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Civil Rights

In celebration of Black History month, BookSpot editors compiled a list of ten of the greatest and most influential Civil Rights books. The non-fiction list includes autobiographies from Malcolm X and Maya Angelou, first-hand accounts of the Civil Rights movement and the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. On the literature side, we have some of the most significant works of American fiction that treat the issues of slavery and prejudice. No matter the month, it's always a good time to read these American classics.

  • Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s Henry Hampton and Steve Fayer, creators of the PBS series Eyes on the Prize, brought together the voices of almost a thousand participants in the Civil Rights movement, from activists and politicians to regular citizens. Their stories touch on many of the events of the era, including marches, riots and boycotts. With personal accounts from Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson and many other heroes of the time, this book will give you a first-hand view of what it was like to live during the Civil Rights era.

  • Rosa Parks: My Story
    In this book for young audiences, famous Civil Rights heroine Rosa Parks tells the story of her act of civil disobedience, when she refused to give up her seat in a segregated bus. Hear her inspiring story and her open discussion of the movement.

  • Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. is the author of this book, which details his plans in 1967 on the future of the Civil Rights movement in America. With insight into the problems our country was facing, King shares his own thoughts on still-relevant topics like affirmative action and poverty.

  • Fight for Freedom: The Story of the NAACP
    Since 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has fought for black rights. In this book, celebrated poet Langston Hughes tells the full story behind the organization.

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
    This autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley tells the personal story of his conversion from criminal to Muslim minister and political activist. With a strong, candid voice and an inspiring journey, Malcolm X's story is an example for others.

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
    In Maya Angelou's autobiography, the author tells the story of her own childhood while highlighting the brave African-American men and women who touched her life. This book stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for almost three years.


  • Invisible Man
    In Ralph Ellison's most famous novel, a nameless black narrator describes his experiences growing up in the South, attending and ultimately being expelled from college, and finally moving to Harlem in New York. The title is a testament to the prejudice and blindness he endures from American society.

  • Native Son
    This novel by Richard Wright tells the story of an African-American man who, in the heat of the moment, kills a white woman and enters into a downward spiral. With nowhere to turn, the character becomes hopeless, and readers are forced to confront the unjust society in which he lives.

  • Beloved
    In this novel by Toni Morrison, an ex-slave escaped from her old life to Ohio, where she still cannot be free from the scarring memories she left behind. Beloved creates a disturbing poetic ambiance of pain and loss.

  • Uncle Tom's Cabin
    As the first work of American fiction to become an international bestseller, Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel describes the horrors of slavery through the character of a strong, faithful slave named Tom. The novel emphasizes Christian love and the injustice of slavery, to the extent that President Abraham Lincoln reportedly said of Stowe, "So this is the little lady who made this big war."

  --- O. Ware

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