Black History Month: Final Thoughts

Lake Malawi
Lake Malawi

 

I’ve only been properly acknowledging Black History Month for a few years now. I figured a way for me to celebrate it would be through my reading choices, by reading literature from all genres all across the African diaspora. I was in particular thrilled to discover Henri Lopes from Congo and Jessie Redmon Fauset of the Harlem Renaissance (I didn’t review the book I discovered her in but I did find it very interesting:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/743072.Women_of_the_Harlem_Renaissance) . I was even more thrilled by the chance by Media Diversified to review the book Black Tudors by Onyeka which talked about Black Africans living in Tudor England. Through my exposure after publishing that article, I met (online) Miranda Kaufman, a British historian who has an amazing blog about black presence in British history. Miranda very kindly shared some fascinating links and info with me.

Also, I finally watched PBS’s Malcolm X documentary which I thought was really illuminating:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7JzlewmxPo

What I love about Black History Month is that every year I’m learning more about my heritage, I’m learning about people that school curriculums for some reason decide to omit. I think it’s clear that people from all races have contributed positively to civilization and world history and it’s a shame that we don’t see more diversity in what’s out there.

I managed to read books from Haiti, Antigua, Congo, Canada, USA and Nigeria. I’ve noticed that when it comes to Black literature I have been drawn mainly to American and Nigerian literature, I hope that will change in the future. Here is a complete list of what I read:

  • Notes of a Native Son- James Baldwin (USA)
  • Feminism is for Everyone- bell hooks (USA)
  • Male Daughters, Female Husbands- Ifi Amadiume (Nigeria)
  • Tribaliks- Henri Lopes (Congo)
  • Krik? Krak!- Edwidge Danticat (Haiti)
  • Selected Poems- Gwendolyn Brooks (USA)
  • Annie John- Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua)
  • Twelve Years a Slave- Solomon Northrup (USA)
  • I Love Myself When I’m Laughing (And Then Again When I’m Looking Mean and Impressive)- Zora Neale Hurston (USA)
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory- Edwidge Danticat (Haiti)
  • The Great Black North (Contemporary African-Canadian Poetry)- Valerie Mason-John and Kevan Anthony Cameron (Canada)

Next month is women’s month so I hope to read more books by women authors.

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5 thoughts on “Black History Month: Final Thoughts

  1. I really appreciate your thoughts and your list, Rowena. Since you mentioned reading Gwendolyn Brooks, I wanted to share an experience I had with her.

    I grew up on the South Side of Chicago, which is where she lived. When I was a child she was a well-known poet and writer, and she came to my public school to speak to my class. She read us a short story about a young African American boy who misbehaved so obnoxiously on one of Chicago’s elevated mass transit trains that an exasperated white woman pushed him out of the car, and he fell to his death. (Or at least that’s how I remember the story through the haze of many decades.)

    What I do recall clearly was the sense of grief Gwendolyn Brooks’ story made me feel at the loss of that naughty little boy. It was the first time I realized that made-up stories could create authentic emotions. I’ve never forgotten it.

    Looking forward to your comments about the books you read in March by women writers.

    1. Hi Lynn,

      Thanks for the comment! First I’d like to say that wow, you met Ms Brooks! How wonderful! Secondly, thanks for sharing that story that she shared with your class. That was a profound realization you made. It’s funny that you mention it because what has been on my mind a lot these days has been the power of storytelling. I’m reading a book about Native Canadian residential schools and the way that the Natives educated their children was through stories. Stories are definitely powerful!

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