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 Black Graduates
In our family, neither my grandmother nor grandfather on my father’s side had a college education and somehow they scraped their pennies together to make sure my father got his Master’s Degree from Northwestern University. 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 book 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. An inquiry to the author revealed that the book would be re-released over the summer of 2021. Afriware Books, Co was honored to have a book signing with the author years ago and we'll definitely stock it in the future. Though it was considered illegal at the time, our people were magically "turning a dollar out of fifteen cents."
Our book list starts out with some great life lessons passed along from Hill Harper. with "Letters to a Young Brother" and "Letters to a Young Sister." 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.
A welcome newcomer to our list is a book with sass for the class of 2022 and beyond... In, "Empowered Black Girl - Joyful Affirmations & Words of Resilience", author M. J. Fievre addresses that Black Girl Magic in a way that feeds the soul. Drawing from the best quotations of changemakers in the community, Fievre shares empowering words for that mysterious flare and style we carry ourselves with. Is there another book that has a broad spectrum of artists' advice from - Janelle Monae, Ruby Dee, Beyonce, Nina Simone, Maxine Waters, Josephine Baker, and Gabby Douglas, specifically for Black young adults all in one place? This book is a sight for sore eyes looking for the perfect blend of culture, community and career. Separated into sound Advice, Affirmations, and Actions, "Empowered Black Girl" is your go-to for upliftment and focus on goals and inner health. Here's a sample quote:
It takes courage to be someone you can be proud of.