Black authors have been sharing their talent and stories with us through literature for years. Many Black women have also shared their struggles and realities of being a Black woman in the United States. We at the Clog wanted to share some must-reads by Black women this Black History Month.
“Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston
This novel follows a Black woman as she tries to create her own destiny while simultaneously battling with the gender norms of the 1900s. “Their Eyes Were Watching God” is a classic of the Harlem Renaissance and a must-read for everyone. In addition to writing novels, Hurston was an American anthropologist who studied and exposed racial struggles in the early 1900s.
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
Originally published in 1969, Angelou takes us through her very own coming-of-age journey. Angelou’s autobiography tells the violence she experienced as a Black woman in the United States, and she walks us through her trauma from racism and sexual assault. We follow her as she navigates her way through the literary world as a writer and a poet and her path toward healing.
“Beloved” by Toni Morrison
Morrison’s 1987 novel follows a former slave family in the post-Civil War era, where a spirit haunts the family. Subsequently, we find that the spirit represents more than a typical “ghost.” Morrison uses multiple voices, flashbacks and imagery to tell a story of pain, tragedy and the lasting impact of slavery.
“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander
Published in 2010, this book targets themes that are still prominent today. Alexander links mass incarceration in the United States to Jim Crow, slavery and racism. This book is worth revisiting or picking up for the first time to bring awareness to the call to action in criminal justice reform, today.
“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett
Bennett’s novel, just published in 2020, follows two twin sisters who diverge from each other and their small town. One sister chooses to pass as white and live a completely new life. Meanwhile, the other sister returns back to the town, still identifying as Black. Consequently, each of their paths and decisions are affected by their relationship to race, colorism and their past.
So there you have it! Join the Clog in celebrating prominent Black women authors for this year’s Black History Month!