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10 Books To Deepen Your Understanding of the Black Experience in America

Black woman and young girl happily reading a book

Black History Month is a time where we celebrate the achievements and stories of African Americans. To take advantage of this time we have curated a list of books to read that amplifies Black voices. From reading these books you are sure to learn about Black history and the Black experience in America. 

1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: This novel is written as a letter from Coates to his then-teenage son about race, history, and the complexities of the Black experience in America. 

2. Three Girls From Bronzeville by Dawn Turner: Turner documents the journey of three Black girls from Bronzeville coming into womanhood. This novel emphasizes how race and class impacts their experiences. The three girls are from the Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago, which was the destination of thousands of Black people who were escaping the Jim Crow South.

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3. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs: This autobiography of Jacobs recounts her journey from enslavement to freedom. This novel provides readers with a firsthand glimpse into the brutality and resilience that was experienced by enslaved people from an enslaved woman’s point of view.

4. The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones: This novel is a collection of essays that analyzes how slavery continues to impact us today. 

5. Passing by Nella Larsen: This novel, based during the Harlem Renaissance, explores the complexities of racial identity and class through the story of two light-skinned Black women who have the privilege of passing as white. Larsen’s nuanced portrayal of characters and themes remains thought-provoking and relevant to discussions about race and belonging.

6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: This autobiography is Angelou’s coming-of-age story that details her childhood struggles. This novel celebrates the power of storytelling to heal.

7.Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon: This novel explores the psychological effects of colonialism and racism.

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8. Women Race & Class by Angela Davis: Davis provides historical references to the social and political realm of feminism. She also describes how this history continues to affect Black and White women differently.

9. All That She Carried by Tiya Mills: Renowned historian Mills recounts the story of a family relic—a simple cotton bag. She traces the legacy of this keepsake to connect three generations of women whose stories have been lost to history.

10. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave by Fredrick Douglass: This autobiography novel paints a vivid picture of Douglass’ journey from bondage to freedom. 

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Remember, Black history (and beyond) is a great time to explore and discover Black history.

Written with lots of care, 

Kaylannk

Your Internet BFF

P.S. Share your favorite books by Black authors in the comments below.

Check out10 Books I Recommend You Read To Learn About Race In America

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