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Course & Subject Guides
Novels and Plays on Black Families
A Raisin in the Sun by
Publication Date: 1994
When A Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway in 1959, Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of black America--and changed American theater forever. This Modern Library edition presents the fully restored, uncut version of Hansberry's landmark work with an introduction by Robert Nemiroff.
Transcendent Kingdom by
Publication Date: 2020
Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama. Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family's loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief--a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi's phenomenal debut.
The Piano Lesson by
Publication Date: 2019 (1990)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, this modern American classic is about family, and the legacy of slavery in America. At the heart of the play stands the ornately carved upright piano which, as the Charles family's prized, hard-won possession, has been gathering dust in the parlor of Berniece Charles's Pittsburgh home. When Boy Willie, Berniece's exuberant brother, bursts into her life with his dream of buying the same Mississippi land that his family had worked as slaves, he plans to sell their antique piano for the hard cash he needs to stake his future. But Berniece refuses to sell, clinging to the piano as a reminder of the history that is their family legacy. This dilemma is the real 'piano lesson,' reminding us that blacks are often deprived both of the symbols of their past and of opportunity in the present.
Sing, Unburied, Sing by
Publication Date: 2017
In Jesmyn Ward's first novel since her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing journeys through Mississippi's past and present, examining the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power--and limitations--of family bonds. Rich with Ward's distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an unforgettable family story.
Nonfiction and Memoirs on Black Families
They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her by
Publication Date: 2013
At the height of the cocaine-fueled 1980s, Carolyn Wilkins left a disastrous marriage in Seattle and, hoping to make it in the music business, moved with her four-year-old daughter to a gritty working-class town on the edge of Boston. They Raised Me Up is the story of her battle to succeed in the world of jam sessions and jazz clubs--a man's world where women were seen as either sex objects or doormats. Alternating with Carolyn's story are the stories of her ancestors and mentors--five musically gifted women who struggled to realize their dreams at the turn of the twentieth century.
The Hidden among the Hidden by
Publication Date: 2017
The growing number of elder men providing hands-on care to loved ones, particularly spouses, undeniably represents a hidden segment of the home care population. With that in consideration, caregiving in communities of color, in particular, is increasing while numbers of informal (unpaid) caregivers are projected to triple by 2030. This text follows a study conducted by Helen Black, a research scientist focusing on aging, alongside John Groce and Charles Harmon, founders of Mature Africans Learning from Each Other (M.A.L.E.), in which they interviewed elderly African-American men in caregiver roles.
A War Born Family: African American adoption in the wake of the Korean War by
Publication Date: 2020
Drawing on extensive research in black newspapers and magazines, interviews with African American soldiers, and case notes about African American adoptive families, A War Born Family demonstrates how the Cold War and the struggle for civil rights led child welfare agencies to reevaluate African American men and women as suitable adoptive parents, advancing the cause of Korean transnational adoption.
Films on Black Families
The Black Fatherhood Project by
Publication Date: 2013
In The Black Fatherhood Project, filmmaker Jordan Thierry leads viewers through an honest and essential exploration of fatherhood in Black America, providing historical context and conversation for an issue at the core of the Black experience today. In the first half of the film, Thierry begins by telling his own family story, then with the help of historians and others, traces the roots of the fatherless Black home, revealing a history much more complex and profound than is commonly known. The film digs deep to explore how Black families functioned in Africa before slavery, and how slavery, racism, and other recent challenges such as mass incarceration affect Black fatherhood. In the second half of the film, Thierry puts that history into contemporary perspective in a candid dialogue among a diverse group of Black fathers. Thierry closes the film by sharing insights and solutions to ensure the power of a father's love is not lost on America's Black children.
Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage by
Publication Date: 2009
From the Creators of the award-winning website blackandmarriedwithkids.com comes a ground-breaking new documentary designed to challenge the negative stereotypes surrounding marriage and parenting in the black community.
Paulding Avenue Trilogy. Episode 1, Vintage: Families of Value by
Publication Date: 1995
VINTAGE is an experimental documentary which looks at three African American families through the eyes of lesbian and gay siblings -- including the filmmaker and his younger brother. Three groups of queer siblings use video cameras to articulate the multiple stories that co-exist within the space of family, negotiating sexuality as a point of departure to explore these relationships. VINTAGE crosses the boundaries of truth, gender, time and power to create a collective and autobiographical portrait of modern American families.