What Are the Best Single-Volume References for Black History?


Quick Answer

The African-American Registry recommends several single-volume references that detail black history, including "The Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage," "The African-American Atlas: Black History and Culture - An Illustrated Reference" and "Blacks First: 2,000 Years of Extraordinary Achievement." Many other relevant books are mentioned on the website as well.

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Full Answer

Written by Susan Altman, the 320-page "Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage" chronicles black history from its roots on the ancestral continent of Africa to modern times. It includes hundreds of individual entries, each about 150 to 200 words long, organized alphabetically. The book covers several cultural movements, such as the American Civil Rights Movement and the Harlem Renaissance, in detail, and includes separate sections for education and slavery. It is written at about a fifth-grade reading level.

The "African American Atlas," by Mark T. Mattson and Molefi Asante, is a high-school-level text featuring hundreds of individual entries, including photographs, illustrations, reproductions and maps. Organized chronologically, it discusses slavery, lynching, the Underground Railroad, the Civil Rights Movement and other historical topics as well as relevant current events in the United States and abroad. Sourced from historical data and individual accounts, it is 320 pages long.

"Black First" by Jessie Carney Smith, Casper Leroy Jordan and Robert L. Johns, contains 529 pages recounting over 3,000 achievements by blacks in arts and entertainment, corporate advancement, technology, politics and civil rights. It also includes an eight-page, fold-out time line of the 20 centuries covered in the book.

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