Ashley’s Top Picks – Juneteenth and Black History

Coming soon is the newly minted federal holiday Juneteenth, short for June Nineteenth. This holiday marks the day when word of the end of slavery in the United States reached Galveston, Texas. Federal troops arrived in Galveston to ensure that all enslaved people be freed on June 19th, 1865 – more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. To celebrate and support the diversity of those around us, we encourage you to learn more about Juneteenth and Black history.

Each of the titles listed below are linked to our catalog so that you can easily place holds from wherever you are. Simply click on the cover image to jump directly to our library’s catalog.

The essential, sweeping story of Juneteenth’s integral importance to American history, as told by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Texas native.

Weaving together American history, dramatic family chronicle, and searing episodes of memoir, Annette Gordon-Reed’s On Juneteenth provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow and beyond. All too aware of the stories of cowboys, ranchers, and oilmen that have long dominated the lore of the Lone Star State, Gordon-Reed―herself a Texas native and the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s―forges a new and profoundly truthful narrative of her home state, with implications for us all.

Combining personal anecdotes with poignant facts gleaned from the annals of American history, Gordon-Reed shows how, from the earliest presence of Black people in Texas to the day in Galveston on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of legalized slavery in the state, African-Americans played an integral role in the Texas story.

Reworking the traditional “Alamo” framework, she powerfully demonstrates, among other things, that the slave- and race-based economy not only defined the fractious era of Texas independence but precipitated the Mexican-American War and, indeed, the Civil War itself.

In its concision, eloquence, and clear presentation of history, On Juneteenth vitally revises conventional renderings of Texas and national history. As our nation verges on recognizing June 19 as a national holiday, On Juneteenth is both an essential account and a stark reminder that the fight for equality is exigent and ongoing.”

-From amazon.com

Discover the rich and complex history of the peoples of Africa, and the struggles and triumphs of Black cultures and communities around the world.

With profiles of key people, movements, and events, The Black History Book brings together accounts of the most significant ideas and milestones in Black history and culture. This vital and thought-provoking book presents a bold and accessible overview of the history of the African continent and its peoples – from the earliest human migrations to modern Black communities and the African diaspora. 

Powerful images and innovative infographics bring to life the stories of the early kingdoms of Ancient Egypt, Nubia, and Carthage; the powerful empires of the Medieval and Early Modern eras; and the struggle against European colonizers. Black history and culture beyond the African continent is also explored in detail – including the Atlantic Slave Trade; the quilombos (slave resistance camps) of Brazil; the Harlem Renaissance and Jazz Age; the “Windrush” migration; Civil Rights and Black feminist movements; and Black Lives Matter. 
 
Using the “Big Ideas” series’ trademark combination of authoritative, accessible text and bold graphics, The Black History Book examines the achievements and struggles of Black communities across the world up to the modern day, as well as the influence of Black cultures on art, literature, and music the world over.”

-From amazon.com

This groundbreaking study explores the visual representations of Black culture across the globe throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.

The African diaspora―a direct result of the transatlantic slave trade and Western colonialism―has generated a wide array of artistic achievements, from blues and reggae to the paintings of the pioneering American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner and the music videos of Solange. This study concentrates on how these works, often created during times of major social upheaval and transformation, use Black culture both as a subject and as context. From musings on “the souls of black folk” in late-nineteenth-century art to questions of racial and cultural identities in performance, media, and computer-assisted arts in the twenty-first century, this book examines the philosophical and social forces that have shaped Black presence in modern and contemporary visual culture.

Renowned art historian Richard J. Powell presents Black art drawn from across the African diaspora, with examples from the Americas, the Caribbean, and Europe. Black Art features artworks executed in a broad range of media, including film, photography, performance art, conceptual art, advertising, and sculpture.

Now updated and expanded, this new edition helps to better understand how the first two decades of the twenty-first century have been a transformative moment in which previous assumptions about race and identity have been irrevocably altered, with art providing a useful lens through which to think about these compelling issues.”

-From amazon.com

“The story begins in 1619—a year before the Mayflower—when the White Lion disgorges “some 20-and-odd Negroes” onto the shores of Virginia, inaugurating the African presence in what would become the United States. It takes us to the present, when African Americans, descendants of those on the White Lion and a thousand other routes to this country, continue a journey defined by inhuman oppression, visionary struggles, stunning achievements, and millions of ordinary lives passing through extraordinary history. 

Four Hundred Souls is a unique one-volume “community” history of African Americans. The editors, Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, have assembled ninety brilliant writers, each of whom takes on a five-year period of that four-hundred-year span. The writers explore their periods through a variety of techniques: historical essays, short stories, personal vignettes, and fiery polemics. They approach history from various perspectives: through the eyes of towering historical icons or the untold stories of ordinary people; through places, laws, and objects. While themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention, course through the book, this collection of diverse pieces from ninety different minds, reflecting ninety different perspectives, fundamentally deconstructs the idea that Africans in America are a monolith—instead it unlocks the startling range of experiences and ideas that have always existed within the community of Blackness. 

This is a history that illuminates our past and gives us new ways of thinking about our future, written by the most vital and essential voices of our present.”

-From amazon.com

An incisive, gripping exploration of the forces that pushed our unjust system to its breaking point after the death of George Floyd and a definitive guide to America’s present-day racial reckoning.
  For many, the story of the weeks of protests in the summer of 2020 began with the horrific nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds when Police Officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd on camera, and it ended with the sweeping federal, state, and intrapersonal changes that followed. It is a simple story, wherein white America finally witnessed enough brutality to move their collective consciousness. The only problem is that it isn’t true. George Floyd was not the first Black man to be killed by police—he wasn’t even the first to inspire nation-wide protests—yet his death came at a time when America was already at a tipping point.

In SAY THEIR NAMES, five seasoned journalists probe this critical shift. With a piercing examination of how inequality has been propagated throughout history, from Black imprisonment and the Convict Leasing program to long-standing predatory medical practices to over-policing, the authors highlight the disparities that have long characterized the dangers of being Black in America. They examine the many moderate attempts to counteract these inequalities, from the modern Civil Rights movement to Ferguson, and how the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others pushed compliance with an unjust system to its breaking point. Finally, they outline the momentous changes that have resulted from this movement, while at the same time proposing necessary next steps to move forward.
 
With a combination of penetrating, focused journalism and affecting personal insight, the authors bring together their collective years of reporting, creating a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of racial inequality in America.”

-From amazon.com

This list is just a quick start! Consult a librarian at 315-785-7714 for tips or help on searching for other materials.

-Ashley

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