10 Black Books for a Balanced ‘Knowledge of Self’ Library

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
10 Black Books
Here are 10 Black books that have been recommended to give Black readers a balanced knowledge of themselves. Photo: Unsplash

Knowledge is power. While the old adage is cliché that doesn’t stop it from being true. Since the world has not fully reopened – and many are still stuck inside on quarantine – now is the perfect time to pick up read some great books. Here are 10 Black books that have been recommended to give Black readers a balanced knowledge of themselves.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told By Alex Haley

Originally published in 1964, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” has long been a go-to for readers interested in Black identity. It has been revered by scholars and lay-readers alike for the insights it provides into both Malcolm’s life and philosophies.

A number one best-seller on Amazon, the book available on Amazon and where other books are sold.

“One of the most captivating books I have read. Entertaining,  Insightful, humorous, emotion filled and definitely nail biting. It is sad how the life of such a great man ends at the hands of the same people he spends his adult life fighting for, sacrificing his own personal life for their emancipation. Its funny how in some parts of the book, Malcom uses the metaphor “white men’s heels on your neck” referring to oppression of the black men and today we have Floyd dying from a white men’s knee on his neck. Its as if prophetic how he sees the never ending woes for the black men which are still very prevalent in today’s society. Arguments can be made about his methods to right the wrongs of the past but what makes him great is his truth and his untainted loyalty to his fellow black people. How he has the drive to change his life, a complete u-turn from a street hustler to a civil rights activist, a dedicated Muslim, is beyond inspiring…..its almost unbelievable,” one reader identified on Google as Simba Machiva wrote.

Message to the Blackman in America

Written by former Nation of Islam (NOI) Leader Elijah Muhammad, “Message to the Blackman in America” was once only available to high-level masons and Shriners, according to its description on Amazon. In 2006, it was released to the public. It covers the topics: who and what is God, mankind’s origins, heaven and hell, the devil, etc. Using the lens of nature and math, the book is largely targeted towards Black Americans, but also speaks to Blacks across the African Diaspora.

“Superb read, covers many topics on Black people and other races in general but excellent for black men who want to improve knowledge of self and their own conditions mentally, physically and spiritually. Highly recommend plus it came on time, one Amazon reviewer wrote of Muhammad’s book.

Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization (Exploding the Myths) 

Written by Anthony T. Browder, “Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization” focuses on “correcting some of these misconceptions so the reader, in fact, can be introduced to a Nile Valley Civilizations in order to understand its role as the parent of future civilizations.”

“I’ve learned more in this book about world history than i ever learn in all my whole life, including my college years even having a cousin as a PhD professor who facilitated on history. This is one of the Holy Grail of knowledge. All Americans needs to have this book in there homes and around the world!” one Google user wrote.

A GoodReads reviewer identified as Mwatuangi said the book “is a quintessential read for any and everyone who claims Afrikan descent. It encapsulates the key ideology of Afrocentrism better than any other offers before it. While not a perfect book, this work otherwise succeeds in demonstrating that collectively, people of Afrikan descent have contributed greatly to the world.”

The Mis-Education of the Negro 

This quintessential classic was published by Dr. Carter G. Woodson in 1933. In “The Mis-Education of the Negro,” Woodson posits that Black people in America have been culturally indoctrinated by the educational system. He encourages Black people to learn how to “do for themselves” instead of being dependent on a system that was never designed for them. Required reading on any HBCU campuses, the book has several editions.

“Every Black Person in America NEEDS to read this book a few times and regularly. Although written many years ago, it hits the nail of the head. This book will help you understand the internalized racism that we as African-Americans suffer; but more importantly, it provides a catalyst for healing the wounds of internalized racism. Please read it!” one Amazon reviewer wrote.

From Babylon to Timbuktu: A History of the Ancient Black Races Including the Black Hebrews 

Rudolph R. Windsor’s offering examines Black races in Africa and the continents Middle East region. Originally published in 1969, “From Babylon to Timbuktu …” has multiple printings. It covers topics like Ancient Black Civilization, The Origin of The White Race, Afro-Asian Culture Goes to Europe, The Original Black Jews and Black Civilization in Africa.

“This is an interesting book. It has been well researched and presented. This is history that has either been lost or deliberately buried. Every person of negroid descent who now resides in the West should read this book. It helps you gain a better perspective of where you came from, who you are and how you can give your offspring hope for the future,” one Amazon reviewer wrote.

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From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century

As the world still reckons with intense racism and discrimination, Dr. William “Sandy” Darity Jr. and Kirsten Mullen’s work examines the impact white supremacy has had on Black Americans for centuries. Detailing the various cases and causes of Black economic suffering, From Here to Equality then make a thought-provoking and powerful case for reparations.

“Honestly one of the best accounts of ADOS (American Descendant of Slavery) history i have ever read. Its so well researched and informative while remaining a quick read. Something substantive included for seasoned scholars and those new to the reparations discussion. Should be implemented as supplemental public education material as part of the AKS curriculum across the nation and required reading for all public officials, especially congressional black caucus members. We have the means and the knowledge to correct the mistakes of the past, we only lake the political imagination and the will. This book helps to change that,” one Amazon reviewer wrote.

African People in World History (Black Classic Press Contemporary Lecture) 

Written by historian and educator Dr. John Henrik Clarke, this is the first in a series dedicated to “the publication of views expressed by leading contemporary thinkers and essayists.” Published in 1993, African People in World History seeks to clear up distortions about African history and civilizations.

“The distorters of African history have chosen to ignore the fact that the people of the ancient land, which would later be called Egypt, never called their country that that name. It was called Ta-Merry and sometimes Kemet and Sais… the name ‘Egypt’ is of Greek origin. The ancient Egyptians were distinctly African people… In many ways, Egypt is the key to ancient African history. Unless Egypt is seen as an African nation, African history becomes distorted,” Clarke wrote in the book according to one reviewer.

“I usually don’t come here to give a feedback about books or to write review of any products that I get from Amazon. Although I am most of the time happy and satisfied of the products I get here, writing a review is not my thing. But this book is intense!! It is one of the best books that I have read. It totally changed my perspective of Africa and history of African people. It made me to read more and more about the continent,” wrote another.

Black Man of the Nile

This book’s description on Amazon states, ”In a masterful and unique manner, Dr. Ben uses Black Man of the Nile to challenge and expose “Europeanized” African history.” It was written by Yosef ben-Jochannan in 1996.

“Purchased this book a few weeks ago. I have basically finished the book, just finishing up the conclusion, which should be done within the next couple of hours. Dr. Ben-Jochannan packaged a LOT of factual information that I feel is VITAL to re-awakening of the people of African descent consciously and spiritually, thus reconnecting us not only the continent of Alkebulan, but it’s people the world over. It is my personal belief that, Self knowledge is the basis of True knowledge, or put another way, Know Thy Self! And with that, learn to Trust and Respect Thy Self!” wrote a reviewer identified as F. Williams Jr. on Amazon.

World’s Great Men of Color, Volume I: Asia and Africa, and Historical Figures Before Christ, Including Aesop, Hannibal, Cleopatra, Zenobia, Askia the Great, and Many Others

J.A. Rogers’ gives a comprehensive account of men of color before Christ in Africa and Asia. In the book’s introduction it says Rogers “devoted at least 50 years of his life to researching great Black personalities and the roles they played in the development of nations, civilizations, and cultures.” He shares his finding in World’s Great Men of Color: Volume 1.

“Young people (of all races) need this book. Despite that Black History is acknowledged and celebrated in many schools and workplaces today, people of all ages (including Blacks) are as ignorant as ever about the accomplishments and contributions of people of African descent outside of sports and entertainment. Many people on social media today disclaim that Hanibal, the great warrior, militant and conqueror was a Black man; or even more recently, that the oritinal (sic) writer of the film The Matrix could possibly have been a Black woman. Those who would disclaim The contributions that people of African descent made and continues to make are terribly miseducated. For those who want to be educated on the subject, this book is a wonderful start,” one reader wrote.

Philosophy And Opinions Of Marcus Garvey

Marcus Garvey remains a fascinating figure 60 years after his death – and that is not by accident. The Philosophy And Opinions Of Marcus Garvey is a collection of the Jamaican political activist’s essays and speeches. They were compiled by his widow. It gives readers a more in-depth look into the mind of one of the pioneers of the “Back To Africa” movement.

“One of the greatest collections I’ve read. Marcus Garvey had one goal, the unification and creation of a self sufficient black nation. With more than 1 billion people of African descent on this planet, we can be a great force on this planet. But as Mr. Garvey states in this book, “The greatest weapon used against the Negro is DISORGANIZATION.” Reader Brandon D. wrote.

Please note: These books in this article are recommended by Nubai Ventures founder Jamarlin Martin.