These are News4’s picks for celebrating black history and diversifying your library.
“Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou
Shawn Yancy of News4 describes Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” as a poem that “encapsulates what it means, or what it is to be a woman”.
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curvature of my lips.
I’m a woman
“To me, it’s kind of like her anthem to celebrate pride in being a woman, a black woman,” Shawn said. “It’s a celebration of identity, self-love, self-confidence, self-acceptance, it’s about being a phenomenal woman.”
“John Henry Days” by Colson Whitehead
Colson Whitehead’s “John Henry Days” follows two timelines: one in the past which is the story of John Henry, an American folk hero; and one in the present which follows a black journalist, J. Sutter, covering the John Henry Days festival.
The novel, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, “explores the parallels between lives of these two men, and between the industrial age, which literally killed John Henry, and the digital age, which destroys the soul of J. Sutter.”
News4’s Aimee Cho commends the novel for being inventive, creative, and hilarious. “Colson Whiteheads’ writing really pulls you in, makes you feel like you’re in the moment,” she said.
“Goodnight Stories for Wayward Girls: 100 Real-Life Stories of Black Girl Magic”
This episode of the “Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls” series is filled with “Black Girl Magic.” By telling dozens of stories of black women and girls around the world, the book “is designed to recognizeapplaud and amplify the incredible stories of black women and girls past and present.”
Some women included are Aretha Franklin, Naomi Osaka, Toni Morrison, Ava DuVernay and Ida B. Wells.
The front is written by Cashawn Thompson, from Washington, DC, who coined the term “Black Girl Magic” to celebrate the achievements of black women.
News4’s Tracee Wilkins recommends this book as a favorite with her 7-year-old daughter.
“It’s very important to me that when she opens her book, she sees images she can relate to and stories that help spark her imagination about her own possibility as a young black girl,” a- she declared.
“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett
Brit Bennett’s “The Vanishing Half” is a novel about a pair of twin sisters – one living her life as a black woman and the other as a white woman.
News4’s Jummy Olabanji recommends this family romance in which Bennett asks this question“What will happen to the next generation when their own daughters’ stories intersect?”
“The Mothers” by Brit Bennett
Because of “The Vanishing Half”, Jummy also covered “The Mothers” by Brit Bennett.
Bennett’s debut novel begins with a secret set in a contemporary black community in Southern California. It is described as a story of “community, love and ambition”, after a teenage pregnancy of a teenage romance has had a “an impact that goes far beyond their youth.”
“Bibliophile: diverse spine”
If you want to diversify your playlist, this one is for you.
“This is a great little book bible to have if you really like supporting various authors,” says Jummy.
This richly illustrated book is a list of various books by black authors as well as Asian-American, Hispanic, and LGBTQ+ writers.
“Me Too” by Langston Hughes
News4’s Melissa Mollett describes Langston Hughes’ “I Too” as the poem that has touched her the most since she read it in elementary school.
“I just remember it was very impactful even at that age,” Melissa says. “I realized it was sad, but I didn’t fully understand it. I also felt like some parts towards the end were maybe a bit hopeful.”
I will be at the table
When the business comes.
No one will dare
“Eat in the Kitchen”