The Best Nonfiction Selections for Black History Month

By Sophia Chartrand Sophia Chartrand has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on January 31, 2023

As we’re approaching one of the most influential months of the year, some may need or want to learn more about what makes February an important educational year. For those who don’t know, February is Black History Month, which is a month known for highlighting some of the most prominent people, events, and more that focus on Black people and the contributions they’ve made in American history.

It is always a good time to learn more about the community and how Black History Month is extremely important to society. Right now, you can find multiple fantastic books, especially nonfiction books, that are perfect for Black History Month.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

This book highlights 40 notable black women throughout U.S. history. Each entry includes two to three paragraphs of biographical text that features leadership embraced in forms past and present and across various disciplines; renowned abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth are joined by Air Force General Marcelite J. Harris and filmmaker Julie Dash. A concluding “More Little Leaders” segment addresses the difficulty of selecting 40 women to represent a historical legacy and offers miniature renditions of additional icons, including Gabby Douglas, Lorraine Hansberry, and the Williams sisters.

Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History

This is an important book for readers of all ages, which is a beautifully illustrated and engagingly written volume that brings true stories of black men in history to life. Among these biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop stars, athletes, and activists. The exceptional men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, filmmaker Oscar Devereaux Micheaux, lawman Bass Reeves, civil rights leader John Lewis, dancer Alvin Ailey, and musician Prince.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race

This book explains the psychology of racism. Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.

100 African-Americans Who Shaped American History

Teeming with interesting nuggets of fact and information, this book includes such legendary men and women as Benjamin Banneker, Dred Scott, Mary Church Terrell, George Washington Carver, and Bessie Smith. Also included are Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and many, many more.

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream

The mere mention of the name conjures up visions of basketball played at its absolute best. But as a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he’d never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous. That’s when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion — patience, determination, and hard work.

Deloris Jordan, mother of the basketball phenomenon, teams up with his sister Roslyn to tell this heartwarming and inspirational story that only the members of the Jordan family could tell. It’s a tale about faith and hope and how any family working together can help a child make his or her dreams come true.

The Fire Next Time

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation, gave a passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement—and still lights the way to understanding race in America today.  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 from the iconic author of If Beale Street Could Talk and Go Tell It on the Mountain.

The Story Of Ruby Bridges

The year is 1960, and six-year-old Ruby Bridges and her family have recently moved from Mississippi to New Orleans in search of a better life. When a judge orders Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary, an all-white school, Ruby must face angry mobs of parents who refuse to send their children to school with her. Told with Robert Coles’ powerful narrative and dramatically illustrated by George Ford, Ruby’s story of courage, faith, and hope continues to resonate more than 60 years later.

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

In this book of essays, author Mikki Kendall discusses the ways in which earlier waves of feminism have been exclusive to white women and argues that, without focusing on equity for all, the movements are largely meaningless. This book is a vital step that anyone should take in gaining a deeper understanding of the ways that intersectional feminism has the ability to change the world for the better.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow discusses how the American legal system, as well as the intertwining of capitalism and the U.S. government, have contributed to what historians are now calling the replacement of Jim Crow through mass incarceration.

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Between The World And Me is an autobiography that describes the experiences that Black men have living in the United States. The story is written as a letter to the author’s son and draws attention to the search for identity that Coates had in being a Black man living in the United States during a period of time when many did not want to reckon with the systemic challenges that Black people face every day.

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By Sophia Chartrand Sophia Chartrand has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Journalist verified by Muck Rack verified

Sophia Chartrand is an Events Columnist at Grit Daily.

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