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Black History

Accessing Books

Access e-books from the library by logging in with your UNH IT ID and password.  Print books can be borrowed from Dimond Library and books from UNH-Manchester can be requested online for pick-up in Durham.

History, Memoirs, and Non-Fiction

Mediocre : the dangerous legacy of white male America

 

From the author of the New York Times bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race, a subversive history of white male American identity. What happens to a country that tells generation after generation of white men that they deserve power? What happens when success is defined by status over women and people of color, instead of by actual accomplishments? Through the last 150 years of American history-from the post-Reconstruction South and the mythic stories of cowboys in the West, to the present-day controversy over NFL protests and the backlash against the rise of women in politics--Ijeoma Oluo exposes the devastating consequences of white male supremacy on women, people of color, and white men themselves. Mediocre investigates the real costs of this phenomenon in order to imagine a new white male identity, one free from racism and sexism. As provocative as it is essential, this book will upend everything you thought you knew about American identity and offers a bold new vision of American greatness.

Image of book cover, which includes the words of the title A Community History of African America 1619-2019, Four Hundred Souls, edited by Ibram X Kendi, over a painting of people in a blue cloud.

Four Hundred Souls a Community History of African America, 1619-2019

A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history's great epics: the four hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present--edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, The story begins in 1619--a year before the Mayflower Four Hundred Souls This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present

Book cover with the word

Racecraft the Soul of Inequality in American Life

"Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call "racecraft." And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. So pervasive are the devices of racecraft in American history, economic doctrine, politics, and everyday thinking that the presence of racecraft itself goes unnoticed. That the promised post-racial age has not dawned, the authors argue, reflects the failure of Americans to develop a legitimate language for thinking about and discussing inequality. That failure should worry everyone who cares about democratic institutions."

Cover of book with author's name

Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement


"In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world. Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today's struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today's struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine. Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. And in doing so, she reminds us that freedom is a constant struggle."

image of the author, James Baldwin over the title

The Fire Next Time


"A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two "letters," written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism."

Image of a scroll with the title of the book on it

Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge


"A revelatory account of the actions taken by the first president to retain his slaves in spite of Northern laws profiles one of the slaves, Ona Judge, describing the intense manhunt that ensued when she ran away."

an image of the book cover, with the words of the title and author

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of the YearIn this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prizewinning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. The Warmth of Other Suns is a bold, remarkable, and riveting work, a superb account of an ';unrecognized immigration' within our own land. Through the breadth of its narrative, the beauty of the writing, the depth of its research, and the fullness of the people and lives portrayed herein, this book is destined to become a classic

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Between the World and Me

"In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of 'race,' a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men--bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? "

image of book cover which includes a photo of the author, Toni Morrison, and the title

The Origin of Others

America's foremost novelist reflects on the themes that preoccupy her work and increasingly dominate national and world politics: race, fear, borders, the mass movement of peoples, the desire for belonging. What is race and why does it matter? What motivates the human tendency to construct Others? Why does the presence of Others make us so afraid? Drawing on her Norton Lectures, Toni Morrison takes up these and other vital questions bearing on identity in The Origin of Others. In her search for answers, the novelist considers her own memories as well as history, politics, and especially literature. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, and Camara Laye are among the authors she examines. Readers of Morrison's fiction will welcome her discussions of some of her most celebrated books--Beloved, Paradise, and A Mercy. If we learn racism by example, then literature plays an important part in the history of race in America, both negatively and positively. Morrison writes about nineteenth-century literary efforts to romance slavery, contrasting them with the scientific racism of Samuel Cartwright and the banal diaries of the plantation overseer and slaveholder Thomas Thistlewood. She looks at configurations of blackness, notions of racial purity, and the ways in which literature employs skin color to reveal character or drive narrative. Expanding the scope of her concern, she also addresses globalization and the mass movement of peoples in this century. National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates provides a foreword to Morrison's most personal work of nonfiction to date.

Up from Slavery

Booker T. Washington's classic memoir of enslavement, emancipation, and community advancement in the Reconstruction Era. Born into slavery on a tobacco farm in nineteenth-century Virginia, Booker T. Washington became one of the most powerful intellectuals of the Reconstruction Era. As president of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he advocated for the advancement of African Americans through education and entrepreneurship. In Up from SlaveryWashington speaks frankly and honestly about his enslavement and emancipation, struggle to receive an education, and life's work as an educator. In great detail, Washington describes establishing the Tuskegee Institute, from teaching its first classes in a hen house to building a prominent institution through community organization and a national fundraising campaign. He also addresses major issues of the era, such as the Jim Crow laws, Ku Klux Klan, and "false foundation" of Reconstruction policy. Up From Slavery is based on biographical articles written for the Christian newspaper Outlook and includes the full text of Washington's revolutionary Atlanta Exposition address. First published in 1901, this powerful autobiography remains a landmark of African American literature as well as an important firsthand account of post-Civil War American history. This ebook has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices.

image of the book cover: names of the authors

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

"The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. Racist ideas are woven into the fabric of this country, and the first step to building an antiracist America is acknowledging America's racist past and present. This book takes you on that journey, showing how racist ideas started and were spread, and how they can be discredited"

"A history of racist and antiracist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today, adapted from the National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning" 

image of the book cover: name of the author

Stamped from the Beginning : the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

"Some Americans insist that we're living in a post-racial society. But racist thought is not just alive and well in America--it is more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues, racist ideas have a long and lingering history, one in which nearly every great American thinker is complicit. In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. He uses the life stories of five major American intellectuals to drive this history: Puritan minister Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and legendary activist Angela Davis. As Kendi shows, racist ideas did not arise from ignorance or hatred. They were created to justify and rationalize deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and the nation's racial inequities.In shedding light on this history, Stamped from the Beginning offers us the tools we need to expose racist thinking. In the process, he gives us reason to hope."

Cover of Book

Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass is an 1845 memoir and treatise on abolition written by famous orator and former slave Frederick Douglass. It is generally held to be the most famous of a number of narratives written by former slaves during the same period. In factual detail, the text describes the events of his life and is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of literature to fuel the abolitionist movement of the early 19th century in the United States.

Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America's future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty.

Cover of Book

The Souls of Black Folk

This landmark book is a founding work in the literature of black protest. W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) played a key role in developing the strategy and program that dominated early 20th-century black protest in America. In this collection of essays, first published together in 1903, he eloquently affirms that it is beneath the dignity of a human being to beg for those rights that belong inherently to all mankind. He also charges that the strategy of accommodation to white supremacy advanced by Booker T. Washington, then the most influential black leader in America, would only serve to perpetuate black oppression. Publication of The Souls of Black Folk was a dramatic event that helped to polarize black leaders into two groups: the more conservative followers of Washington and the more radical supporters of aggressive protest. Its influence cannot be overstated. It is essential reading for everyone interested in African-American history and the struggle for civil rights in America.

Vanguard : how black women broke barriers, won the vote, and insisted on equality for all

In Vanguard, acclaimed historian Martha Jones offers a sweeping history of African American women's political lives in America, recounting how they fought for, won, and used the right to the ballot and how they fought against both racism and sexism. From 1830s Boston to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and beyond to Shirley Chisholm, Stacey Abrams, and Kamala Harris, Jones excavates the lives and work of black women who, although in many cases suffragists, were never single-issue activists. She recounts the lives of Maria Stewart, the first American woman to speak about politics before a mixed audience of men and women African Methodist Episcopal preacher Jarena Lee Reconstruction-era advocate for female suffrage Frances Ellen Watkins Harper Boston abolitionist, religious leader, and women's club organizer Eliza Ann Gardner, and other hidden figures who were pioneers for both gender and racial equality. Revealing the ways black women remained independent in their ideas and their organization, Jones shows how black women were again and again the American vanguard of women's rights, setting the pace in the quest for justice and collective liberation. In the twenty-first century, black women's power at the polls and in politics is evident. Vanguard reveals that this power is not at all new, but is instead the culmination of two centuries of dramatic struggle

This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman

Ilhan Omar's career is a collection of historic firsts: she is the first refugee, the first Somali-American and one of the first two Muslim women to serve in the United States Congress. Against a xenophobic and divisive administration, she has risen to global fame as a powerful voice in the Democratic Party's new progressive chorus of congresswomen of colour.This Is What America Looks Like is a tale of the aspirations, disappointments, successes and surprises in the life of an immigrant and Muslim in the US today. This is Omar's story told on her own terms: from a childhood in Mogadishu and four long years at a Kenyan refugee camp, to her arrival in America - penniless and speaking only Somali - and her triumphant election to the US House of Representatives.In the face of merciless slander and constant attacks from opponents in both parties, Omar continues to speak up for her beliefs. Courageous, hopeful and defiant, her memoir is marked by her irrepressible spirit, even in the darkest of times.

The purpose of power : how we come together when we fall apart

Coupled with the speed and networking capacities of social media, #blacklivesmatter was the hashtag heard round the world. But Alicia Garza well knew that the distance between a hashtag and real change would take more than a single facebook to cover. It would take a movement. Garza was a lifelong activist who had spent the previous decades educating herself on the hard lessons of organizing. She started as a kid, working on sexual education for her peers, and then moved on to major campaigns around housing, policing, and immigrant and labor rights in California and then nationally. The lessons she extracted were different from the "rules for radicals" that animated earlier generations of lefitists; they were also different than the charismatic, patriarchal model of the American Civil Rights Movement. She instead developed a mode of organizing based on creating deep connections with communities, forging multiracial, intersectional coalitions, and, most of all, calling in all sorts of people to join the fight for the world we all deserve. This is the story of an activist's education on the streets and in the homes of regular people around the country who found ways to come together to create change. And it's also a guide for anyone who wants to share in that education and help build sustainable movements for the 21st century at any level, whether you're fighting for housing justice in your community or advocating for a political candidate or marching in the streets or just voting. 

Literature

image of book cover with the word

Kindred


Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned across the years to save him. After this first summons, Dana is drawn back, again and again, to the plantation to protect Rufus and ensure that he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana's ancestor. Yet each time Dana's sojourns become longer and more dangerous, until it is uncertain whether or not her life will end, long before it has even begun.

image of book cover: black and white photo of a young child with the words of the title across

The Bluest Eye


The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is the first novel written by Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature. It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove - a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others - who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning and the tragedy of its fulfillment.

image of book cover a black bird with the words

Song of Solomon

This novel takes readers into a magical and richly peopled world which encompasses four generations of African American life.

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The Color Purple


The heart-wrenching story of a young black girl in the early 20th century who is forced into a brutal marriage and separated from her sister.

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An American Marriage

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn't commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy's time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy's conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

image of book cover: drawing a young black person holding a sign with the title of the book

The Hate U Give


"Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life"

image with the words of the title

Brown Girl, Brownstones


"Selina's mother wants to stay in Brooklyn and earn enough money to buy a brownstone row house, but her father dreams only of returning to his island home. Torn between a romantic nostalgia for the past and a driving ambition for the future, Selina also faces the everyday burdens of poverty and racism. Written by and about an African-American woman, this coming-of-age story unfolds during the Depression and World War II. Its setting -- a close-knit community of immigrants from Barbados -- is drawn from the author's own experience, as are the lilting accents and vivid idioms of the characters' speech. Paule Marshall's 1959 novel was among the first to portray the inner life of a young female African-American, as well as depicting the cross-cultural conflict between West Indians and American blacks. It remains a vibrant, compelling tale of self-discovery."

Cover of the street

The Street; The Narrows

 

The Street follows Lutie Johnson, a young, newly single mother, as she struggles to make a better life for her son, Bub. An intimate account of the aspirations and challenges of black, female, working-class life, much of it set on a single block in Harlem, the novel exposes structural inequalities in American society while telling a complex human story, as overpriced housing, lack of opportunity, sexual harassment, and racism conspire to limit Lutie's potential and to break her buoyant spirit ... The Narrows (1953) is Petry's most ambitious and accomplished novel--a multi-layered, stylistically innovative exploration of themes of race, class, sexuality, gender, and power in postwar America. Centered around an adulterous interracial affair in a small Connecticut town between the young black scholar-athlete Link Williams and white, privileged munitions heiress Camilo Sheffield, it is also a fond, incisive community portrait, full of unforgettable minor characters, unexpected humor, and a rich sense of history. Also included in the volume are three of Petry's previously uncollected essays related to the novels and a newly researched chronology of the author's life, prepared with the assistance of her daughter Elisabeth Petry

image of book cover: the words of the title and the author

The Nickel Boys

As the Civil Rights movement begins to reach the black enclave of Frenchtown in segregated Tallahassee, Elwood Curtis takes the words of Dr. Martin Luther King to heart: He is "as good as anyone." Abandoned by his parents, but kept on the straight and narrow by his grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But for a black boy in the Jim Crow South of the early 1960s, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy the future. Elwood is sentenced to a juvenile reformatory called the Nickel Academy, whose mission statement says it provides "physical, intellectual and moral training" so the delinquent boys in their charge can become "honorable and honest men." In reality, the Nickel Academy is a grotesque chamber of horrors where the sadistic staff beats and sexually abuses the students, corrupt officials and locals steal food and supplies, and any boy who resists is likely to disappear "out back." Stunned to find himself in such a vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold onto Dr. King's ringing assertion "Throw us in jail and we will still love you." His friend Turner thinks Elwood is worse than naive, that the world is crooked, and that the only way to survive is to scheme and avoid trouble. The tension between Elwood's ideals and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision whose repercussions will echo down the decades. Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys' fates will be determined by what they endured at the Nickel Academy.

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The Invisible Man

First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison's nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be.