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BOOK LIST:

*African American Heritage Month: Adult Non-Fiction

Updated: February 1, 2016

A selected list of non-fiction books about African American history and the African American experience.


Call Number: 709.794 A2585

Three exhibits (200 works) by African American artists (125) was shown between 2004 and 2005.  All of the artists lived in LA, were trained in LA, or educated in LA between 1945 to 2003.  As each artist struggled to gain recognition by established institutions, they generated interest in their art that never before existed.

 

by Rogers, W. Sherman.
Call Number: 338.0973 R731
Highlights of the history of African American entrepreneurship in the United States from the 1600s to the present.

by Hattery, Angela.
Call Number: 301.45096 H366

Exposes many of the myths plaguing African American families.


by Spangenburg, Ray, 1939-
Call Number: 509.73 S735 2012
This book is in encyclopedic format, A to Z, and covers the contributions of African Americans in science, mathematics and invention. Brief profiles of 162 African American astronauts, physicists, chemists, biologists, agricultural specialists and others, both living and deceased, are accompanied by recommendations for further readings

by Gay, Roxane, author.
Call Number: 301.412 G2855
Being a feminist isn’t about being a perfect, platonic ideal of womanhood. Instead, Roxane Gay writes a series of essays about a feminism that acknowledges (and frequently examines) the individual pieces of her life and her experiences, allowing for inconsistencies and rough edges that grind against other aspects of her life and identity. The result is an autobiographical exploration of life and culture that is honest, compelling, and very, very funny.

by Jordan, Barbara, 1936-1996.
Call Number: 92 J817-1
Speeches given by one of the most compelling orators of the U.S. Congress, Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan.

by Coates, Ta-Nehisi.
Call Number: 301.45096 C652
The journalist and social commentator describes his upbringing in 1980s Baltimore.

by Coates, Ta-Nehisi, author.
Call Number: 301.45096 C652-1

Considered by none other than Toni Morrison to be “required reading,” Coates' collection of essays delves into what it means to be black in American society. Intimate and personal, yet far reaching in its criticisms, this book’s unflinching honesty takes the status quo to task.

 

Call Number: 301.45096 B6275-13 2013

An in-depth resource about African American achievements.


by Needleman, Ruth, 1945-
Call Number: 331.63 N375
Examines the perseverance of African American steel workers in Indiana and their fight for unionism and economic and racial justice.

by Lusane, Clarence, 1953-
Call Number: 301.45096 L968-1
A fascinating history of the White House from an African American perspective, covering such topics as slavery, the abolitionist movement, and African American White House staff.

by Hardesty, Von, 1939-
Call Number: 629.130973 H259-1
Richly illustrated with photographs and color poster reproductions, this coffee table book by curator Von Hardesty of the National Air and Space Museum, recounts the lives and contributions of African American aviators and astronauts. There is a chapter on the Tuskegee Airmen, subject of a recent

by Pinckney, Darryl, 1953-
Call Number: 324.73 P647

Darryl Pinckney reflects on African Americans and democracy from Reconstruction to Barack Obama’s election while interspersing his own memories and thoughts on political participation.


Call Number: 959.7 B6555
A series of gripping first-person accounts from African American soldiers who served in the Vietnam War and the effects the experience had on their lives once they returned home.

by Goins, Wayne E, author.
Call Number: 789.14 R7267Go

This is a long overdue appreciation and history about a blues guitar great. Based on numerous hours of interviews with family members and musicians, and in-depth research that includes information about Chess Records and other musicians of the day.


by Flamming, Douglas.
Call Number: 979.41 L881Fl
Many African Americans migrated to Los Angeles during the first half of the 20th century in search of a better life, but frequently encountered segregated schools, racially restrictive housing covenants, and institutionalized racism. Flamming chronicles Los Angeles's black community and the fight for civil rights in Los Angeles through the Jazz Age, the Great Depression, and World War II.

by Arnesen, Eric.
Call Number: 331.7656 A748
A history of African American labor activism and experiences working on the railroads.

Call Number: 323.4 C5826-11

Offers an historical look through photographs celebrating civil rights and equality for all Americans.

 

by Stevenson, Brenda E.
Call Number: 343.1 D812St
The story of the 1991 murder trial of a 15-year-old African American girl shot by a Korean liquor store owner for shoplifting a bottle of orange juice, and the Jewish judge who sentenced the shooter “to probation, community service and a $500 fine.”  This trial was the start of what led to the 1992 LA riots 
following the Rodney King verdict.

by Joseph, Peniel E.
Call Number: 301.45096 J83
A narrative of African American activists, intellectuals, artists, and politicians from the past 50 years. This chronicle reassesses the successes and failures of African American leaders in the last half-century and their impact on American democracy and the world.

by Mullenbach, Cheryl.
Call Number: 940.5315326 M958

Meet the war correspondents, Red Cross workers, activists, entertainers, and others who did extraordinary things to help their country during World War II.

 

by Jones, Jacqueline, 1948-
Call Number: 323.1 J775

Historian Jacqueline Jones traces the lives of six African Americans to illustrate that the idea of "race" in America is purely a myth.

 

by Margolick, David.
Call Number: 371.974 M329

With the goal of becoming a lawyer, fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Eckford was selected as one of nine black students to integrate the all-white Little Rock Central High School in 1957.  On the first day of classes the eight other students were advised to arrive at school as a group escorted by local ministers, but without a telephone Elizabeth never received word about this plan.  As she stoically approached the campus by herself, she was mobbed by adult segregationists who hurled the most hateful and violent racial epithets at her.  An iconic photograph captured white student Hazel Bryan, also fifteen, spewing venom at Elizabeth.  Years later Hazel contacted Elizabeth to apologize, and for a time, the two women formed a friendship.


by Stewart, Alison, 1966-
Call Number: 373.73 D898St

Dunbar, which was an academically elite public school that produced highly educated and high-achieving Black Americans in the first half of the twentieth century, now struggles like many other urban schools. Journalist Alison Stewart recounts Dunbar’s rise, fall and current revival.


by Zieger, Robert H.
Call Number: 331.63 Z66
Discusses the efforts and struggles of African Americans working for racial and labor equality throughout different periods in American history.

by Moye, J. Todd.
Call Number: 940.544973 M938
As director of the National Park Service's Tuskegee Airmen Oral History Project, Moye helped to conduct over 800 interviews with Tuskegee Airmen and others who worked at the Tuskegee Army Air Field from 1941-1945. Their stories, in their own words, are told here.

by Leovy, Jill.
Call Number: 364.973 L588

Outlines a “ghettoside” killing (slaying of a young black man by another) in South Los Angeles, and the dedicated detective who pursues the assailant.

 


by Norris, Michele.
Call Number: 071.092 N857
Interested in the national conversation about race in the wake of Barack Obama's election, journalist and co-host of NPR's All Things Considered Michele Norris set out to investigate her family's own past. In the process, she learns about many things that her family never talks about.

by Smith, R. J., 1959-
Call Number: 301.45096 S657
Smith shows how Los Angeles's Central Avenue was a hub for artistic, political, and civic life for African Americans in the 1940s.

by Smith, Jessie Carney, 1930-
Call Number: 301.45096 S6513

An excellent resource covering “people, times, and events” that impacted African American history.


by Ashe, Arthur.
Call Number: 796.00973 A824
In 1983, Arthur Ashe was asked to teach a course, The Black Athlete in Contemporary Society, at Florida Memorial College's Center for Community Change. Because he could not find the resources needed, Ashe researched and wrote this three-volume history which covers the history of sports in ancient civilizations and the historical achievements of African American athletes who overcame racist obstacles from the seventeenth century through the twentieth century. This monumental work includes narrative explanations and numerous chronological charts for major sports.

by Harris, Jessica B.
Call Number: 641.0973 H314
A critically acclaimed history of African American cuisine from popular cookbook author Jessica B. Harris. The book traces partcular foods, cooking methods, food traditions and profiles individual cooks throughout American history; includes photographs and selected recipes.

by Grimsley, Jim, 1955- author.
Call Number: 371.974 G865

Jim Grimsley was only eleven years old when federally mandated integration of schools went into effect. In this coming-of-age memoir, he reflects on his own childhood prejudices and what he learned about race from his family and community.

 


by Skloot, Rebecca, 1972-
Call Number: 610.71 S628
Explore issues of bioethics, racism, poverty, science, and faith in this investigation into the origins of a line of cells that has and continues to be instrumental to biological and medical research.

by Stevenson, Bryan, author.
Call Number: 347.092 S847

Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, recounts one of his first cases, Walter McMillian, a young man sentenced to die for a murder he insisted he didn’t commit.

 

by Copeland, Misty.
Call Number: 793.324 C782

Misty Copeland overcame the odds of a dysfunctional home, racism, and a late start with ballet lessons to became a star and soloist with American Ballet Theatre.  No matter what the odds, obstacles or pain, in life and in ballet, her autobiography conveys her indomitable spirit and passion for dance.


by Mungen, Donna.
Call Number: 979.41 L881Mun
The first African American woman to own land in California, Biddy Mason was born into slavery in 1818, but won her freedom in a Los Angeles court and purchased a homestead between Broadway and Spring Streets. When she died in 1891, she was one of the wealthiest women and most notable philanthropists in Los Angeles. You can read more about Mason's fascinating life story here, and in LAPL's California Index.

by Marable, Manning, 1950-2011.
Call Number: 322.4092 X1Mar
This is a new biography using recently declassified FBI documents and archival materials from the Nation of Islam - a significant and eye-opening contribution to the field of scholarship on Malcolm X.

by Smith, Cheryl A., 1945-
Call Number: 658.31242 S644
Smith provides a unique, current examination of African American business women by interviewing 19 women and their business ventures.  Also, includes a discussion of the historical business ventures and the economic life of African American women in the Colonial Era.

by Marshall, Thurgood, 1908-1993.
Call Number: 347.092 M3686-1
This collection of letters written between 1935 and 1957 illustrate Marshall's legal work leading up to his appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

by Belafonte, Harry, 1927-
Call Number: 789.14 B425-1
My Song recounts Harry Belafonte's seven-decade entertainment career, his life as a social activist, and his experiences as a father and husband. Mr. Belafonte does not mince words when describing his experiences with racial oppression and his encounters with the powerful and privileged.

by Jefferson, Margo, 1947- author.
Call Number: 301.45096 J45
 
Margo Jefferson shares her autobiographical account of growing up within a unique niche of society: the Black elite of upper-crust Chicago.

by Davis, David Brion.
Call Number: 326.0973 D261-4

The conclusion of Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Brion Davis’ trilogy on slavery in Western culture that covers the period from the Haitian Revolution to the Thirteenth Amendment.


by Booker, Simeon, 1918-
Call Number: 323.40973 B724

The story of Simeon Booker, the Washington Bureau chief of Jet, and his coverage of every major event that helped galvanize the civil rights revolution.

 


by Wald, Gayle, 1965-
Call Number: 789.14 T367Wa

Sister Rosetta Tharpe is well-known as the godmother of rock 'n roll who mixed religious and secular styles which angered gospel singers in more conservative churches. In the 1920s she sang at The Cotton Club and Café Society. Despite the efforts of singers like Eric Clapton, B. B. King, and Johnny Cash, she has yet to be inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.  Here are some examples of her style from YouTube:

"That's All!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9bX5mzdihs

"Precious Memories" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BnIiXYz8oo

 


by Haygood, Wil, author.
Call Number: 347.092 M3686Hay

This biography details the life and career of Thurgood Marshall through the lens of his contentious five-day Senate confirmation.


by Bell, Derrick A.
Call Number: 371.974 B433
Derrick A. Bell, the first tenured black professor at Harvard, analyzes the continuing repercussions and negative impact of this landmark Supreme Court ruling on the educational needs of African American children.

Call Number: 509.73 S6235
Prefaced with a brief historical introduction, a timeline and several statistical tables, this book has as its centerpiece the author's in-depth interviews with eighteen prominent African American women scientists. The author, Dr. Diann Jordan, is a professor of biology at Alabama State University.

by Green, Kristen (Journalist), author.
Call Number: 371.974 G796

After the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling, Virginia’s Prince Edward County refused to desegregate, choosing to lock and chain its doors and remain closed for five years instead. Author Kristen Green recounts stories of families divided by the school closures and in the process, learns of her own family’s role.

 


by Norman, Jessye.
Call Number: 789.14 N842

A true diva is a distinguished female opera singer who strives for the best in her own work and expects the same from everyone with whom she works in order to create a marvelous experience for an audience. Jessye Norman is the full embodiment of a diva on stage and off, always striving for the best in life and art. 

On May 15, 2014, Jessye Norman was a guest at Aloud, and you can hear the podcast.


by Bloom, Lisa.
Call Number: 352.209759 B655
 
NBC News analyst Lisa Bloom examines the six biggest mistakes made by Florida prosecutors as well as the racial biases underlying the case.

by Ashe, Bert.
Call Number: 301.45096 A824

Professor and author Bert Ashe chronicles his decision to dreadlock his hair and through the process, discovers the nuances of black identity and the complexities of race and politics


by Wilkerson, Isabel.
Call Number: 301.45096 W681
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wilkerson examines the migration of nearly 6 million African Americans from the South for the North and the West between World War I and the 1970s through the stories of three individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who left rural Mississippi for Chicago in the 1930s; George Swanson Starling, who set out for Harlem in the 1940s; and Robert Joseph Pershing Foster, who became a Los Angeles physician after leaving Louisiana in the 1950s.

by Tuck, Stephen G. N.
Call Number: 323.40973 T889
In this engaging narrative, Tuck places special emphasis on little-known figures and events in the struggle for civil rights in the United States.

by Stodghill, Ron.
Call Number: 371.974 S869

A report of the various threats America's historic black colleges and universities are facing and how various stakeholders, including administrators, celebrities and alumni, are fighting to keep the schools alive.


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