Staff Picks: 6 Must-Read Books for Black History Month | United Way of Southeast Louisiana

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Staff Picks: 6 Must-Read Books for Black History Month

February 21, 2020


Some make you laugh; some make you cry. Some open your eyes to a new perspective; some challenge your entire worldview.

Books have the power to touch our hearts and minds on the deepest level. Whether you’re a certified bibliophile or the only thing your bookshelf is collecting is dust, Black History Month is the perfect time to crack open a new book. Here are six recommendations from United Way of Southeast Louisiana staff of books by Black/African-American authors or about Black/African-American individuals to get you started.


Kindred - Octavia Butler 

Recommended by Bobbie Green from the Marketing team

  • Bobbie’s Take: “This novel is incredible. I couldn’t put it down. I recommend it because it is a beautiful painting of Butler's work on the brutality of slavery and how a woman who is mystically thrown into it all had to adjust and conform to the cruelty of the 19th century. It was written in 1979, but it could have been easily written last year. Elements of Butler’s own life and frustrations with race issues during her life shine through in parts. The story unfolds with elements of love, familial connection, loss, time travel, slavery, and the complex emotions that arise when these things interconnect.”


Waiting to Exhale – Terri McMillan

Recommended by Ellenor Simmons from the Financial Capability team

  • What it’s About: A group of female friends supporting each other through their relationship triumphs and tragedies.
  • Ellenor’s Take: “I recommend it for its funny, witty and varied portrayal of African-American women and men.”


This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color

Recommended by Jillian Delos Reyes from the Community Impact team

  • Jillian’s Take: “If you are looking to start or deepen your political education around understanding narratives of marginalized communities, particularly of women of color, this is the place to start.”


Born a Crime – Trevor Noah

Recommended by Stephanie Nelson from the Finance team

  • What it’s About: A young man, half white half black, growing up in South Africa during apartheid.


Beloved – Toni Morrison

Recommended by Ellenor Simmons

  • What it’s About: A freed slave being haunted by the ghost of her dead child.
  • Ellenor’s Take: “This book is quite literally a haunting portray of difficult choices made during difficult times.”


Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire – Akala

Recommended by Aaron Bryan from the Resource Development team

  • What it’s About: Race & class in Britain, written by a UK rap artist.