This year, inspired in large part by Rewire.News‘ podcast What Else Happened and its question of what brings joy, I’ve decided to share the books that have done just that as I continue to report on stories of the trauma, violence, resilience, and resistance inherent in the nation’s jail and prison system. Every few months, I’ll be writing about some of my favorites for Rewire.News readers, both to share some of that joy and to encourage folks to pick up these books and show publishers, bookstores, and libraries that people do want to read books by women of color.
You can find reviews of some of the first 14 books I’ve read here and here. Here are a few more that have kept me company during nor’easters, spring showers, and long subway rides. They would be wonderful reads on the beach, in the park, or during any summer staycation.
Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”
In 1931, Zora Neale Hurston traveled to Plateau, Alabama, to interview Kossula (or Cudjo Lewis, as he was renamed in the United States). Kossula, then in his 90s, was the last survivor of the transatlantic slave trade. Captured at age 19 by the Dahomey king’s famous women warriors, Kossula was sold into slavery and brought to the United States 50 years after the transatlantic slave trade had been outlawed. Once emancipated, he and other Africans, unable to afford passage back to their homeland, formed their own community in Alabama, which is where Hurston found him decades later.
Hurston spent three months in Alabama visiting Kossula. She asked him about his childhood and young adulthood in Africa, his time in the barracoon