The month of February whipped by so fast that you almost missed it. And while Black History Month may officially be over, the rich tapestry of the African diaspora and Black American experience is not something that can – or should – be relegated to a single, short month.
It’s been more than a century since the Tulsa Race Massacre and it still seems like there’s much left to learn about it. in “Requiem for the Massacre” by RJ Young (Counterpoint, $27), you’ll read about what happened on that violent, tragic and heartbreaking day in 1921, how officials are still reckoning with that, and how descendants of its survivors marked the centennial anniversary.
If you examine the decades between Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat and Black Lives Matter, you can clearly see how activism has changed with the times. Author Mark Whitaker writes about one year of it in “Saying It Loud” (Bloomsbury, $29.99). Set in 1966, this book shows how Black power changed the way young Black Americans fought for civil rights, and what it means today. This reads like a novel, and it should be on your bookshelf.
Readers who love sports will want “The Education of Kendrick Perkins” by Kendrick Perkins with Seth Rogoff (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99) on their nightstands. Here’s Perkins’ story, from his childhood in Beaumont, Texas, to his budding love of basketball, his NBA career, and playing in the sport’s biggest and best-known games. This is a fan’s book, perfect for any season.
If a real-life thriller is more to your liking, then look for “Master Slave Husband Wife” by Ilyon Woo (Simon & Schuster, $29.99). In 1848, Ellen and William Craft left the plantation on which they were enslaved and slipped away north. Here’s how: Ellen masqueraded as a rich white man during their flight, while her husband acted as the “his” slave. Their audacious run was hailed by Frederick Douglass and other Black luminaries of their day; most astoundingly, that’s not the end of this heart-pounding story. You gotta read this book!
And speaking of freedom, “I Saw Death Coming” by Kidada E. Williams (Bloomsbury, $30) is a book about the years after the Civil War and how Reconstruction affected the newly free and their families. Through genuine stories of formerly enslaved people, both men and women, Williams shows how just getting by day to day was a struggle: with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, merely existing was dangerous. And perhaps one of the most frightening things of all might have been the dawning realization that the government was of limited help, if at all. This is a fascinating book, perfect for historians and Civil War buffs.
If these books are not enough for your pleasure or learning, be sure to ask your favorite librarian or bookseller for help. They can show you hundreds, if not thousands, of books that will enlighten, teach, entertain or shock you. These are books you need to read now or soon – because knowing Black history requires more than just a month.
Black history books for adults. Various page counts and publishers. $27-$30.