I love to read, and memoirs by Black women is one of my favorite genres.
I’m sure it has much to do with being a Black woman.
Seeing how other women like me were able to create lives that are meaningful and impactful, in whatever way, is inspiring.
That’s the draw of these books for me, but you don’t have to be Black to enjoy them.
Learn more about the Black experience by reading memoirs by Black women
Over the last couple of years there’s been more interest in folks wanting a better understanding of the Black American experience.
I love that! And it’s about time.
Reading memoirs by Black women and getting their first person accounts does a few things:
- You’re able to learn about an aspect of the Black woman experience without laboring your associates.
- You support the creative and financial livelihood of a Black woman author.
- It enlarges your world and gives you a broader perspective of other human experiences on this earth besides your own.
Memoirs By Black Women
Celebrate Black women!
Check out these books to help you learn more about the contributions African-American women have had on our world---many times in their own words!
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
This was my very first autobiography that I ever ready, and I felt instantly connected to Maya Angelou. You won't believe what she went through---and how she rose from the ashes. A must read for every woman, this is the first book in an autobiographical series.
Just As I Am
Cicely Tyson was a queen, and her autobiography, filled with interesting stories of her long, impactful life will give some insight on just how amazing she was.
The Meaning of Mariah Carey
Okay, you must get the audiobook for this one because MIMI SINGS! Mariah Carey's story is so much more powerful than I ever would have imagined, and this book had me by a chokehold for a few days until I finished it last year!
What's not to love about Michelle Obama? You will be crushing on our forever First Lady extra hard when learning all about how she made it from Chicago to the Ivy League and the White House.
Around the Way Girl
Taraji Henson's "Around the Way Girl" chronicles her career trajectory from newcomer to the superstar that she is now! While some reviewers said that the story is a bit slow, folks like me who really get into day to day realities will enjoy it!
One of the original autobiographies, Harriet Ann Jacobs says about this book, in her own words, "I am aware that some of my adventures may seem incredible; but they are, nevertheless, strictly true. I have not exaggerated the wrongs inflicted by Slavery; on the contrary, my descriptions fall far short of the facts. I have concealed the names of places, and given persons fictitious names. I had no motive for secrecy on my own account, but I deemed it kind and considerate towards others to pursue this course."
A MUST read.
The Last Black Unicorn
Tiffany Haddish is truly the epitome of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps. Reading about how she got to where she is now made me have even more respect for this great comedian.
Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement
The founder and leader of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke didn't always feel she had the voice and power to speak up. She overcame that to become the voice of women who needed to be heard. The audiobook is read by Burke and is completely worth it!
Ashley C. Ford's memoir about her relationship with her incarcerated father is told in such an intriguing way, you'll have a tough time putting it down. I love hearing about different Black family relationships, and I'm sure you will, too.
If all you know about Tabitha Brown is what you've seen on social media, you have a lot to learn! I was surprised by the level of spiritual talk in this book, but it was perfect and totally uplifting.
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl
This was a super fun listen / read! Before Issa Rae was the Hollywood superstar she is now, she was the Awkward Black Girl, and this bright memoir walks us through that very fun, super interesting phase of her life.
Angela Davis: An Autobiography
This book is Angela Davis' own powerful story up to 1972, told with warmth, brilliance, humor and conviction. According to one reviewer, "By reading this memoir you will not only learn a great deal about Angela you will be introduced to many other topics including mass movement, organizing, communism, socialism, capitalism, political prisoners, prison reform, the Black Liberation Struggle, feminism, Soledad, San Quentin, etc etc I could go on an on. A well put together, thoughtful memoir that also serves as a good overview of the Civil Rights struggle in the USA."
A Taste of Power: A Black Woman's Story
When I first read Elaine Brown's autobiography in my early twenties, I was stunned that she had made such an incredible impact in the Black community and I hadn't ever heard of her! Her story of how she was a leader in the Black Panther party is honest and one of the best autobiographies I've ever ready.
The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir
Raunchy and intriguing, Jenifer Lewis' book is everything you'd expect from the gregarious star. Some reviewers thought it was a bit TOO dirty (and I will say that there probably should have been some content warnings for a few of the chapters), but I still had a hard time putting it down.
Talk to the Black women in your life
These books are just the beginning. Reading them is the least you can do to learn more about the experiences of Black women in this country.
I want to encourage you not to overlook the Black women you actually know, too.
Talk to the Black women in your life. Listen to them. Get to know them.
If you’re really seeking understanding and community, do the work. The rewards are worth it!
Read these books for free
Most of these books are available at the library for free.
If you would like to own them for yourself, you can sign up for a free trial Prime membership at Amazon.
Also, Kindle Unlimited often has books written by Black women available.
I love the service. It’s less than $10/month and I can read a huge selection of books.
‘Try out this free trial of Kindle Unlimited.