February marks Black History Month in the US, and together with the Black Lives Matter movement, LibriVox has risen to put out more books by African Americans. Delve into a truly black part of world history with 10 gems from our catalog.
To understand the root of the evil, let’s follow British actress Fanny Kemble as she moves to the American South after her marriage. Growing sensible to the plight of slaves, she published her Journal of a Residence on a Georgian Plantation after the end of the Civil War.
Paul Laurence Dunbar had many tales to tell, and 20 of his short stories are collected in The Strength of Gideon and Other Stories. They are written in a dialect used by African Americans of that time and provide interesting insights.
Some things take time, as a black Homesteader in the Dakotas finds out. In love with the white Agnes, he still marries a black woman. However, when the marriage fails and he returns to Agnes, things have changed drastically in the novel by Oscar Micheaux.
When a young man finds out that he is of mixed race after all, his whole world falls apart. In the novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, James W. Johnson leads his protagonist onto a trip of self-discovery during the Reconstruction.
Fast forward to the US in the 1950s where prejudice against black people was still rampant in much of the country, especially in the South. J. Saunders Redding tells his very own story On Being a Negro in America.
After race riots in 1967, President Johnson installed the Kerner Commission to conduct an investigation. The Commission’s Report finds that “our nation moves towards a black and white society, separate and unequal…” but ends on the positive note that this “is not inevitable.”
Not to be negative, but can you write a comedy about slaves, kidnapping, rape? Terence, himself a slave in ancient Rome, definitely thought so when he penned Eunuchus: The Eunuch back in 200 BC. Different times, different places…
… and yet, everything’s the same. Antonio de Castro Alves wrote about slavery and the exploitation of the black race in Brazil. Os Escravos is a collection of 34 of his poems.
Alice Dunbar Nelson sees slavery through the eyes of women. Violets and Other Tales is a collection of 22 poems and short stories, and sone of them have a decidedly feminist outlook.
We don’t know if Pauline E. Hopkins was a feminist or not. But Hagar’s Daughter was groundbreaking: Maid Venus Johnson becomes the first black female detective as she investigates the murder of a white woman in this first African American mystery novel.
Enjoy – and let’s make the world a good one for everyone!