Black Womanhood is the exhibition catalog for a show of the same name at Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art. With over fifty full-color plates, it depicts how black womanhood has been distorted and misinterpreted by Western ideologues and by the Western aesthetic. More importantly it shows how black womanhood was originally framed from by the relevant cultures. Its well researched articles (one particularly by Ifi Amadiume) are worth volumes towards the reconstitution and reconstruction of Black womanhood—conveying its beauty and situating it respectfully within its cultural ethos. Whether college student, researcher or lay person, Black Womanhood should be in your personal library.
Following the lives of three individuals, African-Americans from the South who migrated north and west in the first half of the 20th century, THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Random House, $30) shows how this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. For many, their flight from oppression was marked not only by uncertainty but by outright danger and hostility, whether they were en route or had landed in northern or western cities. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson expertly captures the historical sweep of this great migration, but by focusing her study on just three out of the millions, she tells a story that’s dramatic and moving.
In a second collection of speeches by African-American activists, academics, and politicians, Catherine Ellis and Stephen Drury Smith provide a compilation highlighting the evolution of ideas on civil rights and the African-American identity. From Malcolm X’s 1964 “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech to Barack Obama’s 2008 “A More Perfect Union,” this collection speaks to conflicts that extend beyond race, to class, gender, and the basic organization of American society. Equally inspiring are the introductions to the speeches, which put each orator’s words into both personal and historical context. SAY IT LOUD (New Press, $35) allows readers to look through the lenses of major and minor players in the modern civil rights movement, among them Lorraine Hansberry, Shirley Chisholm, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Michael Eric Dyson. An added bonus is the CD, which has all but one speech recorded live.