#SELChat: A Black History Month Reading List
When I first started college, I attended a small Catholic university in downtown Pittsburgh. One of my favorite classes was Multiculturalism. The professor introduced me to a new way of thinking. She encouraged the class to question what we see on television, what we read in magazines, and what we hear on the news. Some of the most important questions to ask are, “From whose perspective is this story being told? And are all the players equally represented?”
I transferred to Belmont University here in Nashville to complete my degree in English. One of my favorite classes at Belmont was African-American Literature. We studied poetry, stories, and plays written by African-American authors, such as Alice Walker, Phillis Wheatley, Chinua Achebe, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, August Wilson, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright. To read the words, the secret thoughts, of characters and authors I never knew existed before changed me. I realized how vital it is for each person to find her own voice – and how necessary it is for us to listen.
The celebration of Black History month started in 1926 and became widely accepted in 1976. You may wonder why we honor this observance. Well, I know at least one of the reasons for this unique celebration. It’s because we need to be intentional about listening to our African-American brothers’ and sisters’ stories past and present. Their stories are our stories, truly American stories, and our perspectives about our big world change by taking the time to learn these stories. We see African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Caucasian Americans – all Americans – all people, even ourselves, differently yet more the same. Now more than ever, we need to listen to each other’s stories so that we can come together as the human family.
And we might be surprised as we read the words of those who were once silenced, to find our own voice.
– Tamara Fyke
Happy to Be Nappy by bell hooks
Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream by Deloris & Rosalyn Jordan
The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath by Julia Finley Mosca
Richard Wright and the Library Card by William Miller
Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Piano Lesson by August Wilson
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Race Matters by Cornel West
The Sweeter the Juice: A Family Memoir in Black and White by Shirlee Taylor Haizlip
About Tamara Fyke
Tamara Fyke is an educator and social entrepreneur with a passion for kids, families, and urban communities. She is the creator and author of Love In A Big World, which provides mental health, SEL, and wellness curriculum and content. During quarantine, Tamara created MusiCity Kids, an online educational show for kids ages 6-12 that addresses health, movement, character development, STEAM, and more.
Tamara is editor of Building People: Social & Emotional Learning for Kids, Schools & Communities, a book that brings 12 wide-ranging perspectives on SEL to educators, parents, and leaders. Follow her on Twitter @Tamara_Fyke
- edCircuit – Tamara Fyke articles and column
- The Philadelphia Inquirer – Black Lives Matter Movement goes to school to teach students about social justice
- Education Week – The important Political History of Black History Month