As part of my commitment to a couple of book projects, this spring I am taking a personal blogging hiatus and have invited some folks to blog in my stead. It is my intention help share some new voices and perspectives with a larger audience and keep my blog active during my break. If you are interested in guest blogging, feel free to submit an idea. Today I welcome my good friend, Byron Wade to the guest blogging crew.  Byron served with me as the Vice-Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is the pastor of Davie Street Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, NC. You can usually find him on Facebook or Twitter.

The African-American experience is one of the most important threads in the American tapestry. – Bill Frist

As many of you are aware, February is recognized as Black History Month. Undoubtedly in the last few days you have seen the appearance of tray covers at McDonald’s with black history facts, ESPN commercials advertising special shows in honor of the black athlete, radio and television commercials giving you information on black inventors and entertainers, and so on. Some of these facts you may have already know, some you may not have and some of you may not necessarily care. However in my own humble opinion if you care to learn more about black people the best way is to indulge in the reading of some of the most intelligent and creative minds not only of the particular race but in the entire human race. In this post I have chosen five books that will serve to give you a sense of who we are and our experiences (NOTE: There are many, many more books out there that give the black perspective so these are just a sample from my experience):

  1. The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson – If you are interested and wondering about the state of blacks and education in America you need to read this book. Woodson, who wrote this book in 1933 probably had no idea that conditions are almost exactly the same today in 2012. In short Mis-Education of the Negro discusses the indoctrination of black people as less-than from slavery and how it impacts our thinking today and it’s repercussions.
  2. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison – A classic work written in 1952, Ellison’s story is about a black man who finds difficulty living in both the south and the north and finally realized that because of his color he is considered “invisible” to all people.
  3. Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillian – If you want to know about the hardships of successful black women finding love then this is the book to read. Or better yet rent/buy the movie. Instant classic!!
  4. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois – W.E.B. DuBois, one of the most intelligent and educated black spokesman of the 20th century and one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), writes of the defining issue at the turn of the 20th century – race relations. Like Carter G. Woodson, it is still relevant today.
  5. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by James W. Washington – A compilation of the works of Martin Luther King, Jr. Just about every article, speech, essay, famous sermons and interviews are in this book. A great read if you want to learn more about him.

These are my favorites but there are others (The Color Purple, Beloved, Native Son, etc.). I hope you will take the time to read and learn more about the lives, contributions and works of black people this month.

For Africa to me… is more than a glamorous fact.  It is a historical truth.  No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.” – Maya Angelou

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