The Gift of Black Thought Project

Check out these recommendations of Black cultural brilliance from our campus community!

Contributor: Sheila C. Smith, Child Development and Family Services (CDFS) Professor 

“This book comforted me like my great grandmother’s handmade quilt. These beautiful love letters to partners, parents, children, siblings and grandparents remind me of the power of Black Love!”
Contributor: Kevin Anderson, Interim Dean of Applied Technology and Business
“It’s inspiring for young black males who don’t think they have a chance to be successful.”


Contributor: Kristina Ferrebee, Biology faculty
“There are two very good essays in this book. I read them first in high school and then in college and again when I began working my first job after graduate school. Each time I read them, I think about my own experiences as often being the only Black person in a space, the assumptions I am met with and the stereotypes I am constantly explaining politely on behalf of misconceptions. This book is a recommendation from an older version of myself to young Black or African American students thinking about how to navigate this world that may not always see you as you see yourself.”

Contributor: Erika Black, Counseling Faculty

“The inspirational and brave stories that were expressed within this book allowed for me, especially as a Black woman, to not feel shame, guilt or disappointment about my shortcomings. Overall, this book provided me with peace in knowing that I am not perfect, but I am still capable of being the author of my life through the highs and lows.” 

“Music has really decorated time for Black folks in America. From Motown, Blues & Jazz, R&B, Neo-Soul, Gospel, Hip-Hop /Rap, Black Americans have a vast influence on how music shapes the world we live in. This work was meaningful to me because this film represented unity, love and resilience during a time where we were (and continue) to fight for our existence simply because of who we were: Black. There was joy during their chaos, and their joy derived from the soulful music. While watching, I felt connected to my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, thinking about what it meant to be Black during their generation. Summer of Soul allowed me to appreciate how even though there are tough days, soulful music has a way of bringing light and laughter to our lives.”

Contributor: Shanan Danley, S.O.A.R. Program Coordinator and A2MEND Advisor 

“It reminds me how I grew up, not in fear but knowing that death was around the corner.” 


Notable quote: “Panic, as another manic depressive / Adolescent stares at death / Now, what’s left… / It might be a homicide / So let the drama slide… / We don’t want no problems.” 


Contributor: Dr. Tasha Smith, Child Development Faculty and IMANI Sisterhood Program Coordinator 



“This work addresses the power of resilience.” 


Notable quote: “Does my sassiness upset you? / Why are you beset with gloom? / ’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells / Pumping in my living room. / Just like moons and like suns, / With the certainty of tides, / Just like hopes springing high, / Still I’ll rise.” 


“This poem is a powerful piece of work that speaks to how phenomenal women are!” 


Notable quote: “Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. / I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size / But when I start to tell them, / They think I’m telling lies. / I say, / It’s in the reach of my arms, / The span of my hips, / The stride of my step, / The curl of my lips. / I’m a woman / Phenomenally. / Phenomenal woman, / That’s me.” 

Contributor: Dr. Tonmar Johnson, Sociology Faculty 

“This text allowed me to better understand the historical context of what it means to be an African-American vs an American in our society.” 


Notable quote: “It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,––an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” 


Contributor: Dr. Rhuenette Alums, Applied Technology and Business Faculty 

“I love podcasts and I love anything having to do with graceful aging among women.” 


Contributor: Shirley Lewis, Dean of Academic Support Services


  • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (book)


“This work was the first book that I read by a Black woman author.”


Notable quote: “Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. For some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly.”

Contributor: Andrew Wesley, Music History Faculty



“When most people think of large-scale compositions, they think of the typical white composer. While Duke Ellington is considered one of the greatest jazz composers of all time, many do not know he composed large-scale orchestral works. B,B&B should be considered one of the greatest orchestral compositions of the 20th century.”



“Scott Joplin is known as the greatest ragtime composer and the precursor to modern-day jazz. But he is less known for his other works. In the world of opera people tend to know names such as Puccini and other white composers. But Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha is the first-known opera composed by a black composer and one of the few in total to ever be composed…An opera by a black composer is profoundly important.”

Andrew McGee, Automotive Technology Program Director and Faculty


  • Regina McGee, “Sucking It Up” The Lived Experiences of African American Teachers (doctoral dissertation)


“Relatable to educators of many different backgrounds, not just African Americans. This work is relevant due to its realism, proximity, and grasp.”

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