Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
Various editions available at Polk Library
A masterpiece of African American literature, Frederick Douglass's Narrative is the powerful story of an enslaved youth coming into social and moral consciousness by disobeying his white slavemasters and secretly teaching himself to read. Achieving literacy emboldens Douglass to resist, escape, and ultimately achieve his freedom. After escaping slavery, Douglass became a leader in the anti-slavery and women’s rights movements, a bestselling author, and U.S. diplomat.
Harriet A. Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
Like Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Jacobs's narrative highlights the intricately intertwined issues of race, class, and gender surrounding American slavery. Jacobs's struggle to be near her children provides a useful comparison to the quest for freedom in Douglass's narrative, and the text's history (most notably Jean Fagan Yellin's work to recover Jacobs's text and to authenticate details of her life) provides an important example of the struggle for memory often at the heart of African American studies.
W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk.
Du Bois was a sociologist, prophet, novelist, activist, and wrote with prophetic voice about race, education, leadership, religion, and dreams in this collection of essays. Widely praised at the time, and considered a classic statement.
Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi.
This is an autobiography of a woman who grew up in a small town in Mississippi. More ambitious and determined than her siblings, Anne constantly questioned the extreme racism of her surroundings, and eventually joined the Civil Rights movement. A great way to get a first hand look at Jim Crow society, the direct action of the freedom struggle, and the eventual frustrations with the movement.
Malcolm X, The Autobiography of Malcolm X
E185.97.L5 A3 1992
Gripping autobiography of Malcolm Little, who grew up in Michigan and made his way to large towns, a life of crime, a prison conversion to the Nation of Islam, then a leadership position and assassination.
Danielle L. McGuire. At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance- A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power.
Long before Rosa Parks became famous for resisting Jim Crow laws, she was engaged in advocating for social justice for black women who were the victims of sexual violence at the hands of white men. Historian McGuire aims to rewrite the history of the civil rights movement by highlighting sexual violence in the broader context of racial injustice and the fight for freedom. Parks worked as an investigator for the NAACP branch office in Montgomery, Alabama, specializing in cases involving black women who had been sexually assaulted by white men––cases that often went untried and were the political opposite of the allegations of black men raping white women ending in summary lynching with or without trials. McGuire traces the history of several rape cases that triggered vehement resistance by the NAACP and other groups, including the 1975 trial of Joan Little, who killed a white jailer who sexually assaulted her. Despite the long tradition of dismissing charges brought by blacks against whites, several of the cases ended in convictions, as black women asserted their right to be treated justly. --Vanessa Bush, Booklist.com