In honor of Black History Month, the University Libraries faculty and staff have recommended their favorite media by Black creators. Read, watch and listen this month and every month.
The CU Boulder Libraries is and always will be a place where difficult conversations on race, equity and inclusion may occur.
In addition to these titles, you can find more books by Black authors in our Popular Reading Collection, our Children’s and Young Adult Collection—available online or via contactless pickup—and our Anti-Racism Resources Guide.
Science and Engineering Librarian Emily Dommermuth speaks highly of She Came to Slay: the Life and Times of Harriet Tubman by Erica Armstrong Dunbar. “I love Dunbar's writing,” Dommermuth said. “She brings Harriet Tubman to life in this book by sharing stories and scholarship which provide depth and insight into who Tubman was and her lasting impact.”
Kate Wright, Outreach and Student Success Coordinator, recommends The Mothers by Brit Bennett. Set in a small California black community, this novel tackles social issues, heartache and growing up. “The Mothers is part coming-of-age story, part exploration of choices,” Wright explains. “Bennett’s writing style is captivating and tells the story with nuance and complexity."
Literature and Humanities Librarian Amanda Rybin Koob recommends this year's CU Boulder and Boulder Public Library’s One Read selection So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. “This book engages readers with complex race-related concepts such as privilege, intersectionality and microaggressions, while offering real-world examples and modeling introspection and vulnerability,” Koob said.
Greb Robl, Rare and Distinctive Collections Curator, enjoyed the 2018 memoir Becoming by Michelle Obama. "Becoming is a thoughtful, honest and often humorous autobiography of Michelle Obama’s life with a particular focus on her time in the White House as the First Lady between 2009 and 2017. Obama’s writing is approachable and genuine—much like I think she is in person.”
Adrienne Strock, Head of Science Spaces and User Experience/Services, recommends reading March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. This graphic novel trilogy is a memoir told through the perspective of civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis. The first book in the series follows Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama and his life changing meeting with Martin Luther King Jr.
Dean of University Libraries and Senior Vice Provost of Online Education Robert H. McDonald recommends reading “Letter From A Birmingham Jail,” an open letter defending the Birmingham protest campaign written on April 16, 1963 by Martin Lurther King Jr. “This letter evokes a time and context that needs to be considered and reconsidered over time in our discussions of race in our country,” McDonald said.
Amanda Rybin Koob also suggests Kindred by Octavia Butler. “Butler's novel about a black woman living in 1970s California transported through time and space, against her will, to the antebellum south is what Butler calls a ‘grim fantasy’ rather than science fiction,” said Koob. Within its harrowing premise, the book also speaks to subtle power dynamics and intimate manifestations of white supremacy—those moments that exist in a single look between two people, felt but so often unspoken.”
Section Lead of Digital Asset Management & Preservation Services Michael Dulock recommends The Changeling, a 2017 novel by Victor LaValle. “LaValle weaves a modern-day fantasy/horror story that reaches back to ancient legend with contemporary anxieties around fatherhood and family, racism and anxiety and relationships and legacy,” Dulock notes, though, “The less said the better.”
Head of the Howard B. Waltz Music Library Stephanie Bonjack is loving the interior design book Wild Interiors: Beautiful Plants in Beautiful Spaces by Hilton Carter. “Carter refers to himself as a ‘plant stylist.’ In his books and social media, he demonstrates how to care for plants and use them to enliven your home. He promotes gardening and design as a form of meditation and self-care in a way that resonates strongly with me.”
Romance Languages Librarian Kathia Ibacache recommends Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe. “Steptoe is a Coretta Scott King award winning illustrator,” said Ibacache. “His picture book offers detailed biographical information about painter Jean-Michel Basquiat and his striking collage-style art.”
Michael Dombrowski has high praise for anything written by author Zora Neal Hurston. He is currently reading Hurston’s novel, Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica. “Modern readers would find Hurston's views on race in the opening pages of Tell My Horse interesting as well as her later description of the treatment of women in Jamaica and Haiti," Dombrowski said.
Kate Wright recommends the TV show Insecure, a comedy/drama series created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore. “Insecure has quickly become one of my favorite TV Shows! It follows the lives of three characters (Issa, Molly and Lawrence) as they live and struggle through their post college years and navigate the complexities of being black in America.”
Greg Robl also recommends the documentary "I Am Not Your Negro" directed by Raoul Peck and based off James Baldwin’s notes and letters from his unfinished novel. “Listening to Mr Baldwin speak about the history of racism in this country made me understand the long-needed ‘coming to terms’ with racism and why it has not yet happened in America."
Collection Specialist Theresa Ortega recommends the audio series, "What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker," written and narrated by writer Damon Young. “This memoir is a series of essays which tells a poignant story of the male black experience in America today. The listener comes away with human experiences we all may relate to.”
Kate Tallman, Head of the Government Information Library, recommends the podcast Levar Burton Reads. “Who wouldn't want to sit back and get a dose of Reading Rainbow nostalgia from one of their favorite Star Trek actors?” Tallman said. “Levar Burton selects and narrates a rich selection of science fiction and fantasy written primarily by incredibly talented BIPOC authors”.
Michael Dulock has one more suggestion: Listen to the podcast Black Men Can’t Jump [In Hollywood], hosted by comedians and actors Jonathan Braylock, Jerah Milligan and James III. “The hosts get together to discuss films starring leading black actors in the context of film, Hollywood and race.” Dulock explains. “It's funny and serious and you'll get three sometimes-very-different perspectives on what these films say."