Kwanzaa Gift Giving: Recommended Books

December 18, 2010

Kwanzaa gift giving underscores and highlights the imperative of education and learning. The guidelines for Kwanzaa gift giving are straightforward: the only mandatory gift for Kwanzaa is gift giving is not mandatory a book and heritage symbol. (See Kwanzaa DVD). Below is a list of recommended books for Kwanzaa gift giving.

New Books

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, Barack Obama

In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keefe to the courage of Jackie Robinson, from the strength of Helen Keller to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.

Garvey and Garveyism: The Antinomies In Black Redemption, C. Boyd James

In this copiously researched book, C. Boyd James charts and analyzes significant features of the legend of Marcus Garvey and attempts to situate Garvey and Garveyism within the perspectives of his age. This work on Garvey takes a critical look at Garvey and his movement, shedding considerable light on the many salient issues central to the subject matter.

Three Days Before the Shooting, Ralph Ellison

This is the latest Ellison product. The plot is typical Ellison, with Alonzo Hickman, the older jazzman-preacher, and the bigoted U.S. Senator Adam Sunraider, formerly known as “Bliss,” a white skinned boy raised as a Negro. Hickman tries to save the senator from himself and Severen, a manic youth abandoned by the politician, who wants to kill the hatemonger. Ellison attempts to show race is so embedded into the fabric of America that no one escapes its grasp. The story often surges along, only to stop and go off into unexpected places.

The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings,  James Baldwin, Randall Kenan

The new collection of essays is The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected Writings. The collection contains essays and speeches by Baldwin published in book form for the first time. The collection covers many topics: racism, educating black children, the past and present state of American literature, and more.

Say It Loud! Great Speeches on Civil Rights and African-American Identity, Edited by Catherine Ellis and Stephen Drury Smith

Say It Loud is titled after the classic 1969 James Brown anthem “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.” This anthology is meant to illuminate the evolution of ideas and debates pulsing through the black freedom struggle from the 1960s to the present and the way these arguments are suffused with basic questions about what it means to be black in America.

Known to Evil (2nd Leonid McGill Mystery), Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is back with the second installment of his new, magnificent Lenoid McGill Mystery series, Known to Evil. Known to Evil is a smart, fast paced, well written novel that is electric. As with The Long Fall, Mosley continues to be at the top of his game.

Freedom Summer: The Savage Season That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy, Bruce Watson

The book is an account of the summer of 1964, also known as “Freedom Summer”. Close to 1000 college students went into the belly of the beast of America’s most segregated state: Mississippi. The students were part of “Freedom Summer”. In their quest to bring literacy, the right to vote and education to the black folks in Mississippi in order to break the back of the racism that enslaved them, the students’ efforts would forever change the fabric of America.

Dark Days, Bright Nights, Peniel E. Joseph

Peniel Joseph has written a penetrating, deeply intelligent study of the importance of the Black Power movement and its lingering influence. The historical iconography surrounding Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 elections was centered on the early Selma-to-Montgomery images of the civil-rights movement, but Joseph argues for the movement’s diversity, pointing out that more radical leaders and nationalists, like Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), Amiri Baraka, and, of course, Malcolm X, despite their varying setbacks and excesses, also advanced the black freedom struggle in ways that changed American consciousness.

Glorious, Bernice L. McFadden

Bernice McFadden’s long awaited release is pure poetry. It is the era Fats Waller’s music; Marcus Garvey’s Back-to-Africa Movement and the Harlem Renaissance. Blake and Sissil’s all Negro musical hits Broadway, Easter is working as a laundress and writing stories for the Crisis Magazine under a pseudonym and Negrophilia is becoming all the rage. The women in the story remind you of women of would know today. They are strong, resilient, doing what they have to do to survive. Mixing cultural history with fiction, the author takes liberties with certain historical facts to make them fit her storyline.

Classic Black Literature

Souls of Black Folk, WEB DuBois

In this groundbreaking 1903 treatise Du Bois explains the meaning of being at the dawning of the Twentieth Century. Additionally, he analyses the meaning of and its effect, and his views on the role of the leaders of his race.  The work consists of fourteen essays on various topics, from a history of the U.S. government’s efforts at Reconstruction to a discussion of the role of religion in the black community.

Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. This novel is a soaring and exalted record of a Negro’s journey through contemporary America in search of success, companionship. It looks deeply into the problems of the human condition. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”, and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley

The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) ranks among the most important nonfiction books of the twentieth century and is a seminal work of the autobiography genre. Told in direct and affecting prose, the book follows Malcolm’s life through its many phases: his life as a zoot-suited hustler on the streets of Harlem; his rise through the ranks of the Nation of Islam; and, finally, his pilgrimage to Mecca and rethinking of his stances on racism, politics, and spirituality.

Race Matters, Cornel West

This groundbreaking classic Race Matters” affirms its position as the bestselling, most influential and most original articulation of the urgent issues in America’s ongoing racial debate. In Race Matters” West addresses a range of issues, from the crisis in black leadership and the myths surrounding black sexuality to affirmative action, the new black conservatism, and the strained relations between Jews and African Americans.

The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, Harold Cruse

The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual is one of the most influential works published after the 1960s Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. Cruse’s central augment is the failure of the black bourgeoisie, artists, and intellectuals to create autonomous black cultural institutions and scholarship fostered rather than the unhealthy reliance on white patronage.

Books for Children

A Kids Guide to African American History, Nancy L Sanders

Nancy L Sanders provides an easy to read comprehensive narrative of African American History which includes our classical history of Egypt and Timbuktu along with 70 activities.

100 African Americans Who Shaped World History, Chrisanne Beckner

This book catalogues the African American men and women whose achievements helped to shape American history.

John Henry: An American Legend, Ezra Jack Keats

A pictorial narrative of John Henry, the legendary African American who challenged the steam drill to a rock drilling contest and wins.

Coretta Scott King Award Winning Children’s Books, Various Authors

This series of books covers a wide range of African America life with an introduction to each book by Coretta Scott King.

Black Folktales, Julius Lester

Lester engages the imagination of the reader that is sure to provoke curiosity and enjoyment, capturing the oral tradition of African storytelling.

Books for Teens

The Best of Simple, Langston Hughes

Conversations with Jesse B Semple, known as Simple, cover a variety of issues in black life in a humors and insightful way. This is an enjoyable book for teens.

Manchild in the Promise Land, Claude Brown

One of the most remarkable and trilling autobiography, this book captures the tough streets of Harlem heralded as the definitive of everyday life for the first generation of African Americans raised in the northern ghetto of the 1940s and 1950s.

Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley

This begins Walter Mosley’s series on Easy Rawlins, with vivid description of Los Angeles in the 1940s. The book’s first sentence sets racial tensions in play. The novel is set in post-World-War-II Los Angeles, before the Civil Rights Movement, so Mosley includes markers of segregation and cultural alienation in his narrative. Moreover, Mosley uses the novel as a vehicle through which to explore the implications of race and racial prejudice.

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