Five Must-Read Books by Local Black Authors

From poetry to history, we’ve curated a list of five titles by Cincinnati-based Black authors to add to your summer reading list.

More than two months after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, protests and events centered around the Black Lives Matter movement are still in full swing. If you can’t be on the frontlines, one of the easiest ways to get involved is by supporting Black-owned businesses and Black voices, which includes changing the types of media we consume. For book lovers, we’ve curated a list of five titles by local Black authors that you should add to your summer reading list.

Photograph courtesy of Lauren M. White

Cries from the Dark Side of the Moon

Lauren M. White’s unique poetry collection is aimed at amplifying the voices of Black women. Described as “an emotional thriller” and an anthology of “passion, pain, and promise,” Cries from the Dark Side of the Moon is an opportunity for readers to reflect on the state of the world through a poetic lens. The title evokes the theme of being unseen; the dark side of the moon is invisible to Earth but gets just as much sunlight, just as Black voices and stories are important even when society ignores them. White strives to ensure that everyone has a platform outside of her writing through her organization LEGACY—Literary Education Growing All Cincinnati Youth.


We Live for the We

This nonfiction book by Dani McClain taps into the Black community’s shared struggle for adequate healthcare. McClain uses her story of first-time motherhood and draws on years of experience from reporting on race and reproductive issues to create a handbook for a better world—one in which Black women don’t die during pregnancy or birth more than women of any other race. With a warm tone and stories from mothers who advocate for political and cultural change, We Live for the We is an important, engaging read that could even be life-saving in the right hands.


Your Negro Tour Guide

Adapted from her provocative CityBeat column, Kathy Y. Wilson’s Your Negro Tour Guide depicts Cincinnati as a microcosm for the nation’s troubled race relations. Topics of urban living, community, and scandal drive Wilson’s commentary on America’s shortcomings for its Black citizens. In addition to being revamped into a one-woman play, this book is a prime example of Wilson’s no-nonsense civic discourse, which has received accolades from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists and the Associated Press Society of Ohio.


Cincinnati: The Black America Series

This historical work by Gina Ruffin Moore recounts Cincinnati’s role in the Underground Railroad, as well as the Great Migration of African Americans to the north after the Civil War. Cincinnati: The Black America Series relies on black heritage as the driving narrative force, utilizing community, churches, education, politics, entrepreneurship, civil rights, community benevolence, and sports as areas in which the reader can see nearly 200 years’ worth of evolution. Ruffin backs up her historical knowledge with decades of broadcast and journalistic work in Cincinnati, where she now serves on the Princeton Board of Education.


Photograph courtesy of Morgan A. Owens

Finding My Sparkle

This autobiography by entrepreneur, public speaker, and author Morgan A. Owens acts as a guide for building self-confidence. Finding My Sparkle contains vignettes that speak to how we tend to see ourselves as imperfect—Owens says she has faced self-esteem and weight issues and forgot the importance of self-love, but despite these hardships, she learned the importance of putting herself first. She encourages readers to do the same, a message she carries into her work with organizations such as the Midwest Black Family Reunion, YMCA Black and Latino Achievers, and Cincinnati Public Schools.

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