The 10 Best Black History Books

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This wiki has been updated 18 times since it was first published in February of 2018. Strengthen your knowledge with one of these enthralling black history books. Whether you’re interested in music, social equality, or economics, we’ve selected well-researched works that chronicle an intensely rich and engaging past that has spanned hundreds of years and a multitude of cultures. Our selection includes everything from comprehensive volumes to more specialized titles. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Creating Black Americans

2. The Warmth of Other Suns

3. Life Upon These Shores

Editor's Notes

May 12, 2020:

Black history is an intensely rich subject that incorporates thousands of years of struggle and strife, as well as exceptional courage, explosions of artistic creativity, invention and ingenuity, and accomplishments in the fields of science, military, entertainment, and much more. There are hundreds of excellent books on the topic, but for our list, we wanted to home in on American history while still including works that chronicle eras before New World colonization as well as a pick or two about other regions and niches. So in addition to wide-spanning tomes, you'll see laser-focused books like The Black Jacobins, an account of the Haitian Revolution and Black Labor, White Wealth, a selection centered around economic disparity.

If you're looking for something meticulous and comprehensive, consider Life Upon These Shores and The Destruction of Black Civilization, as well as our newly-added pick, Creating Black Americans. Each of these takes a considered, yet general, approach, and is written from a distinct perspective. The recent addition we love for its rich array of artwork by black artists and its championing of modern times, as so many books tend to explain some of the most harrowing aspects of black culture without also including eras that have seen major strides being made. That being said, the book still acknowledges the work left to be done.

Black Indians is a great choice for the young adult reader, but we realized during today's update that we didn't have a title meant for younger kids, which is where Little Leaders comes in. Written for children ages 8-12, it's a well-curated collection that shines a spotlight on dozens of exceptional women. It has a companion book that focuses on men, as well, so parents can provide their children with plenty of heroes to look up to.

Special Honors

The Souls of Black Folk & Other Classics Whether you're looking for romance novels or history books, Project Gutenberg is a library of over 60,000 free ebooks that can be downloaded or read online. Much of the world's great literature is there, with a focus on older works for which U.S. copyright has expired. Illuminating classics such as W. E. B. Du Bois' The Souls of Black Folk and My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass are available for anyone to enjoy.

Open Culture Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for curious readers to peruse, with thousands of free online courses from top universities, movies, audio and ebooks, and essays. Students of black history can explore everything from articles on Pure Hell, a black punk band, and Ira Aldridge, the first black actor to perform Shakespeare in England, to comprehensive classes that span hundreds of years.

4. The Destruction of Black Civilization

5. 1001 Things Everyone Should Know

6. Deep Blues

7. Black Labor, White Wealth

8. Little Leaders

9. The Black Jacobins

10. Black Indians

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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