In recognition of Black History Month, we’re diving into literature that shines a light on Black authors and showcases important stories.
With the help of our Lowcountry friend, VaLinda Miller, owner of the Turning Page Bookshop — a local Black-owned bookstore — we’ve gathered a list of highly suggested books to read for the month (and year-round).
Here are their Black History Month book recommendations that have ties to South Carolina.
Voices of Black South Carolina | Damon L. Fordham | Historical
○ Eighty-eight years before Rosa Parks changed history by not moving to the back of the bus because of the color of her skin, a brave Black woman in Charleston kept her seat on a segregated streetcar in an effort to create racial justice. This book includes contributions by notable Black South Carolinians who worked to bring hope, change + equality to their communities. (This book is also available at the Turning Page Bookshop.)
Charleston Receipts | The Junior League of Charleston | Cookbook
○ This community cookbook that was originally published in 1950 contains 700+ recipes, Gullah verses, and artwork created by Charlestonians.
Mentoring and Rites of Passage | Dr. David Floyd | Self-Help
○ This is a book that aims to inform + empower young Black males with their history, literature, traditions + folklore as they transition from adolescence into adulthood.
○ Take a step back into history with Alphonso Brown, owner and operator of Gullah Tours, Inc., to learn about the Aiken-Rhett House slave quarters, Catfish Row, the Old Slave Mart, sweetgrass basket makers + more. (CHStoday recommendation)
Black America series: Columbia South Carolina | Vennie Deas Moore | Historical
○ Columbia, South Carolina’s capital city, has African American history woven into its fabric. This book explores the challenges of the antebellum South, Reconstruction, the Civil Rights era + more. (This book is also available at the Turning Page Bookshop.)
Mama Doonk’s Gullah Recipes | Theresa Jenkins Hilliard | Cookbook
○ This Edisto Island native recalls her early childhood memories in the kitchen with her grandmother, who was lovingly known as “Mama Doonk”. This Gullah cuisine cookbook shares recipes the pair made together to feed family + friends.
Here are four more Black History Month reads recommended by the Turning Page Bookshop that can be purchased at their local store.
Ida B. the Queen | Michelle Duster | Biography
○ Ida Bell Wells was an investigative journalist, educator, activist, and a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 2020, she was awarded with a Pulitzer Prize posthumously for her “outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.” This biography shines a light on her amazing life + legacy.
Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot | Mikki Kendall | Feminism
○ This book is a collection of essays that covers how the modern feminist movement has failed to address the needs of various groups of women. Topics such as food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, living wages, medical care + more.
The Women of Brewster Place | Gloria Naylor | Fiction
○ This is a collection of short stories that chronicle the triumphs + challenges many Black women can relate to in their life. The Women of Brewster Place won the National Book Award in the category of First Novel. It was also adapted into the 1989 mini-series The Women of Brewster Place + the 1990 tv show Brewster Place by Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions.
A Song Below Water | Bethany C. Morrow | Young Adult Fiction/Fantasy Fiction
○ This book goes into the depths of friendship + self-discovery with the challenges of racism and sexism. Dive into the lives of two play sisters as they navigate the struggles in their life.
Looking to celebrate the work of more Charleston Black authors? Check out more SC State Library reads here.