Exploring Black History Through Women’s Voices
Black History Month serves as a crucial time to delve into the diverse and intricate history of Black individuals in the United States. Amidst attempts to restrict the teaching of Black history, it becomes imperative to resist such efforts. In honor of Black History Month, here’s a curated list of recommended readings, all authored by women, offering profound insights into the multifaceted Black experience in the U.S.
1. A Black Women’s History of the United States (2020) Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
Delving into the pivotal role of Black women throughout U.S. history, this book emphasizes their enduring commitment to challenging racial and gender oppression.
2. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday (1998) Angela Y. Davis
Angela Y. Davis spotlights three influential Black women blues singers, demonstrating how their lives and performances challenged societal norms, paving the way for future Black feminists.
3. Free Joan Little: The Politics of Race, Sexual Violence and Imprisonment (2022) Christina Greene
Examining the 1974 case of Joan Little, charged with murder after defending herself from sexual assault, Greene explores the intersectionality of race, sexual violence, and the criminal justice system.
4. Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (2019) Tera W. Hunter
Tera W. Hunter meticulously explores Black marriage and kinship during the 19th century, revealing the resilience and strength of Black families against systemic exploitation.
5. Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class (2023) Blair LM Kelley
Blair LM Kelley’s “Black Folk” narrates the stories of Black workers, challenging the conventional view of the working class as exclusively white and male.
6. The Vice President’s Black Wife: The Untold Life of Julia Chinn (2023) Amrita Chakrabarti Myers
Uncovering the complexities of race and gender, Myers sheds light on Julia Ann Chinn, the enslaved wife of the ninth U.S. vice president, exploring her life within the racial and social hierarchies of the 19th century.
7. Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle (2022) Shannen Dee Williams
Williams delves into the religious and political activism of Black Catholic nuns, unveiling a history that remains largely unknown.
8. The Famous Lady Lovers: Black Women and Queer Desire Before Stonewall (2023) Cookie Woolner
Examining Black women’s queer relationships in the 1920s and 1930s, Woolner explores their role in shaping and maintaining queer networks before the Stonewall uprising.
This Black History Month, let’s commit to embracing these literary works that amplify the voices and experiences of Black women throughout history.
Repurposed article originally published in MS magazine