The Books You Should Read in Honor of Black History Month

It is important in today’s society that we educate ourselves on relevant topics that impact a large majority of our fellow American citizens, as well as people around the world. These topics include racial injustice, LGBTQ rights, gender equality, environmental sustainability and so on. In honor of Black History Month, it is vital that we tune in on the struggles people of color face in our world. I am not a person of color, so I believe it is my duty as a conscious citizen to educate myself on the racial inequality prevalent in today’s society. I find the best education stems from literature, so here is a list of some of the most important books regarding race in our world. 

1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

Picture of a book cover Photo by Maddie Traylor

Category: Biography/memoir 

Cost: $12 hardcover

Michelle Obama is one of my biggest role models in life. Her intelligence, grace and witty sense of humor are reflected in all she does in her life. Becoming takes my appreciation for her to a whole new level. She beautifully details her life. She takes the reader through her experience of growing up in the Southside of Chicago and how her experiences as a minority led her into one of the most powerful positions in America. This is a great book to read if you want some girl boss inspiration!

2. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Picture of a book cover Photo by Maddie Traylor

Category: Biography/memoir 

Cost: $14 paperback

Just Mercy is a novel that details Bryan Stevenson’s young career as a lawyer. He takes you through the injustices and discrimination people of color face in the justice system. One of his first cases was defending Walter McMillian, a young man sentenced to die for a murder he did not commit. Stevenson writes about his role in defending McMillian and how this case shaped his career and life as a Black man living in America. This book is perfect for anyone interested in the justice system and its role in shaping people’s lives. 

3. Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho

Picture of a book cover Photo by Maddie Traylor

Category: Education/learning

Cost: $22 hardcover

Emmanuel Acho sets his book up like a question and answer. Each chapter begins with a question that many white Americans are afraid to ask. This book is a must-read because it dives deep into issues like white privilege, cultural appropriation and “reverse racism.” As well as writing this novel, Acho also has a YouTube channel where he continues ‘uncomfortable conversations with a Black man.’ He has interviewed the police, Chelsea Handler, Mathew McConaughey and many others. This book is for anyone who wants to educate themselves on systemic inequalities within America from the perspective of a young man.   

4. Evicted  by Matthew Desmond 

Picture of a book cover Photo by Maddie Traylor

Category: Nonfiction

Cost: $16 paperback

Matthew Desmond, a sociologist at Princeton, follows eight families who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Desmond details the grossly misunderstood subject of poverty in America and how it disproportionally affects people of color. He also provides suggestions on how we can potentially fix this problem. This book is a great read for anyone interested in the economics, and the hold poverty has on so many individuals living in America.

5. Born A Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Picture of a book cover Photo by Maddie Traylor

Category: Biography/memoir

Cost: $16 paperback

This book is a truly inspiring story of a young man’s journey from a South African tyrannical rule to the desk of the Daily Show. I’m sure many of you have heard of Trevor Noah or at least seen his face on TV, YouTube, social media and more, but he is so much more than just a TV host, and his book proves that. This book is not just about him but also about his mother, a woman intent on protecting her son from the harsh confines of the South African government. Noah does an impressive job of weaving his stories together through drama, heartache, comedy and perseverance. I would recommend this book to anyone… it is a must-read!

6. The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett 

Picture of a book cover Photo by Maddie Traylor

Category: Women’s fiction

Cost: $16.20 hardcover

An alluring novel written by Brit Bennett follows the lives of identical twin sisters growing up in a small, southern Black community. When they decide to run away at 16, they must come face to face with the trials and tribulations of modern America. The book then highlights both sisters as adults, living completely different lives but still entirely connected by their bond. Bennett explores racial challenges throughout many generations. This book is a lovely read for anyone who loves realistic nonfiction, like me. It is one of those books you can’t put down. It is also one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2020, an added bonus!

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