Memorial Hall Library

Black History Month Titles for Adults

February is Black History Month so we're celebrating and commemorating with a series of lists highlighting titles about Black history and the African American experience for children, teens, and adults. This first list of adult books from the last year includes short stories, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and biography. Stay tuned throughout the month for the teens and childrens lists!


	How long 'til black future month?
How long 'til black future month?
by N. K Jemisin

SHORT STORY COLLECTION. Offers a collection of the author's short fiction, including "The City Born Great," where a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis's soul.

	Victor Lavalle's Destroyer
Victor Lavalle's Destroyer
by Victor Lavalle, Dietrich Smith, Joana LaFuente, and Michaela Dawn

GRAPHIC NOVEL. On a dreary November night in 1792, Victor Frankenstein used natural-- and unnatural-- science to reanimate the dead. Victor eventually died, but the monster never did. It hid away in Antarctica and thought itself free of humanity. But the world isn't done with the monster and one descendant of the Frankenstein bloodline yet lives...

	An American Marriage
An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

FICTION. When her new husband is imprisoned for a crime she knows he did not commit, a rising artist takes comfort in a longtime friendship, only to see her husband's sentence is suddenly overturned. 

	The proposal
The proposal
by Jasmine Guillory

FICTION. Surprised by her new boyfriend's jumbotron proposal at a Dodgers game, Nikole is rescued from the public humiliation of having to say no by a handsome LA doctor in this new novel from the author of The Wedding Date. 

	American sonnets for my past and future assassin
American sonnets for my past and future assassin
by Terrance Hayes

POETRY. One of America’s most acclaimed poets presents 70 poems bearing the same title that, written during the first 200 days of the Trump presidency, are haunted by the country’s past and future eras and errors, its dreams and nightmares. Original.

	Wade in the Water : Poems
Wade in the Water : Poems
by Tracy K. Smith

POETRY. In Wade in the Water, Tracy K. Smith boldly ties America’s contemporary moment both to our nation’s fraught founding history and to a sense of the spirit, the everlasting. These are poems of sliding scale: some capture a flicker of song or memory; some collage an array of documents and voices; and some push past the known world into the haunted, the holy. Smith’s signature voice—inquisitive, lyrical, and wry—turns over what it means to be a citizen, a mother, and an artist in a culture arbitrated by wealth, men, and violence.

	One person, no vote : how voter suppression is destroying our democracy
One person, no vote : how voter suppression is destroying our democracy
by Carol Anderson

NONFICTION. The New York Times best-selling author of White Rage presents a timely history of voter suppression that exposes America's insidious history of policies that have blocked African-American voting participation, placing particular focus on the Supreme Court's 2013 Shelby ruling.

	When they call you a terrorist : a black lives matter memoir
When they call you a terrorist : a black lives matter memoir
by Patrisse Khan-Cullors

NONFICTION. A lyrical memoir by the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement urges readers to understand 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. Co-written by the award-winning author of The Prisoner's Wife.

	Heavy : an American memoir
Heavy : an American memoir
by Kiese Laymon

NONFICTION. An essayist and novelist 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

	Becoming
Becoming
by Michelle Obama

NONFICTION. An intimate memoir by the former First Lady chronicles the experiences that have shaped her remarkable life, from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago through her setbacks and achievements in the White House

	Barracoon : the story of the last "black cargo"
Barracoon : the story of the last "black cargo"
by Zora Neale Hurston

NONFICTION. Presents a previously unpublished work that illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery in the true story of one of the last known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade, Cudjo Lewis, who was abducted from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the United States.

	Set the world on fire : black nationalist women and the global struggle for freedom
Set the world on fire : black nationalist women and the global struggle for freedom
by Keisha N. Blain

NONFICTION. Examines the role of women in keeping alive black nationalist movements in the United States and other countries during the Depression, World War II, and the early Cold War period.

	The new Negro : the life of Alain Locke
The new Negro : the life of Alain Locke
by Jeffrey C. Stewart

BIOGRAPHY. A biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance describes him becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar and earning a PhD at Harvard University and promoting the work of young artists including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Jacob Lawrence.

	Frederick Douglass : prophet of freedom
Frederick Douglass : prophet of freedom
by David W Blight

BIOGRAPHY. The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era. 

	Ghosts in the schoolyard : racism and school closings on Chicago's South side
Ghosts in the schoolyard : racism and school closings on Chicago's South side
by Eve L Ewing

NONFICTION. Ewing knows Chicago Public Schools from the inside: as a student, then a teacher, and now a scholar who studies them. And that perspective has shown her that public schools are not buildings full of failures—they’re an integral part of their neighborhoods, at the heart of their communities, storehouses of history and memory that bring people together.
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