Library Corner: Celebrating Black History Month |

Library Corner: Celebrating Black History Month

By Tess Riley, GCLD Library Associate

February is Black History Month, and in celebration, Grand County Library District would like to honor the contributions of African-American authors.

From iconic writers like Maya Angelou and Ralph Ellison to modern voices like Yaa Gyasi and Angie Thomas, these authors have revolutionized the literary landscape through the power of their words.

Here’s a small sampling of authors and their works. Even if you read only one, we guarantee you’ll be inspired, challenged, and changed.

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou.

Maya Angelou: No list of African-American authors would be complete without Maya Angelou, a memoirist, poet, and activist. Her most famous work is “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” an autobiography of Angelou’s childhood and teen years, which explores her experiences of racism, homelessness, and teen pregnancy in the mid-1960s. This title became the first nonfiction bestseller written by a Black woman.

Angie Thomas: A fresh new voice among Black writers, Thomas’ debut young adult novel, “The Hate U Give,” was inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests. The 16-year-old protagonist witnesses the shooting of her best friend at the hands of police, pushing her into the pubic spotlight as she navigates the justice system and struggles to be a voice for her fallen friend.

“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison.

Ralph Ellison: Ellison’s most well known book, “The Invisible Man,” examines the experience of being a Black man living in the south in the early part of the 20th century. The opening lines are among the most famous in American literature: “I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”

Yaa Gyasi: “Transcendent Kingdom” follows a brilliant young neuroscientist completely absorbed in her research, to the exclusion of all else. Her work studying the brains of mice mirrors the issues of addiction and depression within her own immigrant family, specifically her brother and mother. Through science and spirituality, she struggles to come to grips with the suffering of those she loves most.

Colson Whitehead: Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “The Underground Railroad,” is an “alternate history” story that follows Cora, an escaped plantation slave, as she navigates the underground railroad in her quest for freedom, encountering hardships, terrors, and impossible choices along the way.

Margot Lee Shetterly: “Hidden Figures” is the true account of three Black female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the space race. These women made history by overcoming obstacles of both racism and sexism through their contributions to science, engineering and mathematics.

Other authors you won’t want to miss:

Michelle Obama: “Becoming”; Zora Neale Hurston: “Their Eyes Were Watching God”; Toni Morrison: “The Bluest Eye, Beloved”; Michelle Alexander: “New Jim Crow”; Isabel Wilkerson: “The Warmth of Other Suns”; Stephanie E Jones-Rogers: “They Were Her Property.”

For more titles, visit our catalog at and click on the browsing category “Black History Month Celebration.”

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