Black History Month Book Recommendations

Sylvia Lambert

Assistant Arts Editor

As Black History Month begins, it is important to reflect on the way African Americans have shaped our country. Black authors have deeply impacted literature in the United States. From the genres of non-fiction Christian memoir to epic novels, Black authors have made their contribution in various poignant ways. The following is a list of recommended books from students and professors at Oklahoma Baptist University as well as some nationally acclaimed authors.

In the genre of spiritually motivated books, Christian African Americans have made an extensive impact. One author, recommended by multiple students, is Jacki-Hill Perry. She is an American poet, Christian author and hip-hop artist. Her versatility and talent have made her a very successful creative. She has worked for various Christian ministry organizations including John Piper’s Desiring God and The Resurgence. Jacki-Hill perry also has a bible study book that works through the book of Jude. She also wrote, “Holier Than Thou: How God’s Holiness Helps Us Trust Him.”

Another Black Christian author is Jacqueline Thomas. She is a national best-selling and award-winning author of Christian fiction. Her most popular novel, “Jezebel,” follows the story of a small-town girl who marries a pastor of a successful church. She enters the marriage with intentions of gaining power and wealth. After her plans of manipulation cause her to lose everything, she finds redemption in the most unexpected way. Fans of dramatic fiction that leads to a higher meaning, will thoroughly enjoy Jacqueline Thomas books.

The history of our nation’s relationship with race has many different perspectives. In a month of remembrance, honor, and celebration it is necessary to be educated in the perspective of the Black American. Ta-Nehisi Coates is an author who wrote a book in 2015 that won the National Book Award for non-fiction. Titled “Between the World and Me,” he writes in the form of a letter to his son about being a black American in the 21 century. The story follows the theme of struggling with the historical trauma of one’s race while simultaneously trying to find a place in the world as it is today.

For fans of music and specifically Jazz, the book “Black Music by Amiri Baraka is highly recommended. Written in 1967, it is a collection of essays, reviews interviews and more. They collectively discuss and analyze the music of jazz. Baraka states that at that time most Jazz critiques were white, while most jazz musicians were not. The New Yorker found this piece of writing extremely impressive. Richard Brody, who was a writer for the newspaper at the time, wrote, “In ‘Black music,’ Baraka wrote with ecstasy—highly informed and intricate—about ecstatically complex music.”

In the young-adult category, Angie Thomas wrote a deeply impactful book called “The Hate U Give”. This book follows the events of a police officer shooting a young Black male. Though its violent and somewhat controversial content caused it to be banned from a few schools in Texas, the impact of the book spread wildly around the United States. The hard-hitting storyline does not shy away from the current racial issues in America. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the novel is gripping in its effort to tell a story of injustice that is still common in the modern-day United States. 

According to Professor Scot Loyd, the book the “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison is one of the most effective books in describing the Black experience in America. It also won the National Book Award for fiction in 1953. This novel addresses many issues including Black nationalism, the polices of Booker T. Washington and personal identity. This book is praised for not only being informative, but for being incredibly creative and poetic. Ellison’s talent shines through in his writing. This, combined with subject matter that enlightens the reader to his personal stories of injustice and truth, makes this book one of the most widely renowned works by a Black author.

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