African American Heritage Month Book Talk: Part I

Social Science, Philosophy and Religion Department, Central Library,
4 award winning books from African American authors
African American Heritage Month Book Talk: Part I

February is African American Heritage Month and we are celebrating with book recommendations from the Social Science, Philosophy & Religion department collection throughout the month.

Four Titles to Explore

Living the California Dream: African American Leisure Sites During the Jim Crow Era
Jefferson, Alison R.

Jefferson brings to life the stories of the Southern California leisure destinations that African Americans created and patronized during the nation’s Jim Crow era, illustrating the desire to achieve the California Dream amid the struggle of confronting racism and discrimination at public recreation sites. As the 2020 winner of the Los Angeles City Historical Society’s Miriam Matthews Ethnic History Award for exceptional contributions to the greater understanding and awareness of Los Angeles history, the book highlights overlooked local stories which were central to the nationwide fight for opening public spaces for all Americans.

Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement
Bell, Janet Dewart

Learn more about nine women who made significant contributions to the Civil Rights Movement, and their experiences with discrimination by race and gender. Author Janet Dewart Bell shares her conversations with women such as Myrlie Evers, who continued the work of her slain husband Medger Evers; Leah Chase, award-winning chef whose New Orleans restaurant was an important meeting place for civil rights leaders; Kathleen Cleaver, the first woman to serve on the Central Committee of the Black Panther Party and who later became a law professor; and Gloria Richardson, noted by Ebony magazine as the “Lady General of Civil Rights” for her work in the civil rights campaign in Cambridge, Maryland in the early 1960s. All women share their inspiring stories of participating in the Civil Rights Movement and how they continued to fight for equality.

Heavy: An American Memoir
Laymon, Kiese

Laymon explores his early life as an overprotected and overachieving son of an accomplished university professor mother: his own academic prowess, his addictions to food, anorexia, and gambling, his self-image as a Black man, and where he fits in with his extended Southern family. Most touchingly, Laymon tells how he endeavored to be as perfect as his single mother wanted, wanted so that he would be safe.

Heavy was a best book of 2018 by the National Public Radio, New York Times, Publishers WeeklyWashington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. The book was awarded The Los Angeles Times - Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose for 2018, and Andrew Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction for 2019

The Black Cabinet: The Untold Story of African Americans and Politics During the Age of Roosevelt
Watts, Jill

Watts, a California history professor, provides a well-researched and dramatic history of the African American advisors, known as the Black Cabinet, who joined the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the New Deal era. Operating behind the scenes in an environment hostile to change, the Black Cabinet established anti-discrimination policies, brought greater representation of African American interests to the federal government, and paved the way for future civil rights activists. One of the most prominent Black Cabinet members featured is educator Mary McLeod Bethune, for whom the Exposition Park Regional Library is named. Never formally recognized by FDR, Watts gives overdue attention to this important group of African American leaders.

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