Black History Month

Published 9:38 am Tuesday, February 15, 2022

President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Today, Black History Month is a time to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society. Here are some books by Black authors to pick up not just this month, but anytime you’re looking for something good to read! These are all books that I read and enjoyed in 2021.


Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

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A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance. Provocative and fast-paced, this novel is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change—and maybe even redemption.


Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho

In this book, the author takes on all the questions, large and small, insensitive and taboo, many white Americans are afraid to ask—yet which all Americans need the answers to, now more than ever. With open-hearted generosity, Acho explains the vital core of such fraught concepts as white privilege, cultural appropriation, and reverse racism. In his own words, he provides a space of compassion and understanding in a discussion that can lack both. 


The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Get Out meets The Stepford Wives in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing. A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace, this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.


The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era through this novel that seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.


My Time Will Come by Ian Manuel

The United States is the only country in the world that sentences 13 and 14-year-old offenders to life in prison without parole, regardless of the scientifically proven singularities of the developing adolescent brain—a heinous wrinkle in the scandal of mass incarceration. In 1991, Ian Manuel was sentenced to life without parole for a non-homicide crime at the age of 14. This is the inspiring story of how he endured the savagery of the US prison system and of how his victim, an extraordinary woman, forgave him and bravely advocated for his freedom.


The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor

Humans are a varied and divergent bunch with all manner of beliefs, morals, and bodies. Systems of oppression thrive off our inability to make peace with difference and injure the relationship we have with our own bodies. This book offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. 


Jen Pace Dickenson is the youth services librarian for Polk County Public Libraries. For information about the library’s resources, programs, and other services, visit or call 828-894-8721.