Suggested Works

Works collected in this section come highly recommended by Princeton AAS faculty. Many of these works are taught in AAS courses. The topics contained here are wide-ranging in order to represent the breadth of study in the African American Studies field. Some topics also contain additional references that are ‘in conversation’ with the specified works. These collections will grow over time.


Warriors Don't Cry

By: Melba Pattillo Beals
ISBN: 9781416948827
Simon and Schuster
In 1957, Melba Pattillo turned sixteen. That was also the year she became a warrior on the front lines of a civil rights firestorm. Following the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education, Melba was one of nine teenagers chosen to integrate Little Rock's Central High School. Throughout her harrowing ordeal, Melba was taunted by her schoolmates and their parents, threatened by a lynch mob's rope, attacked with lighted sticks of dynamite, and injured by acid sprayed in her eyes. But through it all, she acted with dignity and courage, and refused to back down.



Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880-1930

By: Patricia A. Schechter
ISBN: 9780807849651
University of North Carolina Press
Pioneering African American journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931) is widely remembered for her courageous antilynching crusade in the 1890s; the full range of her struggles against injustice is not as well known. With this book, Patricia Schechter restores Wells-Barnett to her central, if embattled, place in the early reform movements for civil rights, women's suffrage, and Progressivism in the United States and abroad. Schechter's comprehensive treatment makes vivid the scope of Wells-Barnett's contributions and examines why the political philosophy and leadership of this extraordinary activist eventually became marginalized. Though forced into the shadow of black male leaders such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington and misunderstood and then ignored by white women reformers such as Frances E. Willard and Jane Addams, Wells-Barnett nevertheless successfully enacted a religiously inspired, female-centered, and intensely political vision of social betterment and empowerment for African American communities throughout her adult years. By analyzing her ideas and activism in fresh sharpness and detail, Schechter exposes the promise and limits of social change by and for black women during an especially violent yet hopeful era in U.S. history.



If You Don't Go, Don't Hinder Me The African American Sacred Song Tradition

By: Bernice Johnson Reagon
ISBN: 9780803289833
University of North Carolina Press
How do you survive leaving everything you know to try to reconstruct your life and future in a new way? What do you carry with you on your journey to the new place? Migration looms large as a theme in twentieth-century African American life. Bernice Johnson Reagon uses this theme as a centering structure for four essays that examine different genres of African American sacred music as they manifested themselves throughout the twentieth century and within her own life. The first essay examines the evolution of gospel music by looking at the work of Charles Albert Tindley, Thomas Andrew Dorsey, Reverend Smallwood Williams, Roberta Martin, Pearl William Jones, and Richard Smallwood. In the next essay Reagon relates the story of Deacon William Reardon and the prayer bands that carried the tradition of South Carolina spirituals through the twentieth century in the communities of Washington DC, and Baltimore. The concert spiritual tradition is the subject of the third essay, and the final essay explores how stories about African American women of the nineteenth century became a source of strength for Reagon in her development as an African American woman, singer, fighter, and scholar.



Waiting Til The Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America

By: Peniel E. Joseph
ISBN: 9780805083354
MacMillan Publishers
With the rallying cry of "Black Power!" in 1966, a group of black activists, including Stokely Carmichael and Huey P. Newton, turned their backs on Martin Luther King's pacifism and, building on Malcolm X's legacy, pioneered a radical new approach to the fight for equality. Drawing on original archival research and more than sixty original oral histories, Peniel E. Joseph vividly invokes the way in which Black Power redefined black identity and culture and in the process redrew the landscape of American race relations. In a series of character-driven chapters, we witness the rise of Black Power groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panthers, and with them, on both coasts of the country, a fundamental change in the way Americans understood the unfinished business of racial equality and integration. Waiting Til the Midnight Hour traces the history of the Black Power movement, that storied group of men and women who would become American icons of the struggle for racial equality.



A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story

By: Elaine Brown
ISBN: 9780385471077
Knopf
Elaine Brown assumed her role as the first and only female leader of the Black Panther Party with these words: “I have all the guns and all the money. I can withstand challenge from without and from within. Am I right, Comrade?” It was August 1974. From a small Oakland-based cell, the Panthers had grown to become a revolutionary national organization, mobilizing black communities and white supporters across the country—but relentlessly targeted by the police and the FBI, and increasingly riven by violence and strife within. How Brown came to a position of power over this paramilitary, male-dominated organization, and what she did with that power, is a riveting, unsparing account of self-discovery. Brown’s story begins with growing up in an impoverished neighborhood in Philadelphia and attending a predominantly white school, where she first sensed what it meant to be black, female, and poor in America. She describes her political awakening during the bohemian years of her adolescence, and her time as a foot soldier for the Panthers, who seemed to hold the promise of redemption. And she tells of her ascent into the upper echelons of Panther leadership: her tumultuous relationship with the charismatic Huey Newton, who would become her lover and her nemesis; her experience with the male power rituals that would sow the seeds of the party's demise and the scars that she both suffered and inflicted in that era’s paradigm-shifting clashes of sex and power. Stunning, lyrical, and acute, this is the indelible testimony of a black woman’s battle to define herself.



Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877

By: Eric Foner
ISBN: 9780062354518
Harpercollins
Reconstruction chronicles the way in which Americans—black and white—responded to the unprecedented changes unleashed by the war and the end of slavery. It addresses the ways in which the emancipated slaves quest for economic autonomy and equal citizenship shaped the political agenda of Reconstruction the remodeling of Southern society and the place of planters, merchants, and small farmers within it the evolution of racial attitudes and patterns of race relations and the emergence of a national state possessing vastly expanded authority and committed, for a time, to the principle of equal rights for all Americans.

For Course: AAS 201: Introduction to the Study of African American Cultural Practices



Birth of a Nation'hood Gaze, Script, and Spectacle in the O. J. Simpson Case

By: Toni Morrison (Editor)
ISBN: 9780679758938
Knopf
Co-edited and introduced by Toni Morrison, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Birth of a Nationhood elucidates as never before the grim miasma of the O.J. Simpson case, which has elicited gargantuan fascination. As they pertain to the scandal, the issues of race, sex, violence, money, and the media are refracted through twelve powerful essays that have been written especially for this book by distinguished intellectuals--black and white, male and female. Together these keen analyses of a defining American moment cast a chilling gaze on the script and spectacle of the insidious tensions that rend our society, even as they ponder the proper historical, cultural, political, legal, psychological, and linguistic ramifications of the affair. With contributions by Toni Morrison, George Lipsitz, A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., with Aderson Bellegarde Francois and Linda Y. Yueh, Nikol G. Alexander and Drucilla Cornell, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Ishmael Reed, Leola Johnson and David Roediger, Andrew Ross, Patricia J. Williams, Ann duCille, Armond White, Claudia Brodsky Lacour



Love

By: Toni Morrison
ISBN: 9781400078479
Knopf
May, Christine, Heed, Junior, Vida–even L: all women obsessed with Bill Cosey. The wealthy owner of the famous Cosey’s Hotel and Resort, he shapes their yearnings for father, husband, lover, guardian, and friend, yearnings that dominate the lives of these women long after his death. Yet while he is either the void in, or the center of, their stories, he himself is driven by secret forces–a troubled past and a spellbinding woman named Celestial.

This audacious exploration into the nature of love–its appetite, its sublime possession, its dread–is rich in characters, striking scenes, and a profound understanding of how alive the past can be



The Bluest Eye

By: Toni Morrison
ISBN: 9780307278449
Knopf
Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. A powerful examination of our obsession with beauty and conformity, Toni Morrison’s virtuosic first novel asks powerful questions about race, class, and gender with the subtlety and grace that have always characterized her writing.



Playing In The Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination

By: Toni Morrison
ISBN: 9780679745426
Knopf
"The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Beloved and Jazz now gives us a learned, stylish, and immensely persuasive work of literary criticism that promises to change the way we read American literature even as it opens a new chapter in the American dialogue on race.

Toni Morrison's brilliant discussions of the ""Africanist"" presence in the fiction of Poe, Melville, Cather, and Hemingway leads to a dramatic reappraisal of the essential characteristics of our literary tradition. She shows how much the themes of freedom and individualism, manhood and innocence, depended on the existence of a black population that was manifestly unfree--and that came to serve white authors as embodiments of their own fears and desires."


Next 10