The Black Experience Recommended Reading and Films for Adults and Young Adults

A= Audiobook – Overdrive   E=eBook – Overdrive   P=Print book   A-H=Hoopla Audio Book

M-H Hoopla Movie   BOCD=EIPL Book on CD    LP=EIPL Large Print Book   DVD=EIPL DVD

How to be an Antiracist / Ibram X. Kendi               A, E, & P

Combines ethics, history, law, and science with a personal narrative to describe how to move beyond the awareness of racism and contribute to making society just and equitable.

Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People about Race / Reni Eddo-Lodge          E & P

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote on her blog about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. Her words hit a nerve. The post went viral and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own experiences.

Between the World and Me / Ta-Nehisi Coates                  A, E, P, BOCD, & LP

Coates takes readers along on his journey through America’s history of race and its contemporary resonances through a series of awakenings–moments when he discovered some new truth about our long, tangled history of race, whether through his myth-busting professors at Howard University, a trip to a Civil War battlefield with a rogue historian, a journey to Chicago’s South Side to visit aging survivors of 20th century America’s ‘long war on black people,’ or a visit with the mother of a beloved friend who was shot down by the police.

Born a Crime: stories from a South African childhood / Trevor Noah        A, E, & P

Noah tells his coming of age story with his larger-than-life mother during the last gasps of apartheid-era South Africa. Noah was born illegal–the son of a white, Dutch father and a black Xhosa mother, who had to pretend to be his nanny or his father’s servant in the brief moments when the family came together.

Slavery by Another Name: the re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II / Douglas A. Blackmon            E & P

A sobering account of a little-known crime against African Americans, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today. From the aftermath of the Civil War through the dawn of World War II, under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests.

How Not to Get Shot: and other advice from white people / D.L. Hughley             A, E, BOCD, A-H

From comedian D.L. Hughley, one of the original kings of comedy, comes a cutting satire of race relations in the age of Trump and Black Lives Matter.

So You Want to Talk About Race / Ijeoma Oluo  A, E, A-H

A current, constructive, and actionable exploration of today’s racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that readers of all races need to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide.

The Souls of Black Folk / by W.E.B. Du Bois           A, E, P, A-H, & E-H

Du Bois dares as no one has before to describe the magnitude of American racism and demand an end to it. He draws on his own life for illustration, from his early experiences teaching in the hills of Tennessee to the death of his infant son and his historic break with the conciliatory position of Booker T. Washington.

Just Mercy: a story of justice and redemption / Bryan Stevenson                              A, E, & P

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Recommended Movies

If Beale Street Could Talk             DVD + Blu Ray

A timeless love story set in early 1970s Harlem involving newly engaged nineteen-year- old Tish and her fiancé Fonny who have a beautiful future ahead. But their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Now the pair and their families must fight for justice in the name of love and the promise of the American dream.

I am not Your Negro       DVD + M-H

Master documentary filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin’s original words and a flood of rich archival material. A journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter.

Selma                   DVD

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historical struggle to secure voting rights for all people. A dangerous and terrifying campaign that culminated with an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1964.

The Hate U Give               DVD + Blu Ray

Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr tries to find her voice in order to stand up for what’s right.

Dear White People         DVD

A sharp and funny comedy about a group of African-American students as they navigate campus life and racial boundaries at a predominately white college. A sly, provocative satire about being a black face in a white place.

Slavery by Another Name            M-H

Slavery By Another Name challenges one of America’s most cherished assumptions – the belief that slavery in the US ended with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – by telling the harrowing story of how in the South, a new system of involuntary servitude took its place with shocking force.

King: Man of Peace in a Time of War                      M-H

A rare and candid TV interview with Martin Luther King – unseen in 40 years – is the centerpiece of this timely tribute, featuring exclusive interviews with such notables as Jesse Jackson and Colin Powell that provide fresh insight into the life and personality of the late civil rights leader.

12 Years a Slave                               DVD

Based on the true story of Solomon Northup. It is 1841, and Northup, an accomplished, free citizen of New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Stripped of his identity and deprived of all dignity, Northup is ultimately purchased by ruthless plantation owner Edwin Epps and must find the strength within to survive. Filled with powerful performances by an astonishing cast, 12 Years a Slave is both an unflinching account of slavery in American history and a celebration of the indomitable power of hope.

BlacKkKlansman               DVD+Blu Ray    

Ron Stallworth, an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully managed to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan and became the head of the local chapter.

Toni Morrison: the pieces I am                  DVD

An artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of the acclaimed novelist. From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to ’70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali, from the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics, and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature.

Hidden Figures                 DVD+Blu Ray

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.

Loving                   DVD

The dramatized story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple in Virginia who married in 1958 at a time when interracial marriage was not only considered to be immoral but was also illegal. The two are arrested, and they decide to take their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to fight for their love.

42: the Jackie Robinson Story     DVD + Blu Ray

History was made in 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the professional baseball race barrier to become the first black MLB player of the modern era. 42 tells the life story of Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.

The Great Debaters

Chronicles the journey of Professor Melvin Tolson, a debate team coach who turns a group of underdog students from a small African-American college into a historically elite debate team. Inspired by a true story.

Harriet                 DVD + Blu Ray

Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, the movie tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes. Her courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.

Just Mercy          DVD + Blu Ray A powerful and thought-provoking true story follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or who were not afforded proper representation, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley. One of his first and most incendiary cases is that of Walter McMillian.

Black Enough: stories of being young & black in America  A, E, P

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more–because there are countless way to be Black enough. Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi and featuring some of the most acclaimed, bestselling Black authors writing for teens today, this is an essential collection of captivating coming-of-age stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.

A Phoenix First Must Burn: sixteen stories of black girl magic, resistance and hope / edited by Patrice Caldwell A, E, P

Black girls, including gender non-conforming individuals, star in this collection of sixteen stories of fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

Tyler Johnson was Here / Jay Coles A, E, P

When Marvin Johnson’s twin brother, Tyler, is shot and killed by a police office, Marvin must fight injustice to learn the true meaning of freedom.

Pet / Akwaeke Emezi A, E, P

In a near-future society that claims to have gotten rid of all monstrous people, a creature emerges from a painting seventeen-year-old Jam’s mother created, a hunter from another world seeking a real-life monster.

Bright Lights, Dark Nights / Stephen Emond  E, P

Walter Wilcox’s first love, Naomi, happens to be African American, so when Walter’s policeman father is caught in a racial profiling scandal, the teens’ bond and mutual love of the Foo Fighters may not be enough to keep them together through the pressures they face at school, at home, and online.

Bone by Bone by Bone / Tony Johnston P

In 1950s Tennessee, ten-year-old David’s racist father refuses to let him associate with his best friend Malcolm, an African American boy.

I’m not Dying With you Tonight / Kimberly Jones A, E, P

Told from two viewpoints, Atlanta high school seniors Lena and Campbell, one black, one white, must rely on each other to survive after a football rivalry escalates into a riot.

Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: a graphic history of women’s fights for their rights / Mikki Kendall E, P

Covering the key figures and events that have advanced women’s rights from antiquity to the modern era, this fascinating graphic novel-style primer illuminates stories of notable women throughout history and the progressive movements led by women that have shaped history.

Light it up / Kekla Magoon E, P

Told from multiple viewpoints, Shae Tatum, an unarmed, thirteen-year-old black girl, is shot by a white police officer, throwing their community into upheaval and making it a target of demonstrators.

All American Boys / Jason Reynolds, Brendan Kiely    A, E, P

When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn’s alternating viewpoints.

Stamped: racism, antiracism, and you / a remix of the National Book Award-winning “Stamped from the beginning” written by Jason Reynolds    E, P

A history of racist and antiracist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today, adapted from the National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning

Just Mercy: adapted for young adults: a true story of the fight for justice / Bryan Stevenson.  P

Bryan Stevenson recounts many and varied stories of his work as a lawyer in the U.S. criminal justice system on behalf of those in society who have experienced some type of discrimination and/or have been wrongly accused of a crime and who deserve a powerful advocate and due justice under the law.

Dear Martin / Nic Stone A, E, P

Writing letters to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seventeen-year-old college-bound Justyce McAllister struggles to face the reality of race relations today and how they are shaping him.

Lies we Tell Ourselves / Robin Talley  P

In 1959 Virginia, Sarah, a black student who is one of the first to attend a newly integrated school, forces Linda, a white integration opponent’s daughter, to confront harsh truths when they work together on a school project.

The Hate U give / Angie Thomas  A, E, P
After witnessing her friend’s death at the hands
of a police officer, Starr Carter’s life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.

On the Come up / Angie Thomas A, E, P

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip-hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill. But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral—for all the wrong reasons. Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public made her out to be.

Black and White / Paul Volponi  P

Two star high school basketball players, one black and one white, experience the justice system differently after committing a crime together and getting caught.

Black Boy / White School / Brian F. Walker  E, P

When fourteen-year-old Anthony “Ant” Jones from the ghetto of East Cleveland, Ohio, gets a scholarship to a prep school in Maine, he finds that he must change his image and adapt to a world that never fully accepts him, but when he goes home he discovers that he no longer truly belongs there either.

Electronic Resources

Islip NAACP