by The History Reader
Black History Month is an annual event for celebrating the central role of African Americans in the U.S., as well as other countries, including Canada and the U.K. Originally instituted in 1976 as “Negro History Week,” every U.S. President has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. This year, we would like to participate by celebrating some of our most prominent titles authored by and written about African Americans.
In the words of Jeff Chang, author of Who We Be, “What we have seen over the past half-century have been most dramatic shifts in American culture. In many ways, these changes have taken our nation further along in racial progress than in the previous two centuries. And yet, unmistakable rifts that haunt our body politic. During a time in which we have to reaffirm the notion that “Black lives matter,” we have to ask ourselves—how do we imagine a future of racial justice? How do we imagine the change that it takes to get to that future? It will be up to all of us to write the next chapter together.”
Who We Be: The Colorization of America
by Jeff Chang
Who We Be remixes comic strips and contemporary art, campus protests and corporate marketing campaigns, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Trayvon Martin into a powerful, unusual, and timely cultural history of the idea of racial progress. In this follow-up to the award-winning classic Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, Jeff Chang brings fresh energy, style, and sweep to the essential American story.
by Nick Irving
Groundbreaking, thrilling and revealing, The Reaper is the astonishing memoir of Special Operations Direct Action Sniper Nicholas Irving, the 3rd Ranger Battalion’s first African-American—and deadliest—sniper. Irving is credited with 33 confirmed kills, though his remarkable career total, including probables, is unknown. In The Reaper, Irving shares the true story of his extraordinary military career, and offers the reader an extremely rare view of special operations combat missions through the eyes of a Ranger sniper during the Global War on Terrorism.
Gil-Scott Heron: Pieces of Man
by Marcus Baram
Best known for his 1970 polemic “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” Gil Scott-Heron was a musical icon who defied characterization. In this biography, Marcus Baram traces the volatile journey of a troubled musical genius. The author charts Scott-Heron’s musical odyssey, from Chicago to Tennessee to New York, and puts the complicated icon into full focus.
A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons
by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor; foreword by Annette Gordon-Reed
Paul Jennings was born into slavery on the plantation of James and Dolley Madison in Virginia, later becoming part of the Madison household staff at the White House. Finally emancipated later in life by Senator Daniel Webster, he would give an aged and impoverished Dolley Madison money from his own pocket, write the first White House memoir, and see his sons fight with the Union Army in the Civil War. He died a free man in northwest Washington at 75. This amazing portrait of the times reveals the mores and attitudes toward slavery of the nineteenth century, and sheds new light on famous characters such as James Madison, who believed the white and black populations could not coexist as equals; French General Lafayette who was appalled by this idea; Dolley Madison, who ruthlessly sold Paul after her husband’s death; and many other since forgotten slaves, abolitionists, and civil right activists.