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Recommended Reading about Inspiring African Americans

 

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

This beautifully written, well researched and thoroughly engrossing epic recounts the little known story of the great migration of African Americans during the period of 1915 – 1970.  Enter the worlds of three families and countless unnamed others who decided to uproot themselves from the American South to pursue freedom and opportunity in the North and West.  Their journeys give readers (listeners) an intimate peek into the migrants’ motivations, desires, challenges and rewards.  The audio recording would make an excellent radio theater or study group event!"

The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson, Vintage Books/Random House, 2010

-- Review by Donna Grimes, Assistant Director, African American Affairs, USCCB

Eight Habits of the Heart by Clifton L. Taulbert

"....eloquently illustrates the power of God to draw goodness even from the pain and humiliation of legal segregation."

"This powerful little book has been on my bookshelf for several years.  When I finally read it, I found it to be a real jewel.  Taulbert, who also authored When We Were Colored, The Last Train North and Watching Our Crops Come In, has a gift for illuminating the lives and lessons learned in his childhood Mississippi community.  Eight Habits of the Heart eloquently illustrates the power of God to draw goodness even from the pain and humiliation of legal segregation.  The author’s group exercises for building these habits and recommended family reading lists for adults, middle/high school and children are a bonus."

Eight Habits of the Heart, Clifton L. Taulbert, Viking/Dial Books, 1997

-- Review by Donna Grimes

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

Wes Moore and Wes Moore grew up a few blocks from each other; they shared the same name, the same Baltimore neighborhood, participated in local youth activities. Both “acted out” in adolescent mischief. One becomes a Rhodes Scholar, White House Fellow and war hero; the other went to prison as a convicted murderer. While they shared name, neighborhood, and habits, they couldn’t have been further apart. One of the Wes Moore’s shares the tedious plight of young urban African American men in his bestselling book."

The Other Wes Moore, Wes Moore, Random House 2011

-- Review by Ralph McCloud, Jr., Parishioner, St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Washington DC

Voices in the Mirror by Gordon Parks

When the Works Progress Administration was established as a part of Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1935, who knew that the world would come to know the amazing talent of Gordon Parks?  He is first known as a photographer, but he is also a filmmaker, composer and author.  Not only has he photographed some of the most amazing American icons, but he was able to capture stories of everyday people with his camera.  His words and perspective in his autobiography are a gift to those who have the opportunity to read his work."

Voices in the Mirror, Gordon Parks, Broadway Books, 1990.  

-- Review by Kimberly Mazyck, Relationship Manager, Catholic Relief Services and Parishioner of St. Augustine Catholic Church in Washington, DC

I’ve Known Rivers: Lives of Loss and Liberation by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot

"A common thread of many biographies about African-Americans is to tell a story about an individual who defies the economic challenge of poverty to achieve."

"A common thread of many biographies about African-Americans is to tell a story about an individual who defies the economic challenge of poverty to achieve.  Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot became fascinated with the work, Black Bourgeoisie by E. Franklin Frazier and his analysis and study of the African-American middle class.  Ms. Lawrence-Lightfoot brings six stories of achievement to her audience.  Her portraits of Katie Cannon, Charles Ogletree, Toni Schiesler, Tony Earls, Cheryle Wills and Orlando Bagwell examine the course of life as one succeeds and yet works to remain connected to culture even as a professional life may create distance from one’s community."

I’ve Known Rivers:  Lives of Loss and Liberation, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Penguin Books, 1994.

 -- Review by Kimberly Mazyck

The Man Called Brown Condor: The Forgotten History of an African American Fighter Pilot by Thomas E. Simmons

Did you know that Colonel John C. Robinson, affectionately known as 'The Brown Condor,' an African- American from Gulfport, Mississippi led the Ethiopian Air Corps during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1936. He served as the personal pilot for Emperor Haile Selassie I against the fascist aggression of Benito Mussolini. Robinson, a graduate of Tuskeegee University, was also instrumental in building the aviation school at his Alma Mater. He laid the groundwork for the pilots who would later become the famed Tuskeegee Airmen who served in World War II.

You can read about this inspiring story in Thomas  E. Simmons' book The Man Called Brown Condor: The Forgotten History of an African American Fighter Pilot. (Skyhorse Publishing; Copyright 2013)"

 -- Review by Kamau Grimes, Morehouse graduate, age 23



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