Dovey Johnson Roundtree (1914-2018) is not a household name—yet. However, what this absolutely inspiring woman was able to accomplish for civil rights was revolutionary and should make her one. In Mighty Justice: My Life In Civil Rights (Algonquin, $16.95), Roundtree, with co-author Katie McCabe, regales us with hard fought triumphs over gender and color barriers. As a Howard University School of Law graduate, she became one of the few African American female attorneys of the time. With that came many defeats, but she showed her strength with a few powerful victories over Jim Crow laws. And from there, her law practice prospered. She went on to spearhead the female minister movement of the AME Church, combining her ministry with her law degree to fight for disadvantaged children and families. Woven throughout this memoir are Roundtree’s personal stories of struggling with the racism that was eating away at the country she loved and wanted to help. Roundtree is an American hero who makes this country beautiful.
Many books have been written about the Scottish missionary, Dr. David Livingstone, and his travels deep into the heart of Central Africa in search of the source of the Nile River. There's also been brief mentions of two of his guides, Chuma and Susi, through his journeys. But what Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah's newest novel, Out Of Darkness, Shining Light (Scribner, $27), gives us is a beautiful reimagining of the explorer’s entire entourage—the group that respectfully carries his body, papers, and maps 1,500 miles across the continent to the Eastern coast of Africa so he could be delivered to his birth home and legal family. The narrative focuses on Halima, still a slave to a harsh man named Amoda, and Jacob Wainwright, a freed slave. Through their distinctive voices we come to understand the different and often contradictory qualities of Bwana Daudi—as they call Dr. Livingstone—and gain a new and more complex awareness of the man behind the legend.
Mychal Denzel Smith is both urgent and hilarious as he goes from Dave Chapelle to Lebron James, and from male masculinity to the role of the strong black woman deserving more respect. He speaks about mental illness & LGBTQ in the black community, subjects that are considered too taboo to be discussed. But he has the strength and knowledge to raise the discussion about these topics and make you want to hear more. Running a thread throughout about the horrors and struggles of constantly seeing our young black men & women killed by the authorities sworn to protect us, he is yet another amazing voice speaking up. And he needs to be heard.