Book recommendations for Black History Month and beyond

book recs collage

Add these Oxfam staff picks to your reading list to learn about the Black experience.

Black History Month gives us the opportunity to reflect and recognize the rich, historic contributions Black Americans have made in shaping this nation and global culture. However, Black history is happening everywhere, every month. We know that history books offer only a small piece of the story of America, and that required reading lists in schools often favor white, male writers. The United States has a long history of weaponizing books to suppress marginalized voices.

Particularly now, as politicians attempt to uphold the narrative of white supremacy in school curriculum by controlling syllabi and banning books written by BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and other authors offering diverse perspectives, it is imperative that we continue to educate ourselves. As Black History Month winds down, I asked my colleagues to recommend books, so we can learn about the history that was left out of our textbooks and expand our minds beyond the established Western canon of literature. We have also included some recommendations for younger readers because it is never too early to encourage critical thinking.

For Adults

A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry

Abolition. Feminism. Now., by Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica R. Meiners, and Beth E. Richie

Black Boy, by Richard Wright

Black Buck, by Mateo Askaripour

Black Futures, by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham

Feminist Theory: from margin to center, bell hooks

How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America, by Clint Smith

How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective, by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Memphis, by Tara M Stringfellow

Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr

To Shape a New World: Essays on the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Tommie Shelby and Brandon Terry

The Annotated African American Folktales, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr and Maria Tatar

The Black Friend on Being a Better White Person, by Frederick Joseph

The Other Black Girl, by Zakiya Dalila Harris

The Souls of Black Folks, by W.E.B. Du Bois

The Sum of Us, by Heather McGhee

The Water Dancer: A Novel, by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements, by Charlene A. Carruthers

Up From Slavery, by Booker T. Washington

The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson

What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays, by Damon Young

For Young Readers

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, by Vashti Harrison

Mae Among the Stars, by Roda Ahmed

Sulwe, by Lupita Nyong’o & Vashti Harrison

The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez: The 1619 Project Born on the Water, by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson

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