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Black History Month: Titles for Adults

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Each February, we celebrate Black History Month in Canada. This is a perfect time to learn more about the achievements and contributions of Black Canadians to this country and to explore parts of our shared history that haven't always received as much as much attention as they rightfully deserve. Here are some great stories to enjoy this February and every month of the year!

Brock, Jared.
The road to Dawn

Recounts the story of Josiah Henson, a slave who spent forty-one years in bondage before escaping with his family to Upper Canada. He founded a settlement and laborer's school for other fugitive slaves at Dawn, near Dresden in Kent County, Upper Canada.

Ruck, Calvin W.
The black battalion, 1916-1920

"Black military heritage in Canada is still generally unknown and unwritten. Most Canadians have no idea that Blacks served, fought, and died on European battlefields, all in the name of freedom. The story of the overt racist treatment of Black volunteers is a shameful chapter in Canadian history. It does, however, represent an important part of the Black legacy and the Black experience. It is a story worth reporting and worth sharing." - Amazon.ca

Maynard, Robyn
Policing Black lives

"Policing Black Lives is a timely and much-needed exposure of historical and contemporary practices of state-sanctioned violence against Black lives in Canada. This groundbreaking work dispels many prevailing myths that cast Canada as a land of benevolence and racial equality, and uncovers long-standing state practices that have restricted Black freedom. A first of its kind, Policing Black Lives creates a framework that makes legible how anti-Blackness has influenced the construction of Canada's carceral landscape, including the development and application of numerous criminal law enforcement and border regulation practices." - Provided by publisher.

Shadd, Adrienne L.
The underground railroad

"The Underground Railroad: Next Stop, Toronto!, a richly illustrated book, examines the urban connection of the clandestine system of secret routes, safe houses and "conductors." Not only does it trace the story of the Underground Railroad itself and how people courageously made the trip north to Canada and freedom, but it also explores what happened to them after they arrived. And it does so using never-before-published information on the African-Canadian community of Toronto." - Provided by publisher.

Foster, Cecil
They call me George

"A historical work of non-fiction that chronicles the little-known stories of black railway porters-the so-called "Pullmen" of the Canadian rail lines. The actions and spirit of these men helped define Canada as a nation in surprising ways, effecting race relations, human rights, North American multiculturalism, community building, the shape and structure of unions, and the nature of travel and business across the US and Canada. Drawing on the stories and legends of several of these influential early black Canadians, this book narrates the history of a very visible, but rarely considered, aspect of black life in railway-age Canada. These porters, who fought against the idea of Canada as White Man's Country, open only to immigrants from Europe, fought for and won a Canada that would provide opportunities for all its citizens."--Provided by publisher.

Jones, Saeed.
How we fight for our lives

"Written from the crossroads of sex, race, and power in America, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir and a haunting reflection of the nation as a whole"--Provided by publisher.

Richardson, Jael Ealey
The stone thrower

"At the age of thirty, Jael Ealey Richardson travelled with her father — former CFL quarterback Chuck Ealey — for the first time to a small town in southern Ohio for his fortieth high school reunion. Knowing very little about her father’s past, Richardson was searching for the story behind her father’s move from the projects of Portsmouth, Ohio to Canada’s professional football league in the early 1970s. At the railroad tracks where her father first learned to throw with stones, Jael begins an unexpected journey into her family’s past." - Provided by publisher.

Edugyan, Esi.
Half-blood blues

A brilliant jazz musician, Hiero, is arrested by the Nazis and never heard from again. He is twenty years old. He is a German citizen. And he is black. Fifty years later, his friend and fellow musician, Sid, must relive that unforgettable time, revealing the friendships, love affairs and treacheries that sealed Hiero's fate.

Hill, Lawrence
Any known blood

"Spanning five generations, sweeping across a century and a half of almost unknown history, this acclaimed and unexpectedly funny novel is the story of a man seeking himself in the mirror of his family’s past. Rich in historical detail and gracefully flowing from the slave trade of nineteenth-century Virginia to the present, Any Known Blood gives life to a story never before told, a story of five generations of a black Canadian family whose tragedies and victories merge with the American experience." - provided by publisher

Martis, Eternity.
They said this would be fun

The author recounts her experiences as a Black woman on a mostly white university campus.

Cooper, Afua.
The hanging of Angélique

"Cooper sheds new light on the largely misunderstood or ignored history of slavery in Canada. She refutes the myth that Canada was a haven at the end of the Underground Railroad. Cooper also provides a context for Canada in the larger picture of transatlantic slavery while re-creating the tragic life of one woman who refused to accept bondage." - Provided by publisher.

Reynolds, Graham
Viola Desmond

A biography of African Canadian businesswoman and civil rights leader Viola Desmond who was arrested in 1946 for refusing to give up her seat in a whites-only section of a movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

Landon, Fred
Ontario's African-Canadian heritage

Ontario’s African-Canadian Heritage is composed of the collected works of Professor Fred Landon, who for more than 60 years wrote about African-Canadian history. The selected articles have, for the most part, never been surpassed by more recent research and offer a wealth of data on slavery, abolition, the Underground Railroad, and more, providing unique insights into the abundance of African-Canadian heritage in Ontario.

Henry, Natasha L.
Emancipation Day

"When the passage of the Abolition of Slavery Act, effective August 1, 1834, ushered in the end of slavery throughout the British Empire, people of the African descent celebrated their newfound freedom. Now African-American fugitive slaves, free black immigrants, and the few remaining enslaved Africans could live unfettered live in Canada – a reality worthy of celebration. "This new, well-researched book provides insight into the creation, development, and evolution of a distinct African-Canadian tradition through descriptive historical accounts and appealing images. The social, cultural, political, and educational practices of Emanipation Day festivities across Canada are explored, with emphasis on Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and British Columbia." - Provided by publisher.

Mighty Jerome

"From acclaimed filmmaker Charles Officer comes the story of the rise, fall and redemption of Harry Jerome, Canada's most record-setting track and field star. Gorgeous monochrome imagery, impassioned interviews and astonishing archival footage are used to tell the triumphant and compelling story of what Harry Jerome's own coach called "the greatest comeback in track and field history." - NFB

Alexander, Lincoln M.
"Go to school, you're a little black boy"

"Among the important stories that need to be told about noteworthy Canadians, Lincoln Alexander’s sits at the top of the list...From facing down racism to challenging the postwar Ontario establishment, becoming Canada’s first black member of Parliament, entertaining royalty as Ontario’s lieutenant-governor, and serving as chancellor of one of Canada’s leading universities, Alexander’s is the ultimate, uplifting Canadian success story, the embodiment of what defines Canada." - Provided by publisher.

Cole, Desmond
The skin we're in

"A bracing, provocative, and perspective-shifting book from one of Canada's most celebrated and uncompromising writers, Desmond Cole. The Skin We're In will spark a national conversation, influence policy, and inspire activists...Both Cole’s activism and journalism find vibrant expression in his first book, The Skin We’re In. Puncturing the bubble of Canadian smugness and naive assumptions of a post-racial nation, Cole chronicles just one year—2017—in the struggle against racism in this country." - Provided by publisher

Flynn, Karen C.
Moving beyond borders

A history of Black health care workers in Canada, delving into the experiences of thirty-five postwar-era nurses who were born in Canada or who immigrated from the Caribbean either through Britain or directly to Canada.