Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Read biographies of famous African Americans, find information about milestones in black history, and more.
A Fire in the Bones: Reflections on African-American Religious History by Albert J. Raboteau.
Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 7 hours, 8 minutes.
Essays on the religious history of African Americans. Discusses how Christianity was introduced to slaves and eventually became the foundation for the social and political lives of black Americans. Traces the development of separate churches and the emergence of black liberation theology.
A fire in the bones: reflections on African-American religious history DB 43869
A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete, 1619-1918 by Arthur Ashe
Read by Ralph Lowenstein. Reading time: 7 hours, 39 minutes.
Volume one of a three-volume study chronicling the heroic persistence and outstanding contributions of black athletes over three centuries. Ashe provides historical background on the role of sports in ancient civilizations, and examines early black American athletic successes.
A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete, 1619-1918 DB 30091
A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete, 1919-1945 by Arthur Ashe.
Read by Ralph Lowenstein. Reading time: 7 hours, 37 minutes.
Ashe continues his history of the black athlete in America. During the period between the World Wars, black athletes continued to develop a subculture of outlets to showcase their sports skills. The black press augmented the fame of athletes like Jesse Owens and Joe Louis, who were popular among Americans. Sequel to "A Hard Road to Glory ... 1619-1918."
A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete, 1919-1945 DB 30092
A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete Since 1946 by Arthur Ashe
Read by Ralph Lowenstein. Reading time: 16 hours, 27 minutes.
This groundbreaking study continues with an unprecedented period in which black athletes were integrated into previously all-white football, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, and bowling collegiate and professional sports. Sequel to "A Hard Road to Glory ... 1919-1945.
A Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete Since 1946 DB 30093
A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South, From Slavery to the Great Migration by Steven Hahn
Read by Mitzi Friedlander. Reading time: 25 hours, 0 minutes.
History professor chronicles the development of African American political culture during the last half of the nineteenth century. Extensive survey traces kinship, labor, and communication networking trends through slavery, emancipation, Radical Reconstruction, and the Great Migration north, discussing how grassroots movements transformed the South and the nation. Pulitzer Prize. 2003.
A Nation Under our feet: Black political struggles in the rural South, from slavery to the great migration DB 58775
A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America by Darlene Clark Hine and Kathleen Thompson
Read by Robin Miles. Reading time: 16 hours, 30 minutes.
A chronology of diverse African American women's lives across the United States from colonial times to the late twentieth century. Uses first-person narratives, where available, to recall efforts to resist oppression, improve education, impart religious values, and assume leadership roles in the community and the nation. 1998.
A Shining Thread of Hope: The History of Black Women in America DB 50032
At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America by Philip Dray
Read by David Toney. Reading time: 24 hours, 14 minutes.
History of lynching in America--its causes, perpetrators, and victims--and its lasting effect on race relations. Profiles the people who fought to expose and eradicate the practice: Ida Wells, James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, W.E.B. Du Bois, and others. Violence and some strong language. 2002.
At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America DB 55259
Black crescent: the experience and legacy of African Muslims in the Americas by Michael Angelo Gomez
Read by Robin Miles. Reading time: 21 hours, 29 minutes.
Social history of African Muslims in the Western Hemisphere, beginning with fifteenth-century Latin America. Describes revolts in Brazil, "slaveocracy" in the Caribbean, and Islamic societies in the United States. Discusses the influence of Noble Drew Ali, Malcolm X, and the Nation of Islam. ALA Black Caucus Award. 2005.
Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas DB 67652
Black profiles in courage: a legacy of African American achievement by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Alan Steinberg
Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 8 hours, 25 minutes.
Presents a historical gallery of heroes of African descent, recounting the stories of their contributions to the nation. The subjects include sixteenth-century explorer Estevanico, Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre, and Rosa Parks, who valiantly kept her seat on a segregated bus in 1955.
Black Profiles in Courage: A Legacy of African American Achievement DB 44030
Blind Tom, the Black Pianist-composer: Continually Enslaved by Geneva H. Southall
Read by Robert Sams. Reading time: 8 hours, 44 minutes.
Explores the life of pianist-composer Thomas Greene Wiggins, known as Blind Tom, born into slavery in 1849. Southall details the exploitation Wiggins suffered at the hands of his manager and attempts to correct misconceptions regarding Wiggins's life, talent, and contributions to piano literature. 1999.
Blind Tom, the Black Pianist-composer: Continually Enslaved DB 54557
Blue Skies, Black Wings: African American Pioneers of Aviation by Samuel L. Broadnax
Read by Jake Williams. Reading time: 10 hours, 4 minutes.
Black journalist relates his flying experiences after enlisting in the Army Air Corp at age seventeen and graduating as a fighter pilot from the Tuskegee Institute in 1945. Recounts his and other African American pilots' military careers and their struggles with racism and segregation. Also discusses historical black aviators. 2007.
Blue Skies, Black Wings: African American Pioneers of Aviation DB 67179
Breaking the Color Barrier: The U.S. Naval Academy's First Black Midshipmen and the Struggle for Racial Equality by Robert John Schneller
Read by Jake Williams. Reading time: 13 hours, 2 minutes.
Naval historian examines racial discrimination at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis from the post-Civil War Reconstruction era to the graduation of the first African American in 1949. Discusses the political and social climate during this period and the treatment of black midshipmen at the academy. 2005.
Breaking the Color Barrier: The U.S. Naval Academy's First Black Midshipmen and the Struggle for Racial Equality DB 62231
Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen by Philip Dray
Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 19 hours, 26 minutes.
Author of At the Hands of Persons Unknown (DB 55259) portrays post-Civil War African Americans who were elected to Congress as state representatives. Discusses Hiram Revels, Benjamin Turner, Jefferson Long, Richard Cain, Joseph H. Rainey, and others and the social and political issues of their time. 2008.
Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen DB 68329
Fighting for America: Black Soldiers, the Unsung Heroes of World War II by Christopher Moore
Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 13 hours, 20 minutes.
Author chronicles the contributions of African American WWII service members, interweaving his own family history as the son of black veterans. Describes achievements of units such as the 761st Tank Battalion and the Tuskegee Airmen. Profiles soldiers who fought two battles--one abroad and one at home for racial equality. 2005.
Fighting for America: Black Soldiers, the Unsung Heroes of World War II DB 61836
Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers by Joseph T. Glatthaar
Read by Lou Harpenau. Reading time: 14 hours, 24 minutes.
An associate professor of history at the University of Houston explores the interactions of black and white military personnel during and after the American Civil War. This historic anomaly, which brought together 180,000 African-American troops and 7,000 white officers, established precedents that lasted ninety years until the Korean Conflict when the services were integrated.
Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers DB 31539
Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African American Literary Societies by Elizabeth McHenry
Read by Martha Harmon Pardee. Reading time: 16 hours, 26 minutes.
English professor traces the rise and development of African American literacy organizations between 1830 and 1940, from the antislavery movement's height to the Harlem Renaissance. Examines the cultural role of the black press, women's contributions, and efforts to promote reading and writing that fostered activism and influenced black communities. 2002.
Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African American Literary Societies DB 59066
If the Creek Don't Rise: My Life out West with the last Black Widow of the Civil War by Rita Williams
Read by Kerry Dukin. Reading time: 10 hours, 7 minutes.
Memoir of growing up in 1950s Colorado with an aunt who left the South after marrying an elderly Civil War veteran. Recalls Aunt Daisy's primitive living conditions and her reminiscences about ancestors who were slaves, sharecroppers, and ranchers. Strong language and some descriptions of sex. 2006.
If the Creek Don't Rise: My Life out West with the last Black Widow of the Civil War DB 63935
Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008 by Henry Louis Gates
Read by Jake Williams. Reading time: 26 hours, 18 minutes.
History of African Americans in the United States from colonial days to the 2008 election of president Barack Obama. Discusses black conquistadors accompanying Spanish explorers to the New World. Examines both the acquisition and freeing of slaves as well as the civil rights movement. Highlights individual contributions. 2011.
Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008 DB 75408
Like Men of War: Black Troops in the Civil War, 1862-1865 by Noah Andre Trudeau
Read by Bill Wallace. Reading time: 20 hours, 19 minutes.
A producer at National Public Radio reconstructs the combat history of African American troops during the Civil War. Describes skirmishes and battles, including the massacre of captured African American Union soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, and the defeat of Fort Fisher, North Carolina. Some violence and some strong language.
Like Men of War: Black Troops in the Civil War, 1862-1865 DB 47179
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington
Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 21 hours, 14 minutes.
Documents the use of African Americans in nonconsensual, nontherapeutic research by private institutions and the federal government. Recounts instances of drug and radiation testing, involuntary sterilization, and surgical experimentation. Cites the mid-twentieth-century Tuskegee Syphilis Study. Examines racial and ethical issues in the medical field. Nat'l Book Critics Circle Award. 2006.
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present DB 66297
Mississippi to Madrid: Memoir of a Black American in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade by James Yates
Read by John Stratton. Reading time: 4 hours, 54 minutes.
The author traces his steps from the cotton fields of Mississippi to the battlefields of Madrid. He understands and experiences the brutality of racism at an early age and equates his struggle with that of the Spanish in their war against fascism. His story is that of a lifelong activist for human freedom and a lesson in principles.
Mississippi to Madrid: Memoir of a Black American in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade DB 32633
My People are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain by Aaron Floyd Dixon
Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 12 hours, 19 minutes.
Aaron Dixon details his experiences with racism while growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. Describes how he co-founded the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party--the first chapter outside of California--when he was nineteen years old, and discusses his work as an activist. Young adult appeal. Some violence. 2012.
My People are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain DB 75610
Only the Ball was White: A History of Legendary Black Players and all-Black Professional Teams by Robert Peterson
Read by Patrick Downer. Reading time: 22 hours, 40 minutes.
Chronicles the development of African American baseball leagues from the post-Civil War era to Jackie Robinson's 1947 desegregation of the major leagues. Draws on firsthand accounts and player interviews to describe early team formation, league organization, and the move toward racial integration. Profiles players and includes standings and rosters. 1970.
Racial Matters: The FBI's Secret File on Black America, 1960-1972 by Kenneth O'Reilly.
Read by Bob Butz. Reading time: 15 hours, 30 minutes.
In this well-documented study based on FBI files released under the Freedom of Information Act, the author describes J. Edgar Hoover's reaction to the African-American struggle for equality from his indifference to the peonage cases and KKK activities of the 1920s, to his vindictive, private war against black activists and their allies in the 1960s and 1970s.
Racial Matters: The FBI's Secret File on Black America, 1960-1972 DB 32378
Racing While Black: How an African-American Stock-Car Team Made its Mark on NASCAR by Leonard T Miller and Andrew Simon
Read by Robert Sams. Reading time: 10 hours, 40 minutes.
History of the African American-owned Miller Racing stock car team. Recounts the efforts of the author and his father, Leonard W. Miller, to turn their love of NASCAR into a company that offered opportunities for black drivers in a sport rooted in rural southern culture. Some strong language. 2010.
Racing While Black: How an African-American Stock-Car Team made its Mark on NASCAR DB 71670
Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America by Cameron McWhirter
Read by J.P. Linton. Reading time: 16 hours, 55 minutes.
Discusses the race riots and lynchings in 1919 as African Americans became more prosperous and willing to fight for equal rights. Examines the cascade of events that followed the initial, deadly incident in Carswell Grove, Georgia, on April 13 of that year. Violence. 2011.
Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America DB 74518
Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class by Larry Tye
Read by David Toney. Reading time: 12 hours, 51 minutes.
History of industrialist George Pullman's recruitment of African Americans as porters for his rail cars during post-Civil War Reconstruction. Through first-person accounts and archival material, Tye addresses the porter monopoly's first trade union, unique culture, and contribution to the evolution of a black middle class. Some strong language. 2004.
Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class DB 59817
Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equalityby Richard Kluger
Read by Jim Bond. Reading time: 43 hours, 59 minutes.
Social, legal, and political history of the landmark law case "Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka," which resulted in the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing racial segregation in public schools. 1975.
Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality DB 27596
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War IIby Douglas A Blackmon
Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 17 hours, 54 minutes.
Wall Street Journal reporter details the use of African American forced labor that began in the South during Reconstruction. Examines archives to document the way national industries acquired uncompensated labor via convict leasing--a practice that was allegedly supported at all levels of government. Violence and strong language. Pulitzer Prize. 2008.
Slavery by Another Name: The Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II DB 69134
Some of my Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America by Tanner Colby
Read by Mark Ashby. Reading time: 10 hours, 55 minutes.
Analysis of the history of racial integration in America. Focuses on four case studies: education in Alabama, real estate and city planning in Missouri, the advertising industry in New York City, and a Catholic church in Louisiana. Some strong language. 2012.
Some of my Best Friends are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America DB 76283
Spreadin' Rhythm Around: Black Popular Songwriters, 1880-1930 by David A. Jasen and Gene Jones.
Read by Robert Sams. Reading time: 18 hours, 43 minutes.
This fifty-year history focuses on various African American composers, lyricists, performers, and publishers, to show their influence on mainstream popular American culture. Discusses minstrel shows, vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, blues, early jazz, and Broadway. 1998.
Spreadin' Rhythm Around: Black Popular Songwriters, 1880-1930 DB 58609
The Birth of Black America: The First African Americans and the Pursuit of Freedom at Jamestown by Tim Hashaw.
Read by Bill Quinn. Reading time: 12 hours, 8 minutes.
Journalist traces the 1619 arrival of the first Africans in the Virginia colony. Describes the abduction of Bantus from Portuguese Angola in an attack on a Spanish ship by British pirates. Highlights the freed captives' skills as tradesmen and farm owners before slavery engulfed their descendants. 2007.
The Birth of Black America: The First African Americans and the Pursuit of Freedom at Jamestown DB 65665
The Black West: A Documentary and Pictorial History of the African American role in the Westward Expansion of the United States by William Loren Katz.
Read by Butch Hoover. Reading time: 9 hours, 17 minutes.
History of the contributions of African American men and women who populated the American West from the sixteenth-century age of exploration to the early twentieth century. Portrays fur traders, homesteaders, buffalo soldiers, con men, mail-order brides, cowboys, politicians, and others and highlights their struggle for equality. Some strong language. 2005.
The Black West: A Documentary and Pictorial History of the African American role in the Westward Expansion of the United States DB 64870
The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Black Cavalry in the West by William H. Leckie and Shirley A. Leckie.
Read by Fred Major. Reading time: 11 hours, 59 minutes.
Updated account of the all-African American Ninth and Tenth Cavalry during the post-Civil War Indian campaigns. Recognizes their contributions to the conquest of the West. Describes daily life, social issues, and various battles and peacekeeping missions with Native Americans, outlaws, and Mexican revolutionaries. Originally published in 1967. 2003.
The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Black Cavalry in the West DB 68915
The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness by Kevin Young
Read by Andy Pyle. Reading time: 19 hours, 31 minutes.
Poet explores the influence of storytelling on literature and music in African-American culture. Examines encoded spirituals in the time of slavery, works of the Harlem Renaissance, and rap and hip-hop of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. 2012.
The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness DB 74877
The History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship by Juliet E. K. Walker
Read by Jake Williams. Reading time: 32 hours, 45 minutes.
Examines African American business development from the 1600s to the 1990s. Discusses black participation in commercial real estate, finance and investment, manufacturing, and other sectors. Recommends resisting policies based on racial prejudice and exploring opportunities for expansion into national and global markets. Black Caucus of ALA Award. 1998.
The History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship DB 51711
The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White by Daniel J. Sharfstein
Read by John Polk. Reading time: 15 hours, 37 minutes.
Traces three diverse Southern families with African ancestry who chose to pass as white during different periods of U.S. history. Researches the Gibsons, South Carolina landowners; the Spencers, Appalachian farmers; and the Walls, part of the Washington, D.C., middle class. 2011.
The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White DB 73911
The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball by Janet Bruce
Read by Jake Williams. Reading time: 7 hours, 24 minutes.
The development of "the great American pastime" as it related to the African-American population, and one team's place in that history. Young black men dreamed of playing for the Kansas City Monarchs or one of the other fifteen black teams in the "majors." From the Civil War until Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson in 1945, baseball was a segregated sport, and the Monarchs were the premier black team.
The Kansas City Monarchs: Champions of Black Baseball DB 31342
The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights by William Powell Jones
Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 10 hours, 36 minutes.
Examines the economic goals of the 1963 civil rights march on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. Focuses on labor union leader A. Phillip Randolph and his quest for fair employment, as well as the role of black women's groups. 2013.
The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights DB77242
The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and how it Changed America by Nicholas Lemann
Read by Bob Askey. Reading time: 16 hours, 5 minutes.
With the development of the mechanical cotton picker in 1944, Chicago and other northern cities became the promised land for many displaced southern black workers. But as unskilled industrial jobs decline, new generations of families living in urban ghettos struggle with poverty and racism. Lemann, mindful of past failures to solve the problems, presents an agenda for the future. 1991.
The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and how it Changed America DB 32040
The Sable Arm: Black Troops in the Union Army, 1861-1865 by Dudley Taylor Cornish
Read by Jake Williams. Reading time: 12 hours, 30 minutes.
Originally published in 1956, this title has become a classic work on the history of African-American participation in the United States' military. The author emphasizes that while African-Americans have fought in all the wars since the War for Independence, the Civil War was the first time black troops were officially recognized as part of the military establishment.
The Sable Arm: Black Troops in the Union Army, 1861-1865 DB 32375
The Senator and the Socialite: The True Story of America's First Black Dynasty by Lawrence Graham
Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 18 hours, 13 minutes.
Biography of Blanche Kelso Bruce (1841-1898), a former slave who became the first African American elected to a full term in the U.S. Senate. Highlights Bruce's rise to fame, discusses his marriage, and describes his descendants and their downfall. Details social and political turmoil during their lifetimes. Strong language. 2006.
The Senator and the Socialite: The True Story of America's First Black Dynasty DB 63519
The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
Read by Chuck Young. Reading time: 8 hours, 14 minutes.
Fourteen essays and sketches by civil rights activist, published in 1903, examine African American experiences in the post-Civil War South. Argues that emancipation should have brought immediate racial equality and that racial accommodation policies reflected a sellout. Centennial edition includes 2003 introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer/historian David Levering Lewis. 1903.
The Souls of Black Folk DB 63648
Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow by Leon F. Litwack
Read by Rick Foucheux. Reading time: 23 hours, 59 minutes.
This sequel to Been in the Storm So Long (DB 48089) continues the history of African Americans in the south from Reconstruction until World War I. Explores the development of social and cultural institutions. First-person narratives illustrate the hardships under which the "freedmen" lived. Violence.
Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow DB 48090
Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington by Robert J. Norrell
Read by Chuck Young. Reading time: 17 hours, 16 minutes.
Revisionist portrait of African American educator Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), subject of the autobiography Up from Slavery (RC 32540). Focuses on Washington's founding of the Tuskegee Institute and efforts to reduce racial tensions by practical methods that drew criticism during his lifetime and posthumously from both blacks and whites. 2009.
Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington DB 69894
Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980scomplied by Henry Hampton and Steve Fayer with Sarah Flynn
Read by Ralph Lowenstein. Reading time: 25 hours, 39 minutes.
The producer and the writer of the TV series "Eyes on the Prize" have compiled this oral history from the project's interview bank. Thirty-two episodes from the 1955 murder of Emmett Till to the 1980 Miami riot are presented through the reminiscences of the famous and unknown, black and white, who participated in the movement.
Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s DB 31453
Waiting 'til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America by Peniel E. Joseph
Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 15 hours, 16 minutes.
Historian examines the radical political movement that flourished from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s. Discusses the social context that gave rise to Black Power, the movement's demise, and its aftermath. Profiles its leaders, including Stokely Carmichael, Huey P. Newton, and Malcolm X. 2006.
Waiting 'til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America DB 64301