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50 ‘must reads’ for African Americans

  • Written by NNPA News Service

by Gary L. Flowers
NNPA News Service

I recently read with great interest an article written by Patrice Peck in the Huffington Post titled, "50 Books African Americans Should Read." My interest in the list was particularly piqued by the fact that I, too, have compiled a list of "must reads" for black people – and all people, for that matter – on the contribution of black people and their thoughts to human history. Unlike her list (primarily fiction), my interpretation of such a book list is rooted in historically researched books (primarily non-fiction).

As many African Americans take time this summer to attend national conventions and family reunions, I suggest opening the following books for a better understanding of Black History relative to the origins of civilization, women's history, Trans Atlantic slave trade, colonial history, Harlem Renaissance, civil rights history, black culture, economics, and racism, politics and public policy.

Origins of Civilization

• Diop, Cheikh Anta. "The African Origins of Civilization." Chicago: Chicago Review Press, Inc. (1981)

• James, George G. M. "Stolen Legacy: Greek Philosophy is Stolen Egyptian Philosophy." African Islamic Mission Publication (1954)

• Van Sertima, Ivan. "Egypt Revisited." Transaction Publishers (1997)

• Van Sertima, Ivan. "They Came Before Columbus." New York: Random House (1976)

• Van Sertima, Ivan. "Blacks in Science." Transaction Publishers (1983)

• Van Sertima, Ivan. "Blacks in Early Europe." Transaction Publishers (1985)

• Williams, Chancellor. "Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of a Race from 4,500 B.C. to 2000 A.D." Third World Press (1971)

• Welsing, Dr. Frances Cress. "The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors." Third World Press (1990)

• Browder, Anthony. "Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization." Institute for Karmic Guidance

Women's History

• Van Sertima, Ivan. "Women in Antiquity." Transaction Publishers (1995)

• Noble, Jeanne I. "Beautiful, also are the Souls of my Black Sisters: A History of the Black Women in America." Prentice Hall (1978)

Trans Atlantic Slave Trade

• Johnson, Charles. "Middle Passage. New York:" Penguin Press (1990)

Colonial History

• Higginbotham, A. Leon Jr. "In the Matter of Color: Race and the American Legal Process, The Colonial Period." Oxford University Press (1978)

• Douglass, Frederick. "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas: An American Slave." Boston: Anti-Slavery Office (1845)

• Walker, David. "David Walker's Appeal: To the Colored Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly, the Those of the United States of America." Black Class Press (1994)

• Egerton, Douglas R. "Gabriel's Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802." University of North Carolina Press (1993)

• Styron, William. "Confessions of Nat Turner." New York: Random House (1967)

Harlem Renaissance

• Huggins, Nathan Irvin. "Voices from the Harlem Renaissance." Oxford University Press (1994)

• DuBois, William Edward Burghardt. "The Souls of Black Folks: Essays and Sketches." Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co, (1903)

• Martin, Tony. "Race First: The Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association." Wesport, CT: Greenwood Press (1976)

• Woodson, Carter G. "The Mis-education of the Negro." Associated Publishers (1933)

• Hurston, Zora Neale. "Their Eyes Were Watching God." Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott (1937)

Civil Rights History

• DuBois, William Edward Burghardt. "Black Reconstruction in America." Simon & Schuster (1935)

• Kluger, Richard. "Simple Justice: The History of Brown vs. Board of Education and America's Struggle for Equality." Knopf Publishers (1975)

• King, Jr., Martin Luther. "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?" New York: Harper & Row (1967)

• Koltz, Nick. "Judgment Days: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon B. Johnson and the Laws That Changed America." Mariner Books (2006)

• Ellison, Ralph. "Invisible Man." New York:  Random House (1952)

Black Culture

• Asante, Molefi Kete. "Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change." Amulefi Publishing Company (1980)

• Cruse, Harold. "The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual: A Historical Analysis of the Failure of Black Leadership." Harper Trade (1984)

• X, Malcolm. "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." New York:  Random House  (1965)

• Huron, H.F. "Music is my Mistress: The Life of Duke Ellington." Da Capo Press (1976)

• Baraka, Amiri. "Blues People." Harper Perennial (1999)

• Belafonte, Harry. "My Song." New York.  Knopf Publishing (2011)


• Sargeant, Edward, Ed., et al. "Black Labor, White Wealth: The Search for Powers and Economic Justice." PowerNomics Corporation of America (1994)

• Anderson, Claude. "PowerNomics." PowerNomics Corporation of America (1994)

• Blackmon, Douglas. "Slavery by Another Name." Anchor Reprint Edition (2009)

• Williams, Eric. "Capitalism and Slavery." University of North Carolina Press (1994)

Racism, Politics and Policy

• Walters, Ronald W. "White Nationalism Black Interests: Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community." Detroit: Wayne State University Press (2003)

• Jackson, Jr., Jesse L. "A More Perfect Union: Advancing New American Rights." New York:  Welcome Rain Publishers (2001)

• Higginbotham, A. Leon, Jr. "Shades of Freedom:  Racial Politics and Presumption of the American Legal Process, Volume 2." Oxford University Press (1996)

• Bell, Derrick. "Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism." New York:  Basic Books (1993)

• Robeson, Paul. "Here I Stand." New York:  Othello Associates (1958)

• Robinson, Randall. "The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks." Penguin Group Publishing (2000)

• Guinier, Lani. "Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Right Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice." New York: Simon & Schuster  (1998)

• Ellison, Ralph. "Invisible Man." New York:  Random House  (1952)

• Alexander, Michelle. "The New Jim Crow." New Press (2012)

• Haygood, Will. "The King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr." (2006)

• Rodney, Walter. "How Europe Underdeveloped Africa." Howard University Press (1974)

• Frantz Fanon. "The Wretched of the Earth." New York:  Grove Press (1963)

• Achebe, Chinua. "Things Fall Apart." Knopf Doubleday Group  (1994)

Reading leads to reasoning, which renders righteous results.

(Gary L. Flowers is executive director and CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc. He can be reached at glflowers@ ­blackleadershipforum.org.)


0 #1 tri-state fan 2012-07-24 00:05
interesting list. a few from my personal list - _how capitalism underdeveloped black america_ by manning marable and _freedom dreams: the black radical imagination_ by robin d.g. kelley. also the work of angela davis, cornel west, and patricia hill collins...
thanks for the piece!

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