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Black History Month 2023: Program on Slavery and New Non Fiction Reads


Black History Month 2023: Program on Slavery and New Non Fiction Reads

Black History Month is an annual celebration honoring the triumphs and struggles of African Americans throughout U.S. history and celebrating their rich cultural heritage.

This year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” explores how “African Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings,” since the nation’s earliest days. 

Honoring the contributions and sacrifices of African Americans who have helped shape the nation also means a reckoning with the nation’s shameful legacy of slavery.

Did you know that New Jersey, in 1866, was the last northern state to abolish slavery?

Dutch and English settlers brought the first enslaved people to New Jersey in the seventeenth century. By the time of the Revolutionary War, slavery was an established practice on labor-intensive farms throughout what became known as the Garden State. The progenitor of the influential Morris family, Lewis Morris, brought Barbadian slaves to toil on his estate of Tinton Manor in Monmouth County. 

“Colonel Tye,” an escaped slave from Shrewsbury, joined the British “Ethiopian Regiment” during the Revolutionary War and led raids throughout the towns near his former home. Charles Reeves and Hannah Van Clief married soon after their emancipation in 1850 and became prominent citizens of Lincroft, as did their next four generations.

On Feb 6 at 7pm, join author Rick Geffken as he presents stories and images of the 200 year history of African enslavement in New Jersey based on his book Stories of Slavery in New Jersey. You can register for this virtual program here.

Discover more on the subject with these new nonfiction works about African American history and heritage including slavery and the civil rights movement.  They are all available to borrow with your Livingston Library card. 

(Note: Descriptions are taken from the publishers)


African Founders : How Enslaved People Expanded American Ideals by David Hackett Fischer (also available as an audiobook on CD and as an ebook)

A brilliant synthesis of African and African-American history that shows how slavery differed in different regions of the country, and how the Africans and their descendants influenced the culture, commerce, and laws of the early United States.


Africatown : America’s Last Slave Ship And The Community It Created by Nick Tabor

In 1860, the Clotilda landed on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, illegally bringing the last group of enslaved people from Africa to the United States. After emancipation, they created their own Yoruba-speaking community, called Africatown, as chronicled in Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon.Tabor tells Africatown’s story to this day, with the community struggling to survive even as discovery of the Clotilda’s remains fires up a desire to a create a memorial to the community. 


Alabama v King : Martin Luther King Jr And The Criminal Trial That Launched The Civil Rights Movement by Dan Abrams

The defense lawyer for Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, the Selma marchers, and other civil rights heroes reveals the true story of the historic trial that made Dr. King a national hero.


American Inheritance : Liberty And Slavery In The Birth Of A Nation, 1765-1795 by Edward J. Larson

From Pulitzer Prize winner Edward J. Larson, a powerful history that reveals how the twin strands of liberty and slavery were joined in the nation’s founding. Throughout Larson’s brilliant history it is the voices of Black Americans that prove the most convincing of all on the urgency of liberty.


Bet On Black : The Good News About Being Black In America Today by Eboni K. Williams

Williams has long known that Blackness is a rich, expansive place that centers resilience, excellence, beauty, panache, and brilliance. But these notions of Blackness have long been distorted by American racism, where for generations Black folks have been expected to live a subordinate, second-class existence in the country they call home. Williams says that the good news about being Black today is that our community has unprecedented access to an array of tools to honor our Blackness however we see fit, whenever we see fit, wherever we see fit.


Black Ghost Of Empire : The Long Death Of Slavery And The Failure Of Emancipation by Kris Manjapra

In this paradigm-altering book, acclaimed historian and professor Kris Manjapra identifies five types of emancipations across the globe and reveals that their perceived failures were not failures at all, but the predictable outcomes of policies designed first and foremost to preserve the status quo of racial oppression. In the process, Manjapra shows how, amidst this unfinished history, grassroots Black organizers and activists have become custodians of collective recovery and remedy; not only for our present, but also for our relationship with the past.


Driving The Green Book : A Road Trip Through The Living History Of Black Resistance by Alvin D. Hall

An award-winning broadcaster and educator presents his experiences following the path of African Americans who traveled the country during the age of segregation using The Green Book, a guide which helped Black people travel safely.


Eating While Black : Food Shaming And Race In America by Psyche A. Williams-Forson

The author illuminates how anti-Black racism operates in the practice and culture of eating. She shows how mass media, nutrition science, economics, and public policy drive entrenched opinions among both Black and non-Black Americans about what is healthful and right to eat. Distorted views of how and what Black people eat are pervasive, bolstering the belief that they must be corrected and regulated.


The Emancipation Proclamation And Other Documents Of Freedom edited by Joanne Reams

This distinguished edition captures a pivotal moment of justice in the United States with a document that paved the way for the abolition of slavery.


A Few Days Full Of Trouble : Revelations On The Journey To Justice For My Cousin And Best Friend, Emmett Till by Wheeler Parker

The last surviving witness to the lynching of Emmett Till tells his story, with poignant recollections of Emmett as a boy, critical insights into the recent investigation, and powerful lessons for racial reckoning, both then and now.


Half American : The Epic Story Of African Americans Fighting World War II At Home And Abroad by Matthew F. Delmont

Over one million Black men and women served in World War II. Black troops were at Normandy, Iwo Jima, and the Battle of the Bulge, serving in segregated units and performing unheralded but vital support jobs, only to be denied housing and educational opportunities on their return home. Without their crucial contributions to the war effort, the United States could not have won the war.


A House Built By Slaves : African American Visitors To The Lincoln White House by Jonathan White

White illuminates why Lincoln’s then-unprecedented welcome of African Americans to the White House transformed the trajectory of race relations in the United States. Drawing from an array of primary sources, White reveals how the Great Emancipator used the White House as the stage to empower Black voices in our country’s most divisive era.


The Last Slave Ship : The True Story Of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, And An Extraordinary Reckoning by Ben Raines

The incredible true story of the last ship to carry enslaved people to America, the remarkable town its survivors founded after emancipation, and the complicated legacy their descendants carry with them to this day-by the journalist who discovered the ship’s remains.


My People : Five Decades Of Writing About Black Lives by Charlayne Hunter-Gault 

 Throughout her storied career, Charlayne has chronicled the lives of Black people in America–shining a light on their experiences and giving a glimpse into their community as never before. Though she has covered numerous topics and events, observed as a whole, her work reveals the evolving issues at the forefront of Black Americans lives and how many of the same issues continue to persist today.


Slaves For Peanuts : A Story Of Conquest, Liberation, And A Crop That Changed History by Jori Lewis

A stunning work of popular history-the story of how a crop transformed the history of slavery. Author Jori Lewis reveals how demand for peanut oil in Europe ensured that slavery in Africa would persist well into the twentieth century, long after the European powers had officially banned it in the territories they controlled.


Stayed On Freedom : The Long History Of Black Power Through One Family’s Journey by Dan Berger

 Presents a new history of Black Power by focusing on two unheralded organizers: Zoharah Robinson and Michael Simmons. Berger shows how Robinson’s and Simmons’s activism blurs the divides — between North and South, faith and secular, the US and the world, and the past and the present — typically applied to Black Power. 


A World Transformed : Slavery In The Americas And The Origins Of Global Power by James Walvin

Traces the global impacts of slavery over centuries, far beyond legal or historical endpoints, confirming that the world created by slave labor lives on today.

-Archana Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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