Fiction & Poetry
Dana, a young black woman is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.
The poems Hughes wrote celebrated the experience of invisible men and women: of slaves who "rushed the boots of Washington"; of musicians on Lenox Avenue; of the poor and the lovesick; of losers in "the raffle of night." They conveyed that experience in a voice that blended the spoken with the sung, that turned poetic lines into the phrases of jazz and blues, and that ripped through the curtain separating high from popular culture. They spanned the range from the lyric to the polemic, ringing out "wonder and pain and terror—and the marrow of the bone of life."
Legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.
In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.
Morrison reflects on the themes that preoccupy her work and increasingly dominate national and world politics: race, fear, borders, the mass movement of peoples, the desire for belonging. What is race and why does it matter? What motivates the human tendency to construct Others? Why does the presence of Others make us so afraid?
Artstor Public Image Collections
Artstor’s Public Collections about the history and culture of African Americans. These collections are freely available to everyone everywhere. Collections include audio clips, photographs, newspaper clippings and more.
Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir about a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a
place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears.
Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling.
Fiction & Poetry
Invisible Man / Ralph Ellison (1952)
Written in the politically and socially turbulent 1940s, Invisible Man is one of the definitive novels of the African-American experience; it is also one of the definitive novels for all Americans. The issues Ellison so powerfully addresses are those that confront everyone who lives in the modern world: not only racism but the very question of personal identity, our frustrated impulse to assert ourselves in a world which is metaphorically blind.
Main Collection PS3555 .L625 1980
Black voices from prison / by Etheridge Knight and other inmates of Indiana State Prison. (1970)
A collection of prison poetry from Knight and his fellow inmates while serving his eight year sentence for robbery in 1960.
Main Collection PS508.N3 K6 1970
Their Eyes Were Watching God / Zora Neale Hurston (1937)
Their Eyes Were Watching God tells the story of Janie Crawford’s evolving selfhood through three marriages. Light-skinned, long-haired, dreamy as a child, Janie grows up expecting better treatment than she gets until she meets Tea Cake, a younger man who engages her heart and spirit in equal measure and gives her the chance to enjoy life without being a man’s mule or adornment.
Main Collection PS3515.U789 T639 1990
Set in post–Civil War Ohio, it is the story of Sethe, an escaped slave who has lost a husband and buried a child; who has withstood savagery and not gone mad. Sethe, who now lives in a small house on the edge of town with her daughter, Denver, her mother-in-law, Baby Suggs, and a disturbing, mesmerizing apparition who calls herself Beloved.
Main Collection PS3563.O8749 B4 1988