Essential Reads

Classics ; These books & articles should be in all personal libraries.

This list will be continuously updated.

For the chile:

African-American Folklore : Stories from Black Traditions in the New World
To be honest, I got more into folklore as an adult, but these often hilarious stories and antidotes  are written with great care and wit and  include important moral lessons, are good for all ages.

The Dangerous Book for Boys:  Not a book related to the Black experience in specific but hearkens back to a time when kids went outside  and played, had actually hobbies and interests outside of the TV and the internet.  There is also an equally if not better companion book  for girls called The Daring Book for Girls

For adults:

Black Majority:  Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion :  A seminal work in Black American History, it was among the first books to detail what the African slave brought to this country during the transatlantic slave trade, previously most believe what we learned was taught to us by the slave masters. From this book you will learn the origins of African-American culture, the very first step toward self-determination and dignity. It is also one of the few black history books to focus on the 18th century.

The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual: A Historical Analysis of the Failure of Black Leadership by Harold W. Cruse, introduction by Stanley Crouch: “Reviewing black intellectual life from the Harlem Renaissance through the 1960s, Cruse discusses the legacy (and offers memorably acid-edged portraits) of figures such as Paul Robeson, Lorraine Hansberry, and James Baldwin, arguing that their work was marked by a failure to understand the specifically American character of racism in the United States. This supplies the background to Cruse’s controversial critique of both integrationism and Black nationalism and to his claim that black Americans will only assume a just place within American life when they develop their own distinctive centers of cultural and economic influence.”


Ralph Ellison in the Paris Review even as an interview is incredibly informative about real Black culture in America. His explanation on how Negro Folklore fits with in the frame-work of America alone is more than most artist ever express in all their years.

Ralph Ellison, The Art of Fiction No. 8

Interviewed by Alfred Chester & Vilma Howard

The history of the American Negro is a most intimate part of American history. Through the very process of slavery came the building of the United States. Negro folklore, evolving within a larger culture which regarded it as inferior, was an especially courageous expression. It announced the Negro’s willingness to trust his own experience, his own sensibilities as to the definition of reality, rather than allow his masters to define these crucial matters for him.

It is hard to think of a better person to learn about Black American culture from than Albert Murray. His obscurity is an example of how both Blacks , interested in promoting a purely political black identity revolving around being an enraged victim, and whites, interesting ignoring the centrality of Black culture to America, are disinterested in accurately and honestly looking at the complexity and nuance Black American culture. The following articles should help wet your appetite for some of his books.

Albert Murray: the Black Intellectuals’ Maverick Patriarch by Sanford Pinsker

(Murray’s) The Omni-Americans (1970), argued that the language of social science inadequately—and insufficiently—captures the richness of the black American experience. Indeed, by concentrating on versions of black pathology and the fits of shame, self-hatred, and rage that these engender, opinion-makers such as Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Kenneth Clark sell black culture short. For the truth is that this vibrant, multi-faceted culture is no less complex than that of any other group.


Indeed, at the heart of Murray and Ellison’s joint enterprise was perhaps the most breathtaking act of cultural chutzpah since Columbus claimed it all for Isabella. In its bluntest form, their assertion was that the truest Americans were black Americans…

Read more:


Elizabeth Wright’s direct and honest assessment on the potential and state of the black man in America. It seems sad but if you read it correctly its a most hopeful text.

Black Men: They Could be Heroes – Part 1

By Elizabeth Wright

Every demonstration of pathology offers the chance to submit “proposals” for yet newer and trendier social programs that will, of course, require the input of the black elites’ wise and judicious expertise. Black social problems offer unlimited fodder for workshop topics and themes for the endless string of conferences funded by Philip Morris or Anheuser-Busch, and hosted by the growing numbers of black social scientists and talk circuit riders.

We encounter them almost everywhere. Indigent black men who wander the streets and public places of towns and cities, stationing themselves as unwanted doormen at entrances to stores and cash machines, begging for pittances in train and bus stations, making pests of themselves as they accost the windshields of cars, foraging in trash cans, and begging even from children. A seemingly endless stream of lost souls with time on their hands and no place to go.

Are these men faced with the possibility of night riders bent on destroying whatever they create, as was S.B. Fuller, in 1930s Louisiana, who came close to a face-off with the Klan, yet went on to establish and expand his phenomenally successful Fuller Products, which eventually employed hundreds of blacks across the country?

Are these men living under the burden of oppressive Jim Crow legislation as did Henry Allen Boyd who, nevertheless, in the 1920s, developed one business after another in Nashville, founded a bank to provide capital for other entrepreneurs, all the while working to reform racist laws?

5 thoughts on “Essential Reads

  1. Pingback: A Bit of Albert Murray | AfroTraditionalist

  2. Wow this blog is amazing. I came here just to learn more about Henry McNeal Turner only to find a overwhelming amount of information complexities and nuances regarding the black culture. Thanks

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