7 History Books by BIPOC Authors

Books

Erica Ezeifedi, Associate Editor, is a transplant from Nashville, TN that has settled in the North East. In addition to being a writer, she has worked as a victim advocate and in public libraries, where she has focused on creating safe spaces for queer teens, mentorship, and providing test prep instruction free to students. Outside of work, much of her free time is spent looking for her next great read and planning her next snack.

Find her on Twitter at @Erica_Eze_.

As the writer of the In Reading Color newsletter, covering task #4 of the Read Harder Challenge (Read a history book by a BIPOC author) is especially perfect.

My picks for this task are mostly based in the U.S., and there’s a reason for that. It’s the same reason we have different heritage months that a certain group of people bemoan, and a big part of the reason we have a BIPOC literature-based newsletter in the first place — which is to say that not much BIPOC history and literature are covered correctly, if at all.

And so, a lot of the books below aren’t just supplements for learning history, but sometimes outright corrections. They include everything from an award-winning account of Indigenous peoples’ contributions to U.S. history to the history of Asians in America.

Before we get to the books, though, here’s one more reminder that we have Read Harder merch! Check it out at Book Riot’s Bonfire shop!

a graphic with the text Red Read Harder Merch! with images of shirts, mugs, hats, and more with the text Read Harder on them

Now for the recs. As with other Read Harder posts, the first two recommendations are open to everyone, and the rest are for members of the Read Harder Community: the paid newsletter membership. Make sure to join if you can! It’s cozy and we have cookies.

cover of The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History by Ned Blackhawk

The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History by Ned Blackhawk

U.S. history as a field has traditionally treated Indigenous people as a side note. In this National Book Award-winning account, Blackhawk rewrites them into the country’s story, showing how they influenced major historical events at every turn. Five centuries of history leading up to the start of the U.S. as we know it today are examined, showing, among other things, how Native nations influenced European colonizers’ actions, just as colonizers influence theirs.

cover of Illustrated Black History: Honoring the Iconic and the Unseen by George McCalman

Illustrated Black History: Honoring the Iconic and the Unseen by George McCalman

This one has been sitting on my shelf for ages, and I think it’s finally time to get into it for this task. It comes from an award-winning graphic designer and artist, and celebrates the many contributions of Black Americans to fields like politics, literature, music, science, and more. It gets into the big hitters, like Nina Simone, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and others, but also talks about the lesser-known figures, like Dr. Eliza Ann Grier, a woman born into slavery who became the first Black woman to practice medicine in the U.S., and Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her bus seat nine months before Rosa Parks. Each mini biography features original, expressive art that adds to the stories of the ancestors.


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Which book will you be reading for this prompt? Let’s trade recommendations in the comments section!

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Check out all the previous 2024 Read Harder posts here!

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