African-American history can be viewed through many lenses. The people, events, time frame, and historic places have all contributed to the tapestry of our nation’s story. Today, as we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let’s also reflect upon the theme for February’s Black History Month: Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories. From the “stations” on the Underground Railroad and the uprising at Harper’s Ferry, to the integration of Little Rock Central High School and the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem, these places are deeply embedded in the narrative of African-American history.
We invite you to explore the Bookshare collection and learn more about the lives of Frederick Douglass, Buffalo Soldiers, civil rights activists, and many more figures and places that have defined history.
For elementary school readers:
- Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Nancy Harrison and Bonnie Bader. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 25 when he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott and was soon organizing black people across the country in support of the right to vote, desegregation, and other basic civil rights.
- What Was The Underground Railroad? by Yona Zeldis McDonough, James Bennett and Lauren Mortimer. When enslaved people chose to escape their bondage, who helped them? Where did they go? What dangers did they pass, and what feats of triumph and courage did they perform?
- Uptown by Bryan Collier. Experience the sights, sounds, and history of Harlem through a child’s eyes.
- Birmingham 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford. Remembering both the violence and the courage to withstand it experienced by civil rights activists in this crucial time and place.
- John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry by Brendan January. John Brown hoped to spur a rising among enslaved people with this raiding “army” of eighteen. While he did not succeed in the short term, this event proved to be a crucial milestone on the road to ending slavery in America.
For middle school and young adult readers:
- Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals. Memoir of the integration of Little Rock Central High School by one of the teenagers at the center of this civil rights movement struggle.
- One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. Delphine is eleven in 1968 – she wants to go to Disneyland when she visits her mother in far-off California, but other things are happening in the world and in her family.
- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs. Two classic narratives of the experience of being a slave by powerful writers.
For adult readers:
- Black Texans: A History of African Americans in Texas, 1528-1995 by Alwyn Barr. From Buffalo Soldiers to cowboys on the great cattle drives, from explorer Estevanico to legislator Barbara Jordan, Texas history has been much enriched by the contributions of African Americans.
- Death or Liberty: African Americans and Revolutionary America by Douglas R. Egerton. Sweeping history of the contributions and struggles of African Americans during the early stages of American history.
- We’ve Got A Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Y. Levinson. The author has interviewed participants in the march that included 4,000 African American students who were marching for justice.
These titles and many more bring history to life for readers of all ages. Download your favorites and go on a journey through time from the slave ships and battlefields through the civil rights movement and struggle for freedom and justice. If you are not yet a Bookshare member, sign up today so you can explore the entire collection of over 380,000 online accessible books.