Robert Sam Anson,
. This is a non-fiction account of the death of Edmund Ferry, a young black man taken out of the streets of Harlem and transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Perry, back home on vacation, is involved in a robbery and is shot by a policeman. The book raises many thought provoking questions, especially the role environmental influences have on us.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
. This is a lyrical and delightful autobiography. It is easy to read and students love it. Maya Angelou is a dynamic woman who is a writer, director, dancer and poet.
Go Tell It On The Mountain
. Baldwin’s autobiographical novel is very readable. Many of the students will be able to relate to his struggle with the church, personal identity, and his harsh relationship with his father.
The Diary of Miss Jane Pittman
. This is another autobiographical novel that is especially good for students because it traces the history of the civil rights movement from slavery to the space program at Cape Canaveral. The video is also excellent.
Zora Neale Hurston,
Dust Tracks on the Road
. Zora’s autobiography is an excellent choice for high school students. In it she traces her early development in an all black town through her years at Barnard studying anthropology and her role in the Harlem Renaissance. Zora was a true maverick, ahead of her time and an excellent example of a free spirit who took risks to support her creativity.
. This moving autobiography traces a young woman’s journey from her childhood in North Carolina through college and self-identity. It is particularly thought-provoking in that it shows her lack of self-esteem due to the color of her skin and her mother’s jealousy of her success.
For Colored Girls Who Have considered suicide when the
rainbow is enuf
. This semi-autobiographical play by Shange is a wonderful way to express the joys and pains of being black and female in America.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
. This book would make an excellent choice for a student who is looking for extra reading or a student who enjoys reading fiction more than non-fiction. It is an immensely readable story of Cassie who comes of age in the 1930’s. It shows her discovery of racism and her life in Mississippi.
John Edgar Wideman,
Brothers and Keepers.
This is a non-fiction account of Wideman’s own family particularly his brother who is in prison for murder. Wideman explores the role of environment plays in shaping personality and ponders why he earned a Ph.D while his brother became a convict. It is an interesting view of two different paths out of the ghetto.