Suggested Reading in Celebration of Black History Month

mockingbird-quote February is Black History Month, or African American History Month, and the Ross community has joined in the annual celebration, acknowledging the many achievements of Black Americans and their central role in American history.

Dean of World Languages and Literature Jack Hill, as well as members of the faculty and staff, have provided a suggested reading list of works by renowned authors related to black history, and we encourage everyone to pick up a book and continue this important dialogue in the classrooms and at home.

“These authors play a big role in articulating the struggles and triumphs of black people in America, and we hope that the works will inspire conversation and reflection,” Jack said.


World Languages and Literature teacher Shelby Raebeck’s pick is The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin. “This book is a must read for all white people. Baldwin opens up white racism and white psychology like no one else.”


World Languages and Literature teacher Rick Rainville suggests Light in August by William Faulkner. “The character Joe Christmas is of uncertain descent, but presumably of mixed race (black and white). As such, he does not really fit in anywhere in the American South of that time. The novel addresses race, alienation, and marginalization.”


Jack Hill said Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is an absolute classic and an interesting and fun read. “Needless to say, the feeling of invisibility is a universal theme, and the book speaks directly to the human condition. Ellison's narrative is a piercing exploration of the systematic injustices examined through the lens of race, culture and identity that can usher one into such a feeling. I'm enthralled by the courageousness and bravery of Ellison's articulate and rhythmic prose. But, most importantly, the prophetic wisdom that has had a lasting effect on young readers since its publication.”


Mark Tompkins, eighth grade teacher, recommends reading aloud The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, as well as Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston “for the over 50 crowd.”


Elizabeth Dorton, associate, said Alice Walker's essay, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens is about honoring ancestors and what they were able to create though they weren't encouraged to succeed.

She also recommends Ralph Ellison's short story, The Little Man at Chehaw Station: The American Artist and his Audience which is also about the unexpected, and what long-ignored people are capable of.


The reading list would not be complete without Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, perhaps the most widely read book dealing with racial issues in America. It’s an ideal time to reread this classic in advance of the much anticipated release of Harper’s second novel Go Set a Watchman. The book, which hits the shelves in July, details an adult Scout Finch’s visit with her father, Atticus Finch.