Happy Black History Month, Reel Lites!! It’s that time of year where we honor and celebrate the accomplishments of black Americans. We are taking the time to specifically honoring black women because we are the most neglected, disrespected, and unprotected people in America, especially when it comes to our trans sisters, but this country would be a better place for all of us if we listened to black women. Today, we are sharing some amazing memoirs and autobiographies from black women that we hope you will add to your growing reading collection.

An Autobiography by Angela Davis

Angela Davis Memoir

Political activist, Angela Davis, reflects on the people and events that influenced her life and commitment to global liberation of the oppressed.

Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family by Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice rose to prominence as the second woman, and the only black woman, to serve as Secretary of State. She credits her family and upbringing for her ability to excel and succeed. This is the story of Condoleezza Rice trying to find her place in a oftentimes hostile world, and the people that made all the difference.

I Don’t Belong to You: Quiet the Noise and Find Your Voice by Keke Palmer

Keke Palmer is an actress, singer, and talk show host from inner city Chicago who is now sharing the secrets, struggles, and practices that lead to her success. Using personal and professional experiences, the book covers 12 topics, including race, sexuality, anxiety, and body imaging.

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

Tiffany Haddish Memoir

The breakout star from Girls Trip shows her true self in a hysterical, edgy, and unflinching collection of essays about her life growing up as a foster child in one of the poorest neighborhoods in South Central Los Angeles.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

In a world that values extroversion, being an introvert is not easy, but Issa Rae, creator of the award-winning web series, The MisAdventures of Awkward Black Girl, makes introverts look cool in this debut collection of essays showing off Issa Rae’s witty and self-deprecating voice.

Negroland: A Memoir by Margo Jefferson

Margo Jefferson was born into upper-crust black Chicago to a father who was head of pediatrics at the nation’s oldest black hospital and a socialite mother. Jefferson writes of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions during crucial historical moments like the Civil Rights Movement, the dawn of feminism, and the fallacy of post-racial America.

The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir by Staceyann Chin

Staceyann Chin Memoir

Staceyann shares her story of triumph against all odds as a woman who was born on the floor of her grandmother’s house in Jamaica on Christmas Day to a mother who didn’t want her and a father who wasn’t present. With grace, humor, and courage, Chin writes about drifting from one home to another, coming out as a lesbian, finding the man she thinks is her father, and discovering her voice.

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identify, Love, & So Much More by Janet Mock

A powerful memoir that follows Mock’s quest for identity, from an early unwavering conviction about her gender to a turbulent transition during her formative high school years, but love gave her the strength to finally tell her story and provide the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of a marginalized and misunderstood community.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda uses her own experiences in the United States and in her native Nigeria to offer a nuanced argument why gender divides are harmful to both men and women. Adapted from her famous TEDx talk of the same name, We Should All Be Feminists, addresses the question, “What does feminism mean today?”

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes Memoir

In this intimate memoir, Shonda Rhimes explores her life before and after her “Year of Yes”. Rhimes was a nerdy, book-loving kid who grew up to create some of the most iconic and bold television characters, but she never said yes to anything. During her “Year of Yes”, Shonda forced herself out of the house and learned to explore, empower, and love her truest self.

Your Turn

So…are these black woman memoirs on your TBR or nah? Let us know in the comments! |RL

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  1. I am sad to say that I don’t read a lot of memoirs at all, so I have not read any of the ones of this list. Until a couple of months ago, I only read science fiction and fantasy books, which definitely does not include memoirs. However, my two reading goals this year are to read more non-fiction and to read more diversely. I really love your list of memoirs since it will help me reach both goals! Even though all of the books on your list look amazing, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and We Should All be Feminists are going to the top of my TBR.

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