This past Monday night I had the pleasure of meeting lovely residents at the Montgomery County retirement community, Foulkeways at Gwynedd. I had been invited to present OUT FROM SLAVERY, my lecture about the African’s diaspora that began with their capture in the Motherland and their eventual Flight to Freedom.
Many Americans often dismiss slavery as insignificant, often moaning ,”Stop living in the past! …. Move on!” The era of slavery that brought us the Civil War is an event of importance equal to the Indian Wars or the Lewis & Clark Expedition or the Building of the Railroads or others. This was my eighteenth presentation when at every conclusion, I leave a list of recommended books–non-fiction and fiction–that tell stories of the brave people in the abolitionist or anti-slavery movements and how thousands of slaves succeeded in escaping the inhumanity of their oppressors.
To lovers of history–I offer this selection which is the tip of the iceberg featuring hundreds of other books about this era of our Nation.
BEFORE FREEDOM Edited by Belinda Hurmence. Narratives of African American former slaves interviewed in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers’ Project.
THE BONDWOMAN’S NARRATIVE by Hannah Craft. This manuscript was discovered by Dr. Henry Gates, Jr. and purported to be the life of a former slave.
BOUND FOR CANAAN by Fergus M. Bordewich. Bordewich weaves the life of Josiah Henson in the struggle of the anti-slavery movement beginning in the 1800s to the 1870s.
GATEWAY TO FREEDOM by Eric Foner. A detailed history of the abolitionist and anti-slavery movement in New York.
KINDRED by Octavia E. Butler. A work of fiction by this African-American author whose published work is in the science fiction genre. This is about an African-American women living in the early 1970s transported back and forth to a plantation in the ante bellum South.
LANGHORN AND MARY by Priscilla Stone Sharp. Sharp’s research into the Stone family’s history brings the discovery of her white ancestor who married a free Black man. Taking place in Bucks County during the 1840s, Sharp weaves true events of anti-slavery and abolitionist Bucks County.
SLAVES IN THE FAMILY by Edward Ball. Ball traces his family’s legacy which begins with his ancestor’s arrival in South Carolina in the 1600s.
THE LIFE OF JOSIAH HENSON by Josiah Henson. Henson was born in slavery and eventually fled to freedom in Canada, often returning as a conductor to rescue slaves. Some of his life is written in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
THE U.S. COLORED TROOPS AT ANDERSONVILLE PRISON by Bob O’Connor. O’Connor has done meticulous research into the colored men who served in the Civil War and are buried in the Andersonville cemetery.
SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME by Lawrence Hill. A fictional account of a former slave approaching her 60th year who recalls her life from the time she was abducted from Africa to her journey to Freedom.
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead. A fictional account of a young female slave who flees her plantation. Whitehead creates his underground as a real train buried beneath the earth.
Curiosity always opens that door marked “Knowledge”.
2 thoughts on “A Reading List for Black History Month”
Harriet Jacobs letters from a slave girl. Reading her letters make me feel like I am sitting with her and she is talking to me. History of slavery not sufficient in school. Henry Louise Gates reconstruction series excellent on PBS, the African American Many Rivers to Cross. Slavery and the making of America also a must.
Our schools seriously lacking on this aspect of our History. Since 2013 I’ve presented to people a glimpse into the struggle of Africans when taken from the Motherland to America and their struggle to freedom. Dr. Gates’ series on Reconstruction is excellent. Am now reading David W. Blight’s biography–Frederick Douglas, a man that has been itching my brain for some time. Thanks for your comments.