Celebrating Black History Month | Uplift Family Services
black history month text and graphic art

On behalf of the agency-level and regional Racial Equity & Justice (REJ) Committees, we would like to greet everyone with a happy start to the Lunar New Year and Happy Black History Month!

Every Wednesday throughout February 2022, this page will be updated with book recommendations from our employees that amplify the literary works of Black authors, educators, scholars and activists who continue to influence our hearts and minds and move entire generations. Our weekly employee book recommendations also will be posted across our social media channels to share our celebration of Black scholarship, leadership, and stories. To our colleagues that submitted book recommendations and brought the vision to life, we are deeply grateful.

Book Recommendations from the REJ Committee

Wednesday, February 2, 2022:

books charming as a verb and mixed me cover art

Charming as a Verb by Ben Phillipe (Young Adult)

A young adult novel about high school senior Henry runs a fake dog-sitting business to get into his “dream college” Columbia University. The story explores first relationships, father/son bonds, friendship, and second chances. Recommended by Kelly Kebede

Mixed Me! by Taye Diggs (Children)

My children are a beautiful blend of Asian Indian and African American. I’m always triggered by President Obama being called the first black president. In my eyes, he is the most Black President but the fact of the matter is society supports this notion consistent with Jim Crow and segregation and the one drop rule which forces people of mixed ethnicities to pick. It was important for my wife and I to raise children who embraced both of their rich cultures and this book does that beautifully. Recommended by Kevin Burnside

books I Need Answers and The Adventures of Amma and Kwessi covers

I Need Answers by Deacon Dawit Muluneh (Adult)

Deacon Dawit Muluneh is an Ethiopian immigrant who grew up in America. In his autobiography, he writes to the younger generation on how to be more spiritual and closer to God during everyday life. Recommended by Kelly Kebede

The Adventures of Amma and Kwessi – in Barbados by Joyce Osei (Children)

This is a great story about kids visiting their ancestral homeland and learning about their culture. And I learned a lot too! Recommended by Simon Purse

Wednesday, February 9, 2022:

books New Jim Crow and Chocolate Me! covers

New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (Teens to Adult)

This book goes over the issues around mass incarceration, racism, and institutionalism in our judicial system. It breaks a lot of different perspectives about mass incarceration and educates how systems will continue to enact things to continue to oppress POC in the same form as the “Jim Crow Laws”. Recommended by Jonathan Castro

Chocolate Me! by Taye Diggs (Children)

A timely book about how it feels to be teased and taunted, and how each of us is sweet and lovely and delicious on the inside, no matter how we look. Recommended by Kevin Burnside

book All About Love and Children of Blood and Bone covers

All About Love by bell hooks (Adult)

The teachings of world-renowned Black feminist scholar, bell hooks, run through our collective hearts and minds, with many of us not realizing it. As we consider empathy in our own communities, bell hooks asks us to return to love. Despite love being a central theme in the vast majority of American popular culture, music, media, and literature she observes lovelessness continues to pervade our country. All About Love provides revolutionary ways to rethink self-love in ways that bring peace and compassion to our personal and professional lives. Recommended by Dr. Angelica Cortez

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Young Adult)

A young adult fantasy trilogy based on West-African mythology. Follows main character Zélie who is trying to bring back magic to the kingdom of Orïsh after it was banned by the ruling class. Recommended by Kelly Kebede

Wednesday, February 16, 2022:

Black history month books "Homegoing" and "Born a Crime"

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Adult)

An amazing book following several generations over 600 years of Ghanaian and American History. A compelling story of adversity and triumph that highlight how systemic racism is baked in to so much of western society. 10/10. Would (and have) recommend. Recommended by Simon Purse

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (Adult)

In this coming-of-age autobiography, Trevor Noah writes about his life growing up in South Africa during Apartheid. From the funny moments with his families to his traumatic experiences, Trevor Noah gives us a first-person account of what it is like being Black during institutionalized racial discrimination in South Africa and how it is not that far behind us. Recommended by Kelly Kebede

Black history month books "The Bluest Eyes" and "An American Marriage"

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (Adult)

This book is not for the faint of heart. It will leave you questioning everything. The plot might be at times, too fast or too slow, but by the end of the story, you’ll feel the urge to re-read it all over again. Recommended by Maricris Niles

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Adult)

An American Marriage” gives us a glimpse into a young newlywed couple as they overcome a criminal false accusation. Set in the South in the 2000s, Celestial and Roy shows us the reality and hardships of relationships and being Black in America. Recommended by Kelly Kebede

Wednesday, February 23, 2022:

Black History Month books Invisible Man and We Should All Be Feminists

The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (Adult)

I first read this novel at 17 years old. From that point, I have re-read, researched, highlighted, and marked countless pages out of intrigue, curiosity, and my own ignorance. First published in 1952, Ellison’s powerful diction evokes imagery, emotion, and feeling as he tells the story of an unnamed young Black man and the racial divides in America during that time. The Invisible Man changed the shape of American literature. Recommended by Dr. Angelica Cortez

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Adult)

A personal essay dedicated to showing that women’s rights is as important as men’s rights. Check out her TedTalk—you won’t pause for a second. Recommended by Kelly Kebede

Black History Month books From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation and Skin Like Mine

From #BLACKLIVESMATTER to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (Adult)

Author and Activist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor illustrates the importance of modern-day activism and its evolution throughout America’s history. We are given a detailed analysis of the significance of #BLM and its correlation to Black liberation. Recommended by Kelly Kebede

Skin Like Mine by LaTashia M. Perry (Children)

An entertaining yet creative way to address and celebrate diversity among young children. Guaranteed to make you smile and a bit hungry. Many cultures base status on the color of their skin. Children and people in the African American culture with lighter skin and more European features have been considered to be more beautiful, while darker children who are just as beautiful are teased. We utilize these types of books to promote valuing diversity as it relates to skin color and embracing the differences of all communities. Since physical appearance is what we see first, this is where we choose to start. Recommended by Kevin Burnside