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.
Even though that’s the draw of the genre for me, I promise you don’t have to be a Black to be inspired, informed, or entertained by these autobiographies.
Learn more about the Black experience by reading memoirs by Black women
Over the last couple of years there’s been a great interest in Americans wanting to get a better understanding of the African-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 get detailed, transparent information that real Black women in your life may not feel comfortable telling you. Or that might be too laborious for them to share with you due to the background education they may have to give you.
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.
Dang, I got a little deep there, huh? It’s all true, though.
Memoirs By Black Women
Black Women Memoirs
Black women have been the backbone of society since the beginning of time, and should be celebrated.
Here is a list of books to help you learn more about the contributions African-American women have had on our world---many times in their own words!
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.
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!
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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 and the least you can do to learn more about the experiences of Black women in this country.
Be careful not to put the women in these memoirs on a pedestal while overlooking the Black women you actually know. Like, in real life.
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. Trust me, the rewards are worth it!
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.