Black History Month Reading List Series (P1): Classics
1. The Eduction of the Negro and The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson
“The Education of the Negro,” by Carter Godwin Woodson, is an essential preface to his minor masterpiece, “The Mis-Education of the Negro.” Though often confused, these are two separate books. In “The Education of the Negro,” Woodson addresses the education of African Americans prior to the Civil War—a period of time that is not usually addressed or taught. In contrast, “The Mis-Education of the Negro” addresses African American education from the Civil War period on. In the words of one reader, “Anything Woodson writes is a winner. I have enjoyed his other books as well. He can be highly controversial at time which lends such extraordinary flavor to his books. Enjoyed it and recommend it to all.” “The Education of the Negro” is a must read for anyone interested in African American history, as well as anyone planning to read Woodson’s classic sequel, “The Mis-Education of the Negro.””
2. Up from Slavery: An Autobiography by Booker T. Washington
“Nineteenth-century African American businessman, activist, and educator Booker Taliaferro Washington’s “Up from Slavery” is one of the greatest American autobiographies ever written. The mantras of black economic empowerment, land ownership, and self-help which are espoused in “Up From Slavery” inspired generations of black leaders, including Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan. In rags-to-riches fashion, Washington recounts his ascendance from early life as a mulatto slave in Virginia to a 34-year term as president of the influential, agriculturally based Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. From that position, Washington reigned as the most important leader of his people, with slogans like “cast down your buckets,” which emphasized vocational merit rather than the academic and political excellence championed by his contemporary rival W.E.B. Du Bois.”
3. The Souls of Black Folks: W.E.B DuBois
“The Souls of Black Folk is a classic work of American literature by W. E. B. Du Bois. It is a seminal work in the history of sociology, and a cornerstone of African-American literary history. The book, published in 1903, contains several essays on race, some of which had been previously published in Atlantic Monthly magazine. Du Bois drew from his own experiences to develop this groundbreaking work on being African-American in American society. Outside of its notable place in African-American history, The Souls of Black Folk also holds an important place in social science as one of the early works to deal with sociology.”
4. Selected Writings & Speeches by Marcus Garvey
“A controversial figure in the history of race relations around the world, Marcus Garvey amazed his enemies as much as he dazzled his admirers. This anthology contains some of the African-American rights advocate’s most noted writings and speeches, including “Declaration of the Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World” and “Africa for the Africans.”‘
5. The Willie Lynch Letter and the Making of a Slave by Willie Lynch
“The Willie Lynch Letter and the Making of a Slave” is widely considered to be one of the top 100 most controversial books of all time. Required reading for many courses, the Willie Lynch book is considered to be true by some and legend by others. Regardless of one’s view on fictional or non-fictional nature of this book, the facts are that the methods described in the book on how to produce enduring slaves were certainly used. African Americans were in-fact divided, and systematically brutalized, based on everything from gender to skin color. The psychological effects of the brutality of chattel slavery are still being felt today. “
6. Breaking the Curse of Willie Lynch: The Science of Slave Psychology by Alvin Morrow
“This book is a shocking eye opener. It penetrates the very heart of the divisions, that exist between Black men & women today. The author clearly describes in explicit detail, the mind enslaving techniques imposed on the African during North American slavery. Digging deep within the psyche “Breaking The Curse Of Willie Lynch” instructs the reader on how to reverse the phycosis. During a time where disorder, confusion, & psychological chaos in Black Male/Female Relationships; comes a Book that gives clarity & internal direction. Help your community undo the self dividing, self defeating mind state!”
7. By Any Means Necessary by Malcolm X
“The imperialists know the only way you will voluntarily turn to the fox is to show you a wolf. In eleven speeches and interviews, Malcolm X presents a revolutionary alternative to this reformist trap, taking up political alliances, women’s rights, U.S. intervention in the Congo and Vietnam, capitalism and socialism, and more.”
8. Why We Can’t Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Often applauded as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most incisive and eloquent book, Why We Can’t Wait recounts the Birmingham campaign in vivid detail, while underscoring why 1963 was such a crucial year for the civil rights movement. During this time, Birmingham, Alabama, was perhaps the most racially segregated city in the United States, but the campaign launched by Fred Shuttlesworth, King, and others demonstrated to the world the power of nonviolent direct action. King examines the history of the civil rights struggle and the tasks that future generations must accomplish to bring about full equality. The book also includes the extraordinary “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which King wrote in April of 1963.”
9. Where Do We Go from Here:Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King, Jr.
“In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America’s future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty.”
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We bet some you might be thinking…reading? Ain’t nobody got time for that! (LOL) BUT it’s important that we educate ourselves about our history. We cannot appreciate where we come from, where we are, and where we are going without educating ourselves in and OUTSIDE of the classroom. And for our Squares on the broker side of life, don’t be put off by the thought of having to purchase books, remember…the local library ain’t never hurt a soul.
Feel free to share classic novels not listed in the comments section!
HAPPY READING EVERYONE!