home Ellis Library, Resources and Services Black History Month Book Recommendations

Black History Month Book Recommendations

Just because February is almost over doesn’t mean there isn’t still time to pick up a great read to celebrate Black History Month. This month, at Ellis Library, we are appreciating all the wonderful reads written by Black authors, showcasing Black stories. Here are just a few of our favorite picks you can find available at Mizzou libraries or request through our website. 


For the Non-fiction Lovers: 


Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson          

Told in verse, Brown Girl Dreaming tells the story of author Jacquelin Woodson’s childhood and her experience as a young African American girl growing up in the 1960s. From her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement to her self-discovered love of writing and reading, Woodson crafts beautiful poems that share an emotional and connective journey of self-discovery and adolescence. Brown Girl Dreaming is the perfect read for poetry and auto-biography lovers looking for an embracive and powerful read about a young girl’s coming-of-age.



Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

This powerful memoir documents the honest journey of writer and activist Janet Mock’s childhood, as we follow her story growing up as a lower-class, multiracial, trans woman in America. Mock captivates the reader with her unapologetic writing as she recounts tales from her experience transitioning as a teenager up into her college years and falling in love for the first time. This memoir is a fascinating read for readers who enjoy powerful and personal stories that leave you feeling inspired and changed for the better. 


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

In this moving and gripping memoir, comedian Trevor Noah reflects on his life, as a young boy growing up in apartheid South Africa, to his present-day reality as one of the biggest comedians of his time. Noah begins his story with the event of an unexpected crime: his own birth. Born a Crime is a captivating read about the struggles of finding your identity and place in a world in which you were never supposed to exist. This read is perfect for those looking for an insightful yet humorously told coming-of-age story that leaves you feeling everything from heartbroken to unnerved to fully inspired by Noah’s ability to compose an unforgettable memoir.


For the Fiction Lovers: 


My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This dark and quick-paced read follows our main character, Korede, who has always felt second to her younger sister, Ayoola. Ayoola is seemingly the perfect daughter, except for one problem—she cannot stop killing her boyfriends, leaving Korede to clean up her mess. My Sister, the Serial Killer, takes the reader on a frightening journey, making you question how far one can go to protect those they love. This novel is perfect for readers looking for a short and fun yet truly haunting read.


The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s best-selling novel is the best pick for readers looking for a challenging yet profound read that will leave you feeling impacted and heartbroken by Coates’s beautiful storytelling. This novel follows Hiram Walker, who was born into slavery; when his mother is sold away, he believes he has truly lost all memories and remains of what he knew of her. Years later, when Hiram experiences a brush with death, in which he only survives because of a strange and magical power he possesses, he wonders if he contains more of his mother than he realizes. This discovery leads him on a dangerous and unexpected journey to find the answers he has always sought and attempt to find and rescue the mother he has not seen since he was young.


If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

In this heartbreaking and beautifully honest novel, by legendary writer James Baldwin, we follow a young artist named Fonny who is unjustly arrested and sent to New York’s notorious “Tombs”. His girlfriend, Tish, who is pregnant with his child, refuses to let him stay locked away and is determined to free him. If Beale Street Could Talk is a powerful novel that addresses necessary and prevalent topics like punishment and crime in America and is perfect for readers looking for an unforgettable classic read.

By Danielle Gorman / English Intern / Spring 2021
home Resources and Services Wrap up Black History Month with student research from MU! 

Wrap up Black History Month with student research from MU! 

MOspace, the online repository for MU faculty and students, includes MU theses and dissertations exploring the Black experience in the United States. Whether you are interested in learning more about African-American history, literature, institutional prejudice, or perceptions of law enforcement behavior, you can find it freely available online. 


Here is a glimpse at some of the insightful works that have been crafted here at MU since 2015:  



You can find more theses and dissertations from past years on MOspaceMOspace is the home for all theses and dissertations published at MU since 2006. You will find more than 8,000, most of which are open access and available to the general public. Note that access to some MU theses and dissertations is restricted to MU.  


In addition to those published since 2006, we are digitizing earlier theses and dissertations that do not have copyright restrictions. The earliest one in MOspace is a thesis published in 1896. Representing the research of graduate students at MU, they cover a wide variety of topics.  


Search for more in MOspace at MU Theses and dissertations. 


Questions? Contact us: mospace@missouri.edu 

home Events and Exhibits Saturday Night Is Black History & Culture Trivia Night

Saturday Night Is Black History & Culture Trivia Night

Test your knowledge, make new friends, and win real prizes at Black History & Culture Trivia Night Online this Saturday, February 27 at 6:45 PM. There’s still time, so…

Register Now!

Trivia Night 2021 will be held online, this year, but it will still be a fun & exciting evening, emceed by the great Cyndi Frisby, and full of fun surprises that may or may not include a “name that dance” video clue category and some dance breaks.

Sponsored by:

  • University of Missouri Libraries
  • MU Department of Black Studies
  • Daniel Boone Regional Library
  • Columbia Honda


home Staff news Black History Month at Mizzou

Black History Month at Mizzou

Thanks to Rachel Brekhus and Paula Roper the Mizzou Libraries have been key to the success of Black History Month at Mizzou for many years now. This year the Libraries is hosting an exhibit and co-sponsoring an event with the State Historical Society of Missouri. The Libraries will also continue the tradition of Black History Month Trivia. More details to follow. Make sure you check out all of the BHM events on the calendar. And remember to say thanks to Rachel and Paula for all of their hard work over the years.

home J. Otto Lottes Health Sciences Library Celebrating the Contributions of African American Scientists at NIH

Celebrating the Contributions of African American Scientists at NIH


Taira Meadowcroft

Taira Meadowcroft is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Missouri. She focuses on quality improvement, reference, and marketing for the University of Missouri Libraries.

home Ellis Library, Events and Exhibits War, Peace, and Black Progress: Images from the Collections of The State Historical Society and the University Libraries

War, Peace, and Black Progress: Images from the Collections of The State Historical Society and the University Libraries

Ellis Library Colonnade
February 5 – March 31

War, Peace, and Black Progress is a collaborative exhibit between The State Historical Society of Missouri and the University Libraries Special Collections. Visitors will see illustrated books dealing with the African American experience in World War I and II and contemplate images of black soldiers fighting during the Civil War. Also on display are editorial cartoons related to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s opposition to the Vietnam War and cartoons from the 1980s and 1990s responding to the quest for liberty and regime change in South Africa.

home Ellis Library, Events and Exhibits Black History Month Exhibit: These New Giants

Black History Month Exhibit: These New Giants

Celebrate Black History Month in Ellis Library with our display of University Libraries materials “These New Giants.” The display celebrates Black activism in the 20th century, from the First World War through the Civil Rights Movement. These new giants, as Lorraine Hansberry named them, began to reshape America by fighting for justice in war, in protest, and in art. As she concludes in her photo essay “The Movement,” “It is for us, now, to create an America that deserves them.” On display through February in the Ellis Library Colonnade.

home Events and Exhibits, Staff news 2018 Black History Month at Mizzou

2018 Black History Month at Mizzou

This year’s Black History Month theme is “War, Peace & Black Progress.” The University Libraries are proud to sponsor the following exhibit and event.


Feb 5 – Feb 28 Exhibit: War, Peace and Black Progress

Images on display at Ellis Library from the State Historical Society of Missouri and the University of Missouri Libraries. Sponsors: University Libraries and Missouri State Historical Society.

Join local celebrities at the Columbia Public Library for a fun and competitive evening of history, culture and prizes. Sponsors: BHM Committee; Columbia Honda; Daniel Boone Regional Library; University Libraries; Paramount Marketing Group.


Check out missouri.edu/blackhistory/ for information about all of the events happening this month.


home Events and Exhibits, Staff news Registration Is Open: Fourth Annual Black History and Culture Trivia Night

Registration Is Open: Fourth Annual Black History and Culture Trivia Night

Since 2015, the University of Missouri Libraries and the MU Black History Month Planning Committee have hosted Black History Trivia Night on the last day of the culture-packed month of February. This year, for the first time, the event has co-sponsors that will make it a true “town/gown” event spotlighting local minority-owned businesses. Black History and Culture Trivia Night 2018 will take place at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday February 28 in the Friends Room at Columbia Public Library.  Extra-special prizes for the winning and second place teams are being donated by corporate sponsors Columbia Honda and Parmount Marketing Group. Dr. Cyntha Frisby of the MU School of Journalism and longtime local columnist Bill Clark will share “celebrity emcee” honors.

Participation in Trivia Night is free; maximum team size is five players. On the registration form, players are given a choice of local business owners for whom they’d like to play, or if they wish, they may register a team of five and name their own captain. A light supper will be served before the game begins, which will allow for plenty of time for mingling among and across teams, as all participants enjoy a fun and competitive evening full of heroic feats of memory, entertaining multimedia questions, and many chances to acquire new knowledge.

Registration is online at library.missouri.edu/trivia by phone at 573-443-3161 (Columbia Public Library), 573-642-7261 (Callaway County Public Library) or 573-657-7378 (Southern Boone County Public Library).

home Resources and Services, Special Collections and Archives God’s Trombones by James Weldon Johnson

God’s Trombones by James Weldon Johnson

This month's final post in our series celebrating African-American artists and writers brings together two greats of the Harlem Renaissance: James Weldon Johnson and Aaron Douglas.  Johnson was multi-talented: an educator, writer, attorney and musician, he was the author of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," a leader of the NAACP, and the first African-American professor at New York University.  God's Trombones is considered one of his most important works.  Douglas was one of the leading artists of the Harlem Renaissance.  He developed a distinctive style that blended modernism with African influences and was highly influential in the development of later African-American artists.