Commemorating Black History

ICPL has a hidden treasure upstairs on the 2nd floor—our Black History books collection, most of which you can find in the 973.00496s. Every book we buy for this section is guaranteed to be fascinating. If you want to dig deeper than the traditional Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X stories, start digging through this list of excellent books. All books on this list were published in 2019 and 2020.

Overground railroad : the Green Book and the roots of Black travel in America

Candacy A. Taylor

973.00496 /Taylor
History, Nonfiction, Black History

The first book to explore the historical role and residual impact of the Green Book, a travel guide for black motorists. Published from 1936 to 1966, the Green Book was hailed as the "black travel guide to America." At that time, it was very dangerous and difficult for African-Americans to travel because black travelers couldn't eat, sleep, or buy gas at most white-owned businesses. The Green Book listed hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and other businesses that were safe for black travelers. It was a resourceful and innovative solution to a horrific problem. It took courage to be listed in the Green Book, and 'Overground Railroad' celebrates the stories of those who put their names in the book and stood up against segregation. It shows the history of the Green Book, how we arrived at our present historical moment, and how far we still have to go when it comes to race relations in America.

Never caught, the story of Ona Judge : George and Martha Washington's courageous slave who dared to run away

Erica Armstrong Dunbar

973.00496 /Dunbar
History, Nonfiction, Black History

"In this incredible narrative, Erica Armstrong Dunbar reveals a fascinating and heartbreaking behind-the-scenes look at the Washingtons' when they were the First Family--and an in-depth look at their slave, Ona Judge, who dared to escape from one of the nation's Founding Fathers. Born into a life of slavery, Ona Judge eventually grew up to be George and Martha Washington's "favored" dower slave. When she was told that she was going to be given as a wedding gift to Martha Washington's granddaughter, Ona made the bold and brave decision to flee to the north, where she would be a fugitive. From her childhood, to her time with the Washingtons and living in the slave quarters, to her escape to New Hampshire, Erica Armstrong Dunbar (along with Kathleen Van Cleve), shares an intimate glimpse into the life of a little-known, but powerful figure in history, and her brave journey as she fled the most powerful couple in the country."--

Stony the road : Reconstruction, white supremacy, and the rise of Jim Crow

Henry Louis Gates

973.00496 /Gates
History, Nonfiction

"A profound new rendering of the struggle by African-Americans for equality after the Civil War and the violent counter-revolution that resubjugated them, as seen through the prism of the war of images and ideas that have left an enduring racist stain on the American mind. The abolition of slavery in the aftermath of the Civil War is a familiar story, as is the civil rights revolution that transformed the nation after World War II. But the century in between remains a mystery: if emancipation sparked 'a new birth of freedom' in Lincoln's America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s America? In this new book, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., one of our leading chroniclers of the African-American experience, seeks to answer that question in a history that moves from the Reconstruction Era to the 'nadir' of the African-American experience under Jim Crow, through to World War I and the Harlem Renaissance. Through his close reading of the visual culture of this tragic era, Gates reveals the many faces of Jim Crow and how, together, they reinforced a stark color line between white and black Americans. Bringing a lifetime of wisdom to bear as a scholar, filmmaker, and public intellectual, Gates uncovers the roots of structural racism in our own time, while showing how African Americans after slavery combatted it by articulating a vision of a "New Negro" to force the nation to recognize their humanity and unique contributions to America as it hurtled toward the modern age. The book will be accompanied by a new PBS documentary series on the same topic, with full promotional support from PBS"--

American founders : how people of African descent established freedom in the new world

Christina Proenza-Coles

973.00496 /Proenza-Coles
History, Nonfiction, Black History

"American Founders reveals men and women of African descent as key protagonists in the story of American democracy. It chronicles how black people developed and defended New World settlements, undermined slavery, and championed freedom throughout the hemisphere from the sixteenth thorough the twentieth centuries. While conventional history tends to reduce the roles of African Americans to antebellum slavery and the civil rights movement, in reality African residents preceded the English by a century and arrived in the Americas in numbers that far exceeded European migrants up until 1820. Afro-Americans were omnipresent in the founding and advancement of the Americas, and recurrently outnumbered Europeans at many times and places, from colonial Peru to antebellum Virginia. African-descended people contributed to every facet of American history as explorers, conquistadores, settlers, soldiers, sailors, servants, slaves, rebels, leaders, lawyers, litigants, laborers, artisans, artists, activists, translators, teachers, doctors, nurses, inventors, investors, merchants, mathematicians, scientists, scholars, engineers, entrepreneurs, generals, cowboys, pirates, professors, politicians, priests, poets, and presidents. The multitude of events and mixed-race individuals included in the book underscores that black and white Americans share the same history, and in many cases, the same ancestry. American Founders is meant to celebrate this shared heritage and strengthen these bonds."

The Battle of Negro Fort : the rise and fall of a fugitive slave community

Matthew J. Clavin

973.00496 /Clavin
History, Nonfiction, Black History

"The dramatic story of the United States' destruction of a free and independent community of fugitive slaves in Spanish Florida. In the aftermath of the War of 1812, Major General Andrew Jackson ordered a joint United States army-navy expedition into Spanish Florida to destroy a free and independent community of fugitive slaves. The result was the Battle of Negro Fort, a brutal conflict among hundreds of American troops, Indian warriors, and black rebels that culminated in the death or re-enslavement of nearly all of the fort's inhabitants. By eliminating this refuge for fugitive slaves, the United States government closed an escape valve that African Americans had utilized for generations. At the same time, it intensified the subjugation of southern Native Americans, including the Creeks, Choctaws, and Seminoles. Still, the battle was significant for another reason as well. During its existence, Negro Fort was a powerful symbol of black freedom that subverted the racist foundations of an expanding American slave society. Its destruction reinforced the nation's growing commitment to slavery, while illuminating the extent to which ambivalence over the institution had disappeared since the nation's founding. Indeed, four decades after declaring that all men were created equal, the United States destroyed a fugitive slave community in a foreign territory for the first and only time in its history, which accelerated America's transformation into a white republic. The Battle of Negro Fort places the violent expansion of slavery where it belongs, at the center of the history of the early American republic."--Publisher's website.

Stolen : five free boys kidnapped into slavery and their astonishing odyssey home

Richard Bell

973.00496 /Bell
History, Nonfiction, Black History

Philadelphia, 1825. Five young, free black boys are lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay. They are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be sold as slaves. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home. Their ordeal shines a spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of legally free African Americans from their families in order to fuel slavery's rapid expansion in the decades before the Civil War. -- adapted from jacket

Dark sky rising : Reconstruction and the dawn of Jim Crow

Henry Louis Gates

973.00496 /Gates
History, Nonfiction, Black History

"This is a story about America and the shaping of its democratic values during the Reconstruction era, one of our country's most pivotal and misunderstood chapters. In this stirring account of the Civil War, emancipation, and the struggle for rights and reunion that followed, one of the premier US scholars delivers a book that is as illuminating as it is timely. Real-life accounts of heroism, grit, betrayal, and bravery drive this book's narrative, spanning America's history from 1861 to 1915 and drawing parallels with today. Topics include the destruction of slavery, the Reconstruction Amendments, and African American resilience in times of racial unrest. Notable figures cited throughout include Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Henry Adams, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Jacobs, Charlotte Forten, W.E.B. Du Bois, and more. Here, you will come face-to-face with America's challenge to create a society in which black and white citizens could, after a violent civil war, find a lasting peace without new lines of inequality and separation being drawn. The people and events of that noble experiment, and its violent overthrow and eventual undermining in the Jim Crow era, are central to this story. In introducing them to young readers, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., shares a history that remains vitally relevant to the challenges of our own time."--Dust jacket.

Girl in black and white : the story of Mary Mildred Williams and the abolition movement

Jessie Morgan-Owens

973.00496 /Morgan-Owens
History, Nonfiction, Black History

"The riveting, little-known story of Mary Mildred Williams--a slave girl who looked 'white'--whose photograph transformed the abolitionist movement. When a decades-long court battle resulted in her family's freedom in 1855, seven-year-old Mary Mildred Williams unexpectedly became the face of American slavery. During a sold-out abolitionist lecture series, Senator Charles Sumner paraded Mary in front of rapt audiences as evidence that slavery knew no bounds. Weaving together long-overlooked primary sources and arresting images, including the daguerreotype that turned Mary into the poster child of a movement, Jessie Morgan-Owens investigates tangled generations of sexual enslavement and the fraught politics that led Mary to Sumner. She restores Mary's story to history and uncovers a dramatic narrative of travels along the Underground Railroad, relationships tested by oppression, and the struggles of life after emancipation. The result is an exposé of the thorny racial politics of the abolitionist movement and the pervasive colorism that dictated where white sympathy lay--one that sheds light on a shameful legacy that still affects us profoundly today"--

They were her property : white women as slave owners in the American South

Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

973.00496 /Jones-Rogers
History, Nonfiction, Black History

"Bridging women's history, the history of the South, and African American history, this book makes a bold argument about the role of white women in American slavery. Historian Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers draws on a variety of sources to show that slave-owning women were sophisticated economic actors who directly engaged in and benefited from the South's slave market. Because women typically inherited more slaves than land, enslaved people were often their primary source of wealth. Not only did white women often refuse to cede ownership of their slaves to their husbands, they employed management techniques that were as effective and brutal as those used by slave-owning men. White women actively participated in the slave market, profited from it, and used it for economic and social empowerment. By examining the economically entangled lives of enslaved people and slave-owning women, Jones-Rogers presents a narrative that forces us to rethink the economics and social conventions of slaveholding America"--

Unexampled courage : the blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring

Richard Gergel

973.00496 /Gergel
History, Nonfiction, Black History

Sergeant Isaac Woodard, a battlefield-decorated African American soldier, climbed aboard a Greyhound bus on February 12, 1946, in Augusta, Georgia, on his last leg home after three years of military service. Things suddenly went awry when a brief heated exchange with the bus driver resulted in Woodard's removal from the bus and his arrest in the small town of Batesburg, South Carolina. Shortly after the Batesburg police chief, Lynwood Shull, took Woodard into custody, he beat the soldier with his blackjack, blinding him. Details of Woodard's tragic encounter soon reached President Harry S. Truman. Outraged by the treatment of a uniformed American soldier, Truman wrote to his attorney general and made it clear that there was a need for an effective federal response. Within days, criminal civil rights charges were brought against Shull in the federal district court in South Carolina and Truman began establishing the first presidential committee on civil rights. Truman's committee recommended groundbreaking reforms, including ending segregation in the armed forces. On July 26, 1948, Truman, over vigorous opposition, issued Executive Order 9981, integrating the American military and marking the beginning of the end of Jim Crow. Shull was tried before United States District Judge J. Waties Waring, a Charleston patrician whose father was a Confederate veteran. An all-white jury quickly acquitted Shull, but Judge Waring was conscience-stricken by the failure of the justice system to hold the obviously culpable police chief accountable. Waring soon began issuing landmark civil rights decisions that rocked his native state and challenged the foundations of racial segregation and of black disenfranchisement. His courageous dissent in a 1951 school desegregation case, in which he declared segregation per se unconstitutional, became the model for the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education three years later. Richard Gergel's [book] details the long-overlooked story of the blinding of Sergeant Woodard and its transformative effect on President Truman, Judge Waring, and, ultimately, America's civil rights history. This is a story that deserves to be told, with all its pathos, its brutality, and its redemption of the American system of justice.