Juneteenth Reading List

Juneteenth commemorates the day the last enslaved people were emancipated in the U.S. on June 19, 1865. To learn more about the black experience throughout history, our Juneteenth reading list features both fiction and non-fiction titles written by Black authors.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Coates takes readers along his journey through America’s history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings–moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race. -From the publisher.

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Combines ethics, history, law, and science with a personal narrative to describe how to move beyond the awareness of racism and contribute to making society just and equitable. -From the publisher.

Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Follows the experiences of two African American teenagers at an abusive reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida. -From the publisher.

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

An epic history covering the period from the end of World War I through the 1970s, chronicling the decades-long migration of African Americans from the South to the North and West through the stories of three individuals and their families. -From the publisher.

Ida B. the Queen by Michelle Duster and Hannah Giorgis

This book pays tribute to a transformational leader and reminds us of the power we all hold to smash the status quo. -From the publisher.

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

Conjure Women moves back and forth in time to tell the haunting story of Rue, Varina, and May Belle, their passions and friendships, and the lengths they will go to save themselves and those they love. -From the publisher.

Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

A “choral history” of African Americans covering 400 years of history in the voices of 80 writers. -From the publisher.

Three Mothers by Anna Malaika Tubbs

Scholar Anna Malaika Tubbs celebrates Black motherhood by telling the story of the three women who raised and shaped some of America’s most pivotal heroes: Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin. -From the publisher.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, are born into two different villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will marry an English colonial and live in comfort, while Esi will be shipped off on a boat bound for America, where she’ll be sold into slavery. Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi has written a masterpiece. -From the publisher.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned, and the two quickly find themselves hunted. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share. -From the publisher.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

The author and poet recalls the anguish of her childhood in Arkansas and her adolescence in northern slums. -From the publisher.

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

Provides a historian’s view of the country’s long road to Juneteenth, recounting both its origins in Texas and enormous hardships that African-Americans have endured in the century since, from Reconstruction through Jim Crow, and beyond. -From the publisher.

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