Though it's a history that should be celebrated all year round, EW has compiled a list of new books worth reading this February in honor of Black History Month.

By Seija Rankin
February 03, 2021 at 02:07 PM EST
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Robert Jones Jr. —who also runs the social justice blog Son of Baldwin — crafts a breathtakingly beautiful and tragic story about two young Black men falling in love in the midst of their enslavement on a cotton plantation in the American South. The relationship between Samuel and Isaiah offers a glimmer of hope while also illuminating even further all the ways in which they're dehumanized. 

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An anthology of artistic Black excellence — with photography, poetry, recipes, memes, and more — this collection sets out to answer the question: What does it mean to be Black and alive right now?

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The journalist's latest book was inspired by a speech given by Harry Belafonte in which he asked, "Where are the radical thinkers?" His answer lies in The Devil You Know's call to action urging Black descendants of the Great Migration North to return to the South and concentrate political power in the red states. 

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Cicely Tyson's memoir, released just days before her death at the age of 96, is a gift. For years Tyson had dismissed requests to write about her life, and what she left behind is a testament to her legacy, writing in her introduction, “I am a daughter and mother, a sister, and a friend. I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by His hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.”

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The latest collection from Nikki Giovanni uses her verse to explore racism and white nationalism. 

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Mychael Denzel Smith examines the liberal reaction to the 2016 election results, offering the reckoning that he believes is necessary before America can truly move forward. 

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This in-depth, illuminating tome puts the history in Black History Month — it details the stories of the African community in the States from 1619 to the present day. 

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This satirical novel is already a New York Times best-seller, and its author Mateo Askaripour was one of EW's picks for our annual Breaking Big list, but it's not too late to pick up a copy. Black Buck takes on start-up culture, White supremacy in the workplace, and capitalism all in a highly readable form. 

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Barack Obama's historic election in 2008 is the impetus for this family saga that explores, among many other things, racial and class politics in rural Indiana. 

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Nadia Owusu explores the geopolitical, geological, and psychological traumas that have marked her young life, from moving between countries across Africa and Europe as the daughter of a United Nations employee to her estrangement from her mother and her father's eventual death, as well as living through a civil war in Ethiopia and the 9/11 attacks (to name a few!).

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We assume that A Promised Land is on everyone's must-read list (if you haven't tackled it already), but for more Obama content head straight to this collection of rarely seen (and some never-before-seen) shots from his time before he was president.

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This groundbreaking biography about Malcolm X was started by author Les Payne, and finished by his daughter Tamara after his death. They both won the 2020 National Book Award.

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Fan-favorite YA author Angie Thomas expands her Garden City literary universe with this prequel, which follows Maverick Carter (Starr's father) as a teenager. 

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This celebration of Black excellence — musicians, writers, artists, scientists, journalists, and more — by Shani Mahiri King is aimed at children, though adults will have much to glean from it as well.

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