AAS Women’s History Month: By Black Women, about Black Women (Part 1)

Written by
Department of African American Studies
March 4, 2024

Join us as we celebrate Women’s History Month through the journey and exploration of storytelling.

Celebrate Women's History Month with us as we embark on a journey of exploration and storytelling. Dive into a collection of classic and contemporary literature penned by Black women, sharing the essence of Black women's experiences. These novels, presented in no particular order, offer profound insights into timeless struggles, victories, and the complexities of Black womanhood. Join us in honoring these narratives and legacies.

 

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston

"Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God, deemed one of the pivotal and enduring books of the twentieth century, vividly portrays a Southern love saga infused with the unique blend of wit and pathos characteristic of Zora Neale Hurston's writing. Despite its significance, the book fell out of print for nearly three decades, largely due to the initial reluctance of audiences to embrace its bold black female protagonist. However, since its reissue in 1978, Hurston's masterpiece has emerged as arguably the most widely read and esteemed novel in the realm of African-American literature.

 

"Beloved" by Toni Morrison

"Beloved" by Toni Morrison

Born into slavery, Sethe managed to escape to Ohio, yet eighteen years in, freedom remains elusive. Her mind remains burdened with countless memories of Sweet Home, the once picturesque farm where unspeakable atrocities unfolded. Even in her new abode, the specter of her nameless baby is laid to rest with a tombstone bearing the solitary word "Beloved", and haunts Sethe relentlessly.

 

"The Yellow House" by Sarah M. Broom

"The Yellow House" by Sarah M. Broom

The Yellow House embarks on a grand journey, spanning a century of her family's history and their profound connection to a neglected corner of one of America's most storied cities. It chronicles a mother's relentless battle against the decay of her home and the odyssey of a daughter who strayed far, only to confront the magnetic pull of her roots - even as Hurricane Katrina wipes the Yellow House from existence. In this narrative, the map of New Orleans expands to embrace the tales of its unsung natives. Skillfully guided by one of its own daughters there is illustration of how primal forces of kinship, pride, and familial love endure against the threat of oblivion. Positioned between the glossy facade of the "Big Easy" and the gritty reality of Broom's upbringing, The Yellow House emerges as a poignant memoir exploring themes of place, class, race, the pervasive decay of inequality, and the internalized stigma it breeds. The text stands as a transformative and profoundly moving testament from a fresh, authoritative voice of remarkable clarity and power.

 

"Parable of the Sower" by Octavia E. Butler

"Parable of the Sower" by Octavia E. Butler

Amidst the turmoil of early 2020s, as global climate shifts and economic upheavals plunge society into chaos, California transforms into a landscape fraught with peril. From the specter of widespread water scarcity to the desperate throngs of wanderers resorting to extreme measures for survival, danger lurks at every turn. Within the confines of a gated community, fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina resides, shielded from the tumultuous world outside, with her preacher father, kin, and fellow residents.. In a society where vulnerability is synonymous with danger, Lauren grapples with hyperempathy; a condition that renders her acutely sensitive to the emotions of others, further complicating her struggle for survival.

 

"Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot" by Mikki Kendall

"Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot" by Mikki Kendall

In her powerful collection of essays, Mikki Kendall confronts the shortcomings of the contemporary feminist movement; asserting its persistent neglect of the vast majority of women. Drawing from personal encounters with hunger, violence, hypersexualization,reproductive rights, political landscapes, popular culture, mental health stigma, and beyond, Hood Feminism presents a compelling critique of a movement grappling with internal discord. With unflinching honesty, Kendall delivers a resounding call to action, and urgesall prospective feminists to embody the movement's core principles in both ideology and action. This debut work serves as an unforgettably bold manifesto, challenging readers to embrace the true essence of feminism and effect meaningful change.