Black Birds in the Sky
Series: Reads and Reviews, Reads and Reviews - November 2021
Genre: Historical Nonfiction - YA
ISBN: 9780063056664

(YA reading level - graphic depictions of violence and use of the "n" word is historical documents)

Written by Brandy Colbert, Black Birds in thy Sky recounts the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. Colbert writes with plain and clear text to recount the details surrounding the event - a necessary tactic given the immensity of sadness surrounding the history.
Really though, the book is about much more than the massacre. Colbert weaves in events that proceeded the event - including the founding of Oklahoma, the pattern of violence against Black men in the years before the massacre, WWI, the work of Ida B. Wells, Reconstruction, and much more. Colbert also takes time at the end to connect the massacre to current events discussing how the story had been hidden for many years, how it was gradually exposed by Black historians, and how the echoes of that story are reflected in the events of 2020. It's a great example of how historical context connects events throughout U.S. History. 
About the Book

From the publisher, ”

A searing new work of nonfiction from award-winning author Brandy Colbert about the history and legacy of one of the most deadly and destructive acts of racial violence in American history: the Tulsa Race Massacre.

In the early morning of June 1, 1921, a white mob marched across the train tracks in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and into its predominantly Black Greenwood District—a thriving, affluent neighborhood known as America’s Black Wall Street. They brought with them firearms, gasoline, and explosives.

In a few short hours, they’d razed thirty-five square blocks to the ground, leaving hundreds dead. The Tulsa Race Massacre is one of the most devastating acts of racial violence in US history. But how did it come to pass? What exactly happened? And why are the events unknown to so many of us today?

These are the questions that award-winning author Brandy Colbert seeks to answer in this unflinching nonfiction account of the Tulsa Race Massacre. In examining the tension that was brought to a boil by many factors—white resentment of Black economic and political advancement, the resurgence of white supremacist groups, the tone and perspective of the media, and more—a portrait is drawn of an event singular in its devastation, but not in its kind. It is part of a legacy of white violence that can be traced from our country’s earliest days through Reconstruction, the Civil Rights movement in the mid–twentieth century, and the fight for justice and accountability Black Americans still face today.

The Tulsa Race Massacre has long failed to fit into the story Americans like to tell themselves about the history of their country. This book, ambitious and intimate in turn, explores the ways in which the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre is the story of America—and by showing us who we are, points to a way forward.”

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