Books for Juneteenth

By Coll Rowe | June 7 2023 | African American History

Juneteenth, which is recognized on June 19th each year, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. We are highlighting books from Black writers that provide insight into the rich complexity of the African American experience through history, memoir, literature, and poetry. Find the list of titles here:

Twelve Years a Slave
Perhaps the best written of all the slave narratives, Twelve Years a Slave is a harrowing memoir about one of the darkest periods in American history. It recounts how Solomon Northup, born a free man in New York, was lured to Washington, D.C., in 1841 with the promise of fast money, then drugged and beaten and sold into slavery. He spent the next twelve years of his life in captivity on a Louisiana cotton plantation.
$18.00 US
Jul 31, 2012
304 Pages
Penguin Classics

The Price for Their Pound of Flesh
The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation
Groundbreaking look at slaves as commodities through every phase of life, from birth to death and beyond, in early America.
$18.95 US
Dec 26, 2017
280 Pages
Beacon Press

Stamped from the Beginning
A Graphic History of Racist Ideas in America
A striking graphic novel edition of the National Book Award-winning history of how racist ideas have shaped American life—from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist.
$29.99 US
Jun 06, 2023
288 Pages
Ten Speed Graphic

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
An updated edition of a classic African American autobiography, with new supplementary materials.
$14.00 US
Jan 28, 2014
224 Pages
Penguin Classics

Constructing a Nervous System
A Memoir
The Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and memoirist Margo Jefferson has lived in the thrall of a cast of others—her parents and maternal grandmother, jazz luminaries, writers, artists, athletes, and stars. These are the figures who thrill and trouble her, and who have made up her sense of self as a person and as a writer. In her much-anticipated follow-up to Negroland, Jefferson brings these figures to life in a memoir of stunning originality, a performance of the elements that comprise and occupy the mind of one of our foremost critics.
$16.00 US
Apr 11, 2023
208 Pages

Built from the Fire
The Epic Story of Tulsa's Greenwood District, America's Black Wall Street
A generational saga of a family and a community in Tulsa’s Greenwood district—or “Black Wall Street”—that in one century survived the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, urban renewal, and gentrification.
$30.00 US
May 23, 2023
672 Pages
Random House

African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song (LOA #333)
A Library of America Anthology
A literary landmark: the biggest, most ambitious anthology of black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present
$45.00 US
Oct 20, 2020
1170 Pages
Library of America

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Better Living Through Birding
Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World
Central Park birder Christian Cooper takes us beyond the viral video that shocked a nation and into a world of avian adventures, global excursions, and the unexpected lessons you can learn from a life spent looking up at the birds
$28.00 US
Jun 13, 2023
304 Pages
Random House

Civil Rights Queen
Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality
Here is the first major biography of one of our most influential judges—an activist lawyer who became the first Black woman appointed to the federal judiciary—that provides an eye-opening account of the twin struggles for gender equality and civil rights in the 20th Century.
$19.00 US
Mar 07, 2023
528 Pages

A Black Women's History of the United States
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
$17.00 US
Mar 16, 2021
296 Pages
Beacon Press

Remember Me Now
A Journey Back to Myself and a Love Letter to Black Women
An unforgettable invitation to treat our lives as the sacred things they are—and a call to embrace the love, dreams, and healing that only we can choose for ourselves.
$23.00 US
Jan 17, 2023
224 Pages

The Classic Slave Narratives
A seminal volume of four classic slave narratives, including Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, The History of Mary Price: A West Indian Slave, Incident in the Life of a Slave Girl, and The Life of Olaudah Equiano.Before the end of the Civil War, more than one hundred former slaves had published moving stories of their captivity and escape, joined by a similar number after the war. No group of slaves anywhere, in any other era, has left such prolific testimony to the horror of bondage and servitude.Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of America's top experts in African American studies, presents four of these classic narratives that illustrate the real nature of black experience in slavery.Fascinating and powerful, this collection includes four of the best-known examples: the lives of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs (alias Linda Brent), Mary Price, and Olaudah Equiano (alias Gustavus Vassa). These amazing stories are not only first-person histories of the highest caliber, they are also a unique literary form that has given birth to the spirit, vitality, and vision of America's modern black writers.Updated with the ninth edition of The Life of Olaudah Equiano, the last edition he revised and published in his lifetime.With a Revised and Updated Introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
$7.95 US
Jan 03, 2012
Mass Market Paperback
688 Pages

A novel
Nightcrawling is a novel about a young Black woman who walks the streets of Oakland and stumbles headlong into the failure of its justice system. Rich with raw beauty, electrifying intensity, and piercing vulnerability, Nightcrawling marks the stunning arrival of a voice unlike any we have heard before.
$17.00 US
Apr 11, 2023
288 Pages

The Black Radical Imagination
The 20th-anniversary edition of Kelley’s influential history of 20th-century Black radicalism, with new reflections on current movements and their impact on the author, and a foreword by poet Aja Monet
$19.95 US
Aug 23, 2022
336 Pages
Beacon Press

Shine Bright
A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop
American pop music is arguably this country’s greatest cultural contribution to the world, and its singular voice and virtuosity were created by a shining thread of Black women geniuses stretching back to the country’s founding. This is their surprising, heartbreaking, soaring story—from “one of the generation’s greatest, most insightful, most nuanced writers in pop culture” (Shea Serrano)
$18.00 US
Feb 14, 2023
336 Pages
Roc Lit 101

Spoken Word
A Cultural History
Here is a fascinating history of the art form that has transformed the cultural landscape, by one of its influential practitioners, an award-winning poet, professor, and slam champion.
$30.00 US
Mar 28, 2023
304 Pages

Notes of a Native Son
Since its original publication in 1955, this first nonfiction collection of essays by James Baldwin remains an American classic. His impassioned essays on life in Harlem, the protest novel, movies, and African Americans abroad are as powerful today as when they were first written. This new edition, published for the 25th anniversary of Baldwin's death,will have a new introduction and cover.
$15.00 US
Nov 20, 2012
208 Pages
Beacon Press

Chain Gang All Stars
A Novel
The explosive, anticipated debut novel from the author of Friday Black, about two top women gladiators fighting for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America’s own. 
$27.00 US
May 02, 2023
384 Pages

The Upcycled Self
A Memoir on the Art of Becoming Who We Are
From one of our generation’s most powerful artists and incisive storytellers comes a brilliantly crafted work about the art –and war – of becoming who we are.
$26.99 US
Nov 14, 2023
208 Pages
One World

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave
A new Vintage Classics edition of the abolitionist leader’s classic autobiography.
$12.00 US
Mar 06, 2018
160 Pages

Juneteenth (Revised)
Juneteenth is a brilliantly crafted, moving, and wise novel. This edition includes a new introduction by National Book Award-winning author Charles R. Johnson.
$17.00 US
May 18, 2021
416 Pages