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Posted on: July 30, 2021

One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race

One Drop

by Yaba Blay

For generations in this country, a black person has been commonly recognized as someone with any known Black ancestry, the “one-drop rule.” This beautiful book explores whether the social and political landscape has changed in recent times. Si...

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Posted on: July 23, 2021

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole In the Sky

Tristan Strong

by Kwame Mbalia

If you're seeking a page-turning adventure perfect for summer reading, look no further than Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia. From the eye-catching cover to the final page, the story of relatable protagonist...

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Posted on: July 16, 2021

Notes from a Young Black Chef: A Memoir

Notes from a Young Black Chef

by Kwame Onwuachi

In 2019, Kwame Onwuachi received much praise for his food. Food & Wine magazine named him one of its Best New Chefs, the James Beard Awards christened him Rising Star Chef of the Year, and Esquire chose him as Chef of the Year, identi...

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Posted on: July 9, 2021

A Blade So Black

A Blade So Black

by L.L. McKinney

There just aren't many fantasy books with Black kids in them, so I was so psyched to stumble upon the wonderful Nightmare-Verse series. It's an urban fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland with some serious Buffy the Va...

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Posted on: July 2, 2021

Better Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice

Better Not Bitter

by Yusef Salaam

Yusef Salaam was only 15 years old in 1989 when he and four other teens were falsely accused of the brutal rape of a Central Park jogger. He was imprisoned for seven years, but the Central Park Five were not exonerated until 2002 when one o...

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Posted on: June 25, 2021

When Aidan Became a Brother

When Aidan Became a Brother

by Kyle Lukoff; illustrated by Kaylani Juanita

This 2020 Stonewall Award Winner is about so much more than Aidan's journey of identity. "When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl....But Aidan didn't feel like any kind of gi...

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Posted on: June 17, 2021

How We Fight for Our Lives: A Memoir

How We Fight for Our Lives

by Saeed Jones

During Pride Month, we celebrate great memoirs like this one by a highly regarded poet who was raised in the South by a single mother. In a home where sexuality was never discussed, Saeed Jones struggled to understand what it meant to be gay...

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Posted on: June 11, 2021

All Boys Aren't Blue

All Boys Aren't Blue

by George Johnson

This 2020 memoir manifesto is the perfect coming-of-age read to celebrate pride this month. Johnson explores the meaning of blackness, queerness, and toxic masculinity and he does so with honesty and vulnerability. His casual narrative vo...

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Posted on: June 4, 2021

Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice

Ground Breaking

by Scott Ellsworth

This new book is described as the definitive history of the Tulsa Race Massacre, which occurred a century ago. The author has been researching the tragedy for decades, and in recent years served on the city’s reckoning commissi...

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Posted on: May 28, 2021

Our Skin: A First Conversation about Race

Our Skin

by Megan Madison & Jessica Ralli; art by Isabel Roxas

Research has shown that children begin recognizing race a few months after birth, and that talking about issues like race and gender from the age of two helps children understand what they see, incr...

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Posted on: May 21, 2021

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Caste

by Isabel Wilkerson

Caste is, in the words of National Public Radio, “a profound achievement of scholarship and research that stands also as a triumph of both visceral storytelling and cogent analysis.” Isabel Wilkerson, the acclaimed a...

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Posted on: May 14, 2021

Tell Me Who You Are: Sharing our Stories of Race, Culture, and Identity

Tell Me Who You Are

by Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi

Tell Me Who You Are is a wonderful collection of stories gathered by two teens on their gap year before college. They traveled around the country and asked people how race, culture, and intersectionality had impacted their li...

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Posted on: May 7, 2021

Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir

Surviving the White Gaze

by Rebecca Carroll

Everyone interested in transracial adoption would be wise to read this new memoir. The author, a black cultural critic, recounts her story of being adopted as a young child by a white family from rural New Hampshire. She was raised in an...

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Posted on: April 30, 2021

The History of the Black Population of Amherst, Massachusetts, 1728-1870

History of the Black Population of Amherst

by James Avery Smith

Once only available to those visiting our Special Collections, this important book, published in 1999 by the New England Genealogical Society, can now be borrowed and read at home. Using tax lists, probate and land records, town record...

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Posted on: April 23, 2021

Parenting for Liberation: A Guide for Raising Black Children

Parenting for Liberation

by Trina Greene Brown

Parenting For Liberation was launched as a virtual platform in 2016 by activist-mama Trina Greene Brown. In her introduction to this guidebook she states that the blog and podcast were created to "...connect, inspire, and uplift ...

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Posted on: April 16, 2021

Age of Phillis

Age of Phillis

by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

For National Poetry Month, we are pleased to highlight this volume of poetry written about Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American author of a published book of poetry. Award-winning poet Jeffers spent fifteen years research...

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Posted on: April 9, 2021

Every Body Looking

Every Body Looking

by Candice Iloh

This young adult novel in verse is the #ownvoices debut from Candice Iloh, a first-generation Nigerian-American author. It's a poetic coming-of-age story that deals with some heavy themes like the protagonist's complicated...

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Posted on: April 2, 2021

Julian Bond’s Time to Teach: A History of the Southern Civil Rights Movement

Time to Teach

by Julian Bond

How lucky were the students at Harvard and other American universities who were able to take a class with Julian Bond. Along with being a famed civil rights activist, author, chairman of the NAACP, and Georgia state representative and senato...

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Posted on: March 26, 2021

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life

Freedom Over Me

by Ashley Bryan

Based on an original estate-appraisal document from 1828, Ashley Bryan's poetry gives voices to 11 enslaved individuals, imagining not only their daily lives but their hopes for the future. While the document that inspired these po...

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Posted on: March 19, 2021

Grieving while Black: An Antiracist Take on Oppression and Sorrow

Grieving While Black

by Breeshia Wade

The author, a Black end-of-life caregiver and chaplain, looks at the significance of grief to Black people. In particular she connects sorrow to the ongoing trauma of systemic racism. She encourages readers to attend to their grief so that...

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Posted on: March 12, 2021

Concrete Rose

Concrete Rose

by Angie Thomas

Concrete Rose is the prequel to the number one New York Times best-seller, The Hate U Give. Set 17 years in the past, it follows Starr's father, Maverick, as he navigates growing up while raising an infant son and having to make di...

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Posted on: March 5, 2021

The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song

The Black Church: This is Our Story, This is Our Song by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Distinguished scholar Henry Louis Gates offers a history of the Black church in America, showing it to be "the Black community's abiding rock and fortress." Gates powerfully demonstrates that the church was a so...

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Posted on: February 25, 2021

Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019

Four Hundred Souls

edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

This bestseller marks a milestone in the study of African American history. It is the result of research conducted for the Four Hundred Souls project, spearheaded by National Book Award-winning historian Ibram X...

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Posted on: February 18, 2021

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read

The Oldest Student

by Rita L. Hubbard; illustrated by Oge Mora

This picture book biography tells the inspiring story of Mary Walker, who learned to read at the age of 116. Born enslaved in 1848, Walker was emancipated as a teenager, and was gifted a Bible that she longed to ...

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Posted on: February 10, 2021

Bingo Love

Bingo Love

by Tee Franklin; artwork by Jenn St-Onge

If you're looking for the perfect book to read in honor of St. Valentine's Day, check out the young adult graphic novel Bingo Love which is a joyful celebration of Black queer love and an inspiring...

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Posted on: February 3, 2021

My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

My Grandmother's Hands

by Resmaa Menakem

Resmaa Menakem approaches the problem of racism from his perspective as a therapist. He explains that racism is embedded in the bodies of blacks and whites in this country. Blacks experience everyday threats and respond by fighting, fleei...

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Posted on: January 26, 2021

Do Lord Remember Me

Do Lord Remember Me

by Julius Lester

On what would have been his 82nd birthday, we celebrate a distinguished Amherst author, civil rights activist, professor, musician, and photographer. Julius Lester wrote 31 award-winning children’s books as well as nonfiction and fiction f...

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Posted on: January 8, 2021

The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature

The Home Place

by J. Drew Lanham

In honor of National Bird Day (January 5), we have chosen a remarkable memoir published in 2016 by an African-American birder and naturalist. The Distinguished Professor of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University, J. Drew Lanham has writte...

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Posted on: January 7, 2021

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America

Black Enough

edited by Ibi Zoboi

This 2019 anthology of young adult short stories is a wonderful offering of modern Black voices. Featuring 16 excellent Black authors such as Nic Stone and Jason Reynolds, my favorite part of reading this was the diversity of stories to...

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Posted on: December 28, 2020

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X

by Les Payne and Tamara Payne

This highly acclaimed new book is winner of the 2020 National Book Award for Nonfiction. Les Payne, the renowned Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist, embarked in 1990 on a nearly thirty-year-long quest to interview...

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Posted on: December 15, 2020

You Can Keep That to Yourself

You Can Keep That to Yourself

A Comprehensive List of What Not to Say to Black People, for Well-Intentioned People of Pallor by Adam Smyer

How do you write something humorous about racism in America? If you are Adam Smyer, an attorney, martial artist, and mediocre bass player,...

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Posted on: December 15, 2020

King and the Dragonflies

King and the Dragon Flies

by Kacen Callender

This bittersweet middle grade book takes us to the bayous of small town Louisiana where homophobia and racism are very real things that twelve year old Kingston James must deal with. Mourning the sudden death of his older brother, King s...

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Posted on: December 1, 2020

The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir

The Beauty in Breaking

by Michele Harper

The author of this eloquent memoir is an ER doctor and a practitioner of yoga and meditation. Here she recounts how she overcame racist colleagues, a background of domestic violence, and the trauma of seeing suffering people every day at ...

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Posted on: November 20, 2020

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey

The Truths We Hold

by Kamala D. Harris

The results of the presidential election are now acknowledged by most Americans, and for the first time a woman of color was on the winning ticket! Kamala Harris, the daughter of an economist from Jamaica and a cancer researcher from In...

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Posted on: November 20, 2020

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People

An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People

by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz; adapted by Jean Mendoza & Debbie Reese

In our antiracist efforts to dismantle white supremacy, we have to also look at this country's relationship with its Indigenous communities. Both Black and Indigenous people have suffered ...

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Posted on: November 4, 2020

Race after Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code

Race After Technology

by Ruha Benjamin

An African American Studies scholar turns a bright light on technology, illuminating how racism and inequality underpin its newest creations. From everyday apps to complex algorithms, Ruha Benjamin cuts through tech-industry hype to unders...

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Posted on: October 29, 2020

From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century

From Here to Equality - Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century

by William A. Darity, Jr. and A. Kirsten Mullen

Racism and discrimination have choked economic opportunity for African Americans at nearly every turn. William Darity, an economist at Duke University and an Amherst native, and folklorist Kirsten Mullen toge...

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Posted on: October 14, 2020

The City We Became

The City We Became

by N. K. Jemisin

Congratulations to N. K. Jemisin for being named one of this year’s MacArthur “geniuses!” The MacArthur Foundation describes her as “a speculative fiction writer exploring deeply human questions about structural racism, environmental crise...

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Posted on: October 13, 2020

Dread Nation

Dread Nation

by Justina Ireland

This 2018 young adult historical fiction by Justina Ireland is the perfect spooky October read to get you in the mood for Halloween. Why? Because there are zombies! Zombies! Set just after the Civil War, this is a fun and action-packed s...

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Posted on: September 29, 2020

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land

Farming While Black

by Leah Penniman

At a time when Americans are closely examining all aspects of our society for racism, those of us interested in food issues would do well to start with this remarkable book. Author Leah Penniman, the 2019 recipient of the James Beard Found...

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Posted on: September 25, 2020

Say Her Name

Say Her Name

by Zetta Elliott; illustrated by Loveis Wise

Turn to the Acknowledgements section in the final pages of this short 100 page collection of poetry-activism and you will see that the author knowingly divines that there will be more black women to mourn and re...

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Posted on: September 16, 2020

Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All

Vanguard

by Martha S. Jones

According to conventional wisdom, American women’s campaign for the vote began with the Seneca Falls convention of 1848 and ended with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. But this women’s movement was an overwhelmingly ...

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Posted on: September 11, 2020

Towers Falling

Towers Falling

by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Fifth grade student Dèja is starting the year at a new school in Brooklyn after her family moves into a shelter. Although the first day is filled with challenges, it is also filled with promise: a teacher who connects to her student...

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Posted on: September 11, 2020

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir

Memorial Drive

by Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey is a former U.S. Poet Laureate and a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She earned her M.F.A. at UMass Amherst. Memorial Drive is her first book that is not poetry. This memoir was written because, in the aut...

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Posted on: August 28, 2020

One Crazy Summer (One Crazy Summer Series, Book 1)

One Crazy Summer

by Rita Garcia Williams

One Crazy Summer follows the three Gaither sisters as they travel from Brooklyn to Oakland in the summer of 1968, where they hope to get to know the mother who left them. Delphine, the oldest sister, takes on many roles in her famil...

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Posted on: August 21, 2020

Brother Robert: Growing Up with Robert Johnson

Brother Robert by Annye C. Anderson - An intimate memoir by blues legend Robert Johnson’s stepsister

by Annye C. Anderson with Preston Lauterbach; foreword by Elijah Wald

We are excited to offer this new weekly feature and to share a wide array of books about Black lives in America. It seems appropriate to begin with a new book by a well-known Amherst res...

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Posted on: August 21, 2020

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America

Gordon Parks

by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Jamey Christoph

This picture book biography introduces readers to the life and work of multi-talented artist Gordon Parks. It traces Parks’ path to becoming one of the most important photographers of the 20th ce...

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Posted on: August 21, 2020

March: Book 1, 2, and 3

March - Book 3 161x235.jpg

by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; illustrated by Nate Powell

The nation is mourning the death of a civil rights hero and “conscience of the Congress,” Representative John Lewis. Adults and young adults wanting to know more about Lewis and the civil rights mo...

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Posted on: August 21, 2020

This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope

This Is Major

by Shayla Lawson

Writing in a fierce and humorous voice, Shayla Lawson provides a memoir in essays that is also a celebration of black women’s lives and culture. She knows the richness and resilience of black girl culture (its irony and rebellion!) and the...

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Posted on: August 21, 2020

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

Stamped

by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

In this 2020 YA remix of Ibram X. Kendi’s work (2016’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America), Jason Reynolds is quick to point out that this isn’t a history book. That said, he d...

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Posted on: August 21, 2020

Horace Pippin, American Modern

Horace Pippin

by Anne Monahan

Horace Pippin, sometimes described as an American Henri Rousseau, was a disabled veteran (WWI) without formal art training who began painting in his 40s and soon became famous in the art world. His works depict WWI, black families, Abraham ...

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