9 Must Read Books That Explain What It's Like to Be Black In America

Inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Source: Getty Images

We finally have a museum dedicated to the African experience in America. While it would be great if everyone could visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., it's just not doable for everyone. 

Most of us rely on books to teach our history. Because we all know primary and secondary schools don't include African American history in the curriculum outside of slavery, the watered-down version of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Our Black history in America, though painful, is full of triumphs and perseverance. But the powers that be refuse to admit to their violent past. 

Check out these nine books, which not only teach Black history, but they all highlight what it's like to be Black in America.

The Warmth of Other Suns

The Warmth of Other Suns

"The Warmth of Other Suns" is a historical detailing of a part of history that is rarely told—especially not in U.S. schools. African Americans in the South migrated to the Northeast to escape Jim Crow and find work.

American Negro: Old World Background and New World Experience

American Negro: Old World Background and New World Experience

"American Negro: Old World Background and New World Experience" by Rayford Logan and Irving Cohen chronicles the history of Africans before their arrival to the new world and their New World experience. "American Negro" is not to be confused with the 1901 book of the same name by William Hannibal.

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

"Slavery by Another Name" is a historical detailing of the selling of Black convicts to companies and plantations for free "hard" labor. These men were usually convicted of petty crimes such as loitering or walking in a group. Does this sound familiar?

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

The Life of Olaudah Equiano is the memoir of an African boy who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Slave narratives are important pieces of U.S. history because it refutes the re-imagining of the "happy slaves" narrative that states like Texas are trying to push.

Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America

Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America

"Shifting" is a project that explores Black women in America. Through research Kumea Shorter-Goodman, PhD. found that Black women, overwhelmingly, feel the need to be one way in public, around non-Black people and are free to be themselves when around people who they are close to.

The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America

The Sisters Are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative of Black Women in America

Tamara Winfrey Harris explores the anti-Black woman propaganda that has persisted in America for centuries. She and other Black women are changing the narrative of how Black women are viewed in the media and subsequently by society. This movement is here to let Black girls and women know that everything will be alright. The sistas got this.

Prince Among Slaves

Prince Among Slaves

Prince Among Slaves is the true story about an African Muslim Prince sold into slavery and taken to the American South. Terry Alford tells the gripping story of how Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori was captured, his life as an enslaved African Muslim and how he was freed.

Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa's Historic Greenwood District

Black Wall Street: From Riot to Renaissance in Tulsa's Historic Greenwood District

In the early 20th century, the "Greenwood District" of Tulsa, OK was the pinnacle of Black entrepreneurship. African Americans came from all over to invest, to build businesses and thrive. This book discusses the history of how this amazing town flourished and why it was destroyed.

Pushout: The Criminalization Of Black Girls In Schools

Pushout: The Criminalization Of Black Girls In Schools

Author Monique W. Harris writes about U.S. schools' creation of policies that are criminalizing black girls. The book addresses the removal of Black girls from schools by outlawing the protective hairstyles they wear, criminalizing their bodies, etc. 

Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes a brilliant book—a letter to his son addressing some of his biggest fears for his son. In this book Coates draws on his own personal experiences, teaches history and explains how he and his son fit into American society as Black men.

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