theGrio’s Top 50 books to read this summer: ‘The Reckoning’

Check out the top books to read this summer that highlight meaningful reflection on African American history

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With a new federal holiday recognizing Juneteenth bucking up against legislative attacks on the historical realities of systemic racism in America, there’s never been more need for meaningful reading and reflection on African American history.

With that distressing juxtaposition in mind, here are two excellent books to start with:

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith (Memoir/History) 

“How different might our country look if all of us fully understood what happened here?” Controversial or not, slavery is essential to American identity—past, present and future.

In this hybrid combination of memoir and history, Clint Smith explores the legacies of slavery and the confederacy in America, examining how different places reckon with or neglect to acknowledge that history.

A moving and beautifully written corrective to the assault on historical reality currently underway, filtered through the perspective of a poet.

Vanguard by Martha S. Jones (History) 

Historian Martha S. Jones, offers a deep dive into an important but too often overlooked aspect of U.S. history, the role of Black women in securing voting rights for all. This is the kind of history that I wish I had access to when I was in school, and it’s especially relevant in the wake of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment.

Vanguard sheds much-needed light on an important gap in many accounts of the fight for women’s suffrage. It tells the history of the agitation and organizing that Black women did to secure political power and voting rights for themselves and all Americans.

This fight began long before Seneca Falls and continued long past the ratification of the 19th amendment, which failed to secure ballot access for many Black women in America.

Related and recommended: When the Stars Begin to Fall; Moon U.S. Civil Rights Trail (Nonfiction); The Prophets (LGBTQ Pride) and A Sitting in St. James (Historical Fiction)

Return to TheGrio Top 50 Books of Summer Main Page 

More theGrio Top 50 Book picks: Family Ties | American Art and Ideas | LGBTQ+ Pride | Black Love and Black Glamour | Spreading Our Wings | Crime and Consciousness | Historical Reckoning | Nonfiction | Thrills and Chills: Mystery/Suspense/ThrillerLove and Romance | Historical Fiction | Fiction from the Diaspora | Contemporary Fiction

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