award. Every book is wonderful.
If you’ve never heard the arguments against Black History Month, check out this article from the Washington Post from a couple years ago and this video segment from Morgan Freeman on 60 Minutes. Morgan Freeman is well known for not supporting Black History Month.
Do you have any favorite books for this time of year?