12 Books To Read During Black History Month

Despite Stacey Dash’s nonsensical statements, Black History Month (BHM) is in fact still happening this year and what better way to celebrate than with some reading. Check out this list of books, both fiction and nonfiction, to help you feel empowered, make you laugh, and get motivated to change the world.

1. How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

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Source: Harper

Start your BHM right by learning “how to be Black”. Thurston’s book of satirical essays that discuss how to be the best Black person you can be will keep you laughing and shaking your head at it’s realness.

2. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

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Source: Simon & Schuster

Queen of Shondland, Shonda Rhimes has found success in a medium that has never been that open to women of color. Learn about how for one year Rhimes said yes to every opportunity that came her way and how it changed her life.

3. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Source: Anchor

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah centers around a young Nigerian couple who are separated but come back togethers 15 years later and rediscover their love for each other and their homeland.

4. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Source: Spiegel & Grau

Written as a letter to his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates dives into what it means to be Black in America, both in the present and in America’s history. Looking at his life experiences, Coates takes a hard look at race in America and what could be improved for the future.

5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

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Source: Random House

Filled with heart wrenching moments that will make you both angry and sad, Maya Angelou tells the story of her life with honesty and understanding. However, this book isn’t a sad story about what happened to her but instead an uplifting story about how she was set free.

6. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

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Source: Ballantine Books

From his childhood to his time in jail to his full dive into Islam, Malcolm X fully opens up about his ideals and how the American Dream doesn’t really include Black people. Whether you think his ideas are too extreme or not, they’ll definitely make you think.

7. Monster by Walter Dean Myers

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Source: HarperCollins

Written as a screenplay, this novel follows Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention awaiting trial. Winner of multiple awards, this shocking story demonstrates how one decision can completely alter someone’s life.

8. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

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Source: Atria

In this collection of hilarious essays, Issae Rae, creator of the YouTube hit, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, discusses her experiences as a creator of a YouTube show, dealing with people’s unwanted commentary, and rocking her natural hair.

9. Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

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Source: Signet

Before it became an amazing film, Waiting to Exhale was a bestselling novel. Centered around four black women, each of whom are going through their own relationship trials, this book tells the story of the undeniable bonds that friends share.

10. Beloved by Toni Morrison

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Source: Vintage

This classic novel tells the story of Sethe, a woman who escaped slavery 18 years ago but is still running from the ghosts she thought she left behind there. Filled with suspense, this isn’t just a story about slavery but a story about a mother who’s still being haunted.

11. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

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Source: Mariner Books

A tale about two sisters that are separated for years, The Color Purple is a classic that has since been turned into a movie and musical. Thought provoking, heart breaking, and inspiring this story is worth a read, and even a second if you’ve read it before.

12. Dear White People by Justin Simien

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Source: Atria

Answering questions such as, “Am I the token Black friend?” or “Was that a microaggression?” Dear White People is the ultimate guide to living in “post-racial” America.

 

10 Black Women Killing the Game

Black women are truly a group of amazing people to behold. From Beyonce to Kerry Washington to Oprah Winfrey these women are doing amazing things and looking good while doing it. This Black HERstory Month let’s praise all the black women who are doing great things today.

1. Oprah Winfrey

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Known as the “Queen of Media” Oprah Winfrey has greatly changed the face of media. Starting with her own talk show on ABC she now owns her own network (called OWN of course). She is currently the only black billionaire in North America. Talk about doing big things.

2. Beyoncé

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Besides having the ability to release an album in the dead of night without any promotions and still making it to #1 on the Billboard Music Charts and iTunes, Beyonce is one of the greatest female powerhouses of all time. Earning herself a total of 17 Grammys both on her own and with Destiny’s Child, she is the third most honored female vocal artist. Outside of her musical accomplishments Beyonce has turned herself into a very successful brand with deals with Pepsi and H&M, her clothing line with her mom, and the start of her own fragrance line. Get it girl!

3. Kerry Washington

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Many people forget that Kerry Washington starred in Save the Last Dance but she was there. Washington has been acting for a longtime now but it wasn’t until recently that she’s been recognized as the phenomenal actress she is. As Olivia Pope on the ABC show, Scandal, she has become very well known worldwide. Washington is not only a great actress but also a philanthropist supporting Woman’s Cancer Programs and V-Day, a global group that promotes awareness of violence against woman and girls. Amazing!

4. Gabby Douglas

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Leaving the 2012 London Olympics with two gold medals (one for team and one for the all-around in gymnastics) Gabby Douglas practically became famous overnight. Douglas is also the first African-American to win the all-around gold in gymnastics at the Olympics. Lifetime recently released a biopic about the young Olympian where we get an inside look on who Douglas really is the struggles she and her family faced to get to where she is. Now preparing for her next Olympics Douglas is in full training mode. Good luck in 2016!

5. Allyson Felix

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Speaking of the Olympics, Allyson Felix was also a star at the last one. Leaving with one gold and two silver medals she dominated the track. She is also a four-time recipient of the Jesse Owens Award from USA Track and Field that signifies the athlete of the year. She is the only woman to win the award four times. She is also training for the 2016 Olympics. Go girl!

6. Sasheer Zamata

Source: Daily News
Source: Daily News

Saturday Night Live is probably the most well known variety show on TV right now and yet for six long years they lacked any representation of a black woman on their show. Hence, they held a a national showcase to look for a new black actress to come onto their show and they found one: Sasheer Zamata. She is the first black actress on the show since Maya Rudolph left in 2007. Zamata has been included in many sketches on the show since introduction onto the show including being a part of their Black History Month skit which was phenomenal. I can’t wait to see where Zamata goes from here on the show and here’s to hoping SNL adds more color to their show in the future.

7. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Most well known now for her poetry on feminism in Beyonce’s song, “Flawless”, this Nigerian writer is in all senses of the word “flawless”. Receiving over 10 awards for her writing she also does multiple talks (including TED talks and talks with the Commonwealth League) worldwide. Her latest book, Americanah, was selected by the New York Times as one of The 10 Best Books of 2013. In summary, she’s a writing phenomenon that we’ll certainly be hearing more from.

8. Quvenzhané Wallis

Source: IMDb
Source: IMDb

At the age of nine, Quvenzhané Wallis became the youngest nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role in Academy Awards history for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Though she didn’t win the Oscar Wallis won 13 awards for her role in the film. Wallis will be playing Annie in the upcoming remake of the film/musical. She’s so young and doing such amazing things that I feel a little ashamed. Dang!

9. Nicole Beharie

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Black women are getting more screen time on TVs these days and it’s fantastic. Nicole Beharie stars on the new FOX, sci-fi drama, Sleepy Hollow. Beharie plays a Lieutenant  who is the sheriff-detective in her small town and she is the Second Witness of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I’m not entirely sure what that means but I think she plays a BAMF. Awesome!

10. Lupita Nyong’o

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Most well known for her role in 12 Years a Slave, Lupita Nyong’o is a Kenyan-Mexican actress and film director. So far she has won 29 awards for her role in the film and has been nominated for an Oscar. In a world where sometimes dark skin is seen as a negative, it’s wonderful to see a beautiful black woman proving everyone wrong. Keep doing you girl!

As we all continue to celebrate Black History Month let’s not only look at all the amazing people from our past but also celebrate all the amazing people who are doing great things today.