Black Histories, Black Presents, Black Futures Reading List

A message from Greenlight's programming partners at BAM:

This reading list is inspired by BAM’s archival collection, “Black Histories, Black Presents, Black Futures,” a compendium of Black groundbreaking visionaries who have appeared at BAM throughout its history. This reading list highlights just a small selection of the brilliant, Black-authored fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry, and photography that have or will be celebrated at BAM. We invite you to engage with these works that reflect a range of perspectives on the history, present and future of Blackness and Black experience in America.


Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 Cover Image
By Ibram X. Kendi (Editor), Keisha N. Blain (Editor)
ISBN: 9780593134047
Availability: Available In Store Now (while supplies last)
Published: One World - February 2nd, 2021

A chorus of extraordinary voices comes together to tell one of history’s great epics: the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans from 1619 to the present—edited by Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, and Keisha N. Blain, author of Set the World on Fire.

Caste (Oprah's Book Club): The Origins of Our Discontents Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593230251
Availability: Available In Store Now (while supplies last)
Published: Random House - August 4th, 2020

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

The Underground Railroad: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345804327
Availability: Available In Store Now (while supplies last)
Published: Anchor - January 30th, 2018

In Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman's will to escape the horrors of bondage—and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.

The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion Cover Image
By Antwaun Sargent, Addy Campbell (Photographer), Arielle Bobb-Willis (Photographer)
ISBN: 9781597114684
Availability: Available In Store Now (while supplies last)
Published: Aperture - October 29th, 2019

Curator and critic Antwaun Sargent addresses a radical transformation taking place in fashion and art today. Fifteen artist portfolios feature the brightest contemporary fashion photographers. Alongside a series of conversations between generations, their images and stories chart the history of inclusion, and exclusion, in the creation of the commercial Black image, while simultaneously proposing a brilliantly reenvisioned future.

Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph (1st Ed., 1st Printing) Cover Image
By Deana Lawson (Photographer), Zadie Smith (Text by (Art/Photo Books)), Arthur Jafa (Interviewer)
Email for information about this item.
ISBN: 9781683952282
Published: Aperture Direct - September 25th, 2018

Over the last ten years, Deana Lawson has created a visionary language to describe identities through intimate portraiture and striking accounts of ceremonies and rituals. Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph features forty beautifully reproduced photographs, an essay by the acclaimed writer Zadie Smith, and an expansive conversation with the filmmaker Arthur Jafa.

Another Brooklyn: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062359995
Availability: Available In Store Now (while supplies last)
Published: Amistad - May 30th, 2017

Her first adult novel in twenty years, Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood—the promise and peril of growing up—and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young lives.

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062420718
Availability: Available In Store Now (while supplies last)
Published: Harper Perennial - June 12th, 2018

With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen. Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, and tells a story that hasn’t yet been told but needs to be.

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce Cover Image
ISBN: 9781941040539
Availability: Available In Store Now (while supplies last)
Published: Tin House Books - February 14th, 2017

Morgan Parker stands at the intersections of vulnerability and performance, of desire and disgust, of tragedy and excellence. Unrelentingly feminist, tender, ruthless, and sequined, these poems are an altar to the complexities of black American womanhood in an age of non-indictments and deja vu, and a time of wars over bodies and power.

Brown: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524711146
Availability: Available In Store Now (while supplies last)
Published: Knopf - March 3rd, 2020

James Brown. John Brown's raid. Brown v. the Topeka Board of Ed. The prizewinning author of Blue Laws meditates on all things "brown" in this powerful new collection. A testament to Young's own—and our collective—experience, Brown offers beautiful, sustained harmonies from a poet whose wisdom deepens with time.

Be Holding: A Poem (Pitt Poetry Series) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780822966234
Availability: Available In Store Now (while supplies last)
Published: University of Pittsburgh Press - September 8th, 2020

Through a kind of lyric research, or lyric meditation, Ross Gay connects Dr. J’s famously impossible move from the 1980 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers to pick-up basketball and the flying Igbo and the Middle Passage, to photography and surveillance and state violence, to music and personal histories of flight and familial love.

The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525509684
Availability: Not In Store / Available To Order (allow for shipping time to bookstore or direct-to-home)
Published: One World - October 20th, 2020

An essential guide to building transformative movements to address the challenges of our time, from one of the country’s leading organizers and a co-creator of Black Lives Matter. This is the story of one woman’s lessons through years of bringing people together to create change.

How Long 'til Black Future Month?: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316491372
Availability: Available In Store Now (while supplies last)
Published: Orbit - August 13th, 2019

Three-time Hugo Award winner and New York Times bestselling author N. K. Jemisin challenges and delights readers with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption that sharply examine modern society in her first collection of short fiction, which includes never-before-seen stories.

Black Futures Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399181139
Availability: Available In Store Now (while supplies last)
Published: One World - December 1st, 2020

Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham have brought together this collection of work—images, photos, essays, memes, dialogues, recipes, tweets, poetry, and more—to tell the story of the radical, imaginative, provocative, and gorgeous world that Black creators are bringing forth today.