From the Darkness of Light: African American Literature before, during and after the Civil War that you have got to read

The one word what comes to your mind when you think about the American Civil Rights Movement or the Civil War is Freedom.The simmering tensions between the whites and the black were given event of during this period. The 4 years of conflict created a huge turmoil throughout the country, also stirring tensions throughout the world where the black and the coloured sought for freedom. The stories of the black repression before, during and post the civil war will definitely leave you scandalized and will make you thank your fate for not being a part of such a heinous era.

Here is a list of some Fiction and Non –Fiction Books that will leave you traumatized but will also melt your heart.

The Slave Ship:

Author: Marcus Rediker

                                                                     Slave Ship: Held by Anti-Slavery International

Dive into the ugly realms of the slave trade with Marcus Rediker’s The Slave Ship. The story journeys the era when slave trade had started facing opposition. It was a painful book not only for the readers but also the author to write. The book grippingly tells the truth of human flesh trade from a view point which has not been used before-through the decks of slave ships. It details not just the aspect of the slave trade vehicle but also the passengers who abounded those ships. The dehumanizing episodes will steer fear and pain which are not easy to get over with. The book is extremely powerful and definitely not for the faint hearted to read.

The Warmth Of Other Suns :

Author: Isabel Wilkerson

                                                              Isabel Wilkerson Author of “The Warmth of Other Suns”

The story follows the great Migration in America where the black snuck out from the south to get to a safer and freer Northern America. The migration lasted for decades and saw the loss of many lives . The book follows the process of how around six million African Americans left Sothern America in a mass exodus. The book is a non-fiction piece of work and thus is very accurate in its detailing. The first part of the book focuses on the historical aspect of the great migration.It follows the story of three migrators: Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, George Swanson and Robert Foster. They put a human face on the broader migration. The book made Isabel become the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize.

 Fifty Cents and a Dream:

Author: Young Booker Washington

                                                           Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington

The novel follows a young Booker who is born into slavery. He makes a revolutionary decision of journeying a 500 hundred miles on foot trip to Hampton Institute to get a college degree. When he reached there despite all the obstacles that life threw at him all he had with him were a mere 50 cents and a big DREAM of an education which was going to come true. The young slave who earlier waited outside schools went on to become a great educator of the freedmen. The hardships and the struggles pay off and Booker comes out with flying colours.


Beloved by Toni Morrison


Author: Toni Morrison

The novel is rife with heart wrenching and chilling incidences that make this novel a hard to read but also a ‘hard to keep down’ read. It follows the life of Margret Garner an escaped slave who makes it to the free state of Ohio. The novel has brutal unaltered episodes of a mother cutting off the head of her new born child with a saw and swinging her to hit the wall only so that she does not grow up a slave and is not raped by the masters and sold off later to prospective buyers. The novel very vividly portrays the brutalities that the slaves went through during the years of slavery in America. Oprah Winfrey very seamlessly portrayed Margret’s character in the movie adapted from the book.



12 Years a Slave by S. Northup

12 Years a Slave:

Author: Soloman Northup

The novel recounts the horrors of the authors past where he lived as a free man before he was kidnapped and was sold into slavery in the pre civil war Southern America. The author was born free but became the human property of a number of masters when he was kidnapped and taken to the South. He was passed on from one master to another for 12 years. He found his way back to freedom when his friends from North came to his rescue and fought his way to freedom. 12 Years a Slave was made into a motion picture and won a lot of acclaims as well an academy award (Oscar)



Some other literary works that may take your breath away are:

Coretta Scott –Ntozake Shange

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit Inn –Corol Boston Weatherford

Courage has no Colour-Tanya Lee Stone

The Black Jacobins –CLR James

White Socks Only – Evelyn Coleman

This is the Rope – Jacqueline Woodson

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