On June 19th, 1865, Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas and announced that all enslaved Black people in the state were free by executive decree. Known as Juneteenth, the day serves as America’s second Independence Day. You can celebrate this powerful moment of history by supporting Black independent authors who write about what it truly means to be equal and free in America.
My Sweet Black by T.S. Holmes III
(Poetry, African American & Black)
Juneteenth encourages both celebration and introspection – and this book beautifully encompasses that dichotomy of action. My Sweet Black is a powerful poetry publication written by T.S. Holmes III that takes readers on a journey that celebrates personhood and has bold undertones of hard truths.
Throughout this breathtaking book, Holmes sheds light on the Black experience as he has known it – and certainly spares no details in the process. It terrifically reflects the highs and lows of life’s realities while celebrating, honoring, and offering unapologetic insight into the Black experience.
The Day God Came by T. Berry
(Young Adult Fiction)
Although written with younger readers in mind, this is a thought-provoking book that all people will appreciate. This historical fiction story describes how a prayerful Black woman maintained her family’s strength during their years in slavery. The book is told through the perspective of her young son and is both incredibly hopeful and powerful.
The Day God Came educates young readers about the horrific history of slavery in the United States. But it is far more than a historical chronicle. It also highlights the power of community, resilience, and faith.
An American Daughter of Brown by Bari S. Robinson
(Fiction, African American & Black / Historical)
In this enthralling coming-of-age novel, author Bari S. Robinson takes you back to the middle of the 20th century. Set in 1955 in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education, the book chronicles the life of Lauren Sullivan, a middle-class African American girl who reluctantly participates in the integration of an elementary school in her midwestern American city. Having come from a previously all Black school with teachers who recognized her gifts and talents, she is thrust into an all-white school where she is primarily ignored.
Throughout the story, she learns to navigate racism and injustice, and must learn to live and love in a world that does not always love her back. This is a tremendous novel that addresses core issues plaguing the United States while demonstrating what it means to have a place in America as a Black woman.
Juliet: From Slavery to Inspiration by Jesse L. Russell
(History, United States / 19th Century)
This historical book introduces you to a woman named Juliet – a freed slave living in Virginia. Despite her liberation, she finds her freedom contested in an 8 yearlong court battle from 1848-1856 ending with Juliet and her family being sold to the highest bidder.
Throughout this book, you follow her remarkable fight for freedom and experience the tragedies she was forced to endure. Juliet is a story of struggle, perseverance, and hope. It is written as a historical novel based on real events and people. Despite the unthinkable scenario it presents, it ends on a hopeful note that is certain to leave you delighted and inspired.
Shackles of a Freeman: The Untold Story of Lewis Sheridan Leary by Don Alexander
Shackles of a Freeman takes readers on a journey through a time when the United States was deeply divided – and on the verge of tearing itself apart. Inspired by real events and people, the book tells the story of Lewis Sheridan Leary, a free Black-American from the south in the 1850s. Despite growing up in a wealthy, free family, he could not escape the brutal grasps of slavery in the South.
Guided by his unwavering friendship with a slave named Luke and settling in the anti-slavery town of Oberlin, Ohio, Lewis becomes a freedom fighter and a skilled conductor on the Underground Railroad. This book tells his story and how he must rise to the challenge in the fight to end slavery in America. Don Alexander demonstrates his brilliant literary abilities in the telling of this story as he carefully adds layers and depth to a captivating protagonist.
If you’d like to learn more about Don Alexander and his must-read new book, you can visit his website.
Future of Memphis by Marc A. Jackson
(Fiction, African American & Black / Historical)
Although fictional, Future of Memphis does an excellent job conveying the political and emotional landscape of American in the 19th century. The book tells the story of a young Black man who was born in the 1850s in Memphis, Tennessee to free Black parents.
An unusual alliance thrusts him into various adventures with consequences that further shape his life and maturity. In part, the book is a coming-of-age adventure of an exceptional trio of teens who seek to understand what promise a post-Civil War America holds for each of them. Parallel to this storyline is a well-documented history of American political and social upheaval that transpired during that time.
Black and White by Dorothy Logan
(Political Science, Civil Rights)
Written by Dorothy Logan, the author of The Unraveling, this is a thoughtful reflection on critical race theory, freedom, and what it means to be an American. The book shares a powerful perspective on American history and asserts why everyone should be celebrating Juneteenth.
Throughout the pages, the author re-examines the Declaration ideals of equality, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. She also addresses (and offers alternatives) to the prevailing narratives of “both sides” regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion.