Preserving Culture and the Power of Inspiration

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

This list of music and nonfiction books for Black History Month 2022 likely features one or more ways to feed your soul.

  • A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance

    2021 by Abdurraqib, Hanif

    One of my favorite books of 2021, Abdurraqib explores Black performance in America while weaving deeply vulnerable autobiographical details into the mix. It's a stunning, revelatory work, an affirmative, celebratory book of social commentary, though clear-eyed about the challenges, pain, and erasure surrounding Black culture and performance. Recommended by Chris.

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  • Black Food: Stories, Art and Recipes from across the African Diaspora


    Have you ever noticed just how beautiful cookbooks are? Black Food, a teeming, expansive anthology edited by renowned cookbook author Terry Bryant, is no exception. The focus isn't just on Black food, but on Black culture in general, with recipes, stories, and artwork that Bryant, in his capacity as editor, wants to celebrate, nurture, publish, and share. Which makes us, the reader, very lucky. Recommended by Chris.

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  • Black Designers in American Fashion


    This gorgeously curated book celebrates the last two centuries of Black fashion. It charts the cultural influence of often anonymous or marginalized Black American fashion designers and their enormous, innovative, and influential contributions to fashion and design. An absolutely fabulous, uplifting introduction to Black fashion. Recommended by Chris.

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  • Colorization: One Hundred Years of Black Films in a White World

    2021 by Haygood, Wil

    A wonderful popular history offering an invaluable overview of Black contributions to American cinema over the last 100 years. For anybody interested in movie history, this book covers some well-trodden ground, though Haygood also revels in vividly telling the stories of little-known Black movie makers whose contributions were marginalized and are only now being rediscovered and rightfully celebrated. Recommended by Chris.

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  • Bress 'n' Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer

    2021 by Raiford, Matthew

    Jessica B. Harris, an American culinary historian you might have seen in High on the Hog, recommends this gem to “anyone who is looking to understand more about the deep history of the Gullah Geechee people. Matthew Raiford lovingly tells tales of the land and his family’s connection to it, at the same time as he provides heritage and innovative recipes that evoke memories of meals shared, of tables blessed, and of deep family legacy.” Recommended by Leslie.

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  • It's Life as I See It: Black Cartoonists in Chicago, 1940-1980


    An amazing, long overdue anthology of cartoons, largely published in various Chicago's Black press outlets between the 1940s and 1980s. The Black cartoonists featured, most of them using single panels, are funny and witty, sure, though blunt about the tragic realities of racism and the struggles of living and laughing while Black within the brutal confines of white supremacy. Recommended by Chris.

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  • On Juneteenth

    2021 by Gordon-Reed, Annette

    As a Black woman, Pulitzer Prize winning historian and native Texan Gordon-Reed knows a thing or two about Juneteenth, the holiday birthed in Texas more than 150 years ago. This slim, powerful memoir, which I read in one gulp this past summer, isn't necessarily a primer on the holiday, but a poignant memoir that keeps veering off into the history of Black Texas over the last two centuries. Recommended by Chris.

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  • Samara Joy

    2021 by Joy, Samara

    When I first heard Samara’s velvety-smooth voice, I sat there mouth agape for longer than I care to admit. She transports you across time and space to the height of Jazz music. At only 21 years old (and already receiving a sweet accolade from Regina King), Samara is carrying the torch for the next generation of Jazz lovers and enthusiasts. Recommended by Leslie.

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  • Keeping It Unreal: Black Queer Fantasy and Superhero Comics

    2021 by Scott, Darieck

    I have been so excited to read this book since I saw Jennifer Brody (Stanford University) give this glowing recommendation: “Goes beyond readings of Black queer comics to reveal the value of becoming fantastical...where dreams are substantiated. I came looking for insights about Luke Cage and Black Panther…only to find liberation and Black queer life.” Recommended by Leslie.

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  • Open Arms to Open Us

    2021 by Gay, Ben Lamar

    The great Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist Ben Lamar Gay’s latest album is so innovative, so restless, so overflowing with ideas, it’s hard to pin it down. And that's a good thing for those of us listening. Jazz, pop, post-rock, and fizzing electronics are all held together by murky, beguiling grooves. Recommended by Chris.

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  • The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers

    2021 by June, Valerie

    I’ve been a huge fan of June’s music since her folksy, Appalachian inflected solo debut a few years back. The Moon and the Stars is her third album and a tremendous leap forward, as June continues to embrace her inner pop star by way of dusty Memphis soul. And did I mention her wonderfully singular voice yet? Recommended by Chris.

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  • Love Is the New Black

    2021 by Hamilton, Anthony

    Hamilton has been remarkably consistent, releasing beautifully produced new albums of smooth contemporary Soul every few years. His influences recall 1970's era Isley Brothers and Luther Vandross slow jams with a modern production sheen. This is seriously soulful candlelit music for grown-ups. Recommended by Chris.

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  • Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

    2021 by Little Simz

    Little Simz is one of the most exciting new artists working today. On this, her fourth album, she again teams up with the equally innovative producer and childhood friend Inflo to create a masterclass in modern song-craft. An album that truly deserves repeated listens, offering rewards for your ears, feet, and soul. Recommended by Chris.

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