African American & Slavery Book List

Africa is Not a Country – by Margy Burns Knight and Mark Melnicove– children's literature copies This book not only tells basic facts about Africa, but also gives a short story about the lives of Africans in different parts of the country.

Amazing Grace – by Mary Hoffman– children's literature
This is the story about a young girl named Grace, who loves stories, and acting out different characters. When Grace wants to try out for the class production of Peter Pan, she keeps in mind that she can be anything she wants to be and the results are truly amazing!

An Easy Burden – by Andrew Young - teen/adult
The tale of the Civil Rights Movement as told by Andrew Young, who stood at the side of Martin Luther King Jr. Young describes personal experiences and incorporates the civil rights movement's evolution from the philosophy of accommodation and middle-class aspirations of his parent's generation to the non-violent approach taken by Martin Luther King Jr.

"And don't call me a racist!" – by Ella Mazel– teen/adult
A collaboration of quotes on race relations between the black and white races throughout history. In this treasury of 1000 quotes, you'll find statements about slavery in the US, relations in the South in present times, and the difficulties people have found living as a member of their race.

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down – by Ralph David Abernathyteen/adult
This National Bestseller sets the record straight about Martin Luther King Jr., and the man who may never have received his due. Abernathy played an honorable and significant role in the founding days of the civil rights movement.

Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky - by Ringgold, Faith and J. Davis.  children/teen
Characters fly in a fantastical sky train run by Harriet Tubman.  Traces a route on the Underground Railroad.

Blessed are the Peacemakers – by S. Jonathan Bassteen teen/adult
The purpose of this book is to tell the history of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Why and how was it written? How and where was it prepared and published? Who were the eight white ministers addressed in the letter? This book answers these questions and more by offering individual biographies of the eight white clergymen as well as Martin Luther King Jr.'s prison writings.

Color of Home – by Mary Hoffman– children's literature
A children's book that tells about a Somalian boy's first day at an American school. This book briefly describes war in Somalia, living in camps, and the need to move out of the country.

The Coming Race War in America – by Carl T. Rowan– teen/adult
Written in 1996, this book describes the current (during the 90s) racial tensions that were tearing the country apart, and the solutions needed to diffuse the situation. Rowan explores race and class relations and actions needed to create trust and relieve tensions which, if let unnoticed, could lead to a "race war."

Convicted in the Womb: One Man's Journey From Prisoner to Peacemaker – by Carl Upchurchteen/adult
This is the true story of an African American man who went from an elementary school dropout fighting for survival on the streets of Philadelphia, as well as a gang member and bank robber facing a future in federal penitentiaries to a respected community organizer and one of the most compelling and visionary leaders of the civil rights movement. Upchurch was catapulted into the national spotlight following his organization of a summit that brought together the country's most notorious gangs.

Crucifying a Color – by Kenneth L. Johnson, M.A. M.Div. – teen/adult
A book about "understanding the nature of our blackness." Johnson talks about his awareness of race distinction when he entered college and the experiences of racism he faced during his lifetime.

Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House -  Faith Ringgold - children’s literature
Women leaders and activists in the civil rights movement.  Told through an enduring story with African-American illustrations.

A Field Day – by Keith Anderson – teen/adult
The true story of a young black boy growing up in a white world in the turbulent sixties who finds friendship and solace in the game of baseball. A message of racial understanding is not overpowering, but evident. This book describes the lives of a family who faced prejudice with grace and good humor and how one sport helped to build bridges and tear down walls.

For Us, the Living – by Myrlie Evers – teen/adult
Mrs. Evers is the president of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). Her late husband was a field secretary for the Mississippi NAACP and was gunned down in 1963 for his political stance in fighting for civil rights. Mrs. Evers talks about personal experiences with racism, segregation, and continuing the battle her husband fought for 30 years of his life.

A Guide to Ghetto Life 101 – teen/adult
A documentary created by two 13 year old boys from Chicago. This documentary tells about the lives and the neighborhoods of two young boys growing up in the ghetto. Booklet with audio tape recording.

I Was Born a Slave – by Yuval Taylor– teen/adult
An anthology of classic slave narratives with over 120 autobiographies of ex-slaves that were published in the mid 18th – early 20th centuries. Narratives include tales of Africa, pirate ships, slave rebellions and other stories. Each narrative is its own mini-book.

Lasting Valor – by Vernon J. Baker – teen/adult
This book is especially important to the Idaho Human Rights Education Center because its subject, Vernon Baker, has visited twice to plant trees at the Center in his honor. Vernon is the only living African American World War II veteran to earn America's highest distinction of valor, the Medal of Honor. This book tells his story of discrimination within the military and his acts of courage that won him the recognition he so greatly deserves.

Martin Luther King – by Rosemary L. Bray - children’s literature
A slightly longer children's book that discusses the journey of Martin Luther King Jr.'s life dedicated to the civil rights movement and why we celebrate his special day in January.

The Negro in America – by Larry Cuban – teen/adult
This is a textbook-like novel, which discusses the path of the Negro in American history, from slavery to the NAACP. Each section has a testimony or live account of some kind, to further explain the injustices African Americans have suffered throughout history.

The Negro in American History, Volume 1: Which Way to Citizenship by the scholastic Great Issue Series. – teen/adult
This book is a bit older and much shorter than many others on the list, so can be used for younger school aged children. This book attempts to examine the origins and history of slavery and prejudice, ending with the Reconstruction period and provides lessons for the present and future.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man – by Henry Louis Gates Jr. – teen/adult
This book tells about the lives of several key black men in the 20th century who "have shaped the world as much as they were shaped by it, who gave as good as they got," including Colin Powell, Harry Belafonte, Louis Farrakhan, Anatole Broyard, Bill T. Jones, James Baldwin, and Albert Murray.

Unafraid of the Dark – by Rosemary L. Bray – teen/adult
A memoir of life in Chicago during the 1960s. Rosemary tells about her family living on welfare, her mother's struggle for a better life for her children, and her father's physical abuse. This novel is an easy read, and the language is not to difficult for lower level high school students. In a series of vignettes, Rosemary tells about her childhood, school, and family, all of which led her to become one of the first black women to attend Yale University and, later, a journalist.

Walking with the Wind – by John Lewis and Michael D'Orso – teen/adult
A collection of memoirs about the civil rights movement considered to be one of the most important records ever written. This book is a national best-seller, and among its many awards was A New York Times and Los Angeles Times Book of the Year.

A Way Out of No Way – by Andrew Young – teen/adult
The spiritual memoirs of Andrew Young, a pastor who fought for civil rights in the 1960s and later went on to serve as a U.S.  Congressman, an ambassador to the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta Georgia.