Until my life-changing conversation in August 2017, I had not done much studying of African American history. I knew about Harriet Tubman but not much more.
That has changed dramatically. I have been on an intense pursuit of learning about African Americans, past and present, since this fall. It’s been more than just a Black History Month for me; it’s been a Black History Year.
The goal of this post is to provide a list of resources to aid you in gaining an understanding of African American history and culture as well. While I hope this post is beneficial to African Americans, I especially ask whites to utilize this list. It has been my experience that whites do not naturally study this topic or get exposed to this topic in school (at least during my school days). I ask you to join me in the invaluable study of African American history and culture. It has changed my life, and I pray it will change yours as well.
I will plan to update the list over time as I come across new resources.
Here is a great starting point: Understanding Race & Reconciliation in the USA. This is a 1 hour 22 minute panel with five African American reformed pastors.
Once you’ve watched the panel, here are many additional resources that either I have already read, watched, listened to, or visited or that the pastors in the panel above have recommended. (An * beside the resource indicates it was recommended by the pastors. I’m still in the process of making it through all of those resources.) Many of these items may be available at your local library. To clarify, I am not endorsing everything espoused in these resources. I have researched to gain understanding. I pray you will do the same.
Bloodlines by John Piper (by a white Christian reformed pastor)
Our Auntie Rosa: The Family of Rosa Parks Remembers Her Life and Lessons by Shelia McCauley Keys with Eddie B. Allen, Jr. (1900s)
Minnie of Hobcaw by Harry R. Roegner (1960s)
Un-Ashamed by Lecrea (present day)
An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff (present day; New York City setting)
*Being White by Paula Harris (Additionally read literature in the genre “whiteness studies.” Before delving into literature from the African American perspective, it is necessary for whites to understand how our filter or lens of whiteness affects us.)
*Racecraft by Barbara Fields (I’ve not yet read, but the panel recommended).
*Countering The Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys, Vol. 1 by Jawanza Kunjufu (I’ve not yet read, but the panel recommended).
*Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley (and anything else by Alex Haley) (I’ve not yet read, but the panel recommended).
*The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois (and anything else by W.E.B. Du Bois)
*The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson (I’ve not yet read, but the panel recommended.)
Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips (Cumming, GA, 1912 to present)
Renovate: Changing Who You Are by Loving Where You Are by Leonce B. Crump Jr. (present day; Atlanta; written by a pastor)
*Books by James Baldwin
Unified: How Our Unlikely Friendship Gives Us Hope for a Divided Country by Senator Tim Scott & Congressman Trey Gowdy (present day; South Carolina; political)
Life in Motion An Unlikely Ballerina (young readers edition) by Misty Copeland with Brandy Colbert (present day; New York City; ballet world)
While the World Watched: A Birmingham Bombing Survivor Comes of Age During the Civil Rights Movement by Carolyn Maull McKinstry
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup and read by Louis Gossett, Jr. (1850s)
Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family by Condoleezza Rice and read by the author
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and read by the author (Not a Christian worldview but eye-opening for me as I consider various perspectives). (present day)
Dear America, The Diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson, With the Might of Angels, Hadley, Virginia, 1954 by Andrea Davis Pinkney and read by Channie Waites. (I enjoyed listening to this historical fiction with my kids).
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe and read by Buck Schirner (historical fiction; 1850s)
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson and read by the author; (present day; justice system)
The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman Performed by Sharon Washington (1930s; singer)
*Many Rivers to Cross by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (a 6 part PBS series)
*Eyes on the Prize (PBS documentary)
Racial Reconciliation by Kevin DeYoung
Diverse Picture Books (A list of picture books for kids.)
Putting Racism on the Table (all 3 parts)
Pass the Mic which is the official podcast of The Witness BCC. I have learned much from Jemar Tisby and Tyler Burns who are two African American Christian reformed men.
Understanding Race & Reconciliation in the USA (the panel I listed as a starting point)
ManUp movie (featuring Lecrae)
Trey Gowdy’s message (present day; South Carolina)
Lebron’s Response to Racism (Los Angeles)
Center for Civil and Human Rights (Atlanta, Georgia)
Hobcaw Barony (Georgetown, South Carolina)
Rosa Parks Museum (Montgomery, Alabama)
Volunteer at local places that will help you interact with African Americans and be a blessing to them in the process.
One of the most important aspects of my personal African American history education has been actually talking to African Americans about race. The resources listed here are helpful. However, it is vital that you talk one-on-one with someone of a different race about racial issues. The pastors in the initial panel listed above also pointed out the necessity of talking to those different than yourself. Most likely you will not only learn but you will also encourage that person in the process. It can be uncomfortable to broach the subject of race but often what we really want is just outside our comfort zone.
I hope this has been a helpful post as you seek to educate yourself on Black history and culture. I would love for you to share additional resources you have discovered. Thank you for your time and interest!