Black History

Above ground : poems book cover

Above ground : poems

Clint Smith

811.6 /Smith
Black Lives Matter, Black History, Nonfiction, Poetry, Literary Nonfiction

Clint Smith's vibrant and compelling new collection traverses the vast emotional terrain of fatherhood, and explores how becoming a parent has recalibrated his sense of the world. There are poems that interrogate the ways our lives are shaped by both personal lineages and historical institutions. There are poems that revel in the wonder of discovering the world anew through the eyes of your children, as they discover it for the first time. There are poems that meditate on what it means to raise a family in a world filled with constant social and political tumult. Above Ground wrestles with how we hold wonder and despair in the same hands, how we carry intimate moments of joy and a collective sense of mourning in the same body. Smith's lyrical, narrative poems bring the reader on a journey not only through the early years of his children's lives, but through the changing world in which they are growing up--through the changing world of which we are all a part.

Annie's picture

A beautiful and healing collection of poems from Clint Smith (author of "How the Word Is Passed"), reflecting on the ups and downs of parenthood, how it has changed him and other epiphanies that come with it. Sprinkled with both the small happy memories and the bursts of grief that can come with the vicissitudes of life, loss and trauma. -Annie

Black Bottom saints : a novel book cover

Black Bottom saints : a novel

Alice Randall

FICTION Randall Alice
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Black History

In the black-owned-and-operated Kirkwood Hospital, Joseph "Ziggy" Johnson reflects on his life. From the Great Depression through the post-World War II years, Ziggy had been the pulse of Detroit's famous Black Bottom. A celebrated gossip columnist for the city's African-American newspaper, the Michigan Chronicle, he was also the emcee of one of the hottest night clubs, where he rubbed elbows with the legendary black artists of the era. In his hospital bed, Ziggy curates his own list of Black Bottom's venerable "52 Saints," local heroes whose unstoppable ambition, love of style, and faith in community made this black Midwestern neighborhood the rival of New York City's Harlem. -- adapted from jacket

Candice's picture

This was an enlightening and uplifting read. The story of jazz-era Detroit, told through the lives of some of its most mesmerizing and affecting Black residents. The book begins with the narrator, Ziggy, recounting what he calls the "Caramel Camelot," the area and world of Detroit where Black families had migrated to, and having found solid employment in the burgeoning auto industry, made their homes in the neighborhoods where they could buy houses and support enterprises (ie, jazz clubs, schools, hospitals, stores, restaurants, etc.) run by their people and for their people. It's a book that shows the reader what once was, what's been lost, and just possibly, what could be again. -Candice

Red at the bone book cover

Red at the bone

Jacqueline Woodson

FICTION Woodson, Jacqueline
Black Lives Matter, Black History, Literary Fiction, Diverse Characters

"Two familes from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces. As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody's coming of age ceremony in her grandparents' Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody's mother, for her own ceremony-- a celebration that ultimately never took place"--Adapted from jacket.

Heidi K's picture

This was a beautiful read. It packs so many different feelings, perspectives, and atmospheres into one relatively short book. This is not one to miss! -Heidi K

We are each other's harvest : celebrating African American farmers, land, and legacy book cover

We are each other's harvest : celebrating African American farmers, land, and legacy

Natalie Baszile

630.973 /Baszile
Black History, Black Lives Matter, Nonfiction

"In this impressive anthology, Natalie Baszile brings together essays, poems, photographs, quotes, conversations, and first-person stories to examine black people's connection to the American land from Emancipation to today. In the 1920s, there were over one million black farmers; today there are just 45,000. Baszile explores this crisis, through the farmers' personal experiences. In their own words, middle aged and elderly black farmers explain why they continue to farm despite systemic discrimination and land loss. The Returning Generation--young farmers, who are building upon the legacy of their ancestors, talk about the challenges they face as they seek to redress issues of food justice, food sovereignty, and reparations."--

Victoria's picture

An absolutely fascinating exploration of African American connection to land past, present and future. I loved the acknowledgment of historical truths and hopes for restorative futures in this series of essays, poems and photography. -Victoria

A little devil in America : notes in praise of Black performance book cover

A little devil in America : notes in praise of Black performance

Hanif Abdurraqib

791.09 /Abdurraqib
Black Lives Matter, Black History, Music, Nonfiction

"A Little Devil in America is an urgent project that unravels all modes and methods of black performance, in this moment when black performers are coming to terms with their value, reception, and immense impact on America. With sharp insight, humor, and heart, Abdurraqib examines how black performance happens in specific moments in time and space--midcentury Paris, the moon, or a cramped living room in Columbus, Ohio. At the outset of this project, Abdurraqib became fascinated with clips of black minstrel entertainers like William Henry Lane, better known as Master Juba. Knowing there was something more complicated and deep-seated in the history and legacy of minstrelsy, Abdurraqib uncovered questions and tensions that help to reveal how black performance pervades all areas of American society. Abdurraqib's prose is entrancing and fluid as he leads us along the links in his remarkable trains of thought. A Little Devil in America considers, critiques, and praises performance in music, sports, writing, comedy, grief, games, and love"--

Jason's picture

Looking forward to reading this one! He's a poet, essayist, and cultural critic that has been a Visiting Professor at the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program as well as taken part in past Mission Creek Festivals. -Jason

Tom Waits book cover

Tom Waits

Matt Mahurin

779.2 /Mahurin
Political, Black Lives Matter, Black History, Gardening

"A collection of portraits of musician Tom Waits, the result of a 30-year collaboration with photographer and illustrator Matt Mahurin This book is a testament to the unique collaboration, going back three decades, between the photographer and illustrator Matt Mahurin and the musician Tom Waits. Having shot magazine portraits, album covers, and music videos of Waits, Mahurin was inspired to resurrect 100 dormant film negatives as a jumping off point to explore his own surreal, poetic, and occasionƯally dark vision. The images vary from traditional porƯtraits to ones that capture Waits in concert--but the majority are imagined scenes in which Waits is more muse than musician. In addition to the diverse images, the book includes a foreword by Waits, an essay by Mahurin on their longtime collaboration, and 20 original paintings, drawings, photographs, and digital images inspired by Waits's song titles."--Publisher's website.

Victoria's picture

This is a riveting read; with essays that document black legacies to American land linking past, present African American stewards and hopes for the future -Victoria

Look, black boy book cover

Look, black boy

Caleb Rainey

811.6 /Rainey
Black Lives Matter, Read Woke, Black History

"In his debut poem collection Caleb 'The Negro Artist' Rainey explores racial tensions in America from the perspective of a young Black male."--

Victoria's picture

Caleb Rainey is a local poet and founder of IC Speaks, a poetry group for high schoolers. This book will have you nodding, snapping and clapping line after line. His verse is raw, honest and spot on. Go see him live if you get the chance! -Victoria

Somebody give this heart a pen book cover

Somebody give this heart a pen

Sophia Thakur

Black History, Young Adult

"In her publishing debut, internationally acclaimed performance poet Sophia Thakur takes you on an intimate journey through love, loss, sacrifice, and self-discovery. In four parts -- titled Grow, Wait, Break, and Grow Again -- she shares her raw self and gives voice to experiences that connect people, inspiring readers to explore the tendencies of the heart." -- Provided by publisher.

Victoria's picture

Sophia is raw, honest and someone who who built herself up brick by brick to become an indomitable force. Somebody give that heart all the pens she needs! If you don't know her, you need to check her out! -Victoria

King and the Dragonflies book cover

King and the Dragonflies

Black History, Diverse Characters

"In a small but turbulent Louisiana town, one boy's grief takes him beyond the bayous of his backyard, to learn that there is no right way to be yourself"-- Provided by publisher.

Victoria's picture

Kacen Callendar's 2021 Coretta Scott King Author Honor is a fantastic read. This book will have you hooked from the beginning; highly descriptive locations, complex and relatable characters and important themes that will evoke discussion with young readers. I would recommended this for ages 10 and up. -Victoria

I, Matthew Henson : polar explorer book cover

I, Matthew Henson : polar explorer

Carole Boston Weatherford

jBIOGRAPHY Henson, Matthew Alexander
Black Lives Matter, Black History, Read Woke, Picture Books, Biographies

Casey's picture

Added by Casey