African American History Month – nonfiction picks for 2/5/11


Civil rights march on Washington, from the Library of Congress collection online

February is African American History Month, and to celebrate, I thought we’d choose a selection of great books on featuring African American history for nonfiction picks this week.

I also wanted to point out the amazing website that the Library of Congress (along with other national agencies) has put together for African American History Month.

Visit it at:

The site brings together amazing digital collections of documents, music, art, photographs, videos, interviews, and more. It’s really great to see all of this wonderful information made so accessible to everyone. I really encourage you to take a look!

Below is a selection of good nonfiction books about African American history and culture in our collection.

book jacket Digging: The Afro-American Soul of American Classical Music

Amiri Baraka

“For almost half a century, Amiri Baraka has ranked among the most important commentators on African American music and culture. In this brilliant assemblage of his writings on music, the first such collection in nearly twenty years, Baraka blends autobiography, history, musical analysis, and political commentary to recall the sounds, people, times, and places he’s encountered…. Baraka offers essays on the famous–Max Roach, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane–and on those whose names are known mainly by jazz aficionados–Alan Shorter, Jon Jang, and Malachi Thompson. Baraka’s literary style, with its deep roots in poetry, makes palpable his love and respect for his jazz musician friends.”

book jacket The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

Isabel Wilkerson

“In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.”

book jacket Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine

Terry Bryant

“Terry’s new recipes have been conceived through the prism of the African Diaspora—cutting, pasting, reworking, and remixing African, Caribbean, African-American, Native American, and European staples, cooking techniques, and distinctive dishes to create something familiar, comforting, and deliciously unique. Reinterpreting popular dishes from African and Caribbean countries as well as his favorite childhood dishes, Terry reinvents African-American and Southern cuisine—capitalizing on the complex flavors of the tradition, without the animal products.”

book jacket A Century of African American Art: The Paul R. Jones Collection

Edited by Amalia K. Amaki

“The Paul R. Jones collection is one of the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive holdings of African American art in the world. Jones, who was named by Art and Antiques as one of the top one hundred collectors in the United States, began buying paintings, prints, photographs, and sculpture four decades ago and has now amassed over fifteen hundred works, many of them by well-known artists. Among the sixty-six represented are Romare Bearden, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, Henry Ossawa Tanner, James VanDerZee, Carrie Mae Weems, and Hale Woodruff.”

book jacket The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation: Stories of My Family’s Generational Journey to Freedom

John F. Baker, Jr.

“When John F. Baker Jr. was in the seventh grade, he saw a photograph of four former slaves in his social studies textbook. When he learned that two of them were his grandmother’s grandparents, he began the lifelong research project that would become The Washingtons of Wessyngton Plantation, the fruit of more than thirty years of archival and field research and DNA testing spanning 250 years. A descendant of Wessyngton slaves, Baker has written the most accessible and exciting work of African American history since Roots. He has not only written his own family’s story but included the history of hundreds of slaves and their descendants now numbering in the thousands throughout the United States. More than one hundred rare photographs and portraits of African Americans who were slaves on the plantation bring this compelling American history to life.”

Posted by Lisa, a second floor librarian

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