Schomburg Center reading list fosters understanding of black experience

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- With protests spurred by the death of George Floyd in police custody and discussions about race in America, New Yorkers can turn to a valuable resource in Harlem.

"We say that every month is black history month at the Schomburg Center," Director Kevin Young said. "And it seems like this month is just as urgent as any other."

To mark the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture's 95th year in operation, they have come out with a Black Liberation Reading List, consisting of 95 books that can foster a better understanding of the black experience.

"Fiction, nonfiction, science fiction, we have poetry," Young said. "There something for everyone."

People can read books like "Wade in the Water" by Tracy Smith, a book of poetry about black soldiers in the Civil War who were never given their pensions, or "A Raisin in the Sun" by Lorraine Hansberry.

Almost all the books are available for free through the library's e-reader, and many are available for purchase through the Schomburg online store -- which has seen an uptick in sales in just the past week.

"People have been writing about justice and these issues for a while that people are interested in reading about," Young said. "It is really the biggest change."

They are books that offer personal insights into the struggle and can prepare people for the dialogue that is so deeply needed.

"Now is the time, I think, to reflect, to read, and to think about black culture globally," Young said. "And that's something we've been doing for 95 years since we were founded."

The Schomburg Center plans to release a list of 95 books for children next week as well.

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