In celebration of Black History Month, here are seven inspiring and evocative stories about being Black in America.
These books span centuries, offering an expansive view of Black history from a variety of perspectives.
Allow each of these titles to broaden your understanding of racial inequality, hopefully inspiring a force of positive change in yourself and the world around you.
Black History Month stories
‘The Prophets’ by Robert Jones Jr.
Jones’s debut novel follows the gripping story of Samuel and Isaiah. The two spend their days on a plantation tending to animals, but find comfort in each other’s constant companionship.
When their love is discovered, the plantation’s harmony is completely disrupted. The pair endure immense suffering, but prove how love can prevail.
This poetic novel is a must-read story of hope amid their grim circumstances.
‘The Fire Next Time’ by James Baldwin
James Baldwin’s book speaks on the civil rights movement and seeks to foster an understanding of modern-day racial struggles in our country.
The book is composed of two letters, both written on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation from Black and white viewpoints. These contrasting stories shine a light on civil rights through varying lenses.
‘Between the World and Me’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In a letter to the author’s son, he advises him on how to navigate being Black in America, speaking on the institutions that uphold racism and how to cope with a painful history.
This moving book brings Black parents’ fears to light in relation to events of the past and present.
Coates emotionally expresses the strength required to thrive against adversity.
‘Mississippi Reckoning’ by Mitchell Zimmerman
This anti-racism thriller chronicles the story of an attorney trying to get his client off death row.
Discussing both the current civil rights movement and the movements of the 1960s, this novel brings intense inequalities to light set against a plotline rich with unexpected and historically accurate twists.
‘The Underground Railroad’ by Colson Whitehead
Cora and Caesar are the fearless protagonists in this historical novel. The pair are slaves in Georgia during the 1800s who embark on a road toward freedom via the Underground Railroad, encountering dozens of experiences that challenge them both physically and morally.
This bestseller is an exquisite peek into our country’s dark past.
‘Trouble the Water’ by Rebecca Dwight Bruff
This novel, based on a true story, follows the voyage of Robert Smalls to avenge his past as a slave by commandeering a Confederate ship alongside fellow slaves.
After purchasing the house in which he was enslaved, he became one of the first Black legislators, proving that one’s former experiences do not define them.
This profound story tells how Smalls went from the illiterate child of a slave to a champion for freedom. Bruff’s novel will inspire and uplift while telling an incredible story of triumph.
‘The Hate U Give’ by Angie Thomas
This emotive novel tells the story of a young, unarmed Black man killed at the hands of a police officer through the lens of his 16-year-old best friend.
The main character, Starr, is the only person who knows the true story of what happened on the night of the boy’s death, so she seeks justice on his behalf.
This story is inspired by the BLM movement and brings the dark reality of police brutality to light.