The State Hornet

Four books to read this Black History Month

Khanlin Rodgers - The State Hornet

Khanlin Rodgers - The State Hornet

Khanlin Rodgers, Culture editor

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Black History Month is upon us once again. The recurrence of the month dedicated to African-American history in addition to the current state of racial and political tension in this country make now the perfect time for readers to add some of the most celebrated books in African-American literature to their personal libraries. These books will educate, entertain, and help people gain insight on the African-American experience in America.

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Image courtesy of Random House

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” tells the story of an unnamed African-American male whose skin color makes him “socially invisible” to the majority of society. The main character finds himself in unexpected situations such as underground fight clubs with college scholarships on the line while simultaneously navigating through the social issues faced by African-Americans in the early 20th century. Because of its somewhat surreal nature, you could think of it as the “Get Out” of 1952.


Image courtesy of Houghton Mifflin

Black Like Me

This true story was written by journalist John Howard Griffin and is a recounting of his experience living as an African-American under racial segregation in 1959. Griffin, being a white male, begins his story with a procedure he had done at a friend’s house in New Orleans in order to have his skin darkened and pass as African-American so that he could gain a better understanding of what life in the South was like for people of color.


Image courtesy of Random House

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou’s autobiography is about the early years of her life from the ages of 3 to 16. The first book in the seven-part coming-of-age tale begins with Angelou moving to Stamps, Arkansas and ends after the birth of her first child. Throughout the book, Angelou portrays her own transformation from a fearful girl with an inferiority complex to a woman who isn’t afraid to stand up for herself in the face of prejudice and racial inequality.


Image courtesy of Doubleday

Roots: The Saga of an American Family

Published in 1976, “Roots: The Saga of an American Family” is a novel by Alex Haley that became very popular during its time. Within a year of being published in 1976, ‘Roots’ had already been adapted into a mini-series on ABC that had received 37 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won nine of them. The book begins in 18th century Africa and tells the story of a boy named Kunta Kinte who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. As the title suggests, the story develops and the reader experiences 150 years of slavery through the eyes of Kunta Kinte, his family and descendants. Eventually, the story leads to the author himself as he is also one of the descendants of the original main character.

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