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4 mins read

Ann Petry: The First Black Woman to Sell Over a Million Copies of a Book

Ann Petry was an accomplished African American author and pharmacist who broke barriers in the literary world with her first novel, The Street.

Published in 1946, The Street became the first book written by an African American woman to sell over one million copies and cemented Petry’s place in history as a trailblazer in both the literary and African American communities.

Ann Petry was born on October 12, 1908, in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, to a family of pharmacists. Her father owned a drugstore, and Petry’s early exposure to the world of medicine and literature laid the foundation for her future career as a pharmacist and author. After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in pharmacy, Petry worked in her family’s drugstore and eventually opened her own pharmacy in Harlem, New York.

ann petry

It was in Harlem where Petry began to see the harsh realities of poverty and racism first-hand, experiences that would later influence her writing. In the 1930s and 1940s, Harlem was a hub of cultural and political activity, with artists, writers, and activists coming together to challenge the status quo. Petry was part of this community, and her own experiences as a black woman in America, combined with her observations of the lives of others in Harlem, provided the inspiration for The Street.

The Street tells the story of Lutie Johnson, a single mother living in Harlem who is struggling to raise her son and make ends meet. The novel is a powerful depiction of the challenges faced by African Americans in the mid-20th century, including poverty, racism, and sexism. Through Lutie’s story, Petry explores the effects of these societal ills on individuals and communities, showing how they can be both oppressive and empowering at the same time.

The Street was an instant success, receiving critical acclaim and commercial success. Petry’s powerful writing style, combined with her unique perspective as an African American woman, resonated with readers, and the novel quickly became a bestseller. With its publication, Petry became the first African American woman to sell over one million copies of a book, a remarkable achievement that cemented her place in literary history.

ann holt

Petry continued to write throughout her life, producing several more novels, including Country Place (1947) and The Narrows (1953), as well as a number of short stories and essays. Although her later works did not achieve the same level of commercial success as The Street, they nonetheless earned her critical acclaim and cemented her legacy as one of the most important African American writers of the 20th century.

In addition to her writing, Petry was also a prominent activist and advocate for social justice. Throughout her life, she spoke out against racial and gender inequality, and her works continue to be relevant today, serving as powerful reminders of the ongoing struggles for justice and equality in America.

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4 mins read

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

Elevate your living space with coffee table books that add color, texture, and layers to your decor, all while showcasing your unique interests.

Discover a curated selection of coffee table books by Black authors, offering captivating narratives and stunning visuals that enrich your space and celebrate diverse perspectives.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

“Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style” by Shantrelle P. Lewis 

Described as “high-styled rebels” by author Shantrelle P. Lewis, Black men with a penchant for color and refined fashion, both new and vintage, have gained popular attention in recent years, influencing mainstream fashion.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

“We Are Present: 2020 in Portraits” by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn 

We Are Present: 2020 in Portraits chronicles one of the most dynamic years in recent history through a series of delicate yet confrontational portraiture.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

“AphroChic: Celebrating the Legacy of the Black Family Home” by Jeanine Hays and Bryan Hays

A powerful, visually stunning celebration of Black homeownership, featuring inspiring homes and family histories of notable Black American

“The Modern Day Black Alphabet,” by Arial Robinson

The Modern Day Black Alphabet is a children’s photo book by Arial Robinson. This book started as a simple photo series to keep Arial occupied while being quarantined during the COVID-19 pandemic but now has blossomed into a full book.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

In this stunning and deeply heartfelt tribute to Black culinary ingenuity, Bryant Terry captures the broad and divergent voices of the African Diaspora through the prism of food. Includes contributions from more than 100 Black cultural luminaries from around the globe.

“Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion,” by Marcellas Reynolds

To date, there has never been a book devoted exclusively to top black models. Supreme Models fills that void, paying tribute to black models past and present.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

“BLACK FUTURES” By Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham

A collection of work—images, photos, essays, memes, dialogues, recipes, tweets, poetry, and more—to tell the story of the radical, imaginative, provocative, and gorgeous world that Black creators are bringing forth today.

“Black Is Beautiful” by Kwame Brathwaite

In the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Kwame Brathwaite used his photography to popularize the political slogan “Black Is Beautiful.” This monograph—the first ever dedicated to Brathwaite’s remarkable career—tells the story of a key, but under-recognized, figure of the second Harlem Renaissance.

“The Black Joy Project Hardcover” by Kleaver Cruz 

The Black Joy Project features stunning photography and essays celebrating Black joy around the world. It has been compared to “Humans of New York” and “The Black Book” and is described as a powerful and uplifting exploration of resilience, resistance, and Black culture.

Coffee Table Books by Black Authors

“Justice of The Pies” by Maya-Camille Broussard”

Justice of the Pies offers over 85 sweet and savory recipes inspired by 20 social justice “stewards,” celebrating flavors and making a difference with every bite. Chef-owner Maya-Camille Broussard honors her father, a criminal defense attorney, through delicious pies and community upliftment.

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2 mins read

Uplifting Children’s Books Written By Black Authors

In recent years, more Black authors have received prestigious awards and earned spots on bestseller lists. Although there is still much work to be done, I am grateful that more Black authors are getting the exposure that they deserve.

Here is a selection of children’s books by Black authors available on Amazon. And because these recommendations are just the tip of the iceberg, we’ll keep adding to this list.

ABC I Love Me by Miriam Muhammad

ABC I Love Me takes Black children along for a journey of self love, confidence, and adventure while teaching young learners positive affirmations for each letter of the alphabet. This book encourages children to accept their unique qualities and promotes positive self-esteem and a healthy lifestyle.

Dream Big Little One by Vashti Harrison

Black Authors

Featuring 18 trailblazing black women in American history, “Dream Big, Little One” is the irresistible board book adaptation of Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History. The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.

Emi’s Curly Coily, Cotton Candy Hair by Tina Olajide

Emi is a creative 7-year-old girl with a BIG imagination. In this story, Emi shares a positive message about her Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hair and what she likes most about it. The vibrant illustrations and fun story teach basic natural hair care techniques and tips in a playful and memorable way.

I Believe I Can by Grace Byers

Black Authors

From the #1 New York Times bestselling creators of “I Am Enough” comes an empowering follow-up that celebrates every child’s limitless potential. “I Believe I Can” is an affirmation for boys and girls of every background to love and believe in themselves.

I’m A Little King: Positive Affirmations for Black and Brown Boys by Sharifa Brown

Black Authors

For far too long, little Black and Brown boys have been made to feel inferior and unimportant. “I’m a Little King” is a short, rhythmic, and beautifully illustrated children’s book for ages 2-7 aimed at improving the self-esteem and self-confidence of Black and Brown boys.