Washington Area Women's Foundation

12 Inspirational Reads for Black History Month

Black History Month is a special time in February dedicated to honoring the rich history, culture, and influences of Black Americans throughout our nation’s history. It is also a time to celebrate the voices that have and continue to pave pathways that inspire and create spaces for global change.

This Black History Month, The Women’s Foundation is excited to share twelve (12) of our staff’s favorite reads written by some of the most brilliant Black writers and thinkers.

Check them out below, and let us know what you think!

All About Love: New Visions – bell hooks

All About Love breaks down why love remains elusive for many of us. From our flawed understanding of what love is to our misguided expectations of romantic love, author bell hooks examines common barriers to love and explains the steps individuals need to take for society to become more loving and nurturing.

Finding Me – Viola Davis

Finding Me is EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards) winning actress Viola Davis’ story, in her own words, and spans her incredible, inspiring life, from her coming-of-age in Rhode Island to her present day. It is a deep reflection, a promise, and a love letter of sorts to self. 

Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing is a story of race, history, ancestry, love, and time that traces the descendants of two sisters torn apart in eighteenth-century Ghana and their descendants through eight generations: from the Gold Coast to the plantations of Mississippi, from the American Civil War to Jazz Age Harlem. The novel shows how the memory of captivity has been inscribed on the soul of our nation.

How the Word is Passed – Clint Smith

How the Word is Passed examines the legacy of slavery in America and how both history and memory continue to shape our everyday lives.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption – Bryan Stephenson

Just Mercy is a powerful true story about Bryan Stevenson, a young lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative—a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. It is a story about the potential for mercy to redeem us and a clarion call to fix our broken justice system.

The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois – Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois is the 2021 debut novel by American poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. It explores the history of an African-American family in the American South, from the time before the American civil war and slavery, through the Civil Rights Movement, to the present.

The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart – Alicia Garza

In The Purpose of Power, Co-Founder of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, Alicia Garza, combines immense wisdom with political courage to inspire a new generation of activists, dreamers, and leaders. It’s a story of galvanizing people to create change; an insight into grassroots organizing to deliver basic needs – affordable housing, workplace protections, and access to good education – to those locked out of the economy by racism.

Seven Days in June – Tia Williams

With its keen observations of creative life in America today, as well as the joys and complications of being a mother and a daughter, Tia Williams’ Seven Days in June is a hilarious and romantic story of two writers discovering their second chance at love. 

The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth of Other Suns sheds new light on the story of the Great Migration—the movement of Black Americans out of the Southern United States to the Midwest, Northeast, and West from approximately 1915 to 1970—through the stories of three individuals: Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson Starling, and Robert Pershing Foster. It shows just how dramatically American culture has been changed, and continues to be changed, because of it.

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves – Glory Edim

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves is a collection of inspiring essays by Black women on the importance of recognizing themselves in literature. Each contribution to the anthology is thoughtful and thorough and creates both a time capsule and an artifact of memories in literature. 

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matters Memoir – Patrisse Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele

When They Call You a Terrorist is a reflection on humanity. It is an empowering account of survival, strength, and resilience and a call to action to change the culture that declares innocent Black life expendable.

You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience and the Black Experience – Tarana Burke and Dr. Brené Brown

This anthology brings together a dynamic group of Black writers, organizers, artists, academics, and cultural figures to discuss the topics that Burke and Brown have dedicated their lives to understanding and teaching – vulnerability and shame resilience. It is a space to recognize and process the trauma of white supremacy, a space to be vulnerable and affirm the fullness of Black life and Black possibility, and a space that gives Black humanity breathing room.