In 1976, when President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month he asked Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Nearly fifty years later, as racial justice continues to be a topic of national conversation, it is increasingly important to reflect on these immense accomplishments while also recognizing the challenges Black Americans continue to face.
Here are some recent titles from our collection that can help guide our thoughts on the past as we look towards the future:
Stayed on freedom: the long history of Black Power through one family’s journey – The Black Power movement, often associated with its iconic spokesmen, derived much of its energy from the work of people whose stories have never been told. Stayed on Freedom brings into focus two unheralded Black Power activists who dedicated their lives to the fight for freedom.
Black AF History: the un-whitewashed story of America – From acclaimed columnist and political commentator Michael Harriot, a searingly smart and bitingly hilarious retelling of American history that corrects the record and showcases the perspectives and experiences of Black Americans. America’s backstory is a whitewashed mythology implanted in our collective memory.
A Darker Wilderness: Black nature writing from soil to stars – In A Darker Wilderness, a constellation of luminary writers reflect on the significance of nature in their lived experience and on the role of nature in the lives of Black folks in the United States. Each of these essays engages with a single archival object, whether directly or obliquely, exploring stories spanning hundreds of years and thousands of miles, traveling from roots to space and finding rich Blackness everywhere.
No Right to an Honest Living: The Struggles of Boston’s Black Workers in the Civil War Era – Impassioned antislavery rhetoric made antebellum Boston famous as the nation’s hub of radical abolitionism. In fact, however, the city was far from a beacon of equality. Highlighting the everyday struggles of ordinary Black workers, this book shows how injustice in the workplace prevented Boston—and the United States—from securing true equality for all.
We also encourage out patrons to learn about and reflect on the incredible history that happened and is happening in and around Bucks County:
James McBride – In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded McBride a National Humanities Medal “for humanizing the complexities of discussing race in America. This Lambertville-based author’s most recent New York Times bestselling novel, The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store, is set in Pottstown, PA and involves an African American and immigrant community’s struggle to survive.
Jean Toomer – Toomer is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking novel, Cane, which is considered a classic of the Harlem Renaissance and modernist literature. Here in Bucks County, where Toomer lived for the last 30 years of his life, he retired from writing and became an active member of the Doylestown Friends Meeting.
Neshaminy Journal: the Bucks County historical and literary journal. Vol 5, No. 1 – The latest issue of Bucks County’s historical and literary journal contains an exclusive interview with Linda Salley, the Executive Director of the African American Museum of Bucks County.
For more eBooks and eAudiobooks to celebrate Black history this month and all throughout the year, please visit our Black History Month shelves on cloudLibrary.
Comics Plus is also highlighting stories that feature Black characters, creators, and history. Check out this collection of comics and graphic novels, Black History, Black Voices
Pennsylvania’s Power Library gives library cardholders access to Black Freedom Struggle in the United States, a database of primary source documents related to critical people and events in African American history.