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African American History & Culture; with Memoirs, Essays, and More

A selection of books about African American and Black history and culture, with emphasis on books by Black authors. For more books and resources on Racial Equity and Social Justice, see the resource guide Racial Equity Resources. For more new and/or significant books highlighting the African American experience, sent to your inbox, subscribe to the African American Culture Insider Newsletter.

Art, Music, and Literature

Cover of A Little Devil in America:

A Little Devil in America is an urgent project that unravels all modes and methods of Black performance, in this moment when Black performers are coming to terms with their value, reception, and immense impact on America. With sharp insight, humor, and heart, Abdurraqib examines how Black performance happens in specific moments in time and space--midcentury Paris, the moon, or a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio. Abdurraqib's prose is entrancing and fluid as he leads us along the links in his remarkable trains of thought. A Little Devil in America considers, critiques, and praises performance in music, sports, writing, comedy, grief, games, and love.

Available to download: eBook Audio

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A sweeping overview of blacks in film from the silent era through Black Panther, with striking photos and an engrossing history by award-winning author Donald Bogle.

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Taina Beatriz
Caragol-Barreto and Dorothy Moss

A richly illustrated celebration of the paintings of President Barack Obama by Kehinde Wiley and First Lady Michelle Obama by Amy Sherald.

Cover of Never Givin' Up: The Life

Finally "discovered" in 1975 (at age 35) by Warner Brothers Records, he recorded 13 albums in 20 years for Warners. He became a "star" in the early '80s, crafting best-selling albums with a unique combination of jazz, pop and R&B. Ultimately, he was the first artist to win Grammy Awards in those three categories. Stardom in the world of popular music can be fleeting, however, and as records sales waned, Al had to adjust to new, sometimes harsh, realities. Al Jarreau follows Al's career and music through contemporary articles, filmed documentaries and extensive interviews with family members, fellow musicians, friends and associates.


Cover of August Wilson: A Life

The first authoritative biography of August Wilson, the most important and successful American playwright of the late 20th century, by a theater critic who knew him.

Cover of Tupac Shakur: The Authoriz

In Tupac Shakur, author and screenwriter Staci Robinson-who knew Tupac as a young man and who was entrusted by his mother, Afeni Shakur, to write his biography-peels back the myths and unpacks the complexities that have shadowed Tupac's existence. With exclusive access to his private notebooks, letters, unpublished lyrics and uncensored conversations with those who knew and loved him best, Robinson tells a powerful story of a life defined by politics and art, and a man driven by equal parts brilliance and impulsiveness. It is a story of a mother and son bound together by a love for each other and for their people, and the relationship that endured through their darkest times. It is a political story that begins in the whirlwind of the 60's Civil Rights Movement, and takes you through a young artist's awakening to rage and purpose in the nineties era of Rodney King. It is a story of dizzying success and its devastating consequences. And, of course, it is the story of his music, his timeless message that will never die as it continues to touch and inspire past, present and future generations

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Through exquisite photographs, personal interviews, short biographies, and career milestones, Reynolds details how these women's music and careers have become the soundtrack of our lives. Supreme Sirens shares the power and wisdom of women who are at the forefront of entertainment; women who have overcome racial prejudices and redefined contemporary notions of Black women by breaking glass ceilings and tearing down barriers in the recording studio and on stage and screen. Book 3 in series.

Cover of Thank You (Falettinme Be M

As the front man for the sixties pop-rock-funk band Sly and the Family Stone, a songwriter who created some of the most memorable anthems of the 1960s and 1970s ("Everyday People," "Family Affair"), and a performer who electrified audiences at Woodstock and elsewhere, Sly Stone's influence on modern music and culture is indisputable. But as much as people know the music, the man remains a mystery. After a rapid rise to superstardom, Sly spent decades in the grip of addiction. Now he is ready to relate the ups and downs and ins and outs of his amazing life in his memoir.

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Edited by Claudia

Through candid interviews with Maya Angelou, Toni Cade Bambara, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alexis De Veaux, Nikki Giovanni, Kristin Hunter, Gayl Jones, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, Margaret Walker, and Sherley Anne Williams, the book highlights the practices and critical linkages between the work and lived experiences of Black women writers whose contributions to the literary world laid the foundation for many who have come after. Responding to questions about why and for whom they write, and how they perceive their responsibility to their work, to others, and to society, the featured playwrights, poets, novelists, and essayists provide a window into the connections between their lives and their art.

Cover of Easily Slip into Another W

An autobiography of one of the towering figures of contemporary American music and a powerful meditation on history, race, capitalism and art.

Civil Rights and Social Justice

Cover of The New Jim Crow: Mass Inc

In a bold and innovative argument, a rising legal star shows readers how the mass incarceration of a disproportionate number of black men amounts to a devastating system of racial control. Despite the triumphant dismantling of the Jim Crow laws, the system that once forced African-Americans into a segregated second-class citizenship still haunts and the criminal justice system still unfairly targets black men and deprives an entire segment of the population of their basic rights.

Cover of The Fire Next Time

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. 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. It consists of two "letters," written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of White Space, Black Hood: O

A meditation on how America protects and overinvests in "white space" and disinvests, surveils, and stereotypes in "the Hood;" Cashin calls for abolition of these anti-Black processes and bold new investment to repair poor Black neighborhoods and our broken race relations.


Cover of Between the World and Me

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Freedom is a Constant Stru

In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Tears We Cannot Stop: A Se
Michael Eric

Fifty years ago Malcolm X told a white woman who asked what she could do for the cause, 'Nothing.' Michael Eric Dyson believes he was wrong. Now he responds to that question. If society is to make real racial progress, people must face difficult truths, including being honest about how Black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted. Available to download: Audio

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Eyewitness accounts of a pivotal episode in American history, including murder, suspense, and extraordinary courage by ordinary people.

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Henry Louis
Gates, Jr.

The abolition of slavery after 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? Gates uncovers the roots of structural racism in our own time, while showing how African-Americans after slavery combated it by articulating a vision of a 'New Negro' to force the nation to recognize their humanity and unique contributions to the United States. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Tuskegee Student Upris

The Tuskegee Student Uprising tells what happened when the Black Power movement arrived at the institution founded by the nation's most famous black educator, Booker T. Washington.

Cover of How to Be an Antiracist
Ibram X.

In this book, Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism, and he asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Stamped From the Beginning
Ibram X.

The National Book Award winning history of how racist ideas were created, spread, and deeply rooted in American society. Available to download: eBook

Cover of When They Call You a Terro
Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

A memoir by the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement explains the movement's position of love, humanity, and justice, challenging perspectives that have negatively labeled the movement's activists while calling for essential political changes. Available to download: eBook Audio

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Lewis and Andrew Aydin
Nate Powell

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis's personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. Also look for volumes 2 & 3. Available to download: eBook

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A behind-the-scenes account of the #blacklivesmatter movement shares insights into the young men and women behind it, citing the racially charged controversies that have motivated members and the economic, political, and personal histories that inform its purpose.

Cover of Pushout: The Criminalizati
Monique W.

For four years Monique W. Morris chronicled the experiences of black girls across the country whose intricate lives are misunderstood, highly judged--by teachers, administrators, and the justice system--and degraded by the very institutions charged with helping them flourish. Morris shows how, despite obstacles, stigmas, stereotypes, and despair, black girls still find ways to breathe remarkable dignity into their lives in classrooms, juvenile facilities, and beyond.

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Khalil Gibran

Chronicling the emergence of deeply embedded notions of black people as a dangerous race of criminals by explicit contrast to working-class whites and European immigrants, this book reveals the influence such ideas have had on urban development and social policies.

Cover of Mighty Justice: My Life in
Dovey Johnson
Roundtree and Katie McCabe

Trailblazing African American civil rights attorney Dovey Johnson Roundtree, who remains largely unknown to the American public despite her significant and influential achievements, recounts her inspiring life story that speaks movingly and urgently to our racially troubled times.

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A taut, intense narrative about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the largest manhunt in American history--a sixty-five-day search that led investigators to Canada, Portugal, and England.

Cover of Driving While Black: Afric
Gretchen Sullivan

Acclaimed historian Gretchen Sorin reveals how the car--the ultimate symbol of independence and possibility--has always held particular importance for African Americans, allowing black families to evade the many dangers presented by an entrenched racist society and to enjoy, in some measure, the freedom of the open road. She recounts the creation of a parallel, unseen world of black motorists, who relied on travel guides, black only businesses, and informal communications networks to keep them safe.

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The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama recounts his experiences as a lawyer working to assist those desperately in need, reflecting on his pursuit of the ideal of compassion in American justice. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of I Can't Breathe: A Killing

A work of riveting literary journalism that explores the roots and repercussions of the infamous killing of Eric Garner by the New York City police.

Cover of A More Beautiful and Terri

The civil rights movement has become national legend, lauded by presidents from Reagan to Obama to Trump, as proof of the power of American democracy. This fable, featuring dreamy heroes and accidental heroines, has shuttered the movement firmly in the past, whitewashed the forces that stood in its way, and diminished its scope. And it is used perniciously in our own times to chastise present-day movements and obscure contemporary injustice. In A More Beautiful and Terrible History, award-winning historian Jeanne Theoharis dissects this national myth-making, teasing apart the accepted stories to show them in a strikingly different light.

Cover of The Autobiography of Malco
X and Alex Haley

In the searing pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Fire This Time: A New
Ward, editor

National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin's 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.

Economics, Business, and Leadership

Cover of Minority Leader: How To Le

A personal and empowering blueprint from one of America's rising Democratic stars for outsiders who seek to become the ones in charge.

Cover of Our Black Year: One Family

In this analysis of her family’s year-long public pledge to "buy black," Maggie Anderson draws on economic research and social history as well as her personal story to show why the black economy continues to suffer and issues a call to action to all of us to do our part to reverse this trend.

Cover of The Half Has Never Been To
Edward E.

A groundbreaking history demonstrating that America's economic supremacy was built on the backs of slaves.

Cover of Finding My Voice: My Journ

When Valerie Jarrett interviewed a promising young lawyer named Michelle Robinson in July 1991, neither knew that it was the first step on a path that would end in the White House. Jarrett joined the White House team on January 20, 2009 as the Obamas' personal adviser and departed with the First Family on January 20, 2017. In this memoir, she shares her optimistic perspective on the importance of leadership and the responsibilities of citizenship in the twenty-first century, inspiring readers to lift their own voices.

Cover of How We Can Win: Race, Hist

In How We Can Win, Jones delves into the impacts of systemic racism and reveals how her formative years in Chicago gave birth to a lifelong devotion to justice. Here, in a vital expansion of her declaration, she calls for Reconstruction 2.0, a multilayered plan to reclaim economic and social restitutions--those restitutions promised with emancipation but blocked, again and again, for more than 150 years. And, most of all, Jones delivers strategies for how we can effect change as citizens and allies while nurturing ourselves--the most valuable asset we have--in the fight against a system that is still rigged.

Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Black Fortunes: The Story

The astonishing untold history of America's first black millionaires - former slaves who endured incredible challenges to amass and maintain their wealth for a century, from the Jacksonian period to the Roaring Twenties - self-made entrepreneurs whose unknown success mirrored that of American business heroes such as Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, and Thomas Edison. Between the years of 1830 and 1927, as the last generation of blacks born into slavery was reaching maturity, a small group of smart, tenacious, and daring men and women broke new ground to attain the highest levels of financial success.

Food, Health, and Wellness

Cover of Hot Comb

An acclaimed graphic novel that offers a poignant glimpse into black women's lives and coming-of-age stories as seen across a crowded, ammonia-scented hair salon while ladies gossip and bond over the burn.

Cover of I'm Telling the Truth, but

Bassey Ikpi explores her life--as a Nigerian-American immigrant, a black woman, a slam poet, a mother, a daughter, an artist--through the lens of her mental health and diagnosis of bipolar II and anxiety. Her remarkable memoir in essays implodes our preconceptions of the mind and normalcy as Bassey bares her own truths and lies for us all to behold with radical honesty and brutal intimacy. Available to download: Audio

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Lukas and Jessica B. Harris

A celebration of African American cooking with 109 recipes from the National Museum of African American History and Culture's Sweet Home Café. Available to download: eBook

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By the time he was twenty-seven years old, Kwame Onwuachi (winner of the 2019 James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef of the Year) had opened--and closed--one of the most talked about restaurants in America. He had launched his own catering company with twenty thousand dollars that he made from selling candy on the subway, yet he'd been told he would never make it on television because his cooking wasn't "Southern" enough. In this inspiring memoir about the intersection of race, fame, and food, he shares the remarkable story of his culinary coming-of-age. Available to download: Audio

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The first comprehensive "how to" guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture.

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A mother-daughter duo reclaims and redefines soul food by mining the traditions of four generations of black women and creating 80 healthy recipes to help everyone live longer and stronger.

Cover of Every Body Yoga: Let Go of

Jessamyn Stanley, a yogi who breaks all the stereotypes, has built a life as an internationally recognized yoga teacher and award-winning Instagram star by combining a deep understanding for yoga with a willingness to share her personal struggles in a way that touches everyone who comes to know her. Now she brings her body-positive, emotionally uplifting approach to yoga in a book that will help every reader discover the power of yoga and how to weave it seamlessly into his or her life.

Cover of The Body is Not an Apology
Sonya Renee

World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies.

Cover of Black Food: Stories, Art a
edited by Bryant

In this stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, Bryant Terry captures the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora through the prism of food. With contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaries from around the globe, the book moves through chapters exploring parts of the Black experience, from Homeland to Migration, Spirituality to Black Future, offering delicious recipes, moving essays, and arresting artwork.

Cover of Jubilee: Recipes from Two

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 with more than 100 recipes.

Cover of Black Man in a White Coat:

One doctor's passionate and profound memoir of his experience grappling with race, bias, and the unique health problems of black Americans. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Cooking Gene: A Journe

A memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces the paths of the author's ancestors (black and white) through the crucible of slavery to show its effects on our food today.


Cover of A Black Women’s History
Daina Ramey
Berry and Kali N. 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.

Cover of Empire of Cotton: A Global

The empire of cotton was, from the beginning, a fulcrum of constant global struggle between slaves and planters, merchants and statesmen, workers and factory owners. Beckert makes clear how these forces ushered in the world of modern capitalism, including the vast wealth and disturbing inequalities that are with us today. The result is a book as unsettling as it is enlightening: a book that brilliantly weaves together the story of cotton with how the present global world came to exist.

Cover of Frederick Douglass: Prophe
David W.

An acclaimed historian's definitive biography of the most important African-American figure of the 19th century, Frederick Douglass, who was to his century what Martin Luther King, Jr. was to the 20th century. Available to download: eBook

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Erica Armstrong

A lively, informative, and illustrated tribute to one of the most exceptional women in American history--Harriet Tubman--a heroine whose fearlessness and activism still resonates today. Available to download: eBook

Cover of Gateway to Freedom: The Hi

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner relates the dramatic story of fugitive slaves and the antislavery activists who defied the law to help them reach freedom.

Cover of The Last Negroes at Harvar
Garrett and Jeanne Ellsworth

The untold story of the Harvard class of '63, whose Black students fought to create their own identities on the cusp between integration and affirmative action.

Cover of The Black Church: This is
Henry Louis
Gates, Jr

Gates takes us on a journey spanning more than five centuries, from the intersection of Christianity and the transatlantic slave trade to today's political landscape. We emerge with a new understanding of the importance of African American religion to the larger national narrative: as a center of resistance to slavery and white supremacy, as a magnet for political mobilization, as an incubator of musical and oratorical talent that would transform the culture, and as a crucible for working through the Black community's most critical personal and social issues.

Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of And Still I Rise: Black Am
Henry Louis
Gates, Jr. and Kevin M. Burke

A timeline and chronicle of the past fifty years of black history in the U.S. in more than 350 photos.

Cover of The Hemingses of Monticell

This epic work tells the story of the Hemingses, a slave family whose close blood ties to American president Thomas Jefferson had been systematically edited out from American history until very recently. This book sets the family's compelling saga against the backdrop of Revolutionary America, Paris on the eve of its own revolution, 1970s Philadelphia and plantation life at Monticello. Available to download: Audio

Cover of Black Radical: The Life an
Kerri K.

This long-overdue biography reestablishes William Monroe Trotter's essential place next to Douglass, Du Bois, and King in the pantheon of American civil rights heroes.

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Traces a time of radical transformation of black life in early twentieth-century America, revealing how a large number of black women forged relationships, families, and jobs that were more empowered and typically indifferent to moral dictates.

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Zora Neale

A major literary event: a newly published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade--abducted from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the United States. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of The Other Madisons: The Lo

Bettye Kearse--a descendant of an enslaved cook and, according to oral tradition, President James Madison--shares her family story and explores the issues of legacy, race, and the powerful consequences of telling the whole truth. 

Cover of Devil in the Grove: Thurgo

A gripping true story of racism, murder, rape, and the law that brings to light one of the most dramatic court cases in American history, and offers a rare and revealing portrait of Thurgood Marshall that the world has never seen before. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of We Could Not Fail: The Fir
Paul and Steven Moss

The Space Age began just as the struggle for civil rights forced Americans to confront the long and bitter legacy of slavery, discrimination, and violence against African Americans. Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson utilized the space program as an agent for social change, using federal equal employment opportunity laws to open workplaces at NASA and NASA contractors to African Americans while creating thousands of research and technology jobs in the Deep South to ameliorate poverty. We Could Not Fail tells the inspiring, largely unknown story of how shooting for the stars helped to overcome segregation on earth.

Cover of Hidden Figures: The Americ
Margot Lee

The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA at the leading edge of the feminist and civil rights movement, whose calculations helped fuel some of America's greatest achievements in space--a powerful, revelatory contribution that is essential to our understanding of race, discrimination, and achievement in modern America. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of The Blood of Emmett Till
Timothy B.

This extraordinary bestseller reexamines a pivotal event of the civil rights movement--the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till--"and demands that we do the one vital thing we aren't often enough asked to do with history: learn from it" (The Atlantic). Available to download: Audio

Cover of Smoketown: The Untold Stor

Today black Pittsburgh is known as the setting for August Wilson's famed plays about noble but doomed working-class strivers. But this community once had an impact on American history that rivaled the far larger black worlds of Harlem and Chicago. Mark Whitaker’s captivating portrait of this unsung community is a vital addition to the story of black America.

Cover of The Warmth of Other Suns:

In this 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. Available to download: eBook

Cover of Harriet Jacobs: A Life
Jean Fagan

In this remarkable biography, Jean Fagan Yellin recounts the full adventures of Harriet Jacobs, author of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, one of the most widely read slave narratives of all time, before and after slavery.


Cover of I Can't Date Jesus: Love,

A timely collection of alternately hysterical and soul‑searching essays about what it is like to grow up as a creative, sensitive black man in a world that constantly tries to deride and diminish your humanity. Available to download: Audio

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W. Kamau

A humorous, well-informed take on the world today, tackling a wide range of issues, such as race relations; fatherhood; the state of law enforcement today; comedians and superheroes; right-wing politics; left-wing politics; failure; Bell’s interracial marriage; white men; his up-bringing by very strong-willed, race-conscious, yet ideologically opposite parents; his early days struggling to find his comedic voice, then his later days struggling to find his comedic voice; why he never seemed to fit in with the Black comedy scene . . . or the white comedy scene; how he was a Black nerd way before that became a thing; how it took his wife and an East Bay lesbian to teach him that racism and sexism often walk hand in hand; and much, much more.

Cover of I Can’t Make This Up: Li

Superstar, comedian and Hollywood box-office star Kevin Hart turns his immense talent to the written word by writing some words. Some of those words include, the, a, for, above, and even even. Put them together and listeners have the funniest, most heartfelt, and most inspirational memoir on survival, success, and the importance of believing in themselves since Old Yeller. Available to download: eBook

Cover of F*ck Your Diet: And Other

A collection of laugh-out-loud funny and insightful essays that explore race, feminism, pop culture, and how society reinforces the message that we are nothing without the perfect body.

Cover of How Not to Get Shot: And O
Hughley and Doug Moe

Legendary African American activist-comedian D. L. Hughley uses satire to draw attention to white privilege and racial injustice, sardonically offering an illustrated how-to guide for black people, full of insight from white people, about how to act, dress, speak, walk, and drive in the safest manner possible. Available to download: eBook

Cover of Wow, No Thank You: Essays

From Samantha Irby--beloved author of New York Times bestseller We Are Never Meeting in Real Life--a rip-roaring, edgy and unabashedly raunchy new collection of hilarious essays.


Cover of The Misadventures of Awkwa

A collection of humorous essays on what it's like to be unabashedly awkward in a world that regards introverts as hapless misfits, and black as cool. Available to download: eBook

Cover of You Can’t Touch My Hair

Phoebe Robinson is a stand-up comic, which means that comedic fodder runs through her everyday life. And as a black woman in America, she asserts, sometimes you need to have a sense of humor to deal with the nonsense you are handed every day. And Robinson has experienced her fair share over the years, not lest the people who ask her whether they can touch her hair. All. The. Time. Now, she's ready to take these topics to the page in an utterly modern essay collection: one that examines our cultural climate and skewers our biases. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Here For It, Or, How to Sa
R. Eric

R. Eric Thomas didn't know he was different until the world told him so. Everywhere he went--whether it was his rich, mostly white, suburban high school, his conservative black church, or his Ivy League college in a big city--he found himself on the outside looking in. In essays by turns hysterical and heartfelt, Thomas reexamines what it means to be an "other" through the lens of his own life experience.

Cover of How to Be Black

Baratunde Thurston shares his 30-plus years of expertise in being black, with helpful essays like "How to Be the Black Friend," "How to Speak for All Black People," "How To Celebrate Black History Month," and more, in this satirical guide to race issues--written for black people and those who love them. Available to download: eBook

Cover of We're Going to Need More W

In this moving collection of thought provoking essays infused with her unique wisdom and deep humor, Union uses that same fearlessness to tell astonishingly personal and true stories about power, color, gender, feminism, and fame.

Memoirs and Essays

Cover of White Girls

One of The New Yorker's boldest cultural critics deftly weaves together his brilliant analyses of literature, art, and music with fearless insights on race, gender, and history. The result is an extraordinary, complex portrait of "white girls," as Als dubs them--an expansive but precise category that encompasses figures as diverse as Truman Capote and Louise Brooks, Malcolm X and Flannery O'Connor.

Cover of Mom & Me & Mom

The story of Maya Angelou's extraordinary life has been chronicled in her multiple bestselling autobiographies. But now, at last, the legendary author shares the deepest personal story of her life: her relationship with her mother. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Fire Shut Up in My Bones:
Charles M.

A gorgeous, moving memoir of how one of America's most innovative and respected journalists found his voice by coming to terms with a painful past. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Yellow House
Sarah M.

A brilliant, haunting and unforgettable memoir from a stunning new talent about the inexorable pull of home and family, set in a shotgun house in New Orleans East. Available to download: eBook

Cover of I’m Still Here: Black Di
Austin Channing

From a powerful new voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up Black, Christian, and female in middle-class white America. Available to download: eBook

Cover of A Piece of Cake

Moving and almost transgressive in its frankness, this memoir is a relentlessly gripping tale of a resilient spirit who took on the worst of contemporary urban life and survived it with a furious wit and unyielding determination.

Cover of Things I Should Have Told

In this inspiring memoir, the award-winning playwright and bestselling author reminisces on the art of juggling marriage, motherhood, and politics while working to become a successful writer.

Cover of Eloquent Rage: A Black Fem
Brittany C.

So what if it's true that Black women are mad as hell? They have the right to be. In the Black feminist tradition of Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper reminds us that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting.

Cover of Thick: And Other Essays
Tressie McMillan

In these eight piercing explorations on beauty, media, money, and more, Tressie McMillan Cottom-award-winning professor and acclaimed author-embraces her venerated role as a purveyor of wit, wisdom, and Black Twitter snark about all that is right and much that is wrong with this thing we call society.

Cover of Angela Davis: An Autobiogr

Angela Y. Davis has been a political activist at the cutting edge of the Black liberation, feminist, queer, and prison abolitionist movements. Fifty years after its original publication, the author revisits her life's story in print.

Cover of Brother, I’m Dying

A powerfully moving family story that centers around the men closest to the author's heart--her father, Mira, and his older brother, Joseph.

Cover of Black Nerd Problems
William Evans and Omar

The creators of the popular website Black Nerd Problems bring their witty and unflinching insight to this engaging collection of pop culture essays on everything from Mario Kart and The Wire to issues of representation and police brutality across media.

Available to download: Audio

Cover of The Book of (More) Delight

A collection of essays in which the author discusses the small and large things that delight him.


Cover of There Will Be No Miracles

The testament of a boy and a generation who came of age as the world came apart--a generation searching for a new way to live.

Cover of You Don't Know Us Negroes
Zora Neale

The essays in this essential collection are grouped thematically and cover a panoply of topics, including politics, race and gender, and folkloric study from the height of the Harlem Renaissance to the early years of the Civil Rights movement. Demonstrating the breadth of this revered and influential writer's work, You Don't Know Us Negroes and Other Essays is an invaluable chronicle of a writer's development and a window into her world and time.

Available to download: Audio

Cover of Quietly Hostile

The success of Irby's career has taken her to new heights. She fields calls with job offers from Hollywood and walks the red carpet with the iconic ladies of Sex and the City. But, behind all that new-found glam, Irby is just trying to keep her life together as she always had. She gets turned away from a restaurant for wearing ugly clothes, she goes to therapy and tries out Lexapro, gets healed with Reiki, explores the power of crystals, and becomes addicted to QVC. Making light of herself as she takes us on an outrageously funny tour of all the details that make up a true portrait of her life, Irby is once again the relatable, uproarious tonic we all need.

Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Survival Math: Notes on an
Mitchell S.

An electrifying, dazzlingly written reckoning and an essential addition to the national conversation about race and class that takes its name from the calculations award-winning author Mitchell S. Jackson made to survive the Portland, Oregon of his youth.

Cover of This Will Be My Undoing: L

From one of the fiercest critics writing today, Morgan Jerkins' highly-anticipated collection of linked essays interweaves her incisive commentary on pop culture, feminism, black history, misogyny, and racism with her own experiences to confront the very real challenges of being a black woman today.

Cover of How We Fight For Our Lives

In this stunning coming-of-age memoir, Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence--into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another--and to one another--as we fight to become ourselves. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Heavy: An American Memoir

In this powerful and provocative memoir, genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of How Far to the Promised La

The way to the promised land is not a trip from poverty to success, but the journey to finding beauty even in dark places. In searching prose, McCaulley chronicles his lifelong effort to understand the community that shaped him and the struggle they endured to make a home for their loved ones. McCaulley raises questions that implicate us all: How do we make sense of America's triumphs and misdeeds? Where might God be found in trauma and miracle that is Black life in the American South? Written with profound honesty and compassion, How Far to the Promised Land is a weighty examination of our most pressing societal issues and the hope that keeps us alive

Cover of No Ashes in the Fire: Comi
Darnell L.

From a leading journalist and activist comes a brave, beautifully wrought memoir, a story of beauty and hope-and an honest reckoning with family, with place, and with what it means to be free. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Source of Self-Regard:

Arguably the most celebrated and revered writer of our time now gives us a new nonfiction collection--a rich gathering of her essays, speeches, and meditations on society, culture, and art, spanning four decades.

Cover of Becoming

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America, she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private. A deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations. Available to download: eBook Audio

Cover of Chasing Me to My Grave: An

Rembert's work has been exhibited at museums and galleries across the country, profiled in the New York Times and more, and honored by Bryan Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative. In Chasing Me to My Grave, he relates his life in prose and paintings--vivid, confrontational, revelatory, complex scenes from the cotton fields and chain gangs of the segregated south to the churches and night clubs of the urban north. This is also the story of finding epic love, and with it the courage to revisit a past that begs to remain buried, as told to Tufts philosopher Erin I. Kelly.

Available to download: eBook

Cover of Invisible Man, Got the Who
Mychal Denzel

An unflinching account of what it means to be a young black man in America today, and how the existing script for black manhood is being rewritten in one of the most fascinating periods of American history.

Cover of We Speak for Ourselves: A

The critically lauded author provides an existential look at life in low-income black communities, while also offering a new framework for how to improve the conversations occurring about them.

Cover of Let It Bang: A Young Black

The quest, funny and searing, of a young man black man learning to shoot--a fascinating odyssey into race, guns, and self-protection in America.


Cover of Arthur Ashe: A Life

The first comprehensive, authoritative biography of American icon Arthur Ashe--the Jackie Robinson of men's tennis--a pioneering athlete who, after breaking the color barrier, went on to become an influential civil rights activist and public intellectual. Available to download: eBook

Cover of The Heritage: Black Athlet

The story of sports post-9/11, once neutral but now embedded with deference toward the military and police, colliding with the political reawakening of the black athlete in post-Ferguson America.

Cover of The Last Hero: the Life of

In the thirty-four years since his retirement, Henry Aaron's reputation has only grown in magnitude: he broke existing records (rbis, total bases, extra-base hits) and set new ones (hitting at least thirty home runs per season fifteen times, becoming the first player in history to hammer five hundred home runs and three thousand hits). But his influence extends beyond statistics, and at long last here is the first definitive biography of one of baseball's immortal figures. Available to download: eBook

Cover of Driven: From Homeless to H
Driver and Peter Goldenb

The Green Bay Packers legendary NFL receiver, all-time receptions and yards leader for the Green Bay Packers, and Dancing with the Stars champion looks back on his life and career.

Cover of Ali: A Life

The definitive biography of an American icon, from a New York Times best-selling author with unique access to Ali's inner circle.

Cover of Tigerland: 1968-1969, a Ci

Against the backdrop of one of the most tumultuous periods in recent American history,, the Tigers of poor, segregated East High School in Columbus, Ohio did something no team from one school had ever done before: they won the state basketball and baseball championships in the same year. They defeated bigger, richer, whiter teams across the state and along the way eased a painful racial divide throughout the state and overcame extraordinary obstacles on their road to success. In Tigerland, Wil Haygood gives us a spirited and stirring account of this improbable triumph and takes us deep into the personal lives of these local heroes. At the same time, he places the Tigers' story in the context of the racially charged sixties, bringing in such national figures as Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King Jr., and Richard Nixon, all of whom had a connection to the teams and a direct effect on their mythical season.

Cover of Strong Inside: Perry Walla

Based on more than eighty interviews, this fast-paced, richly detailed biography of Perry Wallace, the first African American basketball player in the SEC, digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a more complicated and profound story of sports pioneering than we've come to expect from the genre. Perry Wallace's unusually insightful and honest introspection reveals his inner thoughts throughout his journey.

Cover of I Beat the Odds: From Home
Oher and Dan Yaeger

The football star made famous in the hit film "The Blind Side" reflects on how far he has come from the circumstances of his youth. While many people are now familiar with Oher's amazing journey, this is the first time he shares his story in his own words. Available to download: eBook

Cover of Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyu
Tyus and Elizabeth Terzakis

In 1968, Wyomia Tyus became the first person ever to win gold medals in the 100-meter sprint in two consecutive Olympic Games, a feat that would not be repeated for twenty years or exceeded for almost fifty. Tigerbelle chronicles Tyus's journey from her childhood as the daughter of a tenant dairy farmer through her Olympic triumphs to her post-competition struggles to make a way for herself and other female athletes.


Cover of The Noble Hustle: Poker, B

Pulitzer finalist Colson Whitehead's hilarious memoir of his search for meaning at high stakes poker tables, which the author describes as "Eat, Pray, Love for depressed shut-ins."