African American Biography Black History Educators Fashion History

22 Books That Celebrate Lesser-Known African Americans and Their Contributions to History

Lengthy earlier than Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks etched their names into American historical past, scores of little-known people helped to proper decades-old injustices and make vital contributions to society. There are such a lot of people who find themselves typically missed throughout Black Historical past Month. That’s why it’s so necessary to ensure numerous contributions are all the time a part of our conversations about historical past.

Traditionally, many African People and their contributions have been disregarded of many American historical past books and have sadly gone unrecognized. For instance, do you know that of the estimated 35,000 cowboys who labored ranches and rode trails within the American West, 5,000 – 9,000 or extra have been Black? Do you know that Thomas L. Jennings, the inventor credited for inventing the dry-cleaning course of, was additionally the primary African American to carry a U.S. patent? The patent was issued in 1821.

There are such a lot of fascinating issues we will study concerning the contributions of African People to our society and the world. The perfect half? We will all study and share about these contributions daily — not simply in February.

I hope this record of books evokes you to rejoice those that, with out fanfare, performed key roles in American historical past.

  • Image Books

  • Raise Your Mild a Little Larger: The Story of Stephen Bishop: Slave-Explorer

    by Heather Henson, illustrated by Bryan Collier

    Seize your lantern and comply with the exceptional and world-famous Mammoth Cave explorer — and slave — Stephen Bishop as he guides you thru Mammoth Cave, the world’s largest cave system. Stephen Bishop, higher often known as the “slave explorer,” was born a slave in Kentucky round 1821. As an adolescent he was introduced by his grasp to work as a information in Mammoth Cave. Situated in southwestern Kentucky, Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system on the earth, with greater than 400 miles of mapped underground passageways.

    Though there have been a number of guides working on the cave, Stephen turned the most effective recognized information from 1838 to 1857. Even the Queen of England knew who he was! Stephen was well-known for his deep information of the cave, in addition to his intelligence and eloquence. At this time you possibly can go to Mammoth Cave and see Stephen’s and his spouse Charlotte’s names etched into the cave.

  • Hidden Figures: The True Story of 4 Black Ladies and the Area Race

    by Margot Lee Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman

    Previous to the discharge of the favored film “Hidden Figures,” Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden have been lesser-known ladies who solely just lately acquired the popularity they deserved. Now the youngest readers can learn the story of how these 4 trailblazing ladies climbed the ranks at NASA, whereas dealing with quite a few obstacles. The tales of those ladies are inspiring, shifting, and informative. This image guide is nice for any younger individual within the STEM fields.

  • A Dance Like Starlight

    by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

    If you have not learn this award-winning image ebook but, you need to! It is so lovely and lyrical with beautiful illustrations to match. Aspiring dancers ages 5-Eight will love this one! Little readers will take pleasure in studying about prima ballerina Janet Collins and the significance of her contribution to bop.

  • Ron’s Huge Mission

    by Rose Blue and Corinne Naden, illustrated by Don Tate

    Getting your personal library card is a vital ceremony of passage for little readers. However for Ron McNair, who lived within the segregated world of South Carolina within the 1950s, getting his personal library card wasn’t as straightforward as it’s for teenagers at this time.

    Based mostly on the true story of Ron McNair, future scientist and shuttle astronaut, examine how he desegregated his public library by means of the facility of peaceable resistance.

  • Take a Image of Me, James VanDerZee!

    by Andrea Loney, illustrated by Keith Mallett

    This guide is just not solely informative, but in addition superbly illustrated too. I discovered a lot about this necessary man in historical past. It tells the story of James VanDerZee and his love of the humanities, particularly images. Throughout his lifetime, photographer and artist James VanDerZee created hundreds of portraits and took greater than 75,000 footage. Years later, lengthy after James put his digital camera away because of superior know-how, the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork discovered hundreds of his pictures displaying Harlem residents. They determined to make use of the pictures for an exhibit on the historical past of Harlem referred to as Harlem on My Thoughts.

  • Between the Strains: How Ernie Barnes Went from the Soccer Area to the Artwork Gallery

    by Sandra Neil Wallace, illustrated by Bryan Collier

    Have you ever ever heard of NFL star Ernie Barnes? Previous to studying this e-book, I had by no means heard of him. Ernie liked to play soccer, however he additionally had an awesome love of the humanities, particularly portray. Following his longtime dream, Ernie left the soccer area and went on to grow to be some of the influential artists of his era.

  • Artwork from Her Coronary heart: People Artist Clementine Hunter

    by Kathy Whitehead, illustrated by Shane Evans

    Clementine Hunter was a self-taught artist who captured scenes of the backbreaking work and joyous celebrations of southern farm life. She by no means discovered to learn or write and did not like faculty, however she all the time had a love of portray. Ultimately her work discovered its approach into the New Orleans Museum of Artwork. Not dangerous contemplating she initially bought her paintings for twenty-five cents per piece and was hesitant to cost even that. At the moment her unique work are value hundreds of dollars and are bought in galleries throughout the nation. They’re additionally on everlasting show in lots of museums. Clementine painted till her final days and lived to be 100 years previous.

  • Earlier than There Was Mozart: The Story of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George

    by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome

    Earlier than there was Mozart, there was Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-George. Born on Christmas Day in 1739 on the tiny island of Guadeloupe within the West Indies, Joseph was the son of a White plantation proprietor and a Black slave. He turned referred to as probably the most gifted violin participant and musician in France earlier than Mozart was well-known. In 2001, a road, Rue du Chevalier de Saint-George, was named in his honor. An superior historic nonfiction ebook for youngsters and music lovers of all ages.

  • The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Younger Civil Rights Activist

    by Cynthia Levinson, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

    9-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks was an peculiar woman in loads of methods. She appreciated to assist her mom prepare dinner, she sang within the church choir, she went to high school, she beloved to eat ice cream, and she or he particularly beloved her mom’s recipe for decent rolls baptized in butter … yum! However being the youngest youngster to get arrested within the 1963 Youngsters’s March made her fairly extraordinary.

    The Youngest Marcher is an exquisite and essential nonfiction e-book that helps youngsters perceive they’re by no means too younger to make a distinction and alter the world. Good for studying together with your little readers throughout Black Historical past Month, Ladies’s Historical past Month, or any time of the yr.

  • Libba: The Magnificent Musical Lifetime of Elizabeth Cotten

    by Laura Veirs, illustrated by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

    Born close to Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 1893, Grammy Award Winner Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten (born Elizabeth Nevills) was an African American blues guitarist who invented “cotten choosing.” At age 11, she picked up her brother Claude’s guitar and picked the strings with the instrument the wrong way up and backwards (as a result of she was left-handed), and stored the sound in good pitch. Libba ultimately went on to play exhibits with massive names like Muddy Waters and carried out at prestigious cathedrals in London and Rome. She performed till she was nicely into her 80s. In 1984, she lastly obtained her huge break and gained the Grammy Award for “Greatest Ethnic or Conventional Recording.” Libba spent her final days in Syracuse, New York the place she died in 1987. Followers of her music may be impressed to go to the park referred to as “Libba Cotten Grove” in Syracuse, which nonetheless exists at this time.

  • Fancy Celebration Robes: The Story of Style Designer Ann Cole Lowe

    by Deborah Blumenthal, illustrated by Laura Freeman

    This e-book tells the story of little recognized African American designer Ann Cole Lowe who was most well-known for designing Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding ceremony gown. All through her lifetime, Ann battled private and social adversity as a way to pursue her ardour of creating lovely robes. Sadly, she by no means acquired the complete recognition and accolades she deserved. She died in 1981 on the age of 82. Not too wordy and full of beautiful illustrations, this story is ideal for little fashionistas and lovers of stitching.

  • Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills

    by Renée Watson, illustrated by Christian Robinson

    Born to oldsters who have been former slaves, Florence knew early on that she beloved to sing. And that folks actually responded to her candy, bird-like voice. Her dancing and singing catapulted her all the best way to the levels of 1920s Broadway the place she impressed songs and even whole performs! But with all this success, she knew firsthand how bigotry formed her world. And when she was provided the position of a lifetime from Ziegfeld himself, she selected to help all-Black musicals as an alternative.

  • Stitching Tales: Harriet Powers’ Journey from Slave to Artist

    by Barbara Herkert, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

    Harriet Angeline Powers was a younger slave woman who discovered to stitch and quilt on a Georgia plantation. She started making quilts that advised tales. Her first story quilt is on show on the Nationwide Museum of American Historical past in Washington, DC. In the present day her story quilts are priceless treasures. Such an empowering and inspirational ebook for younger youngsters to learn. Additionally nice for many who love stitching, quilting, or crocheting.

  • Center Grade

  • Looking for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Woman in America

    by Tonya Bolden

    Sarah Rector was as soon as hailed because the richest Black woman in America, however how did a poor farming woman turn out to be so rich? Sarah and her household have been “Creek freedmen,” Black residents of the Creek Indian nation. When the Creeks have been pressured to resettle west of the Mississippi within the 1800s, every one acquired a land allotment. Little did Sarah know that her land contained wealthy oil deposits, and when an oil nicely drilled on her land on the age of 12, Sarah immediately turned very rich. A guardian was appointed to handle her quickly growing fortune till she got here of age. When Sarah turned 18 in 1920, she had amassed a fortune estimated at $1 million. A terrific story that highlights most of the travesties of justice that occurred to many Blacks and Native People in early Indian Territories which later turned generally known as the state of Oklahoma.

  • The Port Chicago 50: Catastrophe, Mutiny, and the Battle for Civil Rights

    by Steve Sheinkin

    An intriguing story about a bit recognized occasion in 1944 through which struggle and civil rights collided. On August ninth, 1944, 244 males refused to return to work till unsafe and unfair circumstances on the docks have been addressed. Advised via tales of 50 males accused of mutiny, this can be a gripping ebook about preventing for equal remedy within the armed forces.

  • Streetcar to Justice: How Elizabeth Jennings Gained the Proper to Experience in New York

    by Amy Hill Fireside

    100 years earlier than Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights period befell, there was Elizabeth Jennings who was greatest recognized for standing up towards racial injustice and discrimination. An interesting and inspirational story a few lesser-known historic determine that readers younger and previous are positive to like. Nice for anybody fascinated with studying concerning the battle for equal rights in America.

  • Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice

    by Phillip Hoose

    Overshadowed by well-liked Civil Rights leaders like Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Claudette Colvin was the primary lady to refuse to surrender her seat to a White individual on a bus. Claudette’s incident occurred 9 months earlier than Rosa Parks got here alongside. Sadly, Claudette was by no means given the credit score she deserved, doubtless as a result of she had a child at a younger age, which was typically shunned in her era. The e-book supplies each background details about the overall context of the Civil Rights Motion and tells Claudette’s story.

  • A Robust Proper Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson

    by Michelle Y. Inexperienced, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

    Study concerning the true story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson who was one among solely three ladies to ever play skilled baseball in the course of the Negro League Baseball period. Mamie’s baseball profession began out as a dream, which impressed her to beat any obstacles that got here between her and enjoying within the majors. This ebook is an effective introduction to Mamie Johnson’s life, the struggle for equality, and the facility of goals.

  • Who Have been the Tuskegee Airmen?

    by Sherri L. Smith, illustrated by Jake Murray

    From 1941 by way of 1946 a bit of beneath 1,000 Black males graduated with commissions and pilot wings from Tuskegee Military Air Area (TAAF) in Tuskegee, Alabama. The primary Black American aviators to serve in fight, the Tuskegee Airmen have been pilots who helped america win World Struggle II and persuaded President Harry Truman to finish segregation throughout your complete army.

What different books would you add to this record? Share your suggestions within the feedback under.

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