Commemorating Black History Month – A Choice Round-Up

In honor of Black History Month, we gathered Choice resources from the past year that amplify and celebrate Black history. Offerings include book reviews, webinars, interviews, and more.

Commemorating Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, we assembled Choice resources from the past year that foreground significant events, people, and movements in Black history. New additions will be added throughout February, so make sure to revisit this page for new book reviews, podcast episodes, interviews, and more. In addition, visit our multimedia blog Toward Inclusive Excellence, a dedicated resource on DEIA topics concerning those within and outside of the higher education community. We hope these resources will aid in exploring and learning about Black history this month and throughout the year.

Ask an Archivist

Ask an Archivist is a monthly feature that explores the research and production behind compelling special collections through interviews with their curators, archivists, and directors.

The Black Women’s Suffrage Digital Collection (Added 2/17/23)

Shaneé Yvette Murrain-Willis, Director of Community Engagement of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), discusses the Black Women’s Suffrage Digital Collection. Dating from the 1850s to the 1960s, the Pivotal Ventures-funded BWS Collection highlights the critical role of Black women in the Women’s Suffrage Movement and their history of activism more broadly. Shaneé details the collection’s timeline, significance, and the steps DPLA took to keep the collection focused on Black women and their work that has been previously sidelined or erased. Shaneé also reflects on how the collection’s Statement on Potentially Harmful Language inspired similar statements in libraries and archives across the United States. Read the Ask an Archivist interview with Shaneé Yvette Murrain-Willis.

Gather Out of Star-Dust: The Harlem Renaissance and The Beinecke Library

Co-curators Melissa Barton and Kassidi Jones explain the roots of “Gather Out of Star-Dust: The Harlem Renaissance and The Beinecke Library” and the archivist’s responsibility to capture the past. Digging into the various depictions of the Harlem Renaissance, they reflect on how this culturally significant and rich time period contributed to the concerted effort to collect and archive the work of Black artists, writers, and creators. Melissa and Kassidi also touch on the malleability of the curation process and highlight their own favorites and hidden gems from the exhibit. Read the Ask an Archivist interview with Melissa Barton and Kassidi Jones.

Outstanding Academic Titles

Outstanding Academic Titles is Choice’s premier editorial franchise of the best titles of the year. Published each December, the list is separated into unique categories and previewed for collection development purposes or personal reading pleasure. These selections pertain to Black History Month.

Outstanding Academic Titles 2022: Black History Month (Added 2/10/23)

Outstanding Academic Titles 2021: Black History Month

Featured Reviews

Featured Reviews consider how a title exposes racist systems and inequities or proposes means of dismantling them. These important works from valuable perspectives are of use to undergraduates, faculty, and anyone interested in learning more about racism and racial inequalities.

Making the Ordinary Extraordinary: George Nesbitt’s Powerful Memoir Details the Personal Struggle for a Better World (Added 2/27/23)

“One ever feels his twoness,” wrote the eminent Black intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois in his classic The Souls of Black Folk (1903). Du Bois was the hero, the inspiration, and the muse for George B. Nesbitt (1912–2002), a lawyer, a civil rights activist, and the author of this newly released autobiography, written decades ago but just recently published. The book opens with an unexpected surprise: an introduction by the great Black sociologist, and a contemporary of Nesbitt’s, John Gibbs St. Clair Drake. St. Clair Drake was the author of Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City (1945), which focused on Chicago, the city where the two men knew each other, having met after Nesbitt acquired his law degree from the University of Illinois. St. Clair Drake’s introduction alone is worth the price of admission. Read the full review.

Book cover of "Being Somebody and Black Besides" by George Nesbitt

Decentering Whiteness and Uplifting Black Voices: “The 1619 Project” Reclaims American History

Book cover of "The 1619 Project"

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story is a reimagining of the standardized American history curriculum taught in mainstream public schools, based on “The 1619 Project,” created and published by The New York Times Magazine. Both the original project and the book are crafted by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who began this undertaking in 2019 in commemoration of the 400th year of the start of American slavery. Hannah-Jones, who joined Howard University as the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism in 2021, reports on issues pertaining to race for The New York Times Magazine and is well versed in matters of race, history, and disparity. Read the full review.

Reclaiming Rebellion: A Deep Dive into African American Resistance to State Violence

In 1619, twenty Africans were sold in Jamestown, Virginia Colony, beginning two hundred and forty-six years of slavery in the British colonies that became the United States. Following the Civil War, the Reconstruction Amendments (the 13th ended slavery, the 14th guaranteed newly freed African Americans citizenship and the rights pertaining thereto, and the 15th extended the right to vote to Black males) failed to improve their situation as segregation and lynching replaced slavery to continue the oppression of Black people. The civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s resulted in a flurry of laws and the 24th amendment, which dismantled the legal underpinnings of segregation. Read the full review.

The cover of America on Fire, an examination of African American rebellion against state violence

The Quest for Equality Is Ongoing: Holt Reveals a More Nuanced Civil Rights Movement

Book cover of The Movement

The Freedom Singers’ powerfully resounding cry “that freedom is a constant struggle” rings especially true throughout The Movement, the latest book from Holt (emer., Univ. of Chicago). This moving work considers many often overlooked or rarely mentioned aspects—and individuals—of the Civil Rights Movement that are otherwise generally left out of the popular historical canon. The result is a text that will land well with audiences, especially as the United States continues to navigate the current #BlackLivesMatter era, both online and in the real world, as well as the coalition for the Movement for Black Lives and its persistent shaping of discourse and movement work in the twenty-first century. Read the full review.

Resistance That Is Not Passive: A History of Nonviolence in the Struggle for Equality

For too many Black Americans, the reality of being, simply existing, continues to be a dream deferred. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew that the arc of the universe was long but that it bent toward justice. Still, his dream in 1963 of all children being able to play and mingle together has yet to be realized. Looking at the history of race relations in the United States, one has to wonder about the shape of the arc. It seems as though for every two steps forward, the nation simultaneously takes one step back in relation to civil rights, with the country presently stuck one step back. Read the full review.

Nonviolence Before King book cover

The Indomitable Fannie Lou Hamer: A New Biography Chronicles Her Lifelong Struggle for Justice

Book cover of Walk with Me, a biography of Fannie Lou Hamer

Larson, currently a visiting Women’s Center Research Scholar at Brandeis University, has written an excellent biography of Fannie Lou Hamer’s life as a grassroots civil rights leader and an activist in 1960s Mississippi. Focusing her research on nineteenth- and twentieth-century women and African Americans, Larson’s previous books include Bound for the Promised Land (CH, Oct’04, 42-1139a), about abolitionist Harriet Tubman; The Assassin’s Accomplice (2008), about would-be Abraham Lincoln assassin Mary Surratt; and Rosemary (2015), about Rosemary Kennedy, the disabled daughter of the famous Kennedy family. Read the full review.

Contending with America’s Original Sin: Jonathan Scott Holloway Traces African Americans’ Complicated History

Holloway (president, Rutgers Univ.) is a historian of American social and intellectual history. He previously served as a dean at Yale College and provost of Northwestern University and taught African American history for many years at the University of California, San Diego, and Yale. He is also author of the books Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1940 (CH, Mar’14, 51-4040) and Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Fraser, and Ralph Bunche, 1919–1946 (CH, Nov’02, 40-1770). He thus brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the text under review. Read the full review.

Book cover of The Cause of Freedom by Jonathan Scott Holloway.


Choice-ACRL Webinars feature presentations on library trends by industry experts, covering topics like collection development, library technology, and scholarly communication. These two programs spotlight the value of Black archives.

Strategies for Uncovering Black Women’s Voices in Primary Sources

Dr. Ashley D. Farmer, Associate Professor of History and African & African Diaspora Studies, discusses the challenges she faced in excavating the archives of Black women intellectuals while writing her books Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era and Queen Mother” Audley Moore: Mother of Black Nationalism. She also discusses strategies for uncovering Black women intellectuals in primary source databases and archives and provides examples of how she helps students uncover Black women’s intellectual production in classroom settings and for their research projects. Watch the webinar recording.

The Intersection of Democracy and Hard History Through the Lens of Primary Sources

After his 2020 presentation on Confronting Hard History, Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Associate Professor of History at The Ohio State University, shifts his focus to the intersection of Democracy and Hard History. He explores this topic through the lens of primary sources including documents on political violence during the Reconstruction era, the women’s suffrage campaign, the voting rights campaigns led by the NAACP, SNCC, and SCLC in Mississippi and Alabama in the 1960s, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and more. Watch the webinar recording.

Check out the Choice Webinar Archive on topics in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility (DEIA).

Review of the Week

Each week Choice highlights a review that addresses a topical issue, event, or holiday—or simply, a review we believe deserves more attention. These reviews include titles on the Civil Rights Movement, racial disparities in health care, African American literature, and more.

The Authority File Podcast

The Authority File provides insight on the academic library market through conversations with innovative and influential vendors, authors of insightful books, librarians who are transforming their field, and academics whose research is laying the groundwork for the future.

Dr. Sarah Derbew on Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity (Added 2/14/23)

Dr. Sarah Derbew, assistant professor of Classics at Stanford University, digs into her book, Untangling Blackness in Greek Antiquity. She introduces us to her research area and provides an overview of her title, including why she differentiates between ancient and modern understandings of race. In addition, Sarah explains how framing her book as an anti-racist study informed her research, how Classicists have historically approached ancient depictions of Blackness, and why addressing a researcher’s own experience and subjectivity creates a more rigorous and ethical work than falsely claiming objectivity. Listen to the episode here.

Spotlighting Academic Library Innovation: Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Preservation Project

The Authority File logo. Green headphones with white background. "The authority file" in red text overlaid on headphones.

Darryl Stuhr, Director of Digitization and Digital Preservation Services at Baylor University, discusses the inception and development of Baylor University’s Black Gospel Music Preservation Project. First, Darryl explains how an NPR Fresh Air interview, a generous donation, and the strong connection between Baylor’s libraries and IT helped get the project off the ground. He also digs into the library’s longstanding push toward digitization, and the recognition and archival opportunities that arose from BGMPP. Listen to the episode.

Forthcoming Academic Titles

Forthcoming Titles gathers the latest and soon-to-be-released publications in select disciplines. These lists center on upcoming titles in African American Studies.

Forthcoming Titles in African American Studies, 2023

Book covers of: The Girl in the Yellow Poncho, #You Know You’re Black in France When…: The Fact of Everyday Antiblackness, Brave Community: Teaching for a Post-Racist Imagination, and Prophetic Leadership and Visionary Hope: New Essays on the Work of Cornel West.

Forthcoming Titles in African American Studies, 2022

Four book covers of: Structural Racism in America, Living in the Future, The Black Republic: African Americans and the Fate of Haiti, and Sissy Insurgencies: A Racial Anatomy of Unfit Manliness.

Enjoy this post? Visit Toward Inclusive Excellence for additional Black History Month content, including “Celebrating Black History Month with Noteworthy TIE Content: Part One.”