Black Perspectives on Slavery: A Reading List

25 Black authors and scholars writing on American slavery, including true slave narratives and oral histories as well as fictional accounts that debunk the myths of the middle passage and shed light on the horrors of chattel slavery in the United States.  

 

Oral Histories

Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello

Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”

Work Projects Administration, Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves

Norman R. Yetman (Editor), When I Was a Slave: Memoirs from the Slave Narrative Collection

 

Autobiographies

Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave and My Bondage and My Freedom

Olaudah Equiano, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano

Harriet Ann Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave

Mary Prince, The History of Mary Prince

William Still, The Underground Railroad

Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery

 

Biographies and other Non-Fiction

Daina Ramey Berry, The Price For Their Pound Of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved from Womb to Grave, in the Building of a Nation 

Mary Frances Berry, My Face Is Black Is True

Andrew Billingsley, Yearning to Breathe Free

Stephanie M. H. Camp, Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South

Thavolia Glymph, Out of the House of Bondage: The Transformation of the Plantation Household

Julius Lester, Day of Tears

Craig Wilder, Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities

 

Fiction

William Wells Brown, Clotel: or, The President's Daughter

Octavia E. Butler, Kindred

Maryse Conde, Segu and Children of Segu

Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing

Alex Haley, Roots: The Saga of An American Family

Virginia Hamilton, Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave

Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes

Toni Morrison, Beloved

Margaret Walker, Jubilee

Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad