Recommended Reading: Black History Month Literature

imagesBorn on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm Little, who later became known as Malcolm X was an iconic figure of the Civic Right movement. The autobiography includes intimate details about his life, from days in Harlem to his pilgrimage to Mecca and much more. The African-American Muslim minister was a human rights activist, and was watched closely by the US government as well as other organizations due to his unabashed criticism of racism within America. On February 21, 1965, he was assassinated by Nation of Islam members Talmadge Hayer, Norman 3X Butler, and Thomas 15X Johnson .

cover-of-parable-of-the-sowerThe dystopian Californian road novel, written by Los Angeles based author, Octavia E. Butler, evokes images similar to those seen in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath due to themes of mass migration and ecological turmoil. Throughout the novel the characters are challenged by the scarcity of existing resources, and fight to preserve what little they do have. Lauren Olimina, a multi-ethnic adolescent, is at the center of the narrative in this coming of age novel. When her community is attacked by drug addicts she caravans from Southern California to Northern California. During her adventure she challenges social, gender and racial norms, all while hiding a very unique ability.

the-adoption-papers-jackie-kayJackie Kay’s collection of poetry The Adoption Papers is a collection of narrative poems that weave together the perspectives of three people; a “birth mother,” an “adoptive mother” and an “adopted daughter.” During this opening poem, the child’s history is metaphorically presented as a commodity, she is a human being without agency. Over the course of the book the adopted child’s status (a black adopted child that is also half Nigerian) is slowly revealed. The poems, demonstrate the mutual conflict experienced by both the adopted mother and the biological mother, as well as the tribulations of an adopted child. Kay, an adopted child herself, received the Forward Prize for Best First Collection for this 1991 book. Additional works include Other Lovers (1993), Off Colour (1998) and Life Mask (2005).

Michael Ray
Bachelors of English Literature
Humboldt State University.



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