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A selection of books with African-American History Month in mind

The month of February has whipped by so fast that you almost missed it. 

It’s true that the month is short, as compared to the other months, but no worries. There’s still a lot remaining, surely enough left to catch one of these great Black History Month books…

It’s been more than a century since the Tulsa Race Massacre and it still seems like there’s much to learn about it. In “Requiem for the Massacre” by RJ Young (Counterpoint, $27), you’ll read about how descendants of survivors marked the centennial anniversary of that day in 1921, how officials are reckoning with what happened, and… what happened.

If you examine the decades between Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat and Black Lives Matter, you can clearly see how activism has changed with the times. Author Mark Whitaker writes about one year of it in “Saying It Loud” (Bloomsbury, $29.99). Set in 1966, this book shows how Black Power changed the way young Black Americans fought for Civil Rights, and what it means today. This reads like a novel, and it should be on your bookshelf. 

Readers who love sports will want “The Education of Kendrick Perkins” by Kendrick Perkins with Seth Rogoff (St. Martin’s Press, $29.99). Here’s Perkins’ story, from his childhood in Beaumont, Texas to his budding love of basketball, his NBA career, and playing with the sport’s biggest and best-known games. This is a fan’s book, perfect for any season.

If a real-life thriller is more to your liking, then look for “Master Slave Husband Wife” by Ilyon Woo (Simon & Schuster, $29.99). In 1848, Ellen and William Craft left the plantation on which they were enslaved, and they slipped away North. Here’s how: Ellen masqueraded as a rich white man during their flight, while her husband acted as the “man’s” slave. Needless to say, their audacious run was hailed by Frederick Douglass and other Black luminaries of their day; most astoundingly, that’s not the end of this heart-pounding story. 

You gotta read this book.

And speaking of freedom, “I Saw Death Coming” by Kidada E. Williams (Bloomsbury, $30.00) is a book about the years after the Civil War and how Reconstruction affected the newly-free and their families. Through genuine stories of several formerly enslaved people, both men and women, Williams shows how just getting by day-to-day was a struggle: with the rise of the Klan, merely existing was dangerous. And perhaps one of the most frightening things of all might have been the dawning realization that the government was of limited help, if at all. This is a fascinating book, perfect for historians and Civil War buffs.

If these books are not enough for your pleasure or learning, be sure to ask your favorite librarian or bookseller for help. They can show you hundreds, if not thousands, of books that will enlighten, teach, entertain, or shock you. These are books you need to read now, or soon – because knowing Black history requires more than just a month.

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