1. “Annie Allen” by Gwendolyn Brooks

Brooks became the first African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for this book. “Annie Allen” is a collection of poems that follows the life of the author from childhood to womanhood surrounded by poverty, racial discrimination, parental expectations, and unhappiness.

3. “Assata: An Autobiography” by Assata Shakur

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This autobiography explains what happened during the shooting and killing of a White police trooper on the New Jersey Turnpike in May of 1973. Officers questioned Shakur about the incident while she was handcuffed to a hospital bed after being seriously wounded in the incident.

4. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston

This 1937 novel is about the life of Janie Crawford and her life from childhood to adulthood.

5. “Breath, Eyes, Memory” by Edwidge Danticat

Featured on Oprah’s Book Club this book is about 12-year-old Sophie Caco who leaves Haiti to go live with her mother whom she barely remembers. .While there she becomes exposed to things that no child should ever experience. All the while this book explores tradition, suffering, and wisdom of the people of Haiti.

6. “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly

This is the amazing true story about three intelligent African American women who worked at NASA and were responsible for helping put a man on the moon. Although the movie was amazing, the book is where you can find the full story of these women.

8. “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison

The narrator of this book describes growing up in a black community in the south while attending an all Black University where he is expelled from. He then moved to New York where he became the leader of “the Brotherhood”.

9. “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

Continuing on the poetry kick, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” was written by Maya Angelou. Published in 1969, it is an autobiography of her life and career.

10. “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” by Fredrick Douglas

This book tells the story of Fedrick Douglas who went from being a slave to an abolitionist, writer, news paper editor, and orator.

12. “The Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide To Hollywood Success” by Devon Franklin

So many times we’ve seen people in Hollywood start are strong and end up fizzling out either from a career-ending move, financial trouble, or something. In our own lives, we can suffer from the same things too. In his book, Franklin gives you guidelines to navigate this life using your faith and trust in the Lord.

14. “Role Of Thunder Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor

This is a classic but definitely worth reading and rereading again. It’s about a family’s struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. But it’s also about Cassie Logan, a girl who finds over the course of a year why having land of their own is important to her family.

15. “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man” by James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johnson was a lawyer, educator, social reformer, songwriter, and critic. However, when he became a poet and novelist that is where he found his nitch.

16. “Kindred” by Octavia E. Butler

“Kindred” is about a woman named Dana who is kidnapped from her husband’s birthday party in the present in California in the present and taken to the antebellum south in the past. In this, she navigates the racially tensioned world of the South.

18. “Hacks: The Inside Story Of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House” by Donna Brazile

In this book, Donna Brazile outlines everything that led up to Donald Trump becoming president by explaining voter hacking, lack of campaigning and the Russian involvement.

19. “The Secret Life Of Bees” By Sue Monk Kidd

This book beautifully depicts the journey of a little girl, healing and the power of love that cuts through all hate and racism to bring an amazing story. Lily Owens mother dies and is raised by Roasleen who serves as her stand in mother who happens to be black. Lily Owens learns so much about herself and the people she’s come to love.

20. “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison

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TW: r*pe, domestic violence, incest Morrison’s first novel published in 1970, The Bluest Eye follows the tragic life of Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl who just wants to be beautiful - but to be beautiful is to be white, eurocentric, blue eyes and the like - unattainable for a black girl. Pecola is a temporary foster child at the MacTeer household, unable to stay at her own home due to domestic violence and an alcoholic father, Cholly. The MacTeer household consists of 9 and 10 year old Claudia and Frieda, their parents, and a boarder named Mr Henry. Claudia narrates this story for the majority of the time, except during flashbacks when we get a glimpse of the lives of Pecola’s parents before parenthood, mother Pauline and father Cholly, and learn of their struggles as African Americans in a racist white world. These glimpses are integral to understanding Pecola’s situation, as her parents trauma is passed on to her. This book was such a sad but beautiful read. Morrison’s style is just ahhh, her writing is dare I say it flawless, or at least it’s a style that I love. The amount of quotes I copied down from this book is ridiculous because everything was so poetically said, words chosen meticulously. This is one of the first fiction books I have ever read that shows the devastating effects of the idealisation of whiteness as the beauty standard. In a flashback, Pauline is depicted frequenting the cinemas and after seeing the elegant and revered white celebrities, she is consumed with a desire to look like them. She begins styling her hair in the fashions of the time and completely remodels her ideas of femininity and womanhood to fit the dominant ideology, one which she will never be able to fit. Pauline’s diminished self worth is passed on to Pecola, and this inability to reach the beauty ideal fuels her self hatred and low self worth. However, juxtaposed with Pecola is Claudia, whose mother refuses to assimilate their black identities - an action that saves Claudia from as much self loathing and hatred than Pecola is plagued with. Absolutely loved this novel. “We mistook violence for passion, indolence for leisure, and thought recklessness was freedom.”

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“The Bluest Eye”, by author Toni Morrison, is about a young African American girl who prays for blue eyes so that she can look like the blond hair and blue eyed kids in America. When tragedy strikes she learns to love herself through the all the pain.

21. “The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. ” by Martin Luther King Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson

Clayborne Carson using published material, Standford University’s of archives, recordings, and interviews has put together a first person account of the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

22. “The Blacker The Berry” by Wallace Thurman

This is a story about Emma Lou Morgan isn’t a shamed of being Black but is ashamed of the darkness of her skin. None of her friends and family members could offer her any words of advice, consolation, or hope. Looking for hope else were Emma Lou leaves her home in Idaho and finds herself in the middle of the Harlem Renaissance that leads her on a soul finding journey to accepting herself as she is.