“Before the Mayflower” by Lerone Bennett Jr is the ultimate book to read if you’re interested in Black History, especially American Black History. Originally published in 1962, the book covers the history of Black America from 1619 to 1962.
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“The Other Wes Moore” explores the lives of two young Black men coming of age during the same time period in similar neighborhoods and ironically enough with the same name. (What are the odds?) They both experience adolescent bumps and bruises. But, their lives widely diverge setting one on the path to prison and the other to becoming a Rhodes Scholar.
I had high expectations for “The Coming” by Daniel Black. Over the past few years, I’ve read several books about slavery and this book caught my eye because of its focus on the Middle Passage. Positive reviews and high ratings praised “The Coming” for capturing the emotions that enslaved Africans might have felt being snatched from their villages, enduring a grueling voyage, and finding themselves traded like chattel in a strange land.
The details may differ but the story of Fred Hampton is unfortunately not uncommon. Fred Hampton is one in a long list of Black activists murdered during the turbulent 1960’s. His death stands apart from most others as it was proven to have been the result of a concerted effort by the FBI and Chicago police. I won’t go into the details of the murder here as “The Assassination of Fred Hampton” by Jeffrey Haas does an excellent job of explaining the raid on Hampton’s apartment, shootout, and trials.
The Book of Harlan by Bernice McFadden tells the story of a Black musician from Harlem who travels to Paris around the time the city falls to the Nazis. But it’s about much more. It also covers moments from the Black experience from about the 1920’s to the 1960’s/1970’s.