Black History Month | Recommended Reading

Lynn Blankman | History & Reconciliation Initiative Steering Committee Member

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward.

This memoir by the award-winning author of Sing, Unburied, Sing is structured around the lives of five young men in her Mississippi community, who all die young due to the effects of systemic racism. Beautifully written.


Reverend Ben Campbell  | History & Reconciliation Initiative Steering Committee Member

Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson

Stamped from the Beginning, by Ibrahim X. Kendi

Jesus and the Disinherited, by Howard Thurman


Keli Shipley Cooper  | Director of Adult Faith Formation

Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubling Times by Bishop Michael Curry with Sara Grace

This is the latest book from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church- which gives insight into his own personal journey, the Episcopal Church, and how to live our everyday lives by Jesus’ way of love. 


Karen Harris | Assistant Director of Music

Ella, Queen of Jazz by Helen Hancocks

This is a great book for children about Ella Fitzgerald, one of the most important jazz singers of all time, and her friendship with a famous actress.

The Last Thing You Surrender by Leonard Pitts Jr., Pulitzer prizewinning author and columnist.

A novel set during WWII that follows three characters from the Jim Crow South as they face the enormous changes the war triggers in the United States.

The Good Lord Bird by James McBride

A fictionalized account of John Brown’s journey to and raid on Harper’s Ferry. This book has been made into a miniseries on Showtime.


Barbara Holley | Chair, History & Reconciliation Initiative Steering Committee

Almost Everything – Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott

During these past months of despair, pandemic, grief, loss this short read gave me hope. Anne writes “Love is why we have hope.”

I’m Still Here – Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

A well written memoir for all striving for racial equity, justice and reconciliation.  It renewed my understanding of how vital it is to keep striving for change. 


Matt Stehle | Chair, Community Engagement

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.

Trevor took over for Jon Stewart when he retired from “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central. I knew Trevor only through this lens, as a comedian who makes social commentary hilarious and is an insightful interviewer that draws big names to his show regularly. This book is Trevor’s memoir and is filled with incredible stories from growing up at the end of apartheid in South Africa. As a child with a black mother and white father, he didn’t fit directly in any of the official castes at the time and he reflects on that as well as drawing comparisons to America’s struggle with race throughout the book. 

BONUS: Trevor also published a “young readers” version of the book which dulls some of the language and graphic descriptions – we read this version to our kids (9 & 11) instead of the original copy.


Travis Tyler | Director of Youth Ministry

The Cross and The Lynching Tree by James Cone

Outside of the Bible itself, there is no text that speaks the truth on both the American and the Christian experience as powerfully as The Cross and Lynching Tree. 

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America edited by Ibi Zoboi.

Honest, diverse, first-hand accounts from authors seeking to reveal what life is like while being young and black in America. 

March: Book One by John Lewis

A gripping graphic novel of the early life of civil rights leader John Lewis; details how lived experience and influence of Martin Luther King Jr. shaped his life’s journey. 


Children and Family Selections

Linda Willis | Director, Children & Family Ministries

Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History

Author: Vashti Harrison (Little, Brown & Co. Publishers)

What was the Underground Railroad?

Author: Yona Zeldis McDonough (Penguin Books)

March, Book One

Author: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (Top Shelf Prod.)

Minty, A Story of Young Harriet Tubman

Author: Alan Schroeder/Jerry Pinkney

Henry’s Freedom Box

Author: Ellen Levine, Kadir Nelson (Scholastic Press)

Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky

Author: Faith Ringgold (Crown Publishers)

Before She was Harriet

Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome (Holiday House Pub.)

The Story of Ruby Bridges

Author: Robert Coles (Scholastic Press)

Words Set Me Free, The Story of Young Frederick Douglas

Author: Lesa Cline-Ransome (Simon-Shuster)

At The Crossroads

Author: Rachel Isadora (Harper Collins Pub.)

I Am Enough

Author: Grace Byers (Harper Collins Pub.)

**All of the above children’s books are available to check out from the Children’s Ministry at St. Paul’s

Resources for parents:

https://www.apa.org/res/parent-resources/reading

https://www.kidcentraltn.com/education/k-12/starting-a-conversation-about-civil-rights-with-your-kids-.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2020/02/21/beyond-slavery-civil-rights-what-parents-need-know-about-black-history-month/

https://www.kcts9.org/raceinamerica