Recommended Works by African American Writers

Recommended reading by University Libraries and English Department to build empathy and understanding

In support of the Black community in Kansas City, nationwide, and all over the world, here are resources for recommended reading.

University Libraries Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee has compiled a list of resources to help those support racial justice and as well as a reading list.

Gloria Tibbs, organizational development coordinator for University Libraries, is the founder of the African American Read-In at UMKC. She was recognized by the White House in 2013 as a "Champion of Change." Her recommendations include The Venus Hottentot by Elizabeth Alexander, An expanded edition of Movement in Black by Pat Parker and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.

Broadcasting from UMKC since 1977, the literary radio show New Letters on the Air has long been known for its diversity of voices among writers of poetry, fiction, essays, plays and more. Producer and host of New Letters, Angela Elam recommends listening to recordings in their extensive archives such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Terrance Hayes, Audre Lorde, Stanley Banks and Stephanie Powell Watts.

Imaginative storytelling has the narrative power to build greater empathy within and among readers. The English Department offers the following list of recommended creative works by African American writers:

Hadara Bar-Nadav, professor and director of Creative Writing, recommends:  Gwendolyn Brooks’ Selected Poems

Virginia Blanton, Curators’ Distinguished Professor, recommends:  Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes were Watching God

Britta Bletscher, M.A. student and graduate teaching assistant, recommends:  Alice Walker’s The Color Purple

Crystal Doss, associate teaching professor, recommends:  Toni Morrison’s Beloved

Madison Clay, M.A. student, recommends:  Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give 

Ande Davis, Ph.D. candidate, recommends:  Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith, Jamal Igle, and Khary Randolph’s BLACK

Laurie Ellinghausen, professor and interim chair, recommends:  Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

Robert Farnsworth, emeritus faculty, recommends:  Richard Wright’s Native Son

Thomas Ferrel, instructor and director of the Writing Studio, recommends:  Alice Walker’s To Hell with Dying

Jane Greer, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor, recommends:  Nella Larsen’s Quicksand

Emily Grover, instructor, recommends:  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah

Christie Hodgen, professor and editor of New Letters, recommends:  James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son”

Sheila Honig, lecturer, recommends:  James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” 

Ben Jasnow, instructor, recommends:  Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

Sarah Beth Mundy, instructor:  recommends:  Chinua Achebe’s A Man of the People

Ashley Pendleton, M.A. student and graduate teaching assistant, recommends:  Nic Stone’s Dear Martin

Jennifer Phegley, professor, recommends:  Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad

Robert Stewart, former editor of New Letters, recommends:  Tim Seibles’ One Turn Around the Sun

Published: Jun 11, 2020

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