Celebrating Black Excellence: Book List

During the month of February, we celebrate important members of the Black community who are responsible for shaping the history of the United States. It is important that we celebrate their excellence in all aspects. This month we are celebrating Black authors and highlighting lesser-known authors who wrote incredible books in addition to those who made history. Be sure to check them out!
*Several of the books chosen for this list are sourced from The Culture article, 12 Lesser Known Must Reads from Our Favorite Black Women Writers, which features art and entertainment by and for Black women.

Parable of the Sower

Author: Octavia E. Butler
Description: Published in 1933, this novel predicts a far too realistic setting for the times we are currently living. When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyper-empathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others’ emotions.
Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith . . . and a startling vision of human destiny.
Where to Find: Visit lib.fsu.edu and use the Catalog Search feature to look up keywords from the book title. Set your search filters to “ebooks” to narrow down your search results. Use the link provided in the catalog to access the digital content.

The Thing Around Your Neck

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Description: Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck map, with Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie burst onto the literary scene with her remarkable debut novel, Purple Hibiscus, which critics hailed as “one of the best novels to come out of Africa in years” (Baltimore Sun), with “prose as lush as the Nigerian landscape that it powerfully evokes” (The Boston Globe); The Washington Post called her “the twenty-first-century daughter of Chinua Achebe.” Her award-winning Half of a Yellow Sun became an instant classic upon its publication three years later, once again putting her tremendous gifts – graceful storytelling, knowing compassion, and fierce insight into her characters’ hearts – on display. Now, in her most intimate and seamlessly crafted work to date, Adichie turns her penetrating eye on not only Nigeria but America, in twelve dazzling stories that explore the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States.
Where to Find: Physical copy is available at Strozier for Curbside Pickup.

The Meaning of Freedom

Author: Angela Y. Davis
Description: What is the meaning of freedom? Angela Y. Davis’ life and work have been dedicated to examining this fundamental question and to ending all forms of oppression that deny people their political, cultural, and sexual freedom. In this collection of twelve searing, previously unpublished speeches, Davis confronts the interconnected issues of power, race, gender, class, incarceration, conservatism, and the ongoing need for social change in the United States. With her characteristic brilliance, historical insight, and penetrating analysis, Davis addresses examples of institutional injustice and explores the radical notion of freedom as a collective striving for real democracy – not something granted or guaranteed through laws, proclamations, or policies, but something that grows from a participatory social process that demands new ways of thinking and being.
Where to Find: Physical copy is available at Strozier for Curbside Pickup.

Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography

Author: Zora Neale Hurston
Description: First published in 1942 at the height of her popularity, Dust Tracks on a Road is Zora Neale Hurston’s candid, funny, bold and poignant autobiography, an imaginative and exuberant account of her rise from childhood poverty in the rural South to a prominent place among the leading artists and intellectuals of the Harlem Renaissance. As compelling as her acclaimed fiction, Hurston’s very personal literary self-portrait offers a revealing, often audacious glimpse into the life–public and private–of an extraordinary artist, anthropologist, chronicler, and champion of the black experience in America. Full of the wit and wisdom of a proud, spirited woman who started off low and climbed high, Dust Tracks on a Road is a rare treasure from one of literature’s most cherished voices.
Where to Find: Physical copy is available at Strozier for Curbside Pickup.

The Source of Self-Regard : Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations

Author: Toni Morrison 
Description:The Source of Self-Regard is brimming with all the elegance of mind and style, the literary prowess and moral compass that are Toni Morrison’s inimitable hallmark. It is divided into three parts: the first is introduced by a powerful prayer for the dead of 9/11; the second by a searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., and the last by a heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. In the writings and speeches included here, Morrison takes on contested social issues: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, “black matter(s),” and human rights. She looks at enduring matters of culture: the role of the artist in society, the literary imagination, the Afro-American presence in American literature, and in her Nobel lecture, the power of language itself. And here too is piercing commentary on her own work (including The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, and Paradise) and that of others, among them, painter and collagist Romare Bearden, author Toni Cade Bambara, and theater director Peter Sellars. In all, The Source of Self-Regard is a luminous and essential addition to Toni Morrison’s oeuvre.
Where to Find: Visit lib.fsu.edu and use the Catalog Search feature to look up keywords from the book title. Set your search filters to “ebooks” to narrow down your search results. Use the link provided in the catalog to access the digital content.

Ordinary Light: A Memoir

Author: Tracy Smith
Description: In Ordinary Light, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Tracy K. Smith tells her remarkable story, giving us a quietly potent memoir that explores her coming-of-age and the meaning of home against a complex backdrop of race, faith, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and daughter. Here is the story of a young artist struggling to fashion her own understanding of belief, loss, history, and what it means to be black in America.
Where to Find: Physical copy is available at Strozier for Curbside Pickup.

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey

Author: Kamala Harris 
Description: From Vice President Kamala Harris, one of America’s most inspiring political leaders, comes a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country.
Where to Find: Physical copy is available at Strozier for Curbside Pickup.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Author: Maya Angelou with Introduction by Harold Bloom
Description: With and Introduction by Harold Bloom, Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right.
Where to Find:Visit lib.fsu.edu and use the Catalog Search feature to look up keywords from the book title. Set your search filters to “ebooks” to narrow down your search results. Use the link provided in the catalog to access the digital content.

Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary

Author: Juan Williams
Description: Thurgood Marshall stands today as the great architect of American race relations, having expanded the foundation of individual rights for all Americans. His victory in the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, the landmark Supreme Court case outlawing school segregation, would have made him a historic figure even if he had not gone on to become the first African-American appointed to the Supreme Court.” “Remembered as a gruff, aloof figure, Marshall in fact had great charisma and a large appetite for life. Away from the courtroom, he was a glamorous figure in Harlem circles, known as a man-about-town who socialized with prizefighter Joe Louis, singer Cab Calloway, and other black luminaries. He lived in every decade of the century and knew every president from Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, becoming a respected member of Washington’s power elite, known for his savvy and quick wit.” “But beneath Marshall’s charm was a hard-nosed drive to change America that led to surprising clashes with Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X. Most intriguing of all was Marshall’s secret and controversial relationship with FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, revealed here for the first time.”
Where to Find: Visit lib.fsu.edu and use the Catalog Search feature to look up keywords from the book title. Set your search filters to “ebooks” to narrow down your search results. Use the link provided in the catalog to access the digital content.

A Black Women’s History of the United States

Author: Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
Description: Just added to our PopLit section, this book tells a vibrant and empowering history that emphasizes the perspectives and stories of African American women to show how they are—and have always been—instrumental in shaping our country
Where to Find: Physical copy is available at Strozier for Curbside Pickup.
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Visit lib.fsu.edu and use the Catalog Search feature to look up keywords from the book title. Set your search filters to “ebooks” to narrow down your search results. Use the link provided in the catalog to access the digital content.

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun

Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Description: Melanin Sun’s mother has some big news: she’s in love with a woman. Now he has many decisions to make: Should he stand by his mother even though it could mean losing his friends? Should he abandon the only family he’s ever known? Either way, Melanin Sun is about to learn the true meaning of sacrifice, prejudice, and love.
Where to Find: Physical copy is available at Strozier for Curbside Pickup.

American Street

Author: Ibi Zoboi
Description: American Street is an evocative and powerful coming-of-age story. In this stunning debut novel, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and voodoo culture.
Where to Find: Visit lib.fsu.edu and use the Catalog Search feature to look up keywords from the book title. Set your search filters to “ebooks” to narrow down your search results. Use the link provided in the catalog to access the digital content.

The Marrow of Tradition

Author: Charles W. Chesnutt
Description: Charles W. Chesnutt was a prolific black writer who could very well pass for white but refused to. This historical text, published at the turn of the century, depicts the Wilmington Race Riots in 1898. It focuses on racial politics, violence, and blackface during Reconstruction, and sadly, echoes events happening today.
Where to Find: Visit lib.fsu.edu and use the Catalog Search feature to look up keywords from the book title. Set your search filters to “ebooks” to narrow down your search results. Use the link provided in the catalog to access the digital content.

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