by Brandy Colbert
The Tulsa race massacre, which took place one hundred years ago in 1921, is a part of our American history that has escaped widespread attention until recently. After watching the pilot episode of HBO's Watchmen, which starts out by putting people in middle of a riot, critically acclaimed YA fiction author Brandy Colbert became interested in digging deeper into the truth of the incident. Her 2021 YA nonfiction Black Birds in the Sky is the result. It is expertly researched and clearly lays out the context of that time and how tensions resulted in the devastating destruction of a flourishing Black community (known as Black Wall Street) by white mobs. It is heartbreaking to read about how people who had just fought their way out of the atrocities of slavery and were finally having some opportunities to thrive, only to have all of their efforts wiped out in a single night of fires, killing, and looting. How do you rebuild after that? How do you move on after repeated traumas, after having everything taken away time after time? This highly readable prose in its concise 220 pages is a great way for teens and adults alike to learn more about a history that wasn't taught in schools. And that efforts are being made to finally bring these events to light gives some hope that there is a way forward.
See the Jones Library Antiracism Book List for recommended titles for all ages.