21 Must Read Books for Black History Month

Books for Black History Month

These books for black history month will give you an insight into black people’s struggles. Black people have utilized literature to comprehend both the violence and the delight of the world around them throughout the African diaspora. 

Additionally, they’ve used their words as weapons in some of the most ferocious campaigns against systematic racism, transphobia, misogynoir, and colonialism.

And they’ve told beautiful, unforgettable stories about how Black folks live, love, and survive. 

You’ll probably recognize several classics on this Black History Month essential novels list. However, you may come across titles and authors you were previously unaware of. 

We hope that this list will help you learn more about the Black literary canon and appreciate the diversity of the diaspora.

Books for Black History Month

Some of the best black history books of all time are: 

1. Black Bottom Saints

By Alice Randall 

Black Bottom Saints is a magnificent work of fiction about a guy who muses on the remarkable people who formed Detroit’s famed Black Bottom area, a hotspot for jazz, sports, and politics, and the extraordinary people who shaped it. 

2. Tristan Strong Destroys the World

By Kwame Mbalia 

Tristan strong destroys the world is one of the best books for black history month. Mbalia’s epic fantasy set in a universe influenced by Black and African traditional heroes is Alexander’s pick for older children. 

However, his daughter, Samayah’s, last read aloud with his family. “These adventures will be impossible for your child to put down.” 

3. A Promise of Land

By Barack Obama 

Former President Barack Obama’s fourth book, A Promised Land, reflects his political career, from his early campaigns to his time in the White House. 

Additionally, Obama said the book presents “an honest accounting of my presidency, the pressures we contend with as a society, and how we can heal our divisions and make democracy work for everyone.” It is a New York Times best-seller. 

4. Just Mercy: A Story of Justice And Redemption

By Bryan Stevenson 

“‘Just Mercy’ is a harrowing tale about a young lawyer defending a young guy named Walter McMillian. 

Walter was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for an infamous crime he swore he didn’t commit,” Alexander explains. 

The book was dramatic, inspirational, heartbreaking, entertaining and hopeful at the end. 

5. Dressed in Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion

By Tanisha C. Ford 

Dressed in dreams is one of the best books for black history month. Tanisha C. Ford, a style and pop culture specialist delve into Black women’s fashion over the decades. 

Ranging from afros and dashikis in the 1970s to hip-hop-influenced looks in the 1990s and beyond. Additionally, dressed in Dreams is Ford’s self-described love letter to Black women’s fashion. 

6. Four Hundred Souls

By Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain.

Four hundred souls bring together 90 diverse perspectives of Black people in a one-volume “community” history of African Americans, beginning in 1619 and continuing through 400 years of slavery and bigotry. 

7. The Black Church

By Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s 

This newly released book ignites a much-needed discussion about religious and cultural values in the Black community, tracing their roots back to enslavement and emphasizing the necessity of religious liberty. 

8. Homegoing

By Yaa Gyasi 

Homegoing is also one of the books for black history month you should read. Readers meet the descendant of an Asante mother named Maame through her two daughters, separated half-sisters.  

Effia, one of the sisters, marries the British governor in command of Cape Coast Castle, where her sister Esi is tortured and imprisoned in the slave dungeons below her. 

Additionally, the cruelty and intricacies of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade separate these two families, and Homegoing follows them.  

9. The Dead Are Arising

By Les Payne and Tamara Payne 

This in-depth biography by Pulitzer Prize-winning Payne challenges our understanding of Malcolm X. Les and Tamara Payne compiles a comprehensive set of interviews with those who met and knew the human rights leader. 

Putting race in America before, during, and after his life in a new, definitive perspective on Malcolm X’s work and legacy. 

10. Assata

By Assata Shakur’ 

Assata is next on our list of books for black history month. Shakur’s road to becoming a revolutionary is chronicled in this book, which she wrote from Cuba, where she is currently seeking shelter. 

Shakur recalls many events in her life, focusing on the aftermath of the infamous New Jersey State Turnpike shooting, which resulted in Shakur’s conviction and imprisonment for the murder of a police officer (although she later escaped fled to Cuba). 

Furthermore, Shakur has inspired various social movements as a notable former member of the Black Liberation Army and comprehending her narrative is crucial to understanding Black resistance in the United States. 

11. Deacon King Kong

By James McBride 

Sportcoat, a grumpy old deacon, shoots the housing project’s principal heroin dealer in 1969 in Brooklyn, according to McBride’s masterfully written novel. 

From the local officers investigating the shooting to an Italian mafia don to Baptist Church worshippers and project members, McBride’s story recounts the aftermath of the shooting. 

12. The Mothers

By Brit Bennett 

The Mothers is also one of the best books for black history month. Furthermore, the Mother is a story about squandered opportunities and how the possibilities of everything can never be fully realized. 

Nadia Turner, a seventeen-year-old beauty bereft of her mother’s death, embarks on a heady summer romance with Luke Sheppard, the pastor’s son. His football injury has forced him to wait tables at a diner rather than pursue football greatness. 

In addition, Nadia keeps her pregnancy a secret from everyone when she becomes pregnant. However, years later, that secret threatens to destroy all that Nadia, Luke, and Nadia’s best friend Aubrey value. 

13. The New Jim Crow

By Michelle Alexander 

Michelle Alexander’s breakthrough book exposes how the United States has ravaged communities of color through mass incarceration has sparked various social groups protesting this modern-day form of slavery. 

However, it has been dubbed “the Bible” of criminal justice reform. If you want to comprehend the connection between slavery, Jim Crow, mass imprisonment, and racism in the United States, this book is a must-read. 

14. Freedom Is A Constant Struggle

By Angela Y. Davis 

Next on our list of books for black history month is freedom is a constant struggle. Angela Y. Davis, a world-renowned activist, and researcher, teaches readers how battles against state brutality and oppression are linked worldwide in this collection of writings, interviews, and speeches. 

Furthermore, this powerful and courageous book also advocates for international solidarity among oppressed peoples, particularly between Palestinians and Black Americans. 

15. Black History for Beginners

By Denise Dennis and Susan Willmarth 

This book chronicles the battle from capture and enslavement in Africa to the Civil Rights Era. And also the problems Black people confront now, a rich history that is often overlooked. 

16. A Taste of Power

By Elaine Brown 

Elaine Brown, the Black Panther Party’s previous chairwoman, “In her memoir, she discusses her background and her time as a member of the Black Panther Party. 

Furthermore, I believe Black women must express our own stories, and Elaine Brown exemplifies how to do it.” 

17. Sing, Unburied, Sing

By Jesmyn Ward 

Sing Unburied; Sing is one of the best books for black history month, and it’s a novel that comes close to being flawless. 

In addition, the majority of the story takes place on a dangerous car ride through Mississippi to Parchman, a notorious maximum security jail. 

Meanwhile, this disturbing novel, set in the rural South of the twenty-first century, tells us how the awful legacy of racial terror is still very much alive today. 

18. How We Fight For Our Lives

By Saeed Jones

Saeed Jones’s lovely memoir, which won the 2019 Kirkus Prize in Nonfiction, reveals how he fought to assert his identity as a young Black homosexual guy from the South. 

Additionally, Jones provides a captivating image of the beauty of queerness, racism, love, and self-actualization by delving into his tangled relationships with his family, friends, and lovers. 

19. The Black Jacobins

By C.L.R. James 

The Black Jacobins is a gripping account of the most significant successful slave uprising, the Haitian Revolution, written by noted Trinidadian historian C.L.R. James. 

Additionally, the historical event between 1794 and 1803 sparked slave revolts and liberation movements in Africa, the United States, and Cuba. 

Much of the book follows Toussaint L’Ouverture, the Haitian hero who led enslaved Black people in repelling French, Spanish, and English invaders, clearing the path for Haiti to become the Caribbean’s first independent nation. 

20. Black Looks: Race and Representation

By Bell Hooks 

Bell Hooks interrogates old narratives and advocates for new perspectives on blackness, black subjectivity, and whiteness in the critical essays collected in Black Looks. 

Furthermore, the essays are meant to question, unsettle, disrupt, and subvert. Students, professors, activists, intellectuals, and ordinary readers who have engaged with the book since its original release in 1992 can attest to that. 

21. Black Skin, White Masks

By Frantz Fanon 

Last on our list of best books for black history month is black skin, white masks. Frantz Fanon, a psychiatrist, and philosopher from Martinique, is mandatory reading for anybody interested in anti-colonial ideas. 

Additionally, Fanon’s own experiences and the history of colonialism and its reliance on domination, racism, dehumanization, and genocide are explored in Black Skin, White Masks. 

In addition, Fanon examines how these influences affect the oppressor’s and oppressed’s human psyches, particularly when it comes to internalized notions of inferiority. 

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