6 Must-Read Books By Black Authors

Last updated on Mar 7, 2024

Posted on Feb 17, 2024

Standing imposingly along West Africa’s Gold Coast are two of approximately 40 castles originally constructed in Ghana for European traders - Cape Coast and Elmina. Powerful symbols of the Transatlantic slave trade, they are relics of a harrowing past, whose legacy continues to reverberate. Engraved on their walls are words that echo as stark reminders of this history:

In everlasting memory of the anguish of our ancestors,

May those who died rest in peace

May those who return find their roots

May humanity never again perpetrate such injustice against humanity

We, the living, vow to uphold this

Cape Coast Castle, Ghana

Having begun as a weeklong celebration of Black history and culture, an initiative introduced by Carter G. Woodson in 1926, Black History Month has since been instituted as a month-long celebration that acknowledges the story of African Americans. Each year, the month of February provides an opportunity for greater dialogue and awareness raising about the profound impact and contributions of the African diaspora, as well as the painful history that has shaped the Black experience.

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots - Marcus Garvey

This Black History Month, in keeping with the theme of “African Americans and the Arts”, Official Black Wall Street is highlighting six compelling books written by Black authors to read, which capture some of the defining moments in history that have shaped the trajectory of the Black experience, including the Transatlantic slave trade. 

The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois is an immersive read that takes you on a journey through US history. Told through the eyes of one family in the American South, this book spans decades and takes place against defining historical moments, including the Civil War and Slavery, the Civil Rights Movement and the election of the first African American President of the United States. 

From $12.17 at Amazon

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

“Original and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a re-examination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.”

Notably, Caste also serves as the basis for the movie “Origin”, which was produced by award-winning filmmaker, Ava DuVernay. 

From $13.99 at Amazon

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

"Homegoing follows the parallel paths of these sisters and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. Yaa Gyasi’s extraordinary novel illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy both for those who were taken and those who stayed."

From $10.87 at Amazon

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

In an empowering letter penned to his adolescent son, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the realities of Black manhood, sharing the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder

From $13.55 at Amazon

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith

Acknowledged as both “important and timely”, How the Word is Passed explores the legacy of slavery and illustrates how some of the most “essential stories are hidden in plain view – whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women, and children has been deeply imprinted.”

From $10.94 at Amazon

The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris

In the last days of the Civil War, two brothers – Landry and Prentiss - both freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, leave Majesty’s Place. They seek refuge on George Walker’s land, where he lives with his wife and son. One evening, while trying to find his way back home, George comes across the brothers. Estranged from his wife, George has focused his energy on his land and asks Landry and Prentiss for help. In need of money, they agree, and, in time, their relationship with George and his family evolves. Despite the presence of Union soldiers in the town, many are upset about George’s kindness to the brothers. When a forbidden romance is revealed, the chaos that ensues has irreversible consequences.

From $12.78 at Amazon
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