Best Books on African American Studies (nonfiction)

Top 10 Best Books on African American Studies (nonfiction) : The Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Souls of Black Folk, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Invisible Man, Black Skin, White Masks, The Mis-Education of the Negro, Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, "Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity, The New Negro

The Autobiography of Malcolm X
AuthorMalcolm X
Alternate cover for ISBN 9780345350688

Through a life of passion and struggle, Malcolm X became one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. In this riveting account, he tells of his journey from a prison cell to Mecca, describing his transition from hoodlum to Muslim minister....
The Souls of Black Folk
AuthorW.E.B. Du Bois
This landmark book is a founding work in the literature of black protest. W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) played a key role in developing the strategy and program that dominated early 20th-century black protest in America. In this collection of essays, first published together in 1903, he eloquently...
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration
AuthorIsabel Wilkerson
In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. 

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
AuthorMichelle Alexander
"Jarvious Cotton's great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot...
Invisible Man
AuthorRalph Ellison
First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison's nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects...
Black Skin, White Masks
AuthorFrantz Fanon
Black Skins White Masks is a scary book. In it Fanon discusses the black man’s experience in a white world; he ironically, and justly, creates an image of the world through a black lens, so to speak.

“The N**** enslaved by his inferiority, the white man enslaved by his superiority alike...
The Mis-Education of the Negro
AuthorCarter G. Woodson
The Mis-Education of the Negro is one of the most important books on education ever written. Carter G. Woodson shows us the weakness of Euro-centric based curriculums that fail to include African American history and culture. This system mis-educates the African American student, failing to prepare...
Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism
Authorbell hooks
White male scholars who examined the black family by attempting to see in what ways it resembled the white family structure were confident that their data was not biased by their own personal prejudices against women assuming an active role in family decision-making. But it must be remembered that...
"Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?": A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity
AuthorBeverly Daniel Tatum

The classic, bestselling book on the psychology of racism-now fully revised and updated

Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly...
AuthorAlain LeRoy Locke
From the man known as the father of the Harlem Renaissance comes a powerful, provocative, and affecting anthology of writers who shaped the Harlem Renaissance movement and who help us to consider the evolution of the African American in society.

With stunning works by seminal black voices...
When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America
AuthorPaula J. Giddings
When and Where I Enter is an eloquent testimonial to the profound influence of African-American women on race and women's movements throughout American history. Drawing on speeches, diaries, letters, and other original documents, Paula Giddings powerfully portrays how black women have transcended...
AuthorJacqueline A. Jones
Professor Jacqueline Jones presents the extensively researched history of the dual working worlds of black American women–at home and in the workforce–from slavery to present. She highlights the ways in which the unique cultural history of slavery as well as being subject to both sexism and...
Malcolm X: The Last Speeches
AuthorMalcolm X
If you read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the most widely-read of the books about Malcolm, you will get an idea of the general development of his self-education in prison, and of his attraction to, and eventual prominence in, the Nation of Islam. This volume, in contrast, shows the speeches he made...
American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass
AuthorDouglas S. Massey
This powerful and disturbing book clearly links persistent poverty among blacks in the United States to the unparalleled degree of deliberate segregation they experience in American cities.

American Apartheid shows how the black ghetto was created by whites during the first half of the...
The Strange Career of Jim Crow
AuthorC. Vann Woodward
C. Vann Woodward, who died in 1999 at the age of 91, was America's most eminent Southern historian, the winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Mary Chestnut's Civil War and a Bancroft Prize for The Origins of the New South. Now, to honor his long and truly distinguished career, Oxford is pleased to publish this...
AuthorIda B. Wells-Barnett
After reading these accounts from late 19th and early 20th century U.S.A. of lynching by mostly white men with complicity and at times instigation and encouragement from white women, against black men, women and children, I am disgusted and discouraged with humanity. Although I had heard the song...
AuthorDick Gregory
I read this book years ago. It was given to me by a young black man who was working to change the attitudes of white people. However, I was a young white woman and he knocked on my apartment door and asked to come in and talk about Civil Rights. It was 1964. I was a senior in high school. I asked him to come in. He...
AuthorCharisse Jones
Based on the African American Women's Voices Project, Shifting reveals that a large number of African American women feel pressure to com-promise their true selves as they navigate America's racial and gender bigotry. Black women "shift" by altering the expectations they have for themselves or...
Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision
AuthorBarbara Ransby
One of the most important African American leaders of the twentieth century and perhaps the most influential woman in the civil rights movement, Ella Baker (1903-1986) was an activist whose remarkable career spanned fifty years and touched thousands of lives.

A gifted grassroots organizer,...
Waiting 'Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America
AuthorPeniel E. Joseph
A gripping narrative that brings to life a legendary moment in American history: the birth, life, and death of the Black Power movement

With the rallying cry of "Black Power!" in 1966, a group of black activists, including Stokely Carmichael and Huey P. Newton, turned their backs on Martin...
At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power
AuthorDanielle L. McGuire
Groundbreaking, controversial, and courageous, here is the story of Rosa Parks and Recy Taylor—a story that reinterprets the history of America's civil rights movement in terms of the sexual violence committed against black women by white men.

Rosa Parks was often described as a sweet...
But Some Of Us Are Brave: All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men: Black Women's Studies
AuthorAkasha Gloria Hull
I have a complicated history with feminism that is probably not unique for a post-civil rights/black power movement black woman. But, all issues with the word feminism aside, I recognized myself too much in these essays to deny that whether I like it or not, I am constantly inhabiting multiple worlds....
Black Looks: Race and Representation
Authorbell hooks
Wide ranging and full of insight, Black Looks critiques the many ways American pop culture exploits, oppresses, and dehumanizes Black people through stereotyped representations. Across twelve short essays hooks examines how pop music, advertising, literature, and, especially, film work in...
Women, Race, and Class
AuthorAngela Y. Davis
Incisive and concise, Women, Race, and Class charts the history of racial and gender oppression in America. In lucid prose Angela Davis breaks down how misogyny, racism, and classism have shaped the character of the nation’s social life from the Antebellum Era to the Sixties. She pays special attention...
The Fire Next Time
AuthorJames Baldwin
A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice,...
Black Reconstruction in America 1860-1880
AuthorW.E.B. Du Bois
A truly extraordinary work. Beautifully written, cogently and convincingly argued. Passionate and powerful and vital. Read it.

"Some Americans think and say that the nation freed the black slave and gave him a vote and that, unable to use it intelligently, he lost it. That is not so. To win...
Parting the Waters: Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement 1954-63
AuthorTaylor Branch
First of a 3-volume social history, Parting the Waters is more than a biography of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during the decade preceding his emergence as a national figure. This 1000-page effort, which won the Pulitzer Prize as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction,...
The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study
AuthorW.E.B. Du Bois
DuBois is unquestionably the father of modern Sociology, the more of this I read, the angrier I became that this is not universally recognized. This book is extraordinary. It doesn’t escape all of the faults of its time (this was published in 1899!), but the level of rigorous scholarship and its depth...
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America
AuthorMelissa V. Harris-Perry
Jezebel's sexual lasciviousness, Mammy's devotion, and Sapphire's outspoken anger—these are among the most persistent stereotypes that black women encounter in contemporary American life. Hurtful and dishonest, such representations force African American women to navigate a virtual crooked...
Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994
AuthorDeborah Gray White
Too Heavy a Load celebrates this century's rich history of black women defending themselves, from Ida B. Wells to Anita Hill. Although most prominently a history of the century-long struggle against racism and male chauvinism, Deborah Gray White also movingly illuminates black women's painful...
AuthorIra Berlin
Ira Berlin traces the history of African-American slavery in the United States from its beginnings in the seventeenth century to its fiery demise nearly three hundred years later.

Most Americans, black and white, have a singular vision of slavery, one fixed in the mid-nineteenth century...
AuthorThomas J. Sugrue
Thomas Sugrues 2008 synthesis Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North attempts to knit together the emerging urban histories. By focusing on the “forgotten struggle” of African Americans in the North Sugrue tells us that we can dispel the amnesia of a narrative...
The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color Among African Americans
AuthorKathy Russell
This book was really, really important for me, on a personal level, as a light-skinned Black person. Still, I was disappointed because I felt like the authors did a great job of portraying the struggles of dark-skinned Black people, and a horrible job of examining the complications of being light-skinned....
AuthorGlenda Elizabeth Gilmore
The civil rights movement that loomed over the 1950s and 1960s was the tip of an iceberg, the legal and political remnant of a broad, raucous, deeply American movement for social justice that flourished from the 1920s through the 1940s. This contentious mix of home-grown radicals, labor activists,...
AuthorMichel-Rolph Trouillot
If Marx, Foucault, and Howard Zinn wrote a book together, it would probably look something like Michel-Rolph Trouillot's Silencing the Past. This isn't a slur, though; as you can tell from my five-star rating, I obviously appreciated the book, its author's cobbled personal reflections plus broader...
When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down
AuthorJoan Morgan
When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost is a decidedly intimate look into the life of the modern black woman: a complex world where feminists often have not-so-clandestine affairs with the most sexist of men; where women who treasure their independence often prefer men who pick up the tab; where the deluge...
AuthorClayborne Carson
With its radical ideology and effective tactics, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was the cutting edge of the civil rights movement during the 1960s. This sympathetic yet even-handed book records for the first time the complete story of SNCC's evolution, of its successes and...
Ar'n't I a Woman?: Female Slaves in the Plantation South
AuthorDeborah Gray White
Living with the dual burdens of racism and sexism, slave women in the plantation South assumed roles within the family and community that contrasted sharply with traditional female roles in the larger American society. This new edition of Ar'n't I a Woman? reviews and updates the scholarship on slave...
Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology
AuthorBarbara Smith
The pioneering anthology Home Girls features writings by Black feminists and lesbian activists on topics both provocative and profound. Since its initial publication in 1983, it has become an essential text on Black women's lives and writings. This edition features an updated lists of contributor...
Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, And The Black Working Class
AuthorRobin D.G. Kelley
A great book, desperately needed in academia and left circles to articulate the obvious -- not all culture, resistance and politicisation comes out of work or worker's movements. It also emerges from the home, the community, daily life and its myriads of experiences. I also loved not so much the idea...
Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920
AuthorGlenda Elizabeth Gilmore
Glenda Gilmore explores the pivotal and interconnected roles played by gender and race in North Carolina politics from the period immediately preceding the disfranchisement of black men in 1900 to the time black and white women gained the vote in 1920. Gender and Jim Crow argues that the ideology of...
Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (PB)
AuthorPatricia Hill Collins
In this book, Patricia Hill Collins explores the question of why racism has persisted in the United States despite the elimination of legal discrimination. Specifically, she focuses on how popular culture and media replicate, resist, and reproduce old and new forms of discrimination through their...
Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment
AuthorPatricia Hill Collins
In spite of the double burden of racial and gender discrimination, African-American women have developed a rich intellectual tradition that is not widely known. In Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins explores the words and ideas of Black feminist intellectuals as well as those African-American...
Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World
AuthorDavid Brion Davis
David Brion Davis has long been recognized as the leading authority on slavery in the Western World. His books have won every major history award--including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award--and he has been universally praised for his prodigious research, his brilliant analytical...
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