5 Must Read Books on Black History

5 must read black history books.

On this Inauguration Day 2017, I’m sharing some books I think every American needs to read. These books on black history save for one, are actually American history books. Get to know more about this part of American History. The one book that is not an American History story is a worthy share because it was one of the most revered moments in history as it pertains to slavery. My hope is that all Americans from all backgrounds reads at least a few of these books. Personally, I love physical books in my hand but if you can’t get to the bookstore or the library today, go ahead and download a copy of one. I think inauguration day is the perfect day to begin your own history lesson journey. 

Books on Black History

The Warmth of Other Suns

Books on Black History. The Warmth of Other Suns. Black History book

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson is the story of the “great migration” of black Americans who fled the South for Northern and Western cities.  The Warmth of Other Suns tells the decade-long story of this migration. The author interviews 3 individuals to gain a fascinating account of how this mass migration changed America. 

The Hemingses of Monticello

Black history books. The Hemingses of Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy or the post-DNA confirmation book The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordan-Reed

Do you know about Thomas Jefferson’s children born to a slave? Actually born to the slave that was his wife’s half-sister? I was intrigued by The Hemingses of Monticello and their story. Many years of research went into the story of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemingses so I couldn’t pick between the two books. One shares the facts as they were known before the DNA confirmation proving the Hemingses as direct descendants of one of the founding fathers of America. The other is facts further uncovered after the DNA confirmation. A fascinating story and a look at what happened so often between slave women and their “masters”. 

Hidden Figures

Black history books. Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures  by Margot Lee Shetterly

By now many of you may have seen this highly acclaimed film about the hidden figures at NASA. Those hidden figures were some of the smartest women scientist and mathematicians of America that happened to also be black women. I believe in reading any book that a movie is based on. This is a must read before or after you see the movie. Get to know their story and share it with your children. The disparity in the STEAM fields today particularly for women and even more so for women of color is widely known. Get your girls inspired. They too can become leaders in STEAM fields and change the world. 

The Half Has Never Been Told

Black history books. The Half has Never Been Told.

The Half Has Never Been Told by Edward Baptist

Narratives of slaves. escaped slaves, plantation documents and more lays out the story of how slavery drove the early days of modernized America. From the cotton fields to the capitalist economy. See the history of our America through the eyes that helped build it without recognition.

The Black Jacobins

Black History books. The Black Jacobins. The story of the Haitian Revolution

The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James 

This book was a must add to my short list because more people need to know about the history of Haiti, Toussaint L’Ouverture a slave at the time and the revolt he led which was the beginning of the first independent country in the Caribbean. A well-written account of the history of a beautiful country that deserves to be celebrated and helped. Not American history but the crusade led by Toussaint is one all people should know more about. 

I’ll share more books about our history during Black History Month in February. I will also share child-friendly books about American and Black history because children need to know, understand and feel compassion in order for them to be the change we need in this world. 

Do you have any books about black history you think are a must read? Leave them in the comments so I can add them to the list. 

Celebrating black history Fab Five Series. 5 must read books about black history.

This post is a part of our Fab Five series celebrating Black History. Please read more of our series here: 

Kita: 5 Movies About African Americans That Everyone Should See

Bernetta: 5 African American Child Entrepreneurs to Watch

LaShawn: 5 Important African American Photographers You Should Know

Mimi: 5 Places to Visit that Highlight African American History





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  • Reply
    K. Elizabeth
    January 21, 2017 at 2:07 PM

    Hidden Figures is on my TBR for next month. I can’t wait to read it. This month I’m reading You Can’t Touch My Hair (Phoebe Robinson), Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates), Year of Yes (Shonda Rhimes) and The Wealth Choice (Dr. Dennis Kimbro). These books aren’t about Black history, but they are memoirs/books about the Black experience.

    • Reply
      M J
      January 23, 2017 at 9:10 AM

      Hey K! Thanks for sharing your booklist with me. Year of Yes was one of my favorite books of all time. I felt like Shonda was telling my childhood story when she shared her and her love of writing. I haven’t read any of the other books you mentioned so I will be adding them to my book list.

  • Reply
    January 21, 2017 at 2:56 PM

    Great Suggestions! I’ve been looking for some interesting books to read about black history. I just ordered A Warmth of Other Suns and can’t wait to dive in it.

    • Reply
      M J
      January 23, 2017 at 9:09 AM

      Thank you Rae. Enjoy the book. It is really good.

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