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A must buy for every MG and YA nonfiction shelf
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The June 1, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is an event few know about, though it was one of the most violent acts of white supremacy in US history. Brandy Colbert’s BLACK BIRDS IN THE SKY examines what lead to the events of June 1st, what exactly happened that day, and why it’s been virtually kept out of history books since.

3 Reasons to read BLACK BIRDS IN THE SKY:

1.) The important education: In typical history classrooms, curriculum covers the first World War, Prohibition, and the Great Depression. However, they rarely talk about the many acts of racial violence during all of those periods, including the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. The lives of African Americans are rarely discussed post-Civil War until the Civil Rights Era begins. Colbert sets the stage to what life was like for African Americans during the early 1900s and specifically what the lives of Black Tulsans were like.

2.) The multifaceted approach to history: What I loved most about BLACK BIRDS IN THE SKY was Colbert’s commitment to telling the full story. While some might expect this book to only focus on 1921 and maybe a year or two before and after, it actually goes back even further to what enslaved people experienced when they were freed to how Oklahoma became a state to how Black Wall Street was formed. It includes important conversations about how Indigenous communities were treated, the land runs that took place, and the many other acts of racial violence around the country at the time.

3.) The storytelling: Though this is nonfiction, Brandy Colbert does a phenomenal job pulling you into the historical narrative and setting the scenes. There is clear logic in the flow and breakdown of chapters. Likewise, this is a shorter book, making it more accessible to young readers who might be intimidated by higher page counts.

BLACK BIRDS IN THE SKY is a stunning work of nonfiction for young readers that covers a tragically lesser-known event in history.
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