To honor Black History Month this year, we’ve collaborated with a fantastically broad and fascinating group of local individuals and organizations dedicated to supporting and celebrating the Black community and culture in Oregon to bring you a community-sourced reading list.
The people we spoke with are passionate readers and advocates who believe, as we do, that books are one way to counter misinformation, create empathy, and turn otherness into familiarity. Far from being a passive activity, the books shared here and on our Black History Month homepage
show that reading can be a call to action, a prompt for self-reflection, and an important act of recognition across communities.
From classics you may have missed to cutting-edge social theory and the best new YA, we know the community recommendations below will have you reading widely and wisely well past February.
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Picks from the Black United Fund of Oregon
Since its founding in 1983, the mission of the Black United Fund of Oregon
has been "to assist in the social and economic development of Oregon's low-income communities and to contribute to a broader understanding of ethnic and culturally diverse groups."
Picks from Marcus Mundy, Executive Director of the Coalition of Communities of Color
Formed in 2001 as an alliance of culturally-specific community-based organizations, the Coalition of Communities of Color
is committed to addressing "the socioeconomic disparities, institutional racism, and inequity of services experienced by our families, children and communities; and to organize our communities for collective action resulting in social change to obtain self-determination, wellness, justice and prosperity." Currently, the coalition boasts representation from Oregon's African, African American, Asian, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, and Slavic communities. Executive Director Marcus Mundy wrote us, "I am an older soul, so my choices below will be from the classics, and harken back decades, but I believe all are still relevant today."
Pick from Heather Rowlett, MSW, of the Family Preservation Project
The Family Preservation Project
"promotes individual and system level change to reduce the collateral consequences of parental incarceration on children, families, and communities." The programs FPP directs include a family resource center that works to minimize the barriers between children and incarcerated mothers through educational and support services; a monthly speakers series; an intensive family reunification program that helps guide mothers toward healthy parenting techniques; an amazing audio book program for the children of incarcerated mothers, in which moms read books to their kids; and caregiver support. FPP began as a partnership between Portland Community College and the Oregon Department of Corrections, and now operates under the auspices of the YWCA of Greater Portland.
Picks from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Portland
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Portland
have been providing children, "especially those who need us most," with academic support, athletics and arts programs, leadership opportunities, college prep and employment training, and a safe place to play and discover since 1946.
Picks from CJ Robbins, Program Coordinator for Black Male Achievement
Black Male Achievement
, a program of the Office of Equity and Human Rights for the City of Portland, is designed to help Portland city leaders improve the the "outcomes of Black men and boys in...education, employment, family stability, and criminal justice." The program's mission is to work as a collaborative to improve access to equitable employment and educational opportunities, and to ensure the health, safety, and success of Black men and boys in the Portland community.
by Toni Morrison
Picks from the Black Cultural Library Advocates leadership team at Multnomah County Library
The library's BCLA teams collaborate on programming and outreach to better serve and engage with Multnomah County's Black community. With a focus on equity, inclusion, advocacy, and mutual workplace support, the BCLA teams are a central element of the Multnomah County Library system's goal to improve library access through community action research and local problem-solving. In addition to sharing their favorite authors for kids and adults, below, librarian and BCLA team member Alicia Tate put together a fantastic list of books for teens that can be found here
More recommendations for adults:
Henry Louis Gates
Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture)
Recommendations for kids:
David Walker and Brian Bendis