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Black History Month for Teens

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Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history (source: History).

Celebrate by reading books by and about African Americans, exploring our Western History and Genealogy department's African American resources and photos, and learning more at africanamericanhistorymonth.gov.

Black Enough : Stories Of Being Young & Black In America
A collection of short stories explore what it is like to be young and black, centering on the experiences of black teenagers and emphasizing that one person's experiences, reality, and personal identity are different than someone else.
Children Of Blood And Bone
Adeyemi, Tomi
Seventeen-year-old Zélie, her older brother Tzain, and rogue princess Amari fight to restore magic to the land and activate a new generation of magi, but they are ruthlessly pursued by the crown prince, who believes the return of magic will mean the end of the monarchy.
Swing
Alexander, Kwame
Noah and his best friend Walt want to become cool, make the baseball team, and win over Sam, the girl Noah has loved for years. When Noah finds old love letters, Walt hatches a plan to woo Sam. But as Noah's love life and Walt's baseball career begin, the letters alter everything.
We Are Not Yet Equal : Understanding Our Racial Divide
Anderson, Carol
When America achieves milestones of progress toward full and equal black participation in democracy, the systemic response is a consistent racist backlash that rolls back those wins. We Are Not Yet Equal examines five of these moments: The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with Jim Crow laws; the promise of new opportunities in the North during the Great Migration was limited when blacks were physically blocked from moving away from the South; the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 led to laws that disenfranchised millions of African American voters and a War on Drugs that disproportionally targeted blacks; and the election of President Obama led to an outburst of violence including the death of black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri as well as the election of Donald Trump. This YA adaptation will be written in an approachable narrative style that provides teen readers with additional context to these historic moments, photographs and archival images, and additional backmatter and resources for teens.
The March Against Fear : The Last Great Walk Of The Civil Rights Movement And The Emergence Of Black Power
Bausum, Ann
Mississippi. 1966. On a hot June afternoon an African-American man named James Meredith set out to walk through his home state, intending to fight racism and fear with his feet. A seemingly simple plan, but one teeming with risk. Just one day later Meredith was shot and wounded in a roadside ambush. Within twenty-four hours, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stokely Carmichael, and other civil rights leaders had taken up Meredith's cause, determined to overcome this violent act and complete Meredith's walk. The stakes were high--there was no time for advance planning and their route cut through dangerous territory. No one knew if they would succeed. By many measures the March Against Fear became one of the greatest protests of the civil rights era. But it was also one of the last, and the campaign has been largely forgotten. Critically acclaimed author Ann Bausum brings this crucial turning point of civil rights history back to life, escorting you along the dusty Mississippi roads where heroic marchers endured violence, rage, and fear as they walked more than 200 miles in the name of equality and justice.
The Belles
Clayton, Dhonielle.
In a world where Beauty is a commodity only a few control, one Belle will learn the dark secrets behind her powers, and rise up to change the world.
The Skin I'm In
Flake, Sharon G.
Thirteen-year-old Maleeka, uncomfortable because her skin is extremely dark, meets a new teacher with a birthmark on her face and discovers how to love who she is and what she looks like.
Because They Marched : The People's Campaign For Voting Rights That Changed America
Freedman, Russell
In the early 1960s, tensions in the segregated South intensified. Tired of reprisals for attempting to register to vote, Selma’s black community began to protest. In January 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a voting rights march and was attacked by a segregationist. In February, the shooting of an unarmed demonstrator by an Alabama state trooper inspired a march from Selma to the state capital. The event got off to a horrific start on March 7 as law officers brutally attacked peaceful demonstrators. But when vivid footage and photographs of the violence was broadcast throughout the world, the incident attracted widespread outrage and spurred demonstrators to complete the march at any cost.
March. Book One
Lewis, John
A vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.
Turning 15 On The Road To Freedom : My Story Of The 1965 Selma Voting Rights March
Lowery, Lynda Blackmon
A 50th-anniversary tribute shares the story of the youngest person to complete the momentous Selma to Montgomery March, describing her frequent imprisonments for her participation in nonviolent demonstrations and how she felt about her involvement in historic Civil Rights events.
A Blade So Black
McKinney, L. L.
The first time the nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she's trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew. Life in real-world Atlanta isn't always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice's handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she's ever gone before. And she'll need to use everything she's learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head--literally.
I Am Alfonso Jones
Medina, Tony
The ghost of fifteen-year-old Alfonso Jones travels in a New York subway car full of the living and the dead, watching his family and friends fight for justice after he is killed by an off-duty police officer while buying a suit in a Midtown department store.
Akata Warrior
Okorafor, Nnedi
Now stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny Nwazue, along with her friends from the the Leopard Society, travel through worlds, both visible and invisible, to the mysterious town of Osisi, where they fight in a climactic battle to save humanity.
All American Boys
Reynolds, Jason
When sixteen-year-old Rashad is mistakenly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. Told through Rashad and Quinn's alternating viewpoints.
Miles Morales, Spider-man
Reynolds, Jason
Brooklyn Visions Academy student Miles Morales may not always want to be a superhero, but he must come to terms with his identity--and deal with a villainous teacher--as the new Spider Man.
X : A Novel
Shabazz, Ilyasah
Malcolm Little's parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that's a pack of lies--after all, his father's been murdered, his mother's been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There's no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm's efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he's found is only an illusion--and that he can't run forever. X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.
Flygirl
Smith, Sherri L.
During World War II, a light-skinned African American girl "passes" for white in order to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
Odd One Out
Stone, Nic
High school juniors and best friends Courtney and Jupe, and new sophomore Rae, explore their sexuality and their budding attractions for one another.
On The Come Up
Thomas, Angie
Sixteen-year-old Bri hopes to become a great rapper, and after her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, must decide whether to sell out or face eviction with her widowed mother.
Watch Us Rise
Watson, Renée
Frustrated by the way women are treated--even at their progressive New York City high school--two best friends start a Women's Rights Club, post their essays and poems online, and watch it go viral, attracting positive support as well as trolls.
Another Brooklyn : A Novel
Woodson, Jacqueline
When August, an anthropologist who has studied the funeral traditions of different cultures, revisits her old neighborhood after her father's death, her reunion with a brother and a chance encounter with an old friend bring back a flood of childhood memories. Flashbacks depict the isolation she felt moving from rural Tennessee to New York and show how her later years were influenced by the black power movement, nearby street violence, her father's religious conversion, and her mother's haunting absence. August's memories of her Brooklyn companions--a tightly knit group of neighborhood girls--are memorable and profound. There's dancer Angela, who keeps her home life a carefully guarded secret; beautiful Gigi, who loses her innocence too young; and Sylvia, "diamonded over, brilliant," whose strict father wants her to study law. With dreams as varied as their conflicts, the young women confront dangers lurking on the streets, discover first love, and pave paths that will eventually lead them in different directions.
The Sun Is Also A Star
Yoon, Nicola
Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts. Daniel has always been a good son and good student. But when he sees Natasha he forgets all that and believes there is something extraordinary in store for both of them.
American Street
Zoboi, Ibi Aanu
When Fabiola's mother is detained upon their arrival to the United States, Fabiola must navigate her loud American cousins, the grittiness of Detroit's west side, a new school, and a surprising romance all on her own.
Pride
Zoboi, Ibi Aanu
Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can't stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick's changing landscape, or lose it all.