Black History Month is celebrated annually in the month of February to honor Black Americans whose sacrifices and contributions shaped the nation by way of advocacy for equal rights and the liberation of Black voices.
Carter G. Woodson, typically referred to as the father of Black History, designated the second week of February for only a weeklong celebration to encourage the teaching of Black History in public schools in the 1920s.
However, it wasn’t till the 1960s that the thought grew more into acceptance top to what is now recognized as Black History Month.
Black History Month Celebrates Black Voices, Leaders, Activists and Inspiring Black Authors
The month-extended celebration is an chance to spend homage to the historical Black figures whose activism led to our present-day freedom.
Black History Month is also an chance for us to show allyship and action, to continue the fight alongside Black Americans to live safely and freely in America in a Black body just as our white counterparts do.
To continue to be informed and educated about Black influences and excellency, check out this Black history reading list featuring fifteen inspirational Black authors.
Black History Month Reading List: 15 Inspiring Black Authors Whose Words We Live By
1. Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison was the very first African American lady to win a Nobel Prize in Literature amongst a lot of other prestigious accolades. Her notable work in plays, children’s books, and novels captured the wins and woes of the Black expertise.
“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.” ― Toni Morrison, Beloved
Morrison’s very first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published when she was thirty-nine years old. In 1987, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Beloved, primarily based on the accurate story of an African American enslaved lady who sacrificed her daughter to protect against her from becoming a slave.
In 1998, a film adaptation of the novel was co-created by Oprah Winfrey who also played the starring function.
2. bell hooks
“All too often women believe it is a sign of commitment, an expression of love, to endure unkindness or cruelty, to forgive and forget. In actuality, when we love rightly we know that the healthy, loving response to cruelty and abuse is putting ourselves out of harm’s way.”
― bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions
Born Gloria Jean Watkins, bell hooks chose to honor the legacy of her maternal wonderful-grandmother, Bell Blaire Hooks, by employing a pen name. Her pen name is purposely spelled with no capital letters as a stance to hold the focus on her writing vs her person identity.
Hooks’ most notable piece of work, Ain’t I Woman: Black Women and Feminism published in 1981.
In 2000, hooks published a different well known title, All About Love, which calls to query the poor approaches in which we discovered to show appreciate, how our approach for displaying appreciate is impacted by gender, and how we develop in relational appreciate by way of close examination of our self-appreciate.
3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was named a single of TIME Magazine’s one hundred Most Influential People in the World in 2015 and in 2017 Fortune Magazine named her as a single of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.
Born in Nigeria and initially studying medicine, Adichie departed to the US to commence a new path at nineteen. Now a decorated author and speaker, her potent TEDx Euston speak, “We Should All Be Feminist”, sparked worldwide buzz about feminism and was published in 2014.
This achievement was followed in 2017 with a Black History Month reading need to Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.
4. James Baldwin
James Baldwin hailed from Harlem and became a key Black voice through the Civil Rights Movement. His poetic and rhythmic flow painted the image of the internal battles and disparities of Black Americans fighting for equal rights.
At the age of twenty-4, Baldwin relocated to Paris to leave behind the globe he wrote so vividly about and spent the following years traveling and writing. In the 1960s he felt named back to the U.S. to take element in the Civil Rights Movement.
“Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.” ― James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk
After the assassination of key historical Black figures, and most importantly his mates, Medgar Evers, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcom X, he returned to France exactly where he relented his discomfort in, If Beale Street Could Talk. The inspiring Black author’s novel was adapted into a film in 2019.
5. Maya Angelou
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill,
of points unknown, but longed for nonetheless,
and his tune is heard on the distant hill,
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Angelou’s portfolio contains more than thirty bestselling titles and more than thirty honorary degrees. In 2010 President Barack Obama awarded Angelou with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Angelou passed away in 2014 and however she continues to obtain honors for notable operates of art.
In most current news, she is featured in The United States Mint American Women Quarters which started rolling out in early 2022.
6. Nikki Giovanni
Nikki Giovanni has had a extended profession as a single of America’s most recognizable poets.
Giovanni has published several volumes of poetry which includes her very first self-published volume, Black Feeling Black Talk, a response to numerous assassinations of prominent Black figures a lot like Baldwin. In the 1970s she added to a repertoire books and verse for young children.
We appreciate mainly because it is the only accurate adventure. ― Nikki Giovanni
Giovanni was named a single of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 Living Legends, and she is the recipient of seven NAACP Image Awards, the Langston Hughes Award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters, the Rosa Parks Women of Courage Award.
She holds more than twenty honorary degrees from colleges and universities about the nation. Our Black History Month reading list would not be full with out her most current work Make Me Rain: Poems and Prose published in 2020.
7. Langston Hughes
What takes place to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”
― Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems
Langston Hughes is a staple writer all through the Harlem Renaissance with an array of poems, novels, brief stories, essays and plays centered about the working-class Black life expertise.
Although extremely criticized for his realistic portrayals and uncomfortable lens on the experiences of his time, Hughes was the very first Black American to earn his living solely from his writing and public lectures.
You can celebrate Black History Month and study more of Langston Hughes collection of classics right here, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes.
8. Octavia E. Butler
“Better to stay alive,” I stated. “At least while there’s a chance to get free.” I believed of the sleeping tablets in my bag and wondered just how wonderful a hypocrite I was. It was so effortless to advise other people today to live with their discomfort.”
― Octavia E. Butler, Kindred
Octavia E. Butler is the author of a number of award-winning dystopian novels regardless of deciding on significantly less well known themes of her occasions such as Black injustice, worldwide warming, women’s rights and political disparity.
Butler received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. The achievement of her novels grew immediately after her death in 2006. Her legacy is shared in teachings in more than 200 colleges and universities nationwide.
The adaptation of Butler’s 1979 novel, Kindred, is the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel adaptation and received the Eisner Award for ideal adaptation.
9. Alice Walker
Alice Walker is a potent figure in African American women’s literature with most of her operates published alongside other girls such as Toni Morrison in the post-1970s surge.
Walker is a novelist, essayist, poet, and brief-story writer. Her journey as a writer can be credited to a childhood accident that occurred when she was just eight years old.
While playing a game with her brother, Walker’s ideal eye was left blinded and scarred by a BB gun. The embarrassment of her wounds led to a reclusiveness that could only be comforted by writing.
I consider it pisses God off if you stroll by the colour purple in a field someplace and do not notice it.” ― Alice Walker, The Color Purple
One of Walker’s most properly recognized operates, The Color Purple, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book award in 1983. The novel was adapted into a film, a Broadway musical, and a musical film adaptation is set for release in December 2023.
10. Barack Obama
“To be known. To be heard. To have one’s unique identity recognized and seen as worthy. It was a universal human desire, I thought, as true for nations and peoples as it was for individuals.”
― Barack Obama, A Promised Land
On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected as the 44th president of the United States in America. He won more votes than any candidate in history! His message of hope inspired us all through a time when America’s economy was in crisis and hope was fleeting.
Born to a Hawaiian mother and Kenyan father, Barack Obama is the very first Black President of the United States. Obama published, A Promised Land, the very first volume of his presidential memoirs in 2020.
11. Ibram X. Kendi
“But there is no neutrality in the racism struggle…One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is not in between safe space of ‘not racist.’ The claim of ‘not racist’ neutrality is a mask for racism.”
– Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi is a single of America’s top historians and anti-racist scholars. In 2020, Dr. Kendi was named as a single of Time Magazine’s one hundred most influential people today in the globe.
In 2021, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius” Grant. Dr. Kendi penned 5 #1 New York Times ideal-sellers which includes, How to Be an Antiracist. The New York Times described the book as “the most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western Mind.”
Dr. Kendi, initially aspiring to be a sports journalist, has also composed fourteen academic essays, numerous academic journals and op-eds.
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12. Angela Davis
“If Black people had simply accepted a status of economic and political inferiority, the mob murders would probably have subsided. But because vast numbers of ex-slaves refused to discard their dreams of progress, more than ten thousand lynchings occurred.”
― Angela Y. Davis, Women, Race, & Class
Angela Davis is most recognized for her political activism. She is a former member of the Black Panthers and the Communist Party.
Her political involvement geared towards tackling the oppression faced by the Black neighborhood, girls, and the LGBTQ+ neighborhood is respected amongst generations despite the fact that her method was thought of radical for some onlookers.
In 1970 Davis spent eighteen months in prison awaiting a trial for a crime in which she was later acquitted. The nation rallied behind her in an work to show solidarity and assistance. John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote “Angela” and the Rolling Stones wrote “Sweet Black Angel.”
In 1983, Davis published Women, Race, and Class.
13. Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay is a New York Times ideal-promoting author for her 2014 essay collection, Bad Feminist. In 2016, Gay and poet Yona Harvey co-wrote for Marvel Comic’s World of Wakanda, a spin off from the well known Black Panther title.
“I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”— Roxane Gay, Bad Feminist
Gay’s work in essays, brief stories and novels analyzes her private viewpoint on race, gender identity and sexuality, the deconstruction of feminism, and racial problems.
14. Amanda Gorman
“When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
― Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country”
Amanda Gorman is the very first National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States.
President Biden chosen Gorman to recite her original poem, “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country”, for his inauguration in January of 2021 producing her the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.
She is also the very first poet commissioned to create and study a poem at the Super Bowl. Gorman serves as the founder and executive director of One Pen One Page, an organization giving cost-free inventive writing applications for underserved youth.
15. Ta-Nehisi Coates
“I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”
― Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates is an author, journalist, screenwriter, and executive producer.
This inspiring Black author has eight published operates which includes, Between the World and Me, which earned him the National Book Award in 2015. The book was adapted for the stage in 2018 premiering at the Apollo Theater and the film adaptation aired on HBO in 2020.
Coates credits the encouragement from his parents to critically examine his experiences and study a diverse array of books, which was a important influence on his written explorations of the Black expertise and essential examinations of racism in America.
Coates is an advocate for diversity in storytelling saying more books require to be written to encapsulate the array of experiences of Black girls and the LGBTQ+ neighborhood amongst other people.
Inspirational Black Authors to Celebrate During Black History Month and Always
These writers amongst several other people have penned memoirs, novels, essays, poems and several other types of inspiring texts that elevate and honor the voices of Black Americans although difficult the racism and disparity forced on Black bodies.
Use these Black history reading ideas as a guide to continue to celebrate and educate oneself not just for Black History Month, but all through the entirety of the year.
Let us know if you study any work from these inspiring Black authors and continue to assistance Black enterprises, efforts, and operates of art!