5 Books You Should be Reading this Black History Month

Playwright Lorraine Hansberry, image source Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust

Playwright Lorraine Hansberry, image source Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust

I feel everything. I walk through life experiencing everything with my emotions first. I know I am not alone, but as Black Women we often choose to show our strength over our vulnerability. I find solace in Black Female authors who write all of their emotions into their work. Here are five books to read this month that will make you feel everything.

    In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens –Alice Walker

I recently finished this book. I have been aching to read this collection of essays since my first year in college. In the midst of my Black Feminist awakening at 18 years old I stumbled across the term “womanist” and never looked back. Alice Walker coined this vocabulary word to give Black women a term to explain our feminist existence and how different it is from that of white women.  In Search of Our Mother’s garden is also the title of one of the most powerful essays in the collection. In this essay in particular, Walker articulates every feeling I’ve ever felt about the struggles of the Black Women who came before me. Walker articulates these emotions and helps reconcile the feelings of deep loss you experience when you think about hundreds of years of stifled dreams. This is a perfect Black feminist, non-fiction read for this month.

     I know Why the Caged Bird Sings –Maya Angelou

This autobiographical novel is full of humor, tragedy, and relatable proses as Maya Angelou recounts her childhood and coming of age.  A black girl and then woman existing in the Jim Crow south, Angelou’s life gives a personal historic account of the struggles of Black people in the South. As a Black woman, her story is timeless and relatable as she writes through all the experiences and emotions of coming of age Black and Female. She uses comedy and brutal honesty to explain how she became the woman she is today.  This is  great autobiography to read this month.

       A Raisin in the Sun  - Lorraine Hansberry

A classic play performed for the first time in 1959 it is a groundbreaking work emblematic of the Black culture of the time, with themes that have continued to be relevant today. The play was named after a line in a Langston Hughes poem entitled Harlem. “What Happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” This line summarizes the themes of the play as a Black Family in Chicago fights to overcome racism and generational poverty to achieve their dreams that have been deferred because of racism and sexism. You’ll see yourself and the people in your family in every one of the characters. You’ll laugh and cry along with the family and feel every blow as they constantly push to better their circumstances. This play is a short read but one that will keep you engaged at every page. I suggest watching the 1961 production of the play featuring the legendary Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee after finishing the book.

    Nappy Edges – Ntozake Shange

A book of poetry written by the author of For Colored Girls this small book will travel well on your commute and brighten your soul with her whimsical and versatile language.

    Bound in Wedlock- Tera Hunter

For my more academic readers I would suggests this work by historian Terra Hunter  at NYU that explores the evolution of marriage between slaves and free blacks and what it meant before, during and after the Civil War. It provides a new way at looking into the lives of the enslaved through the laws that governed love for Black People in the United States.

Andreia WardlawComment