At Beacon Press, we make it our daily mission to publish books that explore deeply the complex issues of social justice, civil rights, equality, and other humanitarian causes. To that purpose we have published over the years a number of landmark titles by writers, thinkers, poets, activists, and historians who have collectively worked to reshape, to broaden and enrich what we consider to be Black History in America. For us as for them, Black History is more than an annual blip on the news cycle. But we do think of it as an opportunity to take stock of the tremendous achievements that have been made over time, as well as a reminder to contemplate the serious work still left to be done.
This year, Beacon Press is honoring Black History Month with an array of tributes across social media, here on the Beacon Broadside, and elsewhere. We are also offering a 20% discount on all titles of African American interest at beacon.org (use the code FEB2014) throughout the month of February. Here are a few titles we recommend:
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
While you're waiting for Baldwin’s essential poetry collection Jimmy’s Blues to arrive in April, catch up on this classic collection of essays that inaugurated Baldwin as one of the leading interpreters of the dramatic social changes erupting in the United States in the twentieth century. Written during the 1940s and early 1950s, when Baldwin was only in his twenties, the essays collected in Notes of a Native Son capture a view of black life and black thought at the dawn of the civil rights movement and as the movement slowly gained strength through the words of one of the most captivating, almost prophetic essayists and foremost intellectuals of that era. The essays collected here create a cohesive sketch of black America and reveal an intimate portrait of Baldwin’s own search for identity as an artist, as a black man, and as an American.
The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis
In this revealing and comprehensive biography—the first critical treatment of Parks’s life—historian Jeanne Theoharis shows that the standard portrayal of Rosa Parks as a quiet and demure accidental actor is far from true. Presenting a powerful corrective to the popular iconography of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress who with a single act birthed the modern civil rights movement, Theoharis excavates Parks’s political philosophy and six decades of political work to reveal a woman whose existence demonstrated—in her own words—a “life history of being rebellious.” From her family's support of Marcus Garvey to her service with the NAACP in Alabama in the 1940s and 1950s, and from her courageous bus arrest and steadfast efforts on behalf of the Montgomery bus boycott to her work in Detroit challenging Northern racial inequality on behalf of a newly elected Congressman John Conyers and alongside Black Power advocates, Parks’s contributions to the civil rights movement go far beyond a single day.
A Time to Break Silence: The Essential Works of Martin Luther King, Jr. for Students by Martin Luther King, Jr.
A Time to Break Silence is the first collection of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s essential writings for high school students and young people, and presents Dr. King’s most important writings and speeches-carefully selected by teachers across a variety of disciplines—in an accessible and user-friendly volume for students. Arranged thematically in six parts, the collection includes eighteen selections and is introduced by award-winning author Walter Dean Myers. Included are some of Dr. King's most well-known and frequently taught classic works, like “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream,” as well as lesser-known pieces such as “The Sword that Heals" and “What Is Your Life's Blueprint?,” which speak to issues young people face today.