Little Free(dom) Library: Elevating the Voices of Black Authors

By Administrator RSS Wed, January 31, 2024

To commemorate Black History Month, Visit Philadelphia in partnership with national nonprofit Little Free Library and the Free Library of Philadelphia launched Little Free(dom) Library, an initiative encouraging visitors and residents to explore Black history and narratives.

Little Free(dom) Library is the third installment of Visit Philadelphia’s In Pursuit of A More Perfect Union series, a fresh take on how Philadelphia commemorates heritage months. Previous installments include Drag Storytime at Independence Hall and Hispanic Voices.

As the official destination marketing organization for the city, Visit Philadelphia works to honor the nation’s history, while also acknowledging that the Founding Fathers' vision of America does not reflect how many of our values have evolved. This series aims to bring Americans closer to realizing a more perfect union.

This month, we welcome you to stop by a Little Free(dom) Library site to grab a book to read and/or leave a book for someone else. You can find a mix of banned fiction and non-fiction books for adults, teens, and children purchased from Black-owned bookstores in Philadelphia and surrounding areas, including Black and Nobel, Hakim's Bookstore and Gift Shop, Harriett’s Bookshop, Uncle Bobbie's Coffee and Books, and The Black Reserve Bookstore

Local, self-taught artist Alloyius Mcilwaine designed the colorful artwork on each Little Free(dom) Library.

To learn more and view a list of Little Free(dom) Library locations, please visit visitphilly.com/freedomlibrary.

 

Find these books at the Little Free(dom) Library sites or Free Library of Philadelphia branches:

 

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction

Other Formats: Audiobook Download | E-Book Copy

This is NOT a history book. This is a book about the here and now. A book to help us better understand why we are where we are. A book about race.

The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This is a remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, winner of a National Book Award. It reveals the history of racist ideas in America and inspires hope for an antiracist future.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Genre: Teen Non-Fiction

Other Formats: Audiobook Download | E-Book Copy

“This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of Black women and men — bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a Black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son.

All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto by George M. Johnson

Genre: Teen Non-Fiction

Other Formats: Audiobook Download | E-Book Copy

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren't Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson's emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction

Other Formats: Audiobook Download | E-Book Copy

Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.

Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey toward recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Genre: Adult Fiction

Other Formats: Audiobook CD

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is a spellbinding and dazzlingly innovative portrait of a woman haunted by the past.

Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but 18 years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile, Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Sethe works at beating back the past, but it makes itself heard and felt incessantly in her memory and the lives of those around her. When a mysterious teenage girl arrives, calling herself "Beloved," Sethe’s terrible secret explodes into the present.

Combining the visionary power of legend with the unassailable truth of history, Morrison’s unforgettable novel is one of the great and enduring works of American literature.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Genre: Adult Fiction

Other Formats: Audiobook Download | E-Book Copy

Fair and long-legged, independent and articulate, Janie Crawford sets out to be her own person — no mean feat for a Black woman in the 1930s. Janie's quest for identity takes her through three marriages and into a journey back to her roots.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

Genre: Elementary-Grade Non-Fiction

Other Formats: E-Book Copy

This poem is a love letter to Black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others —  offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past while bringing attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds

Genre: Teen Fiction

Other Formats: Audiobook Download | E-Book Copy

Rashad is absent again today. That’s the sidewalk graffiti that started it all…

Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next — that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing — the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again … and again … stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing, and he was a Black kid in baggy clothes, so he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first, Quinn doesn’t tell a soul … He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school — and nation — start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’s got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.

Roll of Thunder: Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Genre: Middle-Grade Fiction

Other Formats: Audiobook Download | E-Book Copy

An ALA Notable Book, A New York Times Book Review Best Children's Books, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a novel by Mildred D. Taylor. The novel won the 1977 Newbery Medal and is considered to be among the greatest children's novels of all time. Its sequel, Let the Circle Be Unbroken, was released in 1981.

Why is the land so important to Cassie's family? It takes the events of one turbulent year — the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she is Black — to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family's lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride; no matter how others may degrade them, the Logans possess something no one can take away. Taylor writes not with rancor or bitterness of indignities — but with pride, strength, and respect for humanity.

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction

Other Formats: Audiobook Download | E-Book Copy

In late August 1619, a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia bearing a cargo of 20 – 30 enslaved people from Africa. Their arrival led to the barbaric and unprecedented system of American chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that — it is the source of so much that still defines the United States.

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story builds on The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning “1619 Project,” which reframed our understanding of American history by placing slavery and its continuing legacy at the center of our national narrative. This book substantially expands on the original "1619 Project," weaving together eighteen essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with thirty-six poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and our democracy itself. This legacy can be seen in the way we tell stories, the way we teach our children, and the way we remember. Together, the elements of the book reveal a new origin story for the United States, one that helps explain not only the persistence of anti-Black racism and inequality in American life today — but also the roots of what makes the country unique.

The book also features an elaboration of the original project’s Pulitzer Prize-winning lead essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones on how the struggles of Black Americans have expanded democracy for all Americans, as well as two original pieces from Hannah-Jones, one of which makes a case for reparative solutions to this legacy of injustice.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction

Other Formats: Audiobook Download | E-Book Copy

A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave a passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two “letters,” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans — both Black and white — to attack the terrible legacy of racism. Described by The New York Times Book Review as “sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle … all presented in searing, brilliant prose,” The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of our literature.

Hood Feminism: Notes From The Women That A Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction

Other Formats: Audiobook Download | E-Book Copy

Today's feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few. That feminists refuse to prioritize these issues has only exacerbated the age-old problem of both internecine discord and women who rebuff carrying the title. Moreover, prominent white feminists broadly suffer from their own myopia concerning how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?

Book descriptions provided by Goodreads.

 

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This is great! Love seeing the collaboration. I've already shared this with others.
Bryan Belknap
Friday, February 2, 2024

My organization has a Little Free Library, I would like to inquire on how we can be added to your list of libraries to visit in February? We are an organization that is dedicated to serving the black community in Delaware County and can place the banned books in our LFL too. Thanks.
selena johnson - Sharon Hill
Thursday, February 8, 2024