25 Contemporary Authors to Read for Black History Month

Did you know that the month of February was chosen for Black History Month to coincide Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays?

As part of your Black History Month celebrations, take a look at fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from these 25 contemporary, award-winning and acclaimed authors.

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes
One of America’s most acclaimed poets presents 70 poems bearing the same title that are haunted by the country’s past and future eras and errors, its dreams and nightmares.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
An immigrant working class couple from Cameroon and the upper class American family for whom they work find their lives and marriages shaped by financial circumstances, infidelities, secrets, and the 2008 recession. Also as an eBook.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Hired to find a mysterious boy who disappeared three years before, Tracker joins a search party that follows the boy’s trail through ancient cities and into dense forests, and encounters creatures who are intent on destroying them.

Brown: Poems by Kevin Young
Young uses poetry to meditate on how brownness and blackness in the United States tells an ongoing story, drawing on the poet’s own childhood, Emmet Till’s lynching, and De La Soul.

Dear Ijeawele, or, a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. “Dear Ijeawele” is her letter of response. Also as an eBook.

Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems by Danez Smith
A collection that opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police—a place where suspicion, violence and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love and longevity they deserved here on earth.

Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper
A leading young black feminist illuminates how organized anger, friendship, and faith can be powerful sources of positive feminist change, explaining how targeted rage has shaped the careers of such African-American notables as Serena Williams, Beyoncé, and Michelle Obama.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clementine Wamariya
Traces the author’s experiences as a young child during the Rwanda massacres and displacements, which separated her from her parents and forced the author and her older sister to endure six years as refugees in seven countries before she was granted asylum in the United States. Also as an eBook.

Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History by Camille T. Dungy
The poet-lecturer explores the intimate and vulnerable experiences of raising a child, counting on the goodwill of others, and living with illness.

The Hip-Hop Generation Fights Back: Youth, Activism, and Post-Civil Rights Politics by Andreana Clay
Provides a detailed account of the strategies that youth activists use to frame their social justice agendas and organize in their local communities.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Two half-sisters, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in 18th-century Ghana and experience profoundly different lives and legacies throughout subsequent generations marked by wealth, slavery, war, coal mining, the Great Migration and the realities of 20th-century Harlem. Also an Audiobook/CD.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Driven by the secrets and vengeance that mark his street culture, 15-year-old Will contemplates, over the course of 60 psychologically suspenseful seconds, whether or not he is going to murder the person who killed his brother. (Teen/YA) Also as an eBook and Playaway.

Loving Day by Mat Johnson
Racially-mixed Warren Duffy, returning to America to claim a mansion in Philadelphia left to him by his father, encounters his daughter and they try to forge a life for themselves in a haunted house as members of a Utopian mixed-race cult. Also an Audiobook/CD.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Argues that the War on Drugs and policies that deny convicted felons equal access to employment, housing, education and public benefits create a permanent under-caste based largely on race. Also as an eBook and eAudiobook.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
A follow-up to the award-winning The Hate U Give finds an ambitious young rapper pouring her frustrations into a first song only to find herself at the center of a viral controversy that forces her to become the menace that her public reputation has portrayed her to be.

On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope by DeRay Mckesson
The civil rights activist and organizer offers ways for all Americans to work to dismantle the legacy of racism and to take responsibility for imagining and building a better world.

Solo by Kwame Alexander
Seventeen-year-old Blade endeavors to resolve painful issues from his past to navigate the challenges of his former rockstar father’s addictions, scathing tabloid rumors, and a protected secret that threatens his own identity. (Teen/YA Fiction)

Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Two dancers with different approaches to their craft share a complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, in a story that transitions from northwest London to West Africa. Also an eBook and eAudiobook.

They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery
A behind-the-scenes account of the #BlackLivesMatter movement shares insights into the young men and women behind it, and the economic, political, and personal histories that inform its purpose.

Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith
A collection by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet discusses what it means to be a citizen, a mother, and an artist in an American culture arbitrated by wealth, men, and violence. Also an eAudiobook.

Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim
The founder of the popular online book club curates a collection of original essays from today’s best black female voices, including Jesmyn Ward, Lynn Nottage, Jacqueline Woodson, Gabourey Sidibe, Morgan Jerkins, Tayari Jones and Rebecca Walker.

We are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays by Samantha Irby
The woman behind ‘Bitchesgottaeat.com’ shares stories of her life from a failed “Bachelorette” application to a romantic vacation and ill-fated pilgrimage to scatter her estranged father’s ashes in Nashville. Also as an eBook.

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
A portrait of the historic Barack Obama era features essays originally published in “The Atlantic,” including “Fear of a Black President” and “The Case for Reparations,” as well as new essays revisiting each year of the Obama administration. Also as an eBook and Audiobook/CD.

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons
Raised in America, the multiracial daughter of a mother from Johannesburg struggles with her mother’s terminal cancer and her own need to find love and a place to belong, quests shaped by losses, changes in her sense of identity, and unexpected motherhood. Also as an eBook.

White Rage: the Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
From the end of the Civil War to the tumultuous issues in America today, an acclaimed historian reframes the conversation about race, chronicling the powerful forces opposed to black progress in America. Also as an eBook.

Looking for another author or title not on our list? Stop by the libraries or check our online catalog for availability. #ConnectToCuriosity