In honor of Black History Month, we’ve rounded up 11 moving must-reads that contribute to the national conversation of the Black Lives Matter movement and African American history.
From books about slavery and segregation to being wrongfully accused, there are plenty of interesting and impactful themes to explore in this roundup—not only this month but anytime of the year.
The Hate U Give is a debut novel by Angie Thomas and inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death became a national headline. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. $12.98
The Irrational Fear Cure is a radical, visionary book that serves as a blueprint for achieving personal and societal well-being. It is a timely resource for a world in a pandemic. Author Teri Smith-Pickens, a mental health practitioner, interviewed over 200 people to understand where their fears and anxieties come from. Throughout the book, she highlights how many people are living in survival mode stemming from trauma in childhood and, as adults, who now use obsessive compulsive behaviors to fill voids they feel on the inside. $12.99
Gwendolyn Patton’s life centered around Detroit until she came to Montgomery in 1956 and found herself in the midst of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. That experience sparked a lifetime of civil rights activism, as Patton became a member of the Montgomery Improvement Association, supported the Freedom Riders, and participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery march. My Race to Freedom is the story of how a young woman found her voice and used it to help her community. $25.95
The story of Benjamin Sterling Turner, a formerly enslaved man who rose to become Alabama’s first Black congressman, is presented in an illustrated children’s book for the first time in The Slave Who Went to Congress. A fundraising initiative to provide free copies to Alabama schools has just been launched. $18.95
School choice, widely touted as a system that would ensure underprivileged youth have an equal opportunity in education, has grown in popularity in past years. The rhetoric of school choice, however, resembles that of segregationists. In Overturning Brown, Steve Suitts examines the parallels between de facto segregationist practices and the modern school choice movement and reveals the risks we face as a result. $25.95
Prince Edward County, Virginia, closed its public school system in “massive resistance” to Brown v. Board. More than 2,000 Black students were left without a formal education. Their lives were forever changed. The Road to Healing by Ken Woodley is his first-person account of the steps taken in recent years to redress the wound. It also offers a detailed narrative of the events leading up to and following the school closures in the county Woodley served as a journalist and activist. $27.95
Coming Full Circle is the memoir of an African American woman who grew up privileged and educated in the restricted culture of the American South in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Despite Jim Crow laws, Wanda Smalls Lloyd grew up to realize her childhood dream of working as a professional journalist. Coming Full Circle is a self-reflective exploration of the author’s life journey from childhood in coastal Savannah, Georgia, to editing roles at seven daily newspapers around the country. $28.95
American Founders reveals men and women of African descent as key protagonists in the story of American democracy. It chronicles how Black people developed and defended New World settlements, undermined slavery, and championed freedom throughout the hemisphere from the 16th through the 20th centuries. The multitude of events and mixed-race individuals included in the book underscores that Black and white Americans share the same history. $29.95
In 1961, 16-year-old Brenda Travis was a youth leader of the NAACP branch in her hometown of McComb, Mississippi. She joined in the early stages of voter registration and was thrown in jail, then released on the condition that she leave the state. Her poignant memoir describes what gave her the courage at such a young age to fight segregation, how the movement unfolded in Mississippi, and what happened after she was forced to leave her family and fellow activists. $21.95
In his popular and much-praised memoir, Bob Zellner tells how one white Alabamian joined ranks with the Black students who were sitting-in, marching, fighting, and sometimes dying to challenge the Southern “way of life” he had been raised on but rejected. Decades later, he is still protesting on behalf of equal rights. The Wrong Side of Murder Creek, winner of the 2009 Lillian Smith Book Award, is Bob Zellner’s larger-than-life story. $24.95
On a December afternoon in 1975, Bernard Whitehurst Jr., a father of four, was mistaken for a robbery suspect by Montgomery, Alabama, police officers and killed. Closed Ranks brings together interviews, police reports, and other records to carry the reader through the fraught post-civil rights movement period of the time. This book shows how essential it is to find and face the truth in such deeply troubling matters. $23.95
Leean Vargas is an Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of
Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations.
One of the pleasures of publishing a lifestyle magazine like Texas Lifestyle Magazine is that we receive invitations to attend events, travel and review products. We accept and write about a small fraction of these offers, always with a view to what would be interesting or helpful to our readers. You may notice that our reviews are generally positive, which is because we don’t enjoy writing negative ones, and therefore choose only to write about the things we can recommend without reservation.