alex haley black history month nathan mccall rebecca skloot richard wright

Top 5 Must Reads for Black History Month

Hey Folks:

I just began a very intriguing read and think it’s perfectly suited for BHM. While reading I decided to create a list of ‘must reads’ for this month and beyond, of course.

For Adults:

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot 

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the effects of the atom bomb; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Roots by Alex Haley

The monumental two-century drama of Kunta Kinte and the six generations who came after him. By tracing back his own roots, Haley tells the story of 39 million Americans of African descent. He has rediscovered for an entire people a rich cultural heritage that ultimately speaks to all races everywhere, for the story it tells is one of the most eloquent testimonials ever written to the indomitably of the human spirit.

Native Son by Richard Wright

The novel tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, an African American living in utter poverty. Bigger lived in Chicago’s South Side ghetto in the 1930s. Bigger was always getting into trouble as a youth, but upon receiving a job at the home of the Daltons, a rich, white family, he experienced a realization of his identity. He thinks he accidentally killed a white woman, runs from the police, rapes and kills his girlfriend and is then caught and tried. “I didn’t want to kill”, Bigger shouted. “But what I killed for, I am! It must’ve been pretty deep in me to make me kill.”

The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley

The Autobiography of Malcolm X is an account of the life of human rights activist Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little (1925–1965). It begins with an incident during his mother’s pregnancy and describes his childhood in Michigan, the death of his father under questionable circumstances, and his mother’s deteriorating mental health that resulted in her commitment to a psychiatric hospital.Little’s young adulthood in Boston and New York City is covered, as is his involvement in organized crime that led to his arrest and subsequent eight- to ten-year prison sentence, of which he served six and a half years (1946–1952). The book addresses his ministry with Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam (1952–1963) and his emergence as the organization’s national spokesman. It furthermore documents his subsequent disillusionment with and departure from the Nation of Islam in March 1964, his conversion to orthodox Sunni Islam, his pilgrimage to Mecca, and his travels in Africa. After Malcolm X was assassinated in New York’s Audubon Ballroom in February 1965, Haley summarized the last days of Malcolm X’s life in the Autobiography’s 74-page epilogue.

Makes Me Wanna Holla: A Young Black Man In America by Nathan McCall

 In this “honest and searching look at the perils of growing up a black male in urban America” (San Francisco Chronicle), Washington Post reporter Nathan McCall tells the story of his passage from the street and the prison yard to the newsroom of one of America’s most prestigious papers. “A stirring tale of transformation.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The New Yorker.

Until next time…
Happy reading.

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