20 Nonfiction Books to Read during Black History Month and Beyond

Jan 26, 2024 2:12:00 PM / by Broadleaf Books


Black writers continue to change the world, not only by drawing attention to generational oppression and inequality in society, but by sharing far-reaching insights into culture, spirituality, family, societal issues, personal growth, and love. During Black History Month, and all year long, we celebrate the resilience, creativity, and strength of Black writers and their ability to shape and transform the world through their words. Below are powerful books that delve into the Black experience, in all its diversity and intersections.


Black Culture


Psalms of My People

lenny duncan

Publication date: January 9, 2024

If you want to understand the Black experience in the US, you have to understand hip-hop. In Psalms of My People, artist, scholar, and activist lenny duncan treats the work of hip-hop artists from the last several decades—from N.W.A, Tupac, and Biggie to Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar—like sacred scripture. Their songs and lyrics are given full exegetical treatment—a critical and contextual interpretation of text—and are beautifully illustrated, with a blend of ancient and modern art styles illuminating every page.

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American Imam

Taymullah Abdur-Rahman

Publication date: February 27, 2024

By the time he was twelve, Taymullah Abdur-Rahman was a rising pop star, recruited as part of the R&B group Perfect Gentlemen. However, after his music career peaked, Abdur-Rahman found himself back home, with little to show for his success. Seeing Islam as a way to discipline himself in an unrelenting environment, he converted. Later, in his work as the first paid Muslim chaplain at Harvard, Abdur-Rahman began to seek counsel outside of Islam, engaging with Jewish and Christian mentors who opened his eyes to the gifts of interreligious dialogue and helped lead him to what he was truly seeking: enlightenment. A sweeping narrative, American Imam weaves the contemporary Black American experience with the Black Muslim American experience and emphasizes the role of interreligious dialogue in the fight for abolition and justice.

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I Love My People

Kim Singleton

Publication date: July 11, 2023

I Love My People is a poetic tribute to African American history-makers and culture-shakers, complete with nostalgic photography and vibrant, playful illustration. In the vein of Gill Scott-Heron's poetry of the 1970s, author Kim Singleton invites us into call-and-response and brings a refreshing cadence to the page that captures every decade of Black joy in all its resilient, diverse, and excellent splendor. By the end, you'll be chanting Singleton's anthem, too: "I LOVE MY PEOPLE!"

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BL unbossed new


Khristi Lauren Adams

Publication date: March 8, 2022

Black girls are leading, organizing, advocating, and creating. They are starting nonprofits. Building political coalitions. Promoting diverse literature. Fighting cancer. Improving water quality. Working to prevent gun violence. From Khristi Lauren Adams, author of the celebrated Parable of the Brown Girl, comes Unbossed, a hopeful and riveting inquiry into the lives of eight young Black women who are agitating for change and imagining a better world. 

Also available is Black Girls Unbossed, a companion title for young readers published by our sister imprint, Beaming Books.

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Social Justice & Equality


Black Women, Ivory Tower

Jasmine L. Harris

Publication date: January 16, 2024

Black women are heading to college in record numbers, and more and more Black women are teaching in higher education. But the very structure of higher education ensures that we're still treated as guests, outsiders to the institutional family—outnumbered and unwelcome. In Black Women, Ivory Tower, Dr. Jasmine Harris shares her own experiences attempting to be a Vassar girl and reckoning with a lack of legacy and agency. Moving beyond the "data points," Dr. Harris examines the day-to-day impacts on Black women as individuals, the longer-term consequences to our professional lives, and the generational costs to our entire families.

Read an excerpt here.

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Troubling the Water

Ben McBride

Publication date: October 24, 2023

Can you imagine a future that includes your enemies? If not, what happens next? From one of the most courageous and visionary leaders of our time comes Troubling the Water, an immersive book about the violence and injustice that threaten to drown us all. With a blend of provocation and good humor, Ben McBride leads us beyond inaction and invites us to trouble the waters—speak hard truths in situations that appear calm but that cloak injustice. What results is an unforgettable manifesto—a troublemaking reverend's call to the most urgent task of our time.

Read an excerpt here.

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In Spite of the Consequences

Lacino Hamilton

Publication date: July 25, 2023

Falsely convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, Lacino Hamilton sent thousands of letters during his incarceration. After twenty-six years, including eleven years in solitary confinement, and a years-long campaign of public and political pressure, Hamilton was exonerated and released on September 30, 2020. The letters he wrote during his incarceration, advocating for his innocence—literally writing for his life—made him a leading voice on issues of abolition, imprisonment, and justice. Now collected into In Spite of the Consequences, these letters offer an incisive critique of our criminal justice system. With his voice, we sense something unexpected and profound: hope for a reimagining of our systems—a humanity-affirming model of justice.

Read an excerpt here.

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Pregnant While Black

Monique Rainford

Publication date: April 11, 2023

Despite medical advances over the last twenty years, for Black women the overwhelming dangers of carrying and delivering children remain, and it only seems to be getting worse. In Pregnant While Black, Dr. Monique Rainford begins the work of "repairing the damage of the past" with an examination of the conditions that plague Black pregnancies. This important book carries the hopes and dreams of a generation looking to effect change, here and now.

Read an excerpt here.

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Personal Growth


Radiant Rebellion

Karen Walrond

Publication date: October 17, 2023

Join Karen Walrond, author of The Lightmaker's Manifesto, in this intriguing investigation into how we can reclaim aging, cultivate joy, and resist ageism. In Radiant Rebellion, Walrond does a deep dive into dimensions of getting older, including health, beauty, spirituality, connection, adventure, and purpose. With wisdom from luminaries who light our way, she helps us radiantly rebel against the fads and assumptions that hold us back, redefine the adventure of getting older, and create a shining future of expanded potential. We might even raise a little hell while we're at it!

Read an excerpt here.

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I Wish My Dad

Romal Tune with Jordan Tune

Publication date: October 11, 2022

Romal Tune was raised mostly without a father. He and his dad connected briefly when he was a teenager, and then had no relationship for decades. He began to wonder if other men also longed to have vulnerable conversations with their fathers. So he sat down with seventeen men of diverse ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds for "I Wish My Dad" conversations. In the pages of this book, he invites us into the room as the men unpack relationships with their fathers, learn to work through emotional pain, recount moments of tenderness and care, and describe risks they took to heal and connect with their fathers. I Wish My Dad helps fathers and their sons move through the past to find deep connection in the present. 

Read an interview with Romal Tune here.

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First and Only

Jennifer R. Farmer

Publication date: July 26, 2022

A map for finding on-the-job success, challenging systemic racism, and seeking inner healing through the power of faith, First and Only is a guidebook for every Black woman who has had to work twice as hard to be perceived as half as skilled. First and Only is not just about how to lean in, or how to discover the irrefutable laws of leadership. It's about how to heal so you can sustain work for justice and equity. It's about finding personal and social redemption—and leading others to find it too.

Read an excerpt here.

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The Rise of Rage

Julie A. Christiansen

Publication date: February 13, 2024

Of all the human emotions, anger is probably the most misunderstood. Rage through the centuries has shown that anger can be a catalyst for change; it can also be a tool employed in fear by those resisting reform or trying to quell protests or advancements by other people. The Rise of Rage explores the nature of anger and conceptualizes it as a primary emotion triggered by frustrated attempts to achieve one's ends. Counselor and psychotherapist Julie Christiansen walks us through a ten-step process to effectively and safely resolve our angry feelings, helping to free us from this much-misunderstood emotion. 

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Historical Figures

BL Strength to Love

Strength to Love

Martin Luther King Jr.

Publication date: March 26, 2010

In these short meditative and sermonic pieces, some of them composed in jail and all of them crafted during the tumultuous years of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, Dr. King articulated and espoused in a deeply personal and compelling way his commitment to justice and to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual conversion that makes his work as much a blueprint for Christian discipleship today as it was then.

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What Makes You Come Alive

Lerita Coleman Brown

Publication date: February 7, 2023

Known as the godfather of the civil rights movement, Howard Thurman served as a spiritual adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders and activists in the 1960s. In What Makes You Come Alive, Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown beckons readers into their own apprenticeship with Thurman. Brown walks with us through Thurman's inimitable life and commitments as he summons us into centering down, encountering the natural world, paying attention to sacred synchronicity, unleashing inner authority, and recognizing the genius of the religion of Jesus.

Read an excerpt here.

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Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman

Therese Taylor-Stinson

Publication date: February 14, 2023

Harriet Tubman, freedom fighter and leader in the Underground Railroad, is one of the most significant figures in US history. In Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman, Therese Taylor-Stinson introduces Harriet, a woman born into slavery whose unwavering faith and practices in spirituality and contemplation carried her through insufferable abuse and hardship to become a leader for her people. Harriet's lived spirituality illuminates a profound path forward for those of us longing for internal freedom, as well as justice and equity in our communities. As the luminous significance of Harriet Tubman's spiritual life is revealed, so too is the path to our own spiritual truth, advocacy, and racial justice as we follow in her footsteps.

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You Mean It or You Don't

Jamie McGhee and Adam Hollowell

Publication date: June 14, 2022

It is not enough to hold progressive views on racial justice, LGBTQ+ identity, and economic inequality. Through a rich examination of James Baldwin's writing and interviews, You Mean It or You Don't spurs today's progressives from conviction to action, from dreaming of justice to living it out in our communities, churches, and neighborhoods.

Read an excerpt here.

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Religion & Spirituality


Hope Leans Forward

Valerie Brown

Publication date: November 8, 2022

Daily we are asked to move toward bravery, to stretch in the direction of goodness, kindness, forgiveness, patience, and vulnerability. Filled with Quaker wisdom, mindfulness meditation practices, and portraits of real people living out simple yet life-affirming bravery, Hope Leans Forward is a guidebook for all of us who are on journeys of self-transformation, self-discovery, and spiritual discernment. Centering small, everyday acts of bravery with diverse stories from marginalized communities, Valerie Brown's unique perspective as a Black Buddhist Dharma teacher in the Plum Village tradition and her extensive leadership experience shepherd us in navigating life's essential questions to discover true aliveness and meaning. 

Read an excerpt here.

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Dear Revolutionaries

lenny duncan

Publication date: February 21, 2023

When lenny duncan wrote Dear Church in 2018, they had a vision for a church that could and would reform itself into something new. After four years, a pandemic, a global uprising for racial equity, and what duncan describes as "the death of the republic" on January 6, 2021, we now live in a vastly different landscape than the one duncan wrote about previously. Casting a vision for a new spiritual future led by the people, Dear Revolutionaries offers a series of peace-building practices that will give readers the tools to build, guide, and care for spiritual community in a world beyond the church.

Read an excerpt here.

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The Enneagram for Black Liberation

Chichi Agorom

Publication date: March 29, 2022

For too long, conversations about the Enneagram and its personality types have been centered on and by whiteness. In The Enneagram for Black Liberation, certified Enneagram teacher and trained psychotherapist Chichi Agorom reclaims the Enneagram as a powerful tool for Black women to rediscover our wholeness and worth that existed long before systems of supremacy told us we weren't enough. Centering freedom, ease, and rest for Black women, Agorom invites each of us to claim the Enneagram as our tool for resilience-building in the continued fight for liberation.

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Searching for Agabus

Michael Walrond

Publication date: June 6, 2023

An overlooked background figure in the grand narrative of the apostle Paul, Agabus (Acts 21:10-14) bursts from the epistles with an audacious prophecy. In a world where everyone wants to be the main character, Agabus remains a minor one with powerful relevance for today. In Searching for Agabus, Michael Walrond dares us to learn from Agabus's story on how we can bravely be our authentic selves, honoring what God has assigned us to do, no matter how small or insignificant it seems.

Read an excerpt here.

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