New Books for Black History Month and Beyond

Books for Black History Month published in the last year.

In honor of Black History Month, this week's blog post highlights some of the new books in Oakland Public Library's collection that were published within the past twelve months. From political history to sports, memoirs, biographies, and the arts, there's plenty to keep you reading, across a range of topics, throughout the year.

Social/Political History

A Black Women's History of the United States Twisted The Black Church  

Nine Days 400 Years 

The Green Book The Black Panther Party Caste

A black women's history of the United States / Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
A critical survey of black women's complicated legacy in America, as it takes into account their exploitation and victimization as well as their undeniable and substantial contributions to the country since its inception.

Twisted : the tangled history of black hair culture / Emma Dabiri
Dabiri takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, and into today's Natural Hair Movement, exploring everything from women's solidarity and friendship, to the criminalization of dreadlocks, to the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashian's braids. Through the lens of hair texture, Dabiri leads us on a historical and cultural investigation of the global history of racism--and her own personal journey of self-love and finally, acceptance.

A companion book to the upcoming PBS series, this is powerful new history of the Black church in America as the Black community's abiding rock and its fortress. 

Vanguard : how black women broke barriers, won the vote, and insisted on equality for all / Martha S. Jones
Acclaimed historian Martha Jones offers a sweeping history of African American women's political lives in America, recounting how they fought for, won, and used the right to the ballot and how they fought against both racism and sexism.

A history of the 1960 US presidential election with a focus on the role played by the imprisonment of Martin Luther King Jr. in the wake of an Atlanta sit-in.

FOUR HUNDRED SOULS : A COMMUNITY HISTORY OF AFRICAN AMERICA, 1619-2019 / edited by Ibram X. Kendi, and Keisha N. Blain
A "choral history" of African Americans covering 400 years of history in the voices of 80 writers, edited by the bestselling, National Book Award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain.

Overground railroad : the Green Book and the roots of Black travel in America / Candacy Taylor
Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the “black travel guide to America.” At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn’t eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. Overground Railroad shows the history of the Green Book, how we arrived at our present historical moment, and how far we still have to go when it comes to race relations in America

THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY : A GRAPHIC NOVEL HISTORY / Walker, David F./ Anderson, Marcus Kwame (ILT)
This gripping illustrated history explores the impact and significance of the Panthers, from their social, educational, and healthcare programs that were designed to uplift the Black community to their battle against police brutality through citizen patrols and frequent clashes with the FBI, which targeted the Party from its outset.

Caste : the origins of our discontents / Isabel Wilkerson
Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings. Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people's lives and behavior and the nation's fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people--including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball's Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others--she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day.

Biography/Autbiography Memoir

Fannie Lou Hamer Madam St. Claire Ida B. the Queen The Purpose of Power

Madam C.J. Walker Revolution or Death The Other Madisons The Three Mothers

Fannie Lou Hamer : America's freedom fighting woman / Maegan Parker Brooks
This accessible biography will enrich public memory about Hamer by telling not only the significant story of her riveting testimony before the Democratic National Convention's Credentials Committee, but also by recounting a life filled with triumphs, tragedies, and accompanying lessons for contemporary audiences. As significant as the 1964 DNC speech is, this book will underscore that Hamer’s testimony was but one moment within a remarkable life that spanned fifty-nine tumultuous years in the history of American race relations.

Madam St. Clair, Queen Of Harlem / Raphaël Confiant ; translated by Patricia Hartland and Hodna Bentali Gharsallah Nuernberg
In the years following her arrival on Ellis Island with little more than a razor and a slim roll of bank notes, St. Clair would become queen of the numbers game, facing off against both the black underworld and the white mafia. Traversing the era from the First World War, Prohibition, the Great Depression, the Second World War and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, she became an iconic figure of the Harlem Renaissance, as a ruthless lady gangster but also as consort and benefactor to such heroes of the movement as W.E.B. Du Bois, Countee Cullen, and Langston Hughes.

Written by her great-granddaughter, a historical portrait of the boundary-breaking civil rights pioneer covers Wells' early years as a slave, her famous acts of resistance, and her achievements as a journalist and anti-lynching activist.

The purpose of power : how we come together when we fall apart / Alicia Garza
Garza was a lifelong activist who had spent the previous decades educating herself on the hard lessons of organizing. She started as a kid, working on sexual education for her peers, and then moved on to major campaigns around housing, policing, and immigrant and labor rights in California and then nationally. The lessons she extracted were different from the "rules for radicals" that animated earlier generations of lefitists; they were also different than the charismatic, patriarchal model of the American Civil Rights Movement. She instead developed a mode of organizing based on creating deep connections with communities, forging multiracial, intersectional coalitions, and, most of all, calling in all sorts of people to join the fight for the world we all deserve. This is the story of an activist's education on the streets and in the homes of regular people around the country who found ways to come together to create change.

Founder of a beauty empire, Madam C. J. Walker was celebrated as America's first self-made female millionaire in the early 1900s. Known as a leading African American entrepreneur, Walker was also devoted to an activist philanthropy aimed at empowering African Americans and challenging the injustices inflicted by Jim Crow. Tyrone McKinley Freeman's biography highlights how giving shaped Walker's life before and after she became wealthy.

The first trade biography of one of the most well known black revolutionaries in history, exploring the audacious dreams and spiritual transformations of the eccentric radical and placing him squarely within the context of his changing times.

The other Madisons : the lost history of a president's Black family / Bettye Kearse
For thousands of years, West African griots (men) and griottes (women) have recited the stories of their people. Without this tradition Bettye Kearse would not have known that she is a descendant of President James Madison and his slave, and half-sister, Coreen. In 1990, Bettye became the eighth-generation griotte for her family. Their credo—“Always remember—you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president”—was intended to be a source of pride, but for her, it echoed with abuses of slavery, including rape and incest. Confronting those abuses, Bettye embarked on a journey of discovery—of her ancestors, the nation, and herself.

In her groundbreaking and essential debut The Three Mothers, scholar Anna Malaika Tubbs celebrates Black motherhood by telling the story of the three women who raised and shaped some of America's most pivotal heroes: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. Much has been written about Berdis Baldwin's son James, about Alberta King's son Martin Luther, and Louise Little's son Malcolm. But virtually nothing has been said about the extraordinary women who raised them, who were all born at thebeginning of the 20th century and forced to contend with the prejudices of Jim Crow as Black women. These women, their similarities and differences, as individuals and as mothers, represent a piece of history left untold and a celebration of Black motherhood long overdue

Sports History

A Most Beautiful Thing Olympic Pride and Prejudice The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson

A most beautiful thing : the true story of the first all-black high school rowing team / Arshay Cooper
The moving true story of a group of young men growing up on Chicago's West side who form the first all-black high school rowing team in the nation, and in doing so not only transform a sport, but their lives.

Olympic pride, American prejudice : the untold story of 18 African Americans who defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics / Deborah Riley Draper and Travis Thrasher
Set against the turbulent backdrop of a segregated United States, sixteen black men and two black women are torn between boycotting the Olympic Games in Nazi Germany or participating. If they go, they would represent a country that considered them second-class citizens and would compete amid a strong undercurrent of Aryan superiority that considered them inferior. Yet, if they stayed, would they ever have a chance to prove them wrong on a global stage? To be better than anyone ever expected? Five athletes, full of discipline and heart, guide readers through this harrowing and inspiring journey.

The court-martial of Jackie Robinson : the baseball legend's battle for civil rights during World War II / Michael Lee Lanning
Eleven years before Rosa Parks resisted going to the back of the bus, a young black second lieutenant, hungry to fight Nazis in Europe, refused to move to the back of a U.S. Army bus in Texas and found himself court-martialed. The defiant soldier was Jack Roosevelt Robinson, already in 1944 a celebrated athlete in track and football and in a few years the man who would break Major League Baseball’s color barrier. This was the pivotal moment in Jackie Robinson’s pre-MLB career.


This is Major Black Poetry Odetta

This is major : notes on Diana Ross, dark girls, and being dope / Shayla Lawson
Shayla Lawson is major. You don't know who she is, yet, but that's okay. She is on a mission to move black girls like herself from best supporting actress to a starring roles in the major narrative. With a unique mix of personal stories, pop culture observations, and insights into politics and history, Lawson sheds light on the many ways black femininity has influenced mainstream culture. Timely, enlightening, and wickedly sharp, This Is Major shows how major black women and girls really are.

African American poetry : 250 years of struggle & song / Kevin Young, editor
This anthology opens with moving testaments to the power of poetry as a means of self-assertion, as enslaved people like Phillis Wheatley and George Moses Horton and activist Frances Ellen Watkins Harper voice their passionate resistance to slavery. Young’s fresh, revelatory presentation of the Harlem Renaissance reexamines the achievements of Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen alongside works by lesser-known poets such as Gwendolyn B. Bennett and Mae V. Cowdery. The later flowering of the still influential Black Arts Movement is represented here with breadth and originality, including many long out-of-print or hard-to-find poems.

Odetta : a life in music and protest / Ian Zack
A leader of the 1960s folk revival, Odetta is one of the most important singers of the last hundred years. But Odetta’s importance extends far beyond music. Journalist Ian Zack follows Odetta from her beginnings in deeply segregated Birmingham, Alabama, to stardom in San Francisco and New York. Odetta used her fame to bring attention to the civil rights movement, working alongside Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, and other artists. Her opera-trained voice echoed at the 1963 March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery march, and she arranged a tour throughout the deeply segregated South. Her “Freedom Trilogy” songs became rallying cries for protesters everywhere.

All descriptions provided by the publishers.