The Friday List–Celebrate Black History Month at RLB Library!

To celebrate Black History Month, we have something a little different for The Friday List this week! Below are four titles that are just part of a larger collection of books to learn about the trials and triumphs of Black Americans. The full collection is located on top of the reference shelves, just behind the information desk. In it you will find histories, personal stories, and ponderings of the current and future roles of Black Americans in society.

If you want some ideas on what to read, here are some highlights:

Front cover image for A promised land

A promised land, Barack Obama, 2020

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective–the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible. This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

Front cover image for Breath better spent : living Black girlhood

Breath better spent : living Black girlhood, DaMaris B Hill, 2022

Through the eyes and stories of prominent Black female figures from Zora Neale Hurston to Riley Curry and Michelle Obama, and with an homage to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Breath Better Spent beautifully and trenchantly captures the culture of Black girlhood and its changing relationship to American culture, exploring the highly visible and invisible spaces that Black girls occupy, from school, to home, to others’ imaginations, and proceeds to question the disappearance – metaphorically and literally – of Black girls from the American imagination. Powerfully drawing on both history and her own experiences, Hill brings to life the vitality, creativity, and strength of Black girlhood while shining a light on a crisis we cannot ignore.

Front cover image for The African American entrepreneur : then and now

The African American entrepreneur : then and now, W Sherman Rogers, 2010

The African American Entrepreneur: Then and Now explores the lower economic status of black Americans in light of America’s legacy of slavery, segregation, and rampant discrimination. Its main purpose is to shine a light on the legal, historical, sociological and political factors that together help to explain the economic condition of black people in America from their arrival in America to the present. In the process, the book spotlights the many amazing breakthroughs made by black entrepreneurs even before the Civil War and Emancipation. Profiles of business people from the post-Civil War period through today include Booker T. Washington, pioneer banker and insurer A.G. Gaston, hair care entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker, Ebony publisher John H. Johnson, Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson, publisher Earl Graves, music producer Damon Dash, rapper Sean Combs, former basketball stars Dave Bing and Magic Johnson, food entrepreneur Michelle Hoskins, broadcast personality Cathy Hughes, former Beatrice Foods head Reginald Lewis, Oprah Winfrey, and many more. As Rogers points out, reading about remarkable African American entrepreneurs can inspire readers to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. To further that goal and help readers take the plunge, he outlines many of the skills, tools and information necessary for business success–success that can help chart a new path to prosperity for all African Americans.

Front cover image for Thurgood Marshall : a life in American history

Thurgood Marshall : a life in American history, Spencer R Crew, 2019

As a lawyer, Thurgood Marshall played an incredible role in ending legal segregation in the United States. For thirty years he traveled across the country for the NAACP, trying cases and encouraging African Americans to fight against discrimination. His successes made him a highly respected lawyer and individual throughout the nation. Those accomplishments led to his appointment as the first African American Supreme Court justice, where he continued the fight to protect the rights of all citizens, not just the rich and powerful. [This book] follows the career of Thurgood Marshall from his youth in Baltimore, Maryland, to his days as a Supreme Court Justice. Thurgood Marshall’s inspiring story illustrates the racism faced by African Americans in the twentieth century long after the end of slavery. It also shows how hard it was to make progress in blunting its impact on their lives. In Marshall’s life one sees the importance of perseverance and an unwavering belief in the American constitution and its principles.

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