Seattle Reads Homegoing: Nonfiction Titles to Delve Deeper

In 2018 Seattle Reads Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Beginning in Ghana, 1760, Homegoing follows the parallel paths of two half-sisters and seven generations of their descendants in Ghana and the United States in a stunning saga of the African diaspora that illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy. Gyasi will be in Seattle for a series of events May 16-17; find the full schedule here, including book groups, genealogy workshops, and three appearances by Gyasi.

We hope you’ve read, or are planning to read, Homegoing. Perhaps you’re interested in learning more about Cape Castle in Ghana, or in hearing first hand narrative of what it was like to be on a slave ship, or finding true multi-generational stories of families brought to the US via slavery. Perhaps you’re wondering – how do I learn more? Our librarians have you covered with this list of nonfiction for readers of Homegoing.

Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston
Not published until 2018, Cudjo Lewis, the last known survivor of the slave ship Clotilda, was interviewed by Hurston in 1927 and again in 1931. Hurston brilliantly illuminates the tragedy of slavery and one life forever defined by it and offers insight into the legacy that continues to haunt us all.

The Black Calhouns: From Civil War to Civil Rights, with One African American Family by Gail Lumet Buckley
Gail Lumet Calhoun, daughter of actress Lena Horne, delves deeply into her family history, detailing the experiences of an African American Family from Civil War to civil rights.

Daisy Turner’s Kin: An African American Family Saga by Jane Beck
Jane Beck began to interview Daisy Turner, then one hundred years old, and still relating four generations of her family’s history. Beck uses Turner’s storytelling to build the Turner family saga of abduction into slavery of their African ancestors, her family’s life in Vermont and Daisy’s childhood stand against racism.

Door of No Return: The Legend of Gorée Island by Steven Barboza
The riveting history of Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, the African headquarters of the British slave trade for nearly one hundred and fifty years before legal trade was abolished in 1807.

Dreams of Africa in Alabama: The Slave Ship Clotilda and the Story of the Last Africans Brought to America by Sylviane Diouf
The slave ship Cloltida brought 110 men, women and children from Benin and Nigeria to the shore of Alabama in 1860, more than 50 years after the United States legally abolished the international slave trade. We follow life in West Africa, the passage to America and the time in slavery. After emancipation, the group reunited from various plantations and founded Africa Town, where many descendants still live.

In Search of the Promised Land: A Slave Family in the Old South
by John Hope Franklin
Portrait of the extended Thomas-Rapier family from before the Civil War and as they travel across antebellum America seeking a place where African Americans would be treated with respect. A compelling narrative that illuminates the larger themes of slavery and freedom.

Though the Heavens May Fall: The Landmark Trial That Led to the End of Human Slavery by Steven M. Wise
A gripping narrative of the 1772 London trial of James Somerset, rescued from a ship bound for the West Indies slave markets. The unexpected decision, by a conservative judge, Lord Mansfield, led to the end of the African slave trade and abolition of slavery, both in England and in the United States.

Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
Solomon Northup, born a free man in New York, was abducted in 1841 and spent the next 12 years of his life as a slave on a Louisiana cotton plantation. After his rescue, he published this vivid, eloquent and detailed account of slave life.

The Two Princes of Calabar: An Eighteenth-century Atlantic Odyssey
by Randy J. Sparks
This is a rare glimpse of the 18th century slave trade from an African perspective. It takes us through the trading communities along the coast of Africa and follows the movement of goods, people and ideas around and across the Atlantic.

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