Juneteenth commemorates the day the last enslaved people were emancipated in the United States on June 19, 1865. Celebrate fiction and nonfiction by African American authors that continue to shape our culture, celebrate liberation, and acknowledge the ongoing work towards freedom and equality, still necessary over 150 years later.
A chorus of extraordinary voices tells the epic story of the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present—edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire. This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present.
Danté Stewart gives breathtaking language to his reckoning with the legacy of white supremacy—both the kind that hangs over our country and the kind that is internalized on a molecular level. Stewart uses his personal experiences as a vehicle to reclaim and reimagine spiritual virtues like rage, resilience, and remembrance—and explores how these virtues might function as a work of love against an unjust, unloving world.
Hanif Abdurraqib has written a profound and lasting reflection on how Black performance is inextricably woven into the fabric of American culture. With care and generosity, he explains the poignancy of performances big and small, each one feeling intensely familiar and vital, both timeless and desperately urgent.
From 1915 to 1970, the exodus of almost six million people who fled the South for northern and western cities in search of a better life changed the face of America. Both a riveting microcosm and a major assessment, The Warmth of Other Suns is a bold, remarkable, and riveting work. Through the breadth of its narrative, the beauty of the writing, the depth of its research, and the fullness of the people and lives portrayed herein, this book is destined to become a classic.
In How to Be an Antiracist, Ibram X. Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves. This is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond the awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a just and equitable society.
The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project” issue reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This new book substantially expands on that work, weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself.
Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race.” (Rolling Stone)
Ghana, eighteenth century: two half sisters are born into different villages, each unaware of the other. One will marry an Englishman and lead a life of comfort in the palatial rooms of the Cape Coast Castle. The other will be captured in a raid on her village, imprisoned in the very same castle, and sold into slavery. Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed—and shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Isabel Wilkerson, examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America and shows how our lives today are still defined by a hierarchy of human divisions. Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.
From a leading voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female that exposes how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals. Channing invites readers to confront apathy, recognize God’s ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness—if we let it—can save us all.
The abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked “a new birth of freedom” in Lincoln’s America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King Jr.’s America? In this new book, Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of our leading chroniclers of the African-American experience, seeks to answer that question in a history that moves from the Reconstruction Era to the “nadir” of the African-American experience under Jim Crow, through to World War I and the Harlem Renaissance.
Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.
Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. All too often the focus in not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Mikki Kendall asks, when there is a distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others? An unforgettable debut, Kendall has written a ferocious clarion call to all would-be feminists to live out the true mandate of the movement in thought and in deed.
“Tell me what happened while there’s still time,” demands the dying Senator Adam Sunraider to the itinerate Negro preacher whom he calls Daddy Hickman. As a young man, Sunraider was Bliss, an orphan taken in by Hickman and raised to be a preacher like himself. Bliss’s history encompasses the joys of young southern boyhood; bucolic days as a filmmaker, lovemaking in a field in the Oklahoma sun. And behind it all lies a mystery: how did this chosen child become the man who would deny everything to achieve his goals? Brilliantly crafted, moving, wise, Juneteenth is the work of an American master.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming-of-age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force, establishing Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the twentieth-century.
A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two “letters,” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Described by The New York Times Book Review as “sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle…all presented in searing, brilliant prose,” The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of our literature.
Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s poetic and powerful memoir will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.
An astounding work of fiction that is deeply honest and electrically funny, Hell of a Book goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans and America as a whole.
Cora is a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is on the cusp of womanhood—where greater pain awaits. And so when Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him. In Colson Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroadis both the gripping tale of one woman’s will to escape the horrors of bondage—and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.
Breaking her silence and sharing her story for the first time, Carlotta Walls—one of the “Little Rock Nine” who attended Little Rock Central High School in 1957—has written an engrossing memoir that is a testament not only to the power of a single person to make a difference but also to the sacrifices made by families and communities that found themselves a part of history.
In his boldly imagined first novel, Ta-Nehisi Coates, the National Book Award–winning author of Between the World and Me, brings home the most intimate evil of enslavement: the cleaving and separation of families. This is the dramatic story of an atrocity inflicted on generations of women, men, and children—the violent and capricious separation of families—and the war they waged to simply make lives with the people they loved. Written by one of today’s most exciting thinkers and writers, The Water Dancer isa propulsive, transcendent work that restores the humanity of those from whom everything was stolen.
Conjure Women is a sweeping story that brings the world of the South before and after the Civil War vividly to life. Spanning eras and generations, it tells of the lives of three unforgettable women: Miss May Belle, a wise healing woman; her precocious and observant daughter Rue, who is reluctant to follow in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife; and their enslaver’s daughter Varina. The secrets and bonds among these women and their community come to a head at the beginning of a war and at the birth of an accursed child, who sets the townspeople alight with fear and a spreading superstition that threatens their newly won, tenuous freedom.
Toni Morrison’s magnificent Pulitzer Prize-winning work—first published in 1987—brought the wrenching experience of slavery into the literature of our time, enlarging our comprehension of America’s original sin. Set in post–Civil War Ohio, it is the story of Sethe, an escaped slave who has lost a husband and buried a child; who has withstood savagery and not gone mad. Sethe, who now lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing apparition who calls herself Beloved.