From four hundred years of history to an inspiring memoir from Barack Obama, these books help celebrate and honor African Americans for Black History Month and beyond.
Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 Edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: 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.
The story begins in 1619—a year before the Mayflower—when the White Lion disgorges “some 20-and-odd Negroes” onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States. It takes us to the present, when African Americans, descendants of those on the White Lion and a thousand other routes to this country, continue a journey defined by inhuman oppression, visionary struggles, stunning achievements, and millions of ordinary lives passing through extraordinary history.
Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in
America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness.
Coming in February 2nd!
Soon to Be Available in Hardcover, eBook, and Audio Editions.
A Promised Land by Barack Obama
A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making—from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy.
In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.
Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.
A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.
Available in Hardcover, eBook, Audio, and Large Print Editions.
Also Available in Spanish: Una tierra prometida.
Black Futures by Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham
An archive of collective memory and exuberant testimony, a luminous map to navigate an opaque and disorienting present, and an infinite geography of possible futures that asks the question: What does it mean to be Black and alive right now?
Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham have brought together this collection of work—images, photos, essays, memes, dialogues, recipes, tweets, poetry, and more—to tell the story of the radical, imaginative, provocative, and gorgeous world that Black creators are bringing forth today. The book presents a succession of startling and beautiful pieces that generate an entrancing rhythm: Readers will go from conversations with activists and academics to memes and Instagram posts, from powerful essays to dazzling paintings and insightful infographics.
In answering the question of what it means to be Black and alive, Black Futures opens a prismatic vision of possibility for every reader.
Available in Hardcover, eBook, and Audio Editions.
Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition Edited by Schomburg Center and Michelle D. Commander; Foreword by Kevin Young
A new historical anthology from transatlantic slavery to the Reconstruction curated by the Schomburg Center, that makes the case for focusing on the histories of Black people as agents and architects of their own lives and ultimate liberation.
This is the first Penguin Classics anthology published in partnership with the Schomburg Center, a world-renowned cultural institution documenting black life in America and worldwide. A historic branch of NYPL located in Harlem, the Schomburg holds one of the world’s premiere collections of slavery material within the Lapidus Center for Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery. Unsung will place well-known documents by abolitionists alongside lesser-known life stories and overlooked or previously uncelebrated accounts of the everyday lives and activism that were central in the slavery era, but that are mostly excised from today’s master accounts. Unsung will also highlight related titles from founder Arturo Schomburg’s initial collection: rare histories and first-person narratives about slavery that assisted his generation in understanding the roots of their contemporary social struggles. Unsung will draw from the Schomburg’s rich holdings in order to lead a dynamic discussion of slavery, rebellion, resistance, and anti-slavery protest in the United States.
Coming February 16th.
Soon to Be Available in Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio Editions.
Click to Watch Episode 5 of Our Morning Book Buzz—featuring Rhonda Evans and Kevin Young from the Schomburg Center.
The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Stony the Road and one of our most important voices on the African-American experience, a powerful new history of the Black church in America as the Black community’s abiding rock and its fortress—the companion book to the upcoming PBS series.
For the young Henry Louis Gates, Jr., growing up in a small, segregated West Virginia town, the church was his family and his community’s true center of gravity. In this book, his tender and magisterial reckoning with the meaning of the Black church in American history, Gates takes us from his own experience onto a journey across more than four hundred years and spanning the entire country. At road’s end, we emerge with a new understanding of the centrality of the Black church to the American story—as a cultural and political force, as the center of resistance to slavery and white supremacy, as an unparalleled incubator of talent, and as a crucible for working through the community’s most important issues, down to today.
In a country that has historically afforded its citizens from the African diaspora tragically few safe spaces, the Black church has always been more than a sanctuary; it’s been a place to nourish the deepest human needs and dreams of the African-American community. Its story lies at the vital center of the civil rights movement, and produced many of its leaders, from the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. on, but at the same time there have always been churches and sects that eschewed a more activist stance, even eschewed worldly political engagement altogether. That tension can be felt all the way to the Black Lives Matter movement and the work of today. Still and all, as a source of strength and a force for change, the Black church is at the center of the action at every stage of the American story, as this enthralling history makes vividly clear.
Coming February 16th.
Soon to Be Available in Hardcover, eBook, and Audio Editions.
Shirley Chisholm: The Last Interview: And Other Conversations by Shirley Chisholm
Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to Congress in 1968 after campaigning under the slogan, “Unbought and Unbossed,” and her political career never swerved from that principle—she was fearless, undaunted, brilliant, and always first and foremost a servant to nobody but the people.
When Shirley Chisholm announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972, she became the first black candidate for a major party’s nomination just four years after she had become the first ever black woman in Congress. In typical fashion, she acknowledged the landmark but knew it was beside the point: “I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and I’m equally proud of that.” What she emphasized was: “I am the candidate of the people of America.”
Her legacy has only further demonstrated her profoundly humane politics and her undaunted and tireless work ethic. In a set of interviews that extend from the first major profile by Susan Brownmiller to her final interview documenting her life and reflecting on her legacy, Shirley Chisholm reveals her disciplined and demanding childhood, the expectations on her placed by her family and the public, her tireless advocacy for the poorest and most disadvantaged in the halls of government, and the darkening course of American history. But on her legacy, Chisholm had one priority: “I’d like them to say that Shirley Chisholm had guts. That’s how I’d like to be remembered.”
Available in Trade Paperback and eBook Editions.
With Her Fist Raised: Dorothy Pitman Hughes and the Transformative Power of Black Community Activism by Laura L. Lovett
The first biography of Dorothy Pitman Hughes, a trailblazing Black feminist activist whose work made children, race, and welfare rights central to the women’s movement.
Dorothy Pitman Hughes was a transformative community organizer in New York City in the 1970s who shared the stage with Gloria Steinem for 5 years, captivating audiences around the country. After leaving rural Georgia in the 1950s, she moved to New York, determined to fight for civil rights and equality. Historian Laura L. Lovett traces Hughes’s journey as she became a powerhouse activist, responding to the needs of her community and building a platform for its empowerment. She created lasting change by revitalizing her West Side neighborhood, which was subjected to racial discrimination, with nonexistent childcare and substandard housing, where poverty, drug use, a lack of job training, and the effects of the Vietnam War were evident. Hughes created a high-quality childcare center that also offered job training, adult education classes, a Youth Action corps, housing assistance, and food resources.
Hughes’s realization that her neighborhood could be revitalized by actively engaging and including the community was prescient and is startlingly relevant. As her stature grew to a national level, Hughes spent several years traversing the country with Steinem and educating people about feminism, childcare, and race. She moved to Harlem in the 1970s to counter gentrification and bought the franchise to the Miss Greater New York City pageant to demonstrate that Black was beautiful. She also opened an office supply store and became a powerful voice for Black women entrepreneurs and Black-owned businesses. Throughout every phase of her life, Hughes understood the transformative power of activism for Black communities.
Available in Hardcover and eBook Editions.
An Inspiring Listen for Kids:
She Persisted: Harriet Tubman by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Chelsea Clinton, and Alexandra Boiger; Read by Bahni Turpin
Inspired by the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger comes a chapter book series about women who stood up, spoke up and rose up against the odds!
Born enslaved, Harriet Tubman rose up to become one of the most successful, determined and well-known conductors of the Underground Railroad. With her family’s love planted firmly in her heart, Harriet looked to the North Star for guidance—and its light helped guide her way out of slavery. Her courage made it possible for her to help others reach freedom too.
In this audiobook biography by bestselling and award-winning author Andrea Davis Pinkney, readers learn about the amazing life of Harriet Tubman—and how she persisted. Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton.
Available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback, eBook, and Audio Editions.