Black Literature

VITAL Black Literature/Authors: Now and Then I’ll start with my short list of “Black Literature” – we can add to this list at any time. Just give me the name of the book and a blurb on what it’s about. Feel free to submit any suggestions! If we haven’t already read it, we will!

The Mis-Education Of The Negro
by Carter G. Woodson

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions.” ~C.G.W.

A MUST READ for all Black people living in North America. This book is a standard in the re-education of our race and the principles for why we must redefine education and take matters into our own hands in terms of revolutionizing “the what” and “the ways” our children are taught.

To Be A Slave
by Julius Lester
The book received the Newbery Honor medal in 1969. It explores what it was like to be a slave. The book includes many personal accounts of ex-slaves. This book is about how it felt. The words of black men and women who had themselves been slaves are here. This book has been a touchstone in children’s literature for over thirty years.

A Raisin in the Sun
by Lorraine Hansberry
A play that debuted on Broadway in 1959. The title comes from the poem “Harlem” (also known as “A Dream Deferred”) by Langston Hughes. The story is based upon a black family’s experiences in the Washington Park Subdivision of Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood.

To Kill A Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
The primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Scholars have noted that Lee also addresses issues of class, courage, compassion, and gender roles in the American Deep South. The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks An autobiographical novel about his years growing up in Fort Scott, Kansas. Set during the 1920s, the book follows Newt Winger, Parks’ alter ego, as he comes of age in a turbulent border community dealing with often frightening racial issues. The town, renamed Cherokee Flats for the novel, is divided geographically and socially by the railroad tracks, with well-to-do white folks on one side, and a few poor whites scattered amongst the black people living on the other. Here Newt and his family encounter situations that are practically universal in the experience of African Americans in this country during the days before the civil rights movement.

The Color Purple
by Alice Walker
Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on female black life in the 1930s in the southern United States, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture.

Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neale Hurston
Set in central and southern Florida in the early 20th century, the novel was initially poorly received for its rejection of racial uplift literary prescriptions. Today, it has come to be regarded as a seminal work in both African American literature and women’s literature.

Black Boy
by Richard Wright
A memoir of Richard Wright’s childhood and young adulthood. It is split into two sections, “Southern Night” (concerning his childhood in the south) and “The Horror and the Glory” (concerning his early adult years in Chicago). Native Son by Richard Wright A novel by American author Richard Wright. The novel tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, an African American living in utter poverty. Bigger lived in Chicago’s South Side ghetto in the 1930s. The novel’s treatment of Bigger and his motivations conforms to the conventions of literary naturalism.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
by Frederick Douglass
A memoir on abolition written by famous orator and ex-slave, Frederick Douglass. It is generally held to be the most famous of a number of narratives written by former slaves during the same period. The book describes the events of his life and is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement of the early 19th century in the United States.

The Souls of Black Folk
by W.E.B. Dubois
The book, published in 1903, contains several essays on race, some of which Du Bois drew from his own experiences to develop this groundbreaking work on being African-American in American society. Outside of its notable place in African-American history, The Souls of Black Folk also holds an important place in social science as one of the early works to deal with sociology.

Borrowed Beauty
by Maxine Tynes
*Canadian Poetry
**Various Poetry Selections

Langston Hughes
*Various Poetry Selections

by Toni Morrison
Inspired by the story of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who temporarily escaped slavery during 1856 in Kentucky by fleeing to Ohio, a free state. A posse arrived to retrieve her and her children under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which gave slave owners the right to pursue slaves across state borders. Margaret killed her two-year-old daughter rather than allow her to be recaptured. Beloved’s main character, Sethe, kills her daughter and tries to kill her other three children when a posse arrives in Ohio to return them to Sweet Home, the plantation in Kentucky from which Sethe recently fled. The daughter, Beloved, returns years later to haunt the homestead.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X
by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X’s 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X’s philosophy of black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism. The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor The Women explores the lives of both men and women in an urban setting and examines relationships, both in terms of friendship and romantic love, including homosexual relationships.

by Alex Haley
the first black American writer to trace his origins back to their roots, he has told the story of 25,000,000 Americans of African descent. He has rediscovered for an entire people a rich cultural heritage that slavery took away from them, along with their names and their identities. But Roots speaks, finally, not just to blacks, or to whites, but to all people and all races everywhere, for the story it tells is one of the most eloquent testimonials ever written to the indomitability of the human spirit. *From Good Reads

by Sapphire
The school has decided to send Clarice P. Jones to an alternative school because she is pregnant. ‘Precious’ is furious, but the counselor laterconvinces her to enter an alternative school called Each One Teach One. Despite her mother’s insistence that she apply for welfare, Precious enrolls in the school and thus the journey of her growth and change and development as a person begins. The Blacks in Canada, Second edition A History by Robin W. Winks The definitive history of the African-Canadian experience.

In Search Of Our Mothers Gardens
by Alice Walker

Walker explore the theories and practices of feminists and feminism, incorporating what she calls the “womanist” tradition of black women. And in a vivid and courageous memoir she tells of a scarring childhood injury and her daughter’s healing words. *Anything by Alice Walker is food to your soul!

Rush Home Road
by Lori Lansen
*Canadian Fiction
Addy, Lansens’s central character, is an elderly black woman who was raised in a settlement founded by fugitive slaves, the fictional village of Rushholme, and now lives in a trailer park near Chatham. When the mother of a five-year-old neighbour girl named Sharla runs off, Addy becomes the girl’s caregiver. Her young charge helps give Addy the will to live, and also inspires a mental journey of bittersweet remembrance back through a tragic life filled with rape, racism, murder, and the death of her own children.

Black Berry, Sweet Juice
by Lawrence Hill
*Canadian Fiction
Hill movingly reveals his struggle to understand his own personal and racial identity. Raised by human rights activist parents in a predominantly white Ontario suburb, he is imbued with lingering memories and offers a unique perspective. In a satirical yet serious tone, Hill describes the ambiguity involved in searching for his identity – an especially complex and difficult journey in a country that prefers to see him as neither black nor white.

The Book of Negroes
by Lawrence Hill
*Canadian Fiction
Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle—a string of slaves— Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic “Book of Negroes.” This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own.

by William Bell
*Canadian Fiction
As Garnet struggles to win over one girl, another girl is trying to get his attention – unfortunately she lived over 150 years ago. Garnet becomes fascinated by her history and that of the black community she belonged to. As he draws closer to the truth, he uncovers a horrifying chapter in his town’s history, and discovers the ways in which deep-seated prejudices and persecution from the past can still reverberate in the present.

The Voice Of The Jamaican Ghetto
by Adidja Palmer aka Vybz Kartel
One of the best books I’ve read in a while dealing  with contemporary development issues and possible solutions. A look at Jamaica from the viewpoint of the citizen and not the brochure from Sandals. The Voice Of The Jamaican Ghetto deals with poverty and subjugation that many Jamaican people face and insight into day to day life that us interlopers wouldn’t know otherwise. A very good read.

Psycho-Acedemic Holocaust: The Special Education & ADHD Wars Against Black Boys
by Dr. Umar Johnson
This book examines the special education machine and how it operates. It is also the first book of the 21st century to explore each of the four major disruptive behavior disorders (ADHD, CD, ODD, DBD-NOS) and how these diagnoses poorly discriminate between normal and abnormal behaviors amongst Black boys. *Taken from

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