Black History Month Classic Authors
5 Classic African-American Authors You Should Know

Each of these five African-American authors has written books that are read, studied, and discussed across the country—and around the world.

Listen, and learn why they should always be on your playlist.


The Big Sea

Langston Hughes, born in 1902, came of age early in the 1920s. In The Big Sea he recounts those memorable years in the two great playgrounds of the decade, Harlem and Paris.
Listen to an excerpt The Big Sea

The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison

Included are posthumously discovered reviews, criticism, and interviews, as well as the essay collections Shadow and Act (1964), and Going to the Territory (1986), an exploration of literature and folklore, jazz and culture, and the nature and quality of lives that black Americans lead.
Listen to an excerpt The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Author: Maya Angelou
Read By: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic, beloved worldwide, that captures the longing of lonely children, the brutal insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right.
Listen to an excerpt I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart
Author: Alice Walker
Read By: Alfre Woodard

Alice Walker shares a story about a woman’s spiritual adventure that becomes a passage through time, a quest for self, and a collision with love.
Listen to an excerpt Now Is the Time to Open Your Heart

Song of Solomon

Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he too will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story.
Listen to an excerpt Song of Solomon

For more audiobook recommendations, take a look at our Black History Month collection.

Alice Walker Photo Credit: “Alice Walker Speaks” by Victoria DeBolt is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 / Colorized from original