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.


JUNETEENTH_Juneteenth Reading ListJuneteenth by Ralph Ellison

From Ralph Ellison—author of the classic novel of African-American experience, Invisible Man—the long-awaited second novel. Here is the master of American vernacular—the rhythms of jazz and gospel and ordinary speech—at the height of his powers, telling a powerful, evocative tale of a prodigal of the twentieth century.

“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?

Available in Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Discussion Guide.

Listen to a Clip from the Audiobook.


JUBILEE_Juneteenth Reading ListJubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking: A Cookbook by Toni Tipton-Martin

With more than 100 recipes, from classics such as Seafood Gumbo, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and Pecan Pie with Bourbon to lesser-known but even more decadent dishes like Spoon Bread and Baked Ham Glazed with Champagne, Jubilee presents techniques, ingredients, and dishes that show the roots of African American cooking—deeply beautiful, culturally diverse, fit for celebration.

Throughout her career, Toni Tipton-Martin has shed new light on the history, breadth, and depth of African American cuisine. She’s introduced us to black cooks, some long forgotten, who established much of what’s considered to be our national cuisine. After all, if Thomas Jefferson introduced French haute cuisine to this country, who do you think actually cooked it?

In Jubilee, Tipton-Martin brings these masters into our kitchens. Through recipes and stories, we cook along with these pioneering figures, from enslaved chefs
 to middle—and upper—class writers and entrepreneurs.

Available in Hardcover and eBook Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.


A BLACK WOMEN'S HISTORY OF THE US_Juneteenth Reading ListA Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross

A vibrant and empowering history that emphasizes the perspectives and stories of African American women to show how they are—and have always been—instrumental in shaping our country.

In centering Black women’s stories, two award-winning historians seek both to empower African American women and to show their allies that Black women’s unique ability to make their own communities while combatting centuries of oppression is an essential component in our continued resistance to systemic racism and sexism. Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross offer an examination and celebration of Black womanhood, beginning with the first African women who arrived in what became the United States to African American women of today.

A Black Women’s History of the United States reaches far beyond a single narrative to showcase Black women’s lives in all their fraught complexities. Berry and Gross prioritize many voices: enslaved women, freedwomen, religious leaders, artists, queer women, activists, and women who lived outside the law. The result is a starting point for exploring Black women’s history and a testament to the beauty, richness, rhythm, tragedy, heartbreak, rage, and enduring love that abounds in the spirit of Black women in communities throughout the nation.

Available in Hardcover and eBook Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.


THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE_Juneteenth Reading ListNational Museum of African American History and Culture: A Souvenir Book Edited by National Museum of African American History and Culture

This souvenir book showcases some of the most influential and important treasures of the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s collections. These include a hymn book owned by Harriet Tubman; ankle shackles used to restrain enslaved people on ships during the Middle Passage; a dress that Rosa Parks was making shortly before she was arrested; a vintage, open-cockpit Tuskegee Airmen trainer plane; Muhammad Ali’s headgear; an 1835 Bill of Sale enslaving a young girl named Polly; and Chuck Berry’s Cadillac. These objects tell us the full story of African American history, of triumphs and tragedies and highs and lows. This book, like the museum it represents, uses artifacts of African American history and culture as a lens into what it means to be an American.

Available in Trade Paperback.

Click to Read an Excerpt.


STONY THE ROAD_Juneteenth Reading ListStony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

A profound new rendering of the struggle by African-Americans for equality after the Civil War and the violent counter-revolution that resubjugated them, as seen through the prism of the war of images and ideas that have left an enduring racist stain on the American mind.

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.

Through his close reading of the visual culture of this tragic era, Gates reveals the many faces of Jim Crow and how, together, they reinforced a stark color line between white and black Americans. Bringing a lifetime of wisdom to bear as a scholar, filmmaker, and public intellectual, Gates uncovers the roots of structural racism in our own time, while showing how African Americans after slavery combatted it by articulating a vision of a “New Negro” to force the nation to recognize their humanity and unique contributions to America as it hurtled toward the modern age.

Available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio Editions.

Listen to a Clip from the Audiobook.


THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS_Juneteenth Reading ListThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life.

From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties.

Wilkerson brilliantly captures their first treacherous and exhausting cross-country trips by car and train and their new lives in colonies that grew into ghettos, as well as how they changed these cities with southern food, faith, and culture and improved them with discipline, drive, and hard work.

Available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback, and eBook Editions.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Discussion Guide.

Click to Watch Isabel Wilkerson’s TED Talk.

Visit Isabel Wilkerson’s Website.


ODETTA_Juneteenth Reading ListOdetta: A Life in Music and Protest by Ian Zack

The first in-depth biography of the legendary singer and “Voice of the Civil Rights Movement,” who combatted racism and prejudice through her music. Zack brings Odetta back into the spotlight, reminding the world of the folk music that powered the civil rights movement and continues to influence generations of musicians today.The first in-depth biography of the legendary singer and “Voice of the Civil Rights Movement,” who combatted racism and prejudice through her music.

Odetta channeled her anger and despair into some of the most powerful folk music the world has ever heard. Through her lyrics and iconic persona, Odetta made lasting political, social, and cultural change.

A leader of the 1960s folk revival, Odetta is one of the most important singers of the last hundred years. Her music has influenced a huge number of artists over many decades, including Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, the Kinks, Jewel, and, more recently, Rhiannon Giddens and Miley Cyrus.

But Odetta’s importance extends far beyond music. Journalist Ian Zack follows Odetta from her beginnings in deeply segregated Birmingham, Alabama, to stardom in San Francisco and New York. Odetta used her fame to bring attention to the civil rights movement, working alongside Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, and other artists. Her opera-trained voice echoed at the 1963 March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery march, and she arranged a tour throughout the deeply segregated South. Her “Freedom Trilogy” songs became rallying cries for protesters everywhere.

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click to Listen to the Author’s Top Five Odetta Hits While You Read.


THE NICKEL BOYS

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

In this bravura follow-up to the Pulitzer Prize, and National Book Award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead brilliantly dramatizes another strand of American history through the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.

As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is “as good as anyone.” Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy.

The Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear “out back.” Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King’s ringing assertion “Throw us in jail and we will still love you.”

The tension between Elwood’s ideals and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys’ fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.

Available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback, eBook, Audio, and Large Print Editions.

 

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Click for a Discussion Guide.

Listen to a Clip from the Audiobook.


BELOVEDBeloved by Toni Morrison


Black Lives Matter.
Black Voices Matter.
Black Stories Matter.

 


More Resources for Readers:

 

Click For Another Juneteenth Reading List.

Click for an Anti-Racist Reading List.

Click for More Anti-Racist Books and Resources for Our Readers.

Click for Anti-Racist Audiobook Recommendations.

Click for Books About Black Activism.

Click for Reads that Chronicle Black History.

Click for Books from Penguin Young Readers.

Click for Books from Random House Children’s Books.

Maureen Meekins administrator

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