Black History Month: A Reading List

Reading List

This Black History Month, we at the AFL-CIO want to recognize that Black history is not a separate history; it’s not a single month. Black history is also America’s history, and it’s America’s labor history, too.

Black workers have always been a crucial part of the fight for justice in the labor movement, from helping to organize the meatpacking industry to the Pullman strike to the sanitation workers striking in Memphis, Tennessee. 

So this month, we celebrate great labor leaders like A. Philip RandolphHattie CantyBayard RustinArlene Holt Baker and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who won historic victories for Black working people.  

But Black history is not just the past—it’s also the present. It’s also Black joy. It’s a celebration of culture and community. It’s coming together to fight for freedom and justice. 

That’s why we’ll be celebrating a new generation of Black labor leaders and activists as well, featuring workers from across the country. And it’s why labor will always be on the front lines of fighting against racism in the workplace and systemic racism and exploitation in our economic system. 

To that, our Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Department has put together a list of recommended reading for the month—and we’re making it easy for you to support Black authors and to buy union-made. We’ve sourced each book and linked to some union bookstore choices where you can order it online. 

Please join the AFL-CIO in a month of lifting Black history and culture: reading, celebrating, scholarship, conversation and much more.