Books

11 Nonfiction Books To Read For Black History Month — All Written By Women

From Hood Feminism to Mediocre.

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By Kerri Jarema and K.W. Colyard
Updated: 
Originally Published: 

February is Black History Month in the United States, an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of Black writers, creators, entertainers, inventors, politicians, activists, and other luminaries in U.S. history. While there are countless ways to celebrate Black history this month (and every month!) one of the best is definitely through reading their stories. And lucky for us, there are so many incredible new nonfiction books to read for Black History Month this year.

Whether you do it during February or not, it is so important to make sure that your reading is inclusive of stories like these, that shed a light on what it means to be a Black woman today, and the intersections of race, gender feminism, activism and allyship that have come to define our current resistance movement. All of the books on the list below are out now, so pick yours up ASAP.

Here are 11 new nonfiction books by women to read for Black History Month:

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In her new book, veteran journalist Sylvia A. Harvey explores the U.S. incarceration system and its influence on the American South through the lives and relationships of three families in Florida, Kentucky, and Mississippi. — K.W. Colyard

This Will Be My Undoing author Morgan Jerkins traces her family history, exploring how the Great Migration — the mass exodus of 6,000,000 Black Americans westward and northward from the South — impacted her ancestry. — K.W. Colyard

Mikki Kendall's 2020 book calls out the mainstream feminist movement for its further marginalization of women of color, queer women, those living in poverty, and those with disabilities. — K.W. Colyard

Despite what most people may think, Black women, not Elvis Presley, created rock-'n-roll. In Black Diamond Queens, New York University Professor Maureen Mahon excavates the legacies of Black women musicians from the 1950s through the 1980s. — K.W. Colyard

From the author of So You Want to Talk About Race comes this new book about how white cis-male supremacy impacts the United States and makes it objectively worse for everyone. — K.W. Colyard

White Teeth author Zadie Smith published this collection of pandemic essays in 2020. They're still highly relevant in the new year, and, let's face it: who doesn't need more of Smith's work in their life? — K.W. Colyard

During the midcentury period, Black travelers used the Green Book — a guide to safe towns and businesses — to find food and lodgings and avoid sundown towns on their journeys. In Overground Railroad, Candacy Taylor not only examines the history of the Green Book, but also dives into what its impact means for Black individuals and families today. — K.W. Colyard

The second edition of Sonya Renee Taylor's The Body Is Not an Apology is out this February. Taking its title from a quote by Kimberlé Crenshaw, this unique work of nonfiction lays out how institutional oppression trickles down to result in self-hatred. — K.W. Colyard

You might not recognize the names Berdis Baldwin, Alberta King, and Louise Little, but you certainly know of their sons. In The Three Mothers, Anna Malaika Tubbs uncovers the lives and experiences of these three women, whose parenting helped to change the world. — K.W. Colyard

We lost Cicely Tyson early in 2021, when the acclaimed actress passed away at age 96. Thankfully, Tyson did not leave the world before authoring her memoir, Just As I Am, which you can read now in memoriam. — K.W. Colyard

In this Oprah's Book Club pick, Isabel Wilkerson analyzes the impact of the United States' unwritten rules of social hierarchy, and the similarities between our caste system and those of India and Nazi Germany. — K.W. Colyard

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