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Black Bottom Saints by Alice Randall
This New York Times bestselling author recalls and pays tribute to Detroit’s legendary neighborhood, a mecca for jazz, sports and politics, in this work that blends fact and imagination (Amistad). From the Great Depression through post-World War II, Joseph “Ziggy” Johnson has been the pulse of Black Bottom. As he lies dying in a hospital bed, Ziggy reflects on his life, the community that was the center of his world and the remarkable people who helped shape it.
This Is My America by Kim Johnson
Every week, 17-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to the Innocent X, urging them to help free her father, wrongly convicted and on death row with just 267 days left before he’s scheduled to be executed (Random House). As the date approaches, Tracy’s brother, a promising track star, is accused of killing a white girl and goes on the run. The teenager must figure out what’s going on, save her brother and father, and unearth the skeletons haunting her Texas town’s racist history.
You Are My Joy and Pain by Naomi Long Madgett
This collection of poems from the 97-year-old poet laureate hints at a firsthand experience with a lifetime of loving, deriving its name from Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain” (Wayne State University Press). Divided into three parts, the first imagines the hopeful and joyful beginning of a new relationship. The second part, rife with religious imagery, encompasses the beginning and end of a relationship. And the third section is 32 poems relating to the heartbreaking experience of a love gone wrong. Release date: Oct. 6
Make Change by Shaun King
In this account, the Black Lives Matter movement leader offers an inspiring look at the moments that have shaped his life, and considers the ways social movements can grow and evolve in this hyperconnected era (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). He shares stories from leading the Raise the Age campaign – to address the juvenile court age – his work against police brutality and more, while giving us to the tools to stay safe, sane and active during these vexing times.
TV & Film
Janelle Monáe stars in this time-warping horror film about successful writer Veronica who finds herself trapped during the era of American slavery and must find a way to escape her terrifying reality (Lionsgate). Also starring Gabourey Sidibe, and from the producers of Us and Get Out, the project was originally slated for a theatrical debut but will be released on demand. Release date: Sept. 18
Lamorne Morris plays Keef Knight, a cartoonist who doesn’t like to lead with race. Instead, he tries to “keep it light” (Hulu). But, after a scary, humiliating and racially motivated run-in with the police shifts his equilibrium, he can no longer shelf his Black side. In this animation-peppered comedy series, Keef must navigate his newfound wokeness without squashing what he’s already built. Release date: Sept. 9
Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices
In this 12-episode series, prominent Black figures – athletes, actors, musicians and comedians – read children’s books that highlight the Black experience (Netflix). Marley Dias, the teenage activist, author and founder of the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign, serves as host and executive producer.
To save her small law firm, earnest lawyer Susan – played by Rachael Leigh Cook – takes on the case of Nick – Damon Wayans Jr. – a charming, high-paying client who wants to sue a dating website that guarantees love after nearly 1,000 dates and no relationship to show for it (Netflix). But as the proceedings progress, the line between business and pleasure gets blurry.