02-10-2023 / Booksio Staff
Black History Is American History

At Booksio, we’re taking the entire month to celebrate everything about Black American lives, culture, and history. Our February Featured Cause is Black Lives Matter, and you can learn more about how your everyday purchases can help some worthy causes.

In recent years, some politicians have used easy catch phrases like “critical race theory” and “wokeism” to gain easy political points and cheap media attention. Recently, the Florida Department of Education went so far as to remove AP African American Studies classes from its schools. These culture wars detract and distract from the legitimate and fundamental incorporation of African-American history into American society’s understanding of who we are. Put simply, Black history is American history and should be recognized as such.

We would like to share five books on African-American history we feel are absolutely fundamental to understanding where we have come from and where we are going as a nation. Some of these books are well-known bestsellers, some are classics, some are brand new – all will expand your understanding of what it means to be Black, American, and human.


The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones

The 1619 ProjectCreated by Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones, The 1619 Project reframes our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. Weaving together eighteen essays along with works of fiction and thirty-six poems, this book contextualizes the systems of race and caste within which we operate today, revealing long-glossed-over truths around our nation's founding and construction. A must-read!


The Soul of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

Originally published in 1903, Du Bois’s work remains a groundbreaking sociological study of African-American race and culture. Composed of fourteen essays, the book examines Black folk through social, political and economic history, religion and education, psychology, music, autobiography and fiction. Not only a scholar, but also a political organizer and one of the founders of the NAACP, Du Bois drew from his own experiences to develop this landmark work of American society.


Four Hundred Souls by Ibram X Kendi and Keisha N. Blain

A New York Times bestseller and considered a Best Book of 2022 by a dozen publications, the editors of this book assemble ninety brilliant writers each of whom covers a five-year period starting in 1619 when the first Africans arrived in America in bondage through to the present day. Collected into a one-volume “community” history, the individual essays consider themes of resistance and struggle, of hope and reinvention while encouraging us to reinvent ways we think about the past and consider our collective future.  


Black Against Empire by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin

Published in 2016 on the fiftieth anniversary of the Black Panthers’ founding, the authors employ twelve years of meticulous archival research to cut through the mythology and obfuscation, revealing the political dynamics that drove the explosive growth of this revolutionary movement and its disastrous unraveling. Black against Empire is the first comprehensive overview and analysis of the history and politics of the Black Panther Party and a must-read for understanding this critical point in the Civil Rights story. 


Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman

Focusing on the intimate lives of early twentieth-century Black women in New York and Philadelphia, the author critically examines what it meant for women to be “free” in northern cities where they constantly experienced the policing of their bodies and desires. Melding imagination and rigorous historical research, Hartman credits these radical women with shaping a cultural movement that transformed the urban landscape. Beautifully written and provocative, you will not be able to put this book down. 

For more books on Black history and culture, check out this month’s Booksio Recommends emails where we will feature a different aspect of what makes Black Lives Beautiful.