In most of the public schools in this country the vast majority of what children learn when they open their textbooks provides them with a skewed look at this nation’s history, and provides them with a very narrow cannon of American literature. To be frank, children learn history as told by a White man, with a sprinkling of guest appearances from minorities and women. Even Black history month largely focuses on the Civil Rights Movement, and even more specifically Martin Luther King, jr, Malcolm X and Rosa Parks, such that a child could easily get the impression that there were no other participants in the Movement, and no other Black history outside of the 1950s-1970s that is worth discussing.
Students are writing deep analyses on the works of Dickens and Hemingway, but will graduate high school without knowing who Ernest Gaines and Octavia Butler are, much less having read and discussed their work. It is up to the Black community to seek out our authors, support them, learn our histories, and pass on their value to our children. It is to that end that The Black Institute has compiled the Must Read List of 2012.
Our first book for the month of January comes from The Black Institute’s Person of the Year, Harry Belafonte, entitled My Song. The book is a memoir chronicling Belafonte’s life including his challenges and his triumphs, not only as an entertainer, but also as a lifelong activist. The book can be purchased online at Amazon.com, and at most major bookstores.
TBI Must Read List of 2012
2. A Lesson Before Dying - Ernest Gaines
3. DisIntegration - Eugene Robinson
4. The Complete Works of Octavia Butler - Octavia Butler
5. Makeda - Randall Robinson
6. The New Jim Crow - Michelle Alexander
7. The Black Jacobins - Cyril Lionel and Robert Jones
8. Corregidora - Gayl Jones
9. The Complete Works of Gerald Horn - Professor Gerald Horn
10. Assata - Assata Shakur
11. Linden Hills - Gloria Naylor
12. The Making of African America - Ira Berlin