This list, compiled by Candice Benbow, was inspired by Beyoncé's Lemonade. Here you will find links to list items in the TRL catalog and a link to the original document.
Fiction & Literature
The coldest winter ever : a novel
After a black drug dealer goes to jail in Brooklyn, his ruthless 17-year-old daughter takes over his empire. A look at the mores and manners of the black underclass, this one with money. First novel by a hip-hop artist, author of No Disrespect.

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi     
Americanah : a novel
"A young woman from Nigeria leaves behind her home and her first love to start a new life in America, only to find her dreams are not all she expected" -- Provided by publisher. Also available as large print, sound recording, and ebook.

Bambara, Toni Cade     
The salt eaters
Set in Claybourne, a small town somewhere in the South, THE SALT EATERS is the story of a community of black faith healers who, searching for the healing properties of salt, witness an event that will change their lives forever.

Butler, Octavia E     
Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned across the years to save him. After this first summons, Dana is drawn back, again and again, to the plantation to protect Rufus and ensure that he will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana's ancestor. Yet each time Dana's sojourns become longer and more dangerous, until it is uncertain whether or not her life will end, long before it has even begun. Also available as sound recording and ebook.

Butler, Octavia E     
Parable of the sower
Set thirty years in the future, a young woman suffering from hyperempathy, to feel others' pain as well as her own, makes a dangerous journey north from Southern California. Also available as ebook.

Cleage, Pearl     
What looks like crazy on an ordinary day-- : a novel
After a decade of elegant pleasures and luxe living with the Atlanta brothers and sisters with the best clothes and biggest dreams, Ava Johnson has temporarily returned home to Idlewild—her fabulous career and power plans smashed to bits by cold reality. But what she imagines to be the end is, instead, a beginning. Because, in the ten-plus years since Ava left, all the problems of the big city have come to roost in the sleepy North Michigan community whose ordinariness once drove her away; and she cannot turn her back on friends and family who sorely need her in the face of impending trouble and tragedy. Besides which, that one unthinkable, unmistakable thing is now happening to her: Ava Johnson is falling in love.

Hansberry, Lorraine     
A raisin in the sun
This groundbreaking play starred Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeill, Ruby Dee and Diana Sands in the Broadway production which opened in 1959. Set on Chicago's South Side, the plot revolves around the divergent dreams and conflicts within three generations of the Younger family: son Walter Lee, his wife Ruth, his sister Beneatha, his son Travis and matriarch Lena, called Mama. When her deceased husband's insurance money comes through, Mama dreams of moving to a new home and a better neighborhood in Chicago. Walter Lee, a chauffeur, has other plans, however: buying a liquor store and being his own man. Beneatha dreams of medical school. Also available as sound recording and DVD.

Hurston, Zora Neale     
Their eyes were watching God
A novel about black Americans in Florida that centers on the life of Janie and her three marriages. Also available as sound recording and ebook.

Jemisin, N K     
The fifth season
Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries. But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes -- those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon -- are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back. She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

Jones, Tayari     
Silver sparrow : a novel
With the opening line of Silver Sparrow, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” author Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man’s deception, a family’s complicity, and the two teenage girls caught in the middle. Also available as sound recording and ebook.

Larsen, Nella     
Clare Kendry leads a dangerous life. Fair, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a white man unaware of her African American heritage, and has severed all ties to her past. Clare’s childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, but refuses to acknowledge the racism that continues to constrict her family’s happiness. A chance encounter forces both women to confront the lies they have told others—and the secret fears they have buried within themselves. First published in 1929.

McMillan, Terry     
Disappearing acts [electronic resource]
Beyond the joy of sex, Franklin and Zora see the possibility of a solid, lasting relationship; the trouble is, they're far from sure of how to get there. Disappearing Acts is a different kind of love story: frank and unsentimental, often uproariously funny, and graced throughout with moments of rare, hard-earned wisdom.

McMillan, Terry     
Getting to happy
Best friends Savannah, Gloria, Bernadine, and Robin have had their share of broken marriages, concessions, and the lessons learned from taking happiness for granted. Now, with each at a crossroads that will define their future, it’s time for these women to get their act together. They’re on their way to healing past hurts and to reclaiming the joy and the dreams they deserve. And they’re doing it with spirit, sass, and hard-earned faith in one another. It’s been fifteen years since they exhaled: now they’re finally learning to breathe. Also available as large print and sound recording

McMillan, Terry     
Waiting to exhale
From the critically acclaimed author of A Day Late and a Dollar Short and The Interruption of Everything, a wise, earthy story of a friendship between four African American women who lean on each other while "waiting to exhale": waiting for that man who will take their breath away. Also available as DVD and streaming audio.

Morrison, Toni     
Beloved : a novel
Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Also available as DVD

Morrison, Toni     
Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. In this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison tells the story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Their devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret. It endures even after Nel has grown up to be a pillar of the black community and Sula has become a pariah. But their friendship ends in an unforgivable betrayal—or does it end?

Morrison, Toni     
The bluest eye : a novel
Pecola Breedlove, a young black girl, prays every day for beauty. Mocked by other children for the dark skin, curly hair, and brown eyes that set her apart, she yearns for normalcy, for the blond hair and blue eyes that she believes will allow her to finally fit in.Yet as her dream grows more fervent, her life slowly starts to disintegrate in the face of adversity and strife. Also available as sound recording

Naylor, Gloria     
Mama Day
Miranda Day, matriarch of an island off the coast of the U.S., fights a mortal combat with dark forces that threaten her great-niece, Cocoa, who has married and gone to the mainland.

Okorafor, Nnedi     
The book of Phoenix : a novel
"Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York's Tower 7. She is an 'accelerated woman'--only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix's abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7. Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7's refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape. But Phoenix's escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity's future"--|cprovided by publisher.

Oyeyemi, Helen     
Boy, snow, bird : a novel
A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African-Americans passing for white. And even as Boy, Snow, and Bird are divided, their estrangement is complicated by an insistent curiosity about one another. In seeking an understanding that is separate from the image each presents to the world, Boy, Snow, and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power surfaces really hold.

Perkins-Valdez, Dolen     
Balm : a novel
"Set during the Civil War era and exploring the next chapter of history-the end of slavery-this powerful story of love and healing is about three people who struggle to overcome the pain of the past and define their own future"--|cProvided by publisher.

Perkins-Valdez, Dolen     
Wench : a novel
Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It's their open secret. Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don't bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory-but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change. Also available in large print and as streaming audio.

Petry, Ann     
The street
THE STREET tells the poignant, often heartbreaking story of Lutie Johnson, a young black woman, and her spirited struggle to raise her son amid the violence, poverty, and racial dissonance of Harlem in the late 1940s. Originally published in 1946 and hailed by critics as a masterwork, The Street was Ann Petry's first novel, a beloved bestseller with more than a million copies in print. Its haunting tale still resonates today.

Shange, Ntozake     
Sassafrass, cypress & indigo [electronic resource]
Ntozake Shange's most beloved novel, Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo, is the story of three ?colored girls,? three sisters and their mama from Charleston, South Carolina. Sassafrass, the oldest, is a poet and a weaver like her mother, gone north to college and living with other artists in Los Angeles, trying to weave a life out of her work, her man, her memories, and her dreams. Cypress, the dancer, leaves home to find new ways of moving and easing the contractions of her soul. Indigo, the youngest, is still a child of Charleston?with ?too much of the South in her??who lives in poetry, can talk to her dolls, and has a great gift of seeing the obvious magic of the world.

Smith, Sherri L     
"Set in a futuristic, hostile Orleans landscape, Fen de la Guerre must deliver her tribe leader's baby over the Wall into the Outer States before her blood becomes tainted with Delta Fever"--Provided by publisher.

Walker, Alice     
Possessing the secret of joy
A peripheral character in The Color Purple and The Temple of My Familiar, Tashi becomes the focus of this welcome new work. Tashi, who marries Celie's son Adam, submits to female circumcision partially out of loyalty to the threatened tribal customs of her people, the Olinka. As a result, she endures physical pain and long-lasting emotional trauma. Not a sympathetically drawn victim, the tortured Tashi stretches to bridge two continents and to understand why women must undergo this torture, even at the hands of their mothers, for the pleasure of men. Though she often succumbs to madness, Tashi eventually takes possession of the secret of joy.

Walker, Alice     
The color purple : a novel
Published to unprecedented acclaim, The Color Purple established Alice Walker as a major voice in modern fiction. This is the story of two sisters—one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South—who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic novel of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life. Also available as DVD, sound recording, and ebook.

Walker, Alice     
The way forward is with a broken heart
The author presents a collection of short fiction based on her own life, including "To My Young Husband, " an autobiographical piece that describes life amid the turbulence of the Deep South at the dawn of the civil rights movement.

Walker, Alice     
You can't keep a good woman down : stories
A natural evolution from the earlier, much-acclaimed short-story collection In Love & Trouble, these fourteen provocative and often humorous stories show women oppressed but not defeated. No longer do they excuse the aggression of others; no longer are they suspended in their unhappy condition. The women here claim every bit of space they make. These are modern stories: about love, lust, fame, and cultural thievery; the perils of pornography, abortion, and rape; the delight of new lovers; and the rediscovery of old friends, affirmed even across self-imposed color lines.

Black Feminist Studies
Davis, Angela Y     
Women, race & class
A powerful study of the women's movement in the U.S. from abolitionist days to the present that demonstrates how it has always been hampered by the racist and classist biases of its leaders.

hooks, bell     
All about love : new visions
Presenting radical new ways to think about love, the author examines the role of love in our personal and professional lives and how it can be used to end struggles between individuals, communities, and societies.

hooks, bell     
Bone Black : memories of girlhood
Stitching together girlhood memories with the finest threads of innocence, feminist intellectual bell hooks presents a powerfully intimate account of growing up in the South. A memoir of ideas and perceptions, Bone Black shows the unfolding of female creativity and one strong-spirited child's journey toward becoming a writer. She learns early on the roles women and men play in society, as well as the emotional vulnerability of children. She sheds new light on a society that beholds the joys of marriage for men and condemns anything more than silence for women. In this world, too, black is a woman's color- worn when earned- daughters and daddies are strangers under the same roof, and crying children are often given something to cry about. hooks finds good company in solitude, good company in books. She also discovers, in the motionless body of misunderstanding, that writing is her most vital breath.

hooks, bell     
Communion : the female search for love
Intimate, revealing, provocative, Communion challenges every female to courageously claim the search for love as the heroic journey we must all choose to be truly free. In her trademark commanding and lucid language, hooks explores the ways ideas about women and love were changed by feminist movement, by women's full participation in the workforce, and by the culture of self-help.

Lorde, Audre     
Sister outsider : essays and speeches
In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change. Her prose is incisive, unflinching, and lyrical, reflecting struggle but ultimately offering messages of hope.

English & Critical Theory
Hartman, Saidiya V     
Lose your mother : a journey along the Atlantic slave route
In Lose Your Mother, Saidiya Hartman traces the history of the Atlantic slave trade by recounting a journey she took along a slave route in Ghana. Following the trail of captives from the hinterland to the Atlantic coast, she reckons with the blank slate of her own genealogy and vividly dramatizes the effects of slavery on three centuries of African and African American history.

Morrison, Toni     
Playing in the dark : whiteness and the literary imagination
Toni Morrison's brilliant discussions of the "Africanist" presence in the fiction of Poe, Melville, Cather, and Hemingway leads to a dramatic reappraisal of the essential characteristics of our literary tradition. She shows how much the themes of freedom and individualism, manhood and innocence, depended on the existence of a black population that was manifestly unfree--and that came to serve white authors as embodiments of their own fears and desires.

Historical & Cultural Studies
Rose, Tricia     
Longing to tell : Black women talk about sexuality and intimacy
In a culture driven by sexual and racial imagery, very few honest conversations about race, gender, and sexuality actually take place. In their absence, commonly held perceptions of black women as teenage mothers, welfare recipients, mammies, or exotic sexual playthings remain unchanged. For fear that telling their stories will fulfill society's implicit expectations about their sexuality, most black women have retreated into silence. Tricia Rose seeks to break this silence and jump-start a dialogue by presenting, for the first time, the sexual testimonies of black women who span a broad range of ages, levels of education, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Both brilliantly conceived and sensitively executed, Longing to Tell is required reading for anyone interested in issues of race and gender.

Davis, Angela Y     
Freedom is a constant struggle : Ferguson, Palestine, and the foundations of a movement
In these newly collected essays, interviews, and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world. Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality, and prison abolitionism for today's struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous liberation struggles, from the Black Freedom Movement to the South African anti-Apartheid movement. She highlights connections and analyzes today's struggles against state terror, from Ferguson to Palestine. Facing a world of outrageous injustice, Davis challenges us to imagine and build the movement for human liberation. And in doing so, she reminds us that "Freedom is a constant struggle." Also available in ebook format.

Davis, Angela Y     
The meaning of freedom
In this collection of twelve previously unpublished speeches, Davis confronts the interconnected issues of power, race, gender, class, incarceration, conservatism, and the ongoing need for social change in the United States.

Harris-Perry, Melissa V     
Sister citizen [electronic resource]
Jezebel's sexual lasciviousness, Mammy's devotion, and Sapphire's outspoken anger-these are among the most persistent stereotypes that black women encounter in contemporary American life. Hurtful and dishonest, such representations force African American women to navigate a virtual crooked room that shames them and shapes their experiences as citizens. Many respond by assuming a mantle of strength that may convince others, and even themselves, that they do not need help. But as a result, the unique political issues of black women are often ignored and marginalized.In this groundbreaking book, Melissa V. Harris-Perry uses multiple methods of inquiry, including literary analysis, political theory, focus groups, surveys, and experimental research, to understand more deeply black women's political and emotional responses to pervasive negative race and gender images. Not a traditional political science work concerned with office-seeking, voting, or ideology, Sister Citizen is an examination of how African American women understand themselves as citizens and what they expect from political organizing. Harris-Perry shows that the shared struggle to preserve an authentic self and secure recognition as citizens links together black women in America, from the anonymous survivors of Hurricane Katrina to the current First Lady of the United States.

Jones, Charisse     
Shifting : the double lives of Black women in America
Based on the African American Women's Voices Project, Shifting reveals that a large number of African American women feel pressure to com-promise their true selves as they navigate America's racial and gender bigotry. Black women "shift" by altering the expectations they have for themselves or their outer appearance. They modify their speech. They shift "White" as they head to work in the morning and "Black" as they come back home each night. They shift inward, internalizing the searing pain of the negative stereotypes that they encounter daily. And sometimes they shift by fighting back. With deeply moving interviews, poignantly revealed on each page, Shifting is a much-needed, clear, and comprehensive portrait of the reality of African American women's lives today.

McGuire, Danielle L     
At the dark end of the street Black Women, Rape, and Resistance--A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power
At the Dark End of the Street describes the decades of degradation black women on the Montgomery city buses endured on their way to cook and clean for their white bosses. It reveals how Rosa Parks, by 1955 one of the most radical activists in Alabama, had had enough. “There had to be a stopping place,” she said, “and this seemed to be the place for me to stop being pushed around.” Parks refused to move from her seat on the bus, was arrested, and, with fierce activist Jo Ann Robinson, organized a one-day bus boycott. We see how and why Rosa Parks, instead of becoming a leader of the movement she helped to start, was turned into a symbol of virtuous black womanhood, sainted and celebrated for her quiet dignity, prim demeanor, and middle-class propriety—her radicalism all but erased. And we see as well how thousands of black women whose courage and fortitude helped to transform America were reduced to the footnotes of history.

Morris, Monique W     
Black stats : African Americans by the numbers in the twenty-first century
Black Stats-- a comprehensive guide filled with contemporary facts and figures on African Americans-- is an essential reference for anyone attempting to fathom the complex state of our nation. With fascinating and often surprising information on everything from incarceration rates, lending practices, and the arts to marriage, voting habits, and green jobs, the contextualized material in this book will better attune readers to telling trends while challenging commonly held, yet often misguided, perceptions. A compilation that at once highlights measures of incredible progress and enumerates the disparate impacts of social policies and practices, this book is a critical tool for advocates, educators, and policy makers. Black Stats offers indispensable information that is sure to enlighten discussions and provoke debates about the quality of Black life in the United States today-and help chart the path to a better future. There are less than a quarter-million Black public school teachers in the U.S.-- representing just 7 percent of all teachers in public schools. Approximately half of the Black population in the United States lives in neighborhoods that have no White residents. In the five years before the Great Recession, the number of Black-owned businesses in the United States increased by 61 percent. A 2010 study found that 41 percent of Black youth feel that rap music videos should be more political. There are no Black owners or presidents of an NFL franchise team. 78 percent of Black Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, compared with 56 percent of White Americans.

Painter, Nell Irvin     
Creating Black Americans : African-American history and its meanings, 1619 to the present
Painter offers a history written for a new generation of African Americans, stretching from life in Africa before slavery to today's hip-hop culture. The book describes the staggering number of Africans--over ten million--forcibly transported to the New World, most doomed to brutal servitude in Brazil and the Caribbean. Painter looks at the free black population, numbering close to half a million by 1860 (compared to almost four million slaves), and provides a gripping account of the horrible conditions of slavery itself. The book examines the Civil War, revealing that it only slowly became a war to end slavery, and shows how Reconstruction, after a promising start, was shut down by terrorism by white supremacists. Painter traces how through the long Jim Crow decades, blacks succeeded against enormous odds, creating schools and businesses and laying the foundations of our popular culture. We read about the glorious outburst of artistic creativity of the Harlem Renaissance, the courageous struggles for Civil Rights in the 1960s, the rise and fall of Black Power, the modern hip-hop movement, and two black Secretaries of State. Painter concludes that African Americans today are wealthier and better educated, but the disadvantaged are as vulnerable as ever.

Williams, Terrie M     
Black pain : it just looks like we're not hurting : real talk for when there's no where to go but up
Black Pain identifies emotional pain -- which uniquely and profoundly affects the Black experience -- as the root of lashing out through desperate acts of crime, violence, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, workaholism, and addiction to shopping, gambling, and sex. Few realize these destructive acts are symptoms of our inner sorrow. Black people are dying. Everywhere we turn, in the faces we see and the headlines we read, we feel in our gut that something is wrong, but we don't know what it is. It's time to recognize it and work through our trauma.

Winfrey Harris, Tamara     
The sisters are alright : changing the broken narrative of black women in America
"Everyone seems to have an opinion about American black women--they need to get married, change their hair, act like 'ladies,' and so on. Celebrated writer Tamara Winfrey Harris writes a searing account of being a black woman in America and explains why it's time for black women to speak for themselves"--Provided by publisher. Also available on CD, as ebook, and in streaming audio format.

Inspirational & Self-Care
Chittister, Joan     
Scarred by struggle, transformed by hope
Building on the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with God and on the story of her own battle with life-changing disappointment, Sister Joan Chittister deftly explores the landscape of suffering and hope, considering along the way such wide-ranging topics as consumerism, technology, grief, the role of women in the Catholic Church, and the events of September 11, 2001. We struggle, she says, against change, isolation, darkness, fear, powerlessness, vulnerability, exhaustion, and scarring; and while these struggles sometimes seem insurmountable, we can emerge from them with the gifts of conversion, detachment, faith, courage, surrender, limitations, endurance, transformation, and (perhaps most important) hope.

Gandy, Debrena Jackson     
All the joy you can stand : 101 sacred power principles for making joy real in your life
Filled with personal experiences and insightful stories from readers, friends, and seminar participants, this uplifting get-real guide is a must-read for women who want to develop their spiritual strength and tap into their divine potential. Discover how to have a life of joy, peace, power, and ease.

McKenzie, Vashti M     
Journey to the well
Offers advice on self-empowerment to Christian women, sharing the biblical story of the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well and presenting twelve lessons through which women can overcome adversity.

Vanzant, Iyanla     
One day my soul just opened up : 40 days and 40 nights toward spiritual strength and personal growth
Through exercises and readings, Iyanla provides you with the tools to tap into your strengths and make your dreams come true. One Day My Soul Just Opened Up will open your mind, heart, and soul to the truth of your identity as a creative and powerful being. Also available in large print and as streaming audio.

Vanzant, Iyanla     
Yesterday, I cried : celebrating the lessons of living and loving
The author uses her personal experiences to show how hardships can be transformed into lessons in spritual growth, healing, and love. Also available in large print.

Acoustic soul [sound recording]

Ibeyi [sound recording]

Songversation (deluxe edition) [electronic resource].

SongVersation [sound recording]

Testimony. Volume 2, Love & politics [sound recording]

Voyage to India [sound recording]

Giddens, Rhiannon     
Tomorrow is my turn [electronic resource]

Giddens, Rhiannon     
Tomorrow is my turn [sound recording]

Jackson, Janet     
Janet [electronic resource]

Reeves, Dianne     
Beautiful life [electronic resource]

Reeves, Dianne     
Beautiful life [sound recording]

Scott, Jill     
The light of the sun [sound recording]

Scott, Jill     
Woman [electronic resource]

Scott, Jill     
Woman [sound recording]

Theater, Film & Documentary
A raisin in the sun (1961 version) [DVD]
Film of the award-winning play about a struggling black family living on Chicago's South Side and the impact of an unexpected insurance bequest. Each family member sees the bequest as the means of realizing dreams and of escape from grinding frustrations.

Carmen Jones [DVD]
Joe, a military policeman about to make officer, is infatuated with the flirtatious and sexy Carmen Jones. Their ill-fated romance comes to a grisly end by the conclusion of the drama but not before their liaison has wreaked havoc with their lives and all who cross their paths.

Eve's Bayou [DVD].

Home [DVD]
A lovable misfit from another planet meets a girl named Tip. The two unlikely friends embark on the greatest journey of all time.

I will follow [DVD]
"Maye is a success. Hot career. Hot boyfriend. But when her world is turned upside down by tragedy, she must struggle to keep her balance... chronicles a day in the life of a woman at a crossroads, and the twelve people who help her move forward into a brave, new world"--Container.

Set It Off [DVD].
When four female friends in L.A. are pushed over the edge, they take up bank robbery to escape poverty and strike a blow against 'the man.'

The book of negroes [DVD]
A universal story of loss, courage and triumph, this recounts the extraordinary journey of Aminata Diallo, an indomitable African woman who survives in a world in which everything seems to be against her. Kidnapped by slave traders in West Africa then sold into slavery in South Carolina, Aminata navigates her way through the American Revolution in New York, the isolated refuge of Nova Scotia, and the treacherous jungles of Sierra Leone, before finally securing her freedom in England.

The color purple [DVD]
An uneducated woman living in the rural American south who was raped by her father, deprived of the children she bore him and forced to marry a brutal man she calls "Mister" is transformed by the friendship of two remarkable women, acquiring self-worth and the strength to forgive.

The Feast of all saints [DVD]
Set in nineteenth-century New Orleans, the story depicts the gens de couleur libre, or the Free People of Colour, a dazzling yet damned class caught between the world of white privilege and black oppression.

The princess and the frog [DVD]
New Orleans. Arrogant, carefree Prince Naveen and hardworking waitress Tiana cross paths. Prince Naveen is transformed into a frog by a conniving voodoo magician. Tiana follows suit when she decides to kiss the amphibian royalty. With the help of a trumpet-playing alligator, a Cajun firefly, and an old blind lady who lives in a boat in a tree, Naveen and Tiana must race to break the spell and fulfill their dreams.

The secret life of bees [DVD]
Lily Owens is a young girl who lives on the peach farm that her abusive father owns. Rosaleen is a black woman hired by Lily's father to be a stand in mother for Lilly. Rosaleen insults some of the biggest racists in their town. Lily and Rosaleen run away to a town Lily believes that her mother once lived in. They go to live with the three Boatwright sisters on their honey farm. She finds solace in their mesmerizing world of beekeeping.

The Wiz [DVD]
A discontented kindergarten teacher living in Harlem is lost in a blizzard and comes upon the wonderland of Oz. There she meets new friends, tries to find her way home, and finds that her life is not so bad after all.

The women of Brewster Place [DVD]
Mattie Michael, whose life has been plagued by misfortunes, is alone in a ghetto tenement on Brewster Place. She gradually unites the other tenement women to help them struggle for a new life.

Waiting to Exhale [DVD].

Non-Fiction & Autobiography
Souljah, Sister     
No disrespect
Rapper, activist, and hip-hop rebel, Sister Souljah possesses the most passionate and articulate voice to emerge from the projects. Now she uses that voice to deliver what is at once a fiercely candid autobiography and a survival manual for any African American woman determined to keep her heart open and her integrity intact in 1990s America.

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi     
We should all be feminists
In this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists. Also available as ebook

Angelou, Maya     
Even the stars look lonesome
Even the Stars Look Lonesome is a profound series of essays that explores aspects of life both big and small, with Maya Angelou serving as the unique, spellbinding guide to a powerful spiritual journey. Also available as large print, ebook, sound recording, streaming audio

Angelou, Maya     
I know why the caged bird sings
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned. Also available as ebook and streaming audio

Angelou, Maya     
Letter to my daughter
Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou's path to living well and living a life with meaning. Whether she is recalling such lost friends as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a "lifelong endeavor, " or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice--Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family. Also available as ebook and streaming audio.

Bandele, Asha     
Something like beautiful : one single mother's story
Award-winning journalist, and author of The Prisoner’s Wife and Daughter, and performance poet featured on HBO’S Def Poetry Jam, asha bandele once again writes from the heart in her lyrical and intimate memoir Something Like Beautiful—a moving story of love, loss, motherhood, and survival. Sharing the story of her struggles as a single black mother in New York City and her tragically self-destructive near-breakdown, asha bears her soul in a book Rebecca Walker, author of Baby Love, calls “courageous, profound, and achingly beautiful.”

Brown, Cupcake     
A piece of cake : a memoir
An inspirational, frequently disturbing memoir of a troubled youth describes how the author fell victim to the ills of the child welfare system and her long and difficult struggle to rebuild her life. Also available as ebook.

Chin, Staceyann     
The other side of paradise : a memoir
The author and performance artist reflects on her childhood growing up in Jamaica, including being abandoned by her mother, coming out as a lesbian, and searching for her father.

Cleage, Pearl     
Things I should have told my daughter : lies, lessons & love affairs
An inspiring and revelatory memoir of juggling marriage, motherhood and politics as she worked to become a successful writer and self-fulfilled woman. Also available as large print and sound recording.

Jacobs, Harriet A     
Incidents in the life of a slave girl
The true story of an individual's struggle for self-identity, self-preservation, and freedom, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl remains among the few extant slave narratives written by a woman. This autobiographical account chronicles the remarkable odyssey of Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897) whose dauntless spirit and faith carried her from a life of servitude and degradation in North Carolina to liberty and reunion with her children in the North. Also available as ebook, streaming audio, sound recording

Moody, Anne     
Coming of age in Mississippi
Anne Moody provides a first person account of growing up black in the rural South during the nineteen forties and fifties.

Morgan, Joan     
When chickenheads come home to roost : my life as a hip-hop feminist
A personal analysis of the concerns facing African American women discusses the misogyny of hip hop, the lack of positive role models, and other topics

Shakur, Assata     
Assata : an autobiography
The author, formerly known as JoAnne Chesimard, relates the formative experiences of her youth that led her to a life of activism in Black nationalist organizations and, eventually, to prison

Walker, Alice     
In search of our mothers' gardens : womanist prose
In her first collection of nonfiction, Alice Walker speaks out as a black woman, writer, mother, and feminist, in thirty-six pieces ranging from the personal to the political. Here are essays about Walker's own work and that of other writers, accounts of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the antinuclear movement of the 1980s, and a vivid, courageous memoir of a scarring childhood injury. Throughout the volume, Walker explores the theories and practices of feminists and feminism, incorporating what she calls the "womanist" tradition of black women.

Religion & Womanist Theology
Fernandez Olmos, Margarite     
Creole religions of the Caribbean : an introduction from Vodou and Santera to Obeah and Espiritismo
Creole Religions of the Caribbean offers a comprehensive introduction to the syncretic religions that have developed in the region. From Vodou, Santeria, Regla de Palo, the Abakua Secret Society, and Obeah to Quimbois and Espiritismo, the volume traces the historical–cultural origins of the major Creole religions, as well as the newer traditions such as Pocomania and Rastafarianism. This second edition updates the scholarship on the religions themselves and also expands the regional considerations of the Diaspora to the U. S. Latino community who are influenced by Creole spiritual practices. Fernandez Olmos and Paravisini–Gebert also take into account the increased significance of material culture—art, music, literature—and healing practices influenced by Creole religions.

Hurston, Zora Neale     
Tell my horse : voodoo and life in Haiti and Jamaica
The author recounts her experiences as an initiate into the voodoo practices of Haiti and Jamaica in the 1930s

Poetry & Photography
Giovanni, Nikki     
The 100 best African American poems : (*but I cheated)
Contains one hundred poems from classic and contemporary African American poets, as selected by an award-winning black poet and activist, including such writers as Robert Hayden, Mari Evans, Kevin Young, and Rita Dove.

Angelou, Maya     
Phenomenal woman : four poems celebrating women
These four poems celebrate women with a majesty that has inspired and touched the hearts of millions.

Lewis, Robin Coste     
Voyage of the Sable Venus and other poems And Other Poems
Robin Coste Lewis’s electrifying collection is a triptych that begins and ends with lyric poems considering the roles desire and race play in the construction of the self. The central panel is the title poem, “Voyage of the Sable Venus,” a riveting narrative made up entirely of titles of artworks from ancient times to the present—titles that feature or in some way comment on the black female figure in Western art. Bracketed by Lewis’s autobiographical poems, “Voyage” is a tender and shocking study of the fragmentary mysteries of stereotype, as it juxtaposes our names for things with what we actually see and know. Offering a new understanding of biography and the self, this collection questions just where, historically, do ideas about the black female figure truly begin—five hundred years ago, five thousand, or even longer? And what role has art played in this ancient, often heinous story? From the “Young Black Female Carrying / a Perfume Vase” to a “Little Brown Girl / Girl Standing in a Tree / First Day of Voluntary / School Integration,” this poet adores her culture and the beauty to be found within it. Yet she is also a cultural critic alert to the nuances of race and desire and how they define us all, including herself, as she explores her own sometimes painful history. Lewis’s book is a thrilling aesthetic anthem to the complexity of race—a full embrace of its pleasure and horror, in equal parts.

Scott, Jill     
The moments, the minutes, the hours : the poetry of Jill Scott
A collection of poetic works drawn from the personal writings of the award-winning music artist and lyricist explores such themes as love, the self, and the author's experiences as an African-American woman.

Shange, Ntozake     
For colored girls who have considered suicide, when the rainbow is enuf : a choreopoem
First published in 1975, Shange's choreopoem has been read and performed because it truly revealed what it meant to be of color and female in the twentieth century. Here is the complete text, with stage directions of the dramatic prose poem that resonates with unusual beauty in its fierce message to the world. Also available on DVD.

Shire, Warsan     
Teaching my mother how to give birth
What elevates 'teaching my mother how to give birth', what gives the poems their disturbing brilliance, is Warsan Shire's ability to give simple, beautiful eloquence to the veiled world where sensuality lives in the dominant narrative of Islam; reclaiming the more nuanced truths of earlier times - as in Tayeb Salih's work - and translating to the realm of lyric the work of the likes of Nawal El Saadawi. As Rumi said, "Love will find its way through all languages on its own"; in 'teaching my mother how to give birth', Warsan's début pamphlet, we witness the unearthing of a poet who finds her way through all preconceptions to strike the heart directly. Warsan Shire is a Kenyan-born Somali poet and writer who is based in London. Born in 1988, she is an artist and activist who uses her work to document narratives of journey and trauma. Warsan has read her work internationally, including recent readings in South Africa, Italy and Germany, and her poetry has been translated into Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

Link to Lemonade Syllabus

  Lacey Staff - June 2016