February is Black History Month and The Association for The Study of African American Life and History has chosen Black Health and Wellness for their 2022 theme. They have chosen this theme to honor the historical legacy of Black scholars and practitioners in western medicine. They wish to honor the significant contributions of these figures, who are sadly all too often overlooked or outright disregarded. They also wish to highlight some of the unique health struggles and solutions of the Black Diaspora.
They have therefore provided a list of books offering education and insight into these critical issues. Harriet Washington’s Medical Apartheid details the ways that both slaves and freemen were used by hospitals for experiments conducted without their knowledge. Readers can access the book through the library’s digital partner app, Hoopla. Readers curious about other titles can access more information here.
Keep reading to find out what each department has to offer this Black History Month!
Black History in the Children’s Department
Each year, the Children’s Department puts up a display celebrating Black History Month and the accomplishments of Black Americans. Here are just a few of our favorite books on that display:
Black Heroes of the Wild West is a graphic novel by James Otis Smith that tells the story of three extraordinary figures of the American West: Deputy US Marshal Bass Reeves, fearless coach driver Mary Fields, and cowboy Bob Lemmons.
Buzzing with Questions by Janice Harrington introduces kids to the life and inquisitive mind of American scientist Charles Henry Turner.
The Undefeated places the poetic verse of Kwame Alexander over the beautiful illustrations of Kadir Nelson in a picture book about strength, triumph, and the Black experience in America.
Browse the full Children’s Black History Booklist, any time of the year!
And don’t forget to stop by the Children’s Library between February 21st – 26th and pick up our Black History Month craft: Kente Cloth Paper Wall Hangings.
Black Authors in Young Adult Literature
In celebrating Black History Month, we’ve compiled a list of recent Young Adult books written by Black authors, telling Black stories. The books on this list cover a wide variety of genres, from mystery to romance to fantasy—there is something for everyone!
Already read Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give? Check out the prequel titled Concrete Rose.
Looking for a new spin on Arthurian Legend? Check out Legendborn by Tracy Deonn.
Or are you in the mood for a mystery about the dark side of the music industry? Check out Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson.
To check these books out and more, browse our full YA Black Author Booklist!
And stop by the Teen Department for educational resources on our Black History Month display.
Black Authors in Adult Literature
History matters, and truth matters too, no less so in an era of disputed news and inflammatory rhetoric leading to banned books. Kyle T. Mays’ An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States, a new addition to the collection, examines the painful history of conquest and slavery with an unvarnished look at the nation’s original sin. Voices out of the past declare old truths so that we can better understand contemporary challenges, so Black History Month may be the ideal time to challenge prejudices by checking out James Baldwin’s seminal essay on American apartheid The Fire Next Time.
Zora Neale Hurston collaborated with Langston Hughes on several projects, but it was her elevation of the Black female experience that brought her to greater fame and controversy. Hurston is often remembered as a tireless ethnographer of the experiences of her ancestors, returning from Barnard College to document the very community from which she originated, their folklore, and the ways in which African and Caribbean folklore influenced the community’s identity and beliefs. The library is proud to offer the novel where she documented the experience of African American women, Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Readers interested in exploring the historic struggles of African Americans through a fictional lens might take interest in Colson Whitehead’s 2021 novel Harlem Shuffle, available in the Guthrie collection, as well as his other recent novels The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys.
Toni Morrison has long reigned as a literary queen, though several of her novels have come under attack, with schoolboards and legislators actively seeking to ban titles such as Beloved and The Bluest Eye, both of which can be found in the Guthrie collection alongside several of her other works.
Black History Month is a chance for all Americans, of every color, to reflect on the rich tapestry and unique contributions of Americans of color, as well as to acknowledge the factors that have contributed to the struggles of marginalized communities. Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Anti-Racist performs this task, asking us to open our minds and explore these challenging issues. Those wishing to learn more may be intrigued by Four Hundred Souls, a collaborative work edited by Dr. Kendi that explores the experiences of the African American diaspora over the last four-centuries of American life. This compendium is available as a digital resource on Axis360 with your library card. The library’s Children’s and Adult Department also prominently feature displays celebrating Black history and culture, highlighting other works during this very important month.
Stay in the Know!
Check out our February Newsletter.
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