It took 15 years to create a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr’s legacy. Here are 10 books to read that commemorate his legacy and spirit.
#1 Beloved by Toni Morrison
- 1987 novel set after the American Civil War
- 324 pages
- Tells the story of a family of formerly enslaved people whose home is haunted by a evil spirit
#2 Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
- 1993 science fiction novel
- 368 Pages
- Dystopian novel set in the early 2020s, it shows how global climate change and economic disasters can affect people’s lives
#3 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Maya Angelou’s debut memoir
- 304 pages
- Follows her life from age 3 to age 16, recounting a sometimes traumatic childhood
#4 An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
- Won the 2019 Women’s Prize for FIction
- 308 pages
- The lives of a middle-class African American couple, Roy and Celestial, are thrown into chaos when Roy is wrongfully convicted of a rape is didn’t commit.
#5 Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
- 1937 novel that is considered a classic of the Harlem Renaissance
- 219 pages
- Explores traditional gender roles, masculinity and femininity, and race
#6 Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
- 2018 debut book of Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
- 208 pages
- Collection of short stories that explores the topics such as race in the US criminal justice system, school shootings, and racial prejudices.
#7 Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
- Published in 2011 and the second novel of author Jesmyn Ward
- 261 pages
- Follows a working-class African American family as the prepare for Hurricane Katrina and through the aftermath
#8 Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington
- 1901 autobiography of American educator Booker T. Washington
- 133 Pages
- Describes his rise from being enslaved as a child on a Virginia tobacco farm, what he overcame to get an education at Hampton Institute, and his work establishing schools like the Tuskegee Institute.
#9 Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Nora Neale Hurston
- 2018 work based on the author’s 1927 interviews with Cudjoe Lewis (at the time the last presumed living survivor of the Middle Passage)
- 208 Pages
- Originally the book failed to find a publisher due to the fact it was written in vernacular and also because of the descriptions of other African people being involved in the business of Atlantic slave trade.
#10 Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
- 2016 non-fiction book
- 368 pages
- Describes the barriers for Black women in science during the 1930s through the 1960s. It follows the lives of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson, mathematicians, who worked as computers (someone who performed mathematical calculations before electronic computers became available) at NACA and NASA
Have you read any of these books?
I finally got around to reading Beloved this past year and can’t believe I waited so long! Great list 🙂