Black History Month

Booklist – February 2022

History is generally told from the perspective of the big names, the “important people.” But there is a lot of history that can be learned through the fascinating lives and everyday actions of ordinary people. It is often through these stories that the best picture of life in the past can be formed. These books explore the influence of regular people who did extraordinary things.


Invisible Men: Life in Baseball’s Negro Leagues by Donn Rogosin

An account of black baseball from 1920 until 1949, when Jackie Robinson integrated the major leagues.

DB031142, BR008141

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself by Harriet A. Jacobs

Published in 1861, this book is not only one of the last of the slave narratives published separately before the Civil War; it is also one of the few existing narratives written by a woman.


The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America by Nicholas Lemann

With the development of the mechanical cotton picker in 1944, Chicago and other northern cities became the promised land for many displaced southern black workers. But as unskilled industrial jobs declined, new generations of families living in urban ghettos struggle with poverty and racism.


Black in Selma: The Uncommon Life of J.L. Chestnut, Jr by J.L. Chestnut

Born in 1930, J.L. Chestnut grew up in a racially segregated world, went to Howard University Law School, and came home to Selma, Alabama, as the city’s first African-American lawyer. Some strong language.


Growing Up Black in Rural Mississippi: Memories of a Family, Heritage of a Place by Chalmers Archer

Archer writes a personal and family history of his life in rural Mississippi during the 1930s and 1940s.


A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman by Charles W. Dryden

Autobiography of a retired lieutenant colonel of the United States Air Force who was one of the original African American fighter pilots in World War II.


A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America by Darlene Clark Hine

A chronology of diverse African American women’s lives across the United States from colonial times to the late twentieth century. Uses first-person narratives, where available.


The Great Black Jockeys: The Lives and Times of the Men Who Dominated America’s First National Sport by Edward Hotaling

A social historian and Emmy-winning writer recalls the importance of African American jockeys in the field of horse racing in the 1800s–even when many were slaves.


Brothers in Arms: The Epic Story of the 761st Tank Battalion, WWII’s Forgotten Heroes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anthony Walton

Chronicles the training, battlefield, and postwar experiences of the first African American armored unit to fight in World War II alongside white troops.


Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class by Larry Tye

George Pullman recruited African Americans as porters for his rail cars during post-Civil War Reconstruction. Through first-person accounts and archival material, Tye addresses the porter monopoly’s first trade union, unique culture, and contribution to the evolution of a black middle class. Some strong language.

Image Description: The words “Black History Month 2023” in a pastel greens and pinks on a white background centered to the left. On the right the profile of a black women also in pastel greens and pinks with images of a dove and plants in white and grey in relief.