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47
Set on a Georgia plantation in 1832 and narrated by protagonist 47, a child born into slavery, we follow 47 as he meets a runaway slave from a nearby plantation, Tall John. Alluding to folklore, Tall John mirrors the legend of High John the…

Long Walk to Freedom
Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, recounts his life as a young political activist, prisoner, and central figure in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. In his autobiography, Mandela details his twenty-seven year…

American Daughter
Journalist Era Bell Thompson, a lasting influence on the Chicago Renaissance, has not been widely recognized for her autobiographical work. In 1947 Thompson was one of the first editors of Ebony magazine, working for the publication until her death…

Beloved
The pages of Beloved are haunted. Operating through “rememory,” an erasure of linear time, and the ghost of protagonist Sethe’s daughter, slavery is ever-present, a specter in the pages. Recent scholarship has recognized the glimpses of science…

Black Misery
Published posthumously, Langston Hughes’s final book of poems Black Misery is categorized as children’s literature. Hughes was approached by publisher Paul Eriksson in 1967 to write Black Misery, a literal blackening of children’s author Suzanne…

Blues Dancing
A modern blues novel, Blues Dancing captures the emotional aesthetic of the blues. Diane McKinney-Whetstone captures the emotional toll of love and relationships through the life of Verdi Mae. In a narrative that jumps between the 1970s and the…

Color
No discussion of the Harlem Renaissance is complete without poet Countee Cullen. Writing and publishing at the height of the renaissance, Cullen was a key figure in this literary movement. At the age of twenty-two, Cullen published Color, his very…

Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father recounts the earliest portion of President Barack Obama’s life from his childhood until he entered Harvard Law School. The memoir, praised by many authors and critics for its prose, captures Obama’s voice in his search for…

Going to Meet the Man
James Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues” first appeared in 1957 in Partisan Review, a prominent literary magazine. “Sonny’s Blues” was reprinted in Going to Meet the Man among seven additional short stories by Baldwin. Utilizing a jazz motif,…

Juneteenth
Best known as the author of the 1952 American classic Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison didn’t see most of his work published during his lifetime. Juneteenth was published as his second novel, following his death in 1994. Originally spanning over 2,000…
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