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February is Black History Month, so we asked our staff to recommend some books and movies featuring Black voices. While Black stories are often the focus this month, we challenge everyone to elevate them anytime of year with our Diverse Reads program. It encourages you to read something new, whether that’s a different genre or a book by an author whose background is different from your own.

Book River
Book River Items

Blindspotting (2018)

by Summit Pictures

Blindspotting is a masterwork by writer, producer and actor Daveed Diggs. It tells the story of a man who witnesses a police shooting three days before he completes probation. Poignant and thought-provoking work. — Rachel Newlin, Cataloging Librarian

Invisible Man (2002)

by Ralph Ellison

A classic about the treatment of Black Americans in the early part of the last century. The unnamed narrator reveals truths that are not pretty, but need to be told. An eye opener and still relevant. — Kris Milhousen, Information Desk Assistant

The Mothers (2017)

by Brit Bennett

I love Brit Bennett's writing style. This debut novel led me to reflect on my own choices and their lifetime effects. The exploration of parental, romantic and friend relationships was compelling. — Allison Bies, Fiction Librarian

Such a Fun Age (2019)

by Kiley Reid

Two words come to mind when I think of this book: contemporary and compelling. An exploration of privilege and societal stereotypes, I am thinking about this book long after finishing it. — Allison Bies, Fiction Librarian

Black Panther (2018)

by Marvel Studios

A fabulous, Academy Award-winning, engaging story with multiple famous African American actors and actresses. Amazing costuming! — Janet Glatzhofer, Information Desk Assistant

Fences (2017)

by Paramount Pictures Corporation

Based on a 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson. The film was chosen by the American Film Institute as one of the top ten films of 2016.— Suzanne Boudreau, Reference Librarian

Big Black : Stand at Attica (2020)

by Frank Smith

Frank "Big Black" Smith was an inmate and the Attica Correctional Facility in 1971 and helped lead what is still one of the bloodiest civil rights confrontations in American history. Here, accompanied by gritty, expressive art, he tells the story of abused prisoners, rampant racism and a blind eye turned towards the injustices perpetrated on the powerless that led to 1,281 out of the approximately 2,200 prisoners revolting and taking control of the prison, taking 42 staff hostage. — Emily Vinci, Fiction Manager

The Color Purple (1982)

by Alice Walker

When this book received the Pulitzer Prize in 1983, it jumped to the front of my reading list. The descriptive title and the fact that the book is written as a series of letters from Celie, a young African American girl, to God and, later, her sister Nettie, was enticing. We meet Celie when she is fourteen and, despite a life of struggle and abuse, she also achieves a level of sisterhood with the women in her life that affirms her inner resilience. — Jane Rozek, Local History Librarian