Graduation is a big deal especially in a society that seems to thrive on highlighting our faults and missteps as people of African ancestry. It is imperative that we take the time to celebrate the years of toil, tribulation, sacrifice and doubt leading up to this momentous occasion. In some cases, the graduate may even be the first in the family to do so and therefore sets a new precedent for the next generation to aspire even higher.
Finding that special book to commemorate the occasion is sure to be appreciated long after the cap and gown are worn. This curated list includes titles for high school and up.
Books for 2021 Black Graduates
In our family, neither my grandmother nor grandfather on my father’s side had a college degree and somehow they scraped their pennies together to make sure my father got his Master’s Degree. It still amazes me what he was able to accomplish in spite of the obstacles my grandparents faced financially. Grandfather was a cook, and my grandmother was a “domestic.” It was revealed later that my grandmother was clairvoyant, had dreams about numbers, and did play "policy" from time to time. We’re convinced that she must have used her winnings to go toward dad’s education. They made a way out of no way to give their son a good education.
Stories like these make that walk across the stage a milestone of family progression and progress. For those of you who may not know,” playing the numbers” or "policy" pre-dated the lottery and was managed inside the Black community. There’s a books on it called, “Kings: The True Story of Chicago's Policy Kings and Numbers Racketeers ” by Nathan Thompson that explains the history behind it and how successful it was. Though it was considered illegal at the time, our people were "turning a dollar out of fifteen cents."
The book list starts out with some great life lessons passed along from Hill Harper. Though they were written in 2007 and 2009, they are still valuable to provide, “wisdom, guidance, and heartfelt insight to help the reader chart their own path to success.” Hill Harper was recently in the news for launching a Black and Latinx investment platform as repored on CNBC in an article posted April 12, 2021 called, “FINTECH Actor Hill Harper launches The Black Wall Street platform aimed at empowering investors of color.” I think it is commendable for Harper to focus on investment because it has been an area that African Americans have trailed behind other ethnicities in due in part to lack of education surrounding it.
Included on this list are some classics like “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” which should be required reading for all young people. I’ve written more about this cultural giant in our history in a blog called, “Books by and About Malcolm X.” Additionally, “The Black Book” is a keepsake that should be treated as a family heirloom because of the importance of its content.
Though the group of Black PH.D’s is a much smaller audience, I had to include the recently released, “Hooded: A Black Girl's Guide to the Ph.D.” by Malika Grayson. Hopefully more of us are considering climbing the ladder to the top. It’s not for everyone, but those who are drawn to it should be able to read about others who’ve already broke that barrier especially if seeking to do so at a PWI (Predomately White Institution).
As always, if you’d like to know more, I encourage you to read for yourself and come to your own conclusions. All titles mentioned in this post are available from Afriware Books, Co, a Black-owned bookstore. If you do not find the title on the site, please feel free to email us at email@example.com