Throughout the month of February we’ve been highlighting books, music and movies to celebrate Black History month in our weekly newsletter.

As the month comes to a close, here’s a list of what we featured. The books are available in our catalog, and the movies and music are available on Kanopy and Freegal — just input your library card!

Want to get great book suggestions like these weekly in your inbox? Subscribe to the Hartford Public Library enews.



Between The World and Me

by Ta-Nehisi Coates
No. 1 New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Winner

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis.

“Powerful and passionate … profoundly moving … a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today.” — New York Times

The language is visceral, eloquent, and beautifully redemptive. This is required reading.” — Toni Morrison


How We Fight For Our Lives

by Saeed Jones
Winner of the Kirkus Prize
Stonewall Book Award

Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir about a young, Black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires and fears.

“A moving, bracingly honest memoir that reads like fevered poetry.” — New York Times

“Powerful. …. Jones is a remarkable, unflinching storyteller, and his book is a rewarding page-turner.” — Publishers Weekly


Angel of Greenwood

by Randi Pink

A piercing, unforgettable love story set in Greenwood, Oklahoma, and against the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.

“I hope teachers assign this in schools and librarians turn it face-out on the shelves. American kids need to know this history to be good citizens.” — NPR

“…this novel brilliantly juxtaposes a lighthearted story of young Black love with a deft reminder that such beauty has often been violently seized from Black people, and that these instances deserve remembrance.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review


An American Marriage

by Tayari Jones
New York Times Notable Book
2019 NAACP Image Award-Outstanding Literary Work
Oprah Book Club Selection

An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look deep into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward —with hope and pain — into the future.

“A moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.” — Barack Obama

“Haunting. … Beautifully written.” — New York Times Book Review


A Brief History of Seven Killings

by Marlon James
Winner of the Man Booker Prize

This masterful and inventive novel is a fictional exploration of the murder attempt on the life of musician Bob Marley.

“Thrilling, ambitious. … Both intense and epic.” — Los Angeles Times

“A tour de force. [An] audacious, demanding, inventive literary work.” — Wall Street Journal


Sing, Unburied, Sing

by Jesmyn Ward
New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

This is a majestic, unforgettable novel about family past and present told from the voice of a young man trying to find his way.

“This book is so good that after you read it, you will want to read it again.” — Sun Herald

“Very beautiful.” — Vox


Somebody’s Daughter

Ashley C. Ford
New York Times Bestseller
The 21 Most Anticipated Books of 2021 (Time)

An extraordinarily powerful memoir: the story of a childhood defined by the absence of her incarcerated father and the path we must take to both honor and overcome our origins.

“This is a book people will be talking about forever.” — Glennon Doyle, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author

“The writing is so richly observed and so suffused with love and yearning that I kept forgetting to breathe while reading it.” — John Green, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author


The Sweetness of Water

Nathan Harris
New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence

A beautifully written and compelling story about the unlikely bond between two freedmen who are brothers and the Georgia farmer whose alliance will alter their lives, and his, forever

“Beautiful… An instant classic… This book is profound.” — Wall Street Journal

“The Sweetness of Water leaves a lasting and multifaceted impression: It’s warm and absorbing, thought-provoking and humane.” — NPR



I Am Not Your Negro

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” — James Baldwin
Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, this film explores the history of racism in the U.S. through Baldwin’s recollections and own words. BAFTA Award for Best Documentary, 2018. Nominated for Best Documentary Oscar, 2016.
“One of the best movies you are likely to see this year.” — New York Times
You can watch the trailer HERE.


The Central Park Five

From award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, The Central Park Five tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989.

“…a vivid, involving documentary. The story it tells is a wrenching one, but it never succumbs to hyperbole or sensationalism” — NPR


Beyond the Lights

This is an epic and beautiful movie filled with music, romance, comedy and at the center is the celebration of female empowerment. Written and directed by award-winning director of Love & Basketball Gina Prince-Bythewood.

You can watch the trailer HERE.

“I haven’t been able to shake this movie, or Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s performance, since I saw it two months ago. This is a fantastic film. Drop what you’re doing and see it.” —


Saturday Church

This musical coming-of-age tale about a young man exploring his true identity won the 2017 Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival.

“…It is a disarmingly and consistently sensitive movie that remains engaging.” — New York Times



Mary J. Blige

All hail the queen of hip hop and soul.

We did not get enough of Mary J. Blige at the Super Bowl. Lucky for us all we can download her music free on Freegal.

“Believe in yourself when nobody else does.” — Mary J. Blige



Etta James

Etta James is an icon.

“Etta James’ powerful, versatile and emotionally direct voice could enliven the raunchiest blues as well as the subtlest love songs” — New York Times


Alicia Keys

Why not experience the amazing artistry of Alicia Keys?

Revisit her second studio album Diary of Alicia Keys, the one that the New York Times says “confirmed her place in musical history.”

“Everything’s gonna be alright.” ― Alicia Keys




Comments are closed.


Encore Search: