Home » Alabama Campaign Blog » Black History All Year: Racial Justice and Sex Ed. are Inherently Interconnected

Black History All Year: Racial Justice and Sex Ed. are Inherently Interconnected

Meagan Lyle | February 9, 2023

Featured Photo by The Knights and Orchids Society

While every month should be Black History Month, February presents us with a special time to pay attention to the unique brilliance, joy, resilience, and power that Black Americans have created and inspired. This is a legacy and tradition that continues today. Among these countless contributions is the often-unrecognized work that every day parents, educators, older siblings, young people, librarians, grandparents, and community leaders have done to advance sexual health education and destigmatize the taboos around sex in Black communities.  

Brittney Cooper, a Black Feminist scholar, pays tribute to this specific work in her book titled Eloquent Rage. Cooper recounts a beautiful conversation she had with her Gram one sweltering hot summer day in rural Louisiana. She refers to this conversation as the “Great Porch Intervention”. Despite having grown up in the center of the Christian south, where shame, guilt, and sin are closely associated with sex in both Black and white church communities, Cooper remembers her Grandmama telling her plainly and simply about safe sex, family planning, contraceptives, pleasure, positive self-image, body confidence, and sexuality (133). She assures Cooper that she is made of only the “good stuff” and stresses the importance of “combos” which Cooper then clarifies – her Gram meant condoms. Cooper believes her Grandmama, a proud Christian woman known for her fabulous hats on Sundays, was attempting to eradicate any shame around sexuality and empower her granddaughter to explore, discover and be curious about pleasure and sex. 

At the Alabama Campaign we believe in providing sexual health education that addresses the diverse needs of adolescents in Alabama. This requires addressing and debunking the powerful and dangerous media narratives, brimming with stereotypes and tropes, which target, dehumanize, and constrain Black women and girls’ sexuality, specifically. We believe it is essential to uplift true, empowering, and diverse stories that encourage young people to discover and embrace their own sexualities on their own timeline and terms, without shame, fear, or guilt.  

The Knights and Orchids Society (TKO) continues the legacy set by elders like Cooper’s grandmother. TKO, the only Black and queer/trans led AIDS service organization, resists homophobia and transphobia – ever-present in Black and white churches across the bible belt – by building community for Black queer and trans folks to be their authentic selves. TKO centers Black joy and provides sexual health education, resources, and services including, but not limited to, STI testing services, food pantry, and workshops like Sex Ed Bingo at colleges and universities. The Alabama Campaign for Adolescent Sexual Health invites folks in our network to support TKO’s work here.  

While Black community leaders, activists, scholars, educators, parents, grandparents, and young people have done so much to make our communities more tender, strong, and beautiful, our country is still suffering under “White-Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy,” to quote the late bell hooks. This unfortunate fact feels all too relevant this month – not because of Black History Month but because of the recent police killings of Tyre Nichols in Memphis Tennessee and Manuel Teran, otherwise known as Tortugita, in Atlanta, Georgia.  

In order to achieve our vision of a world—one in which all young people can safely make informed decisions about their bodies and sexual health– we must achieve better harm reduction and public safety strategies. As we collectively mourn these unnecessary and unjust murders, we encourage our network to hold each other close and give each other grace and love during this time of national grief.  

In order to shed light on Black voices, Black joy and love, as well as invite discussion of systemic racism and the dismantling of those systems, we have created book lists for young children, teens and adults for Black History Month. Check out those book lists below and be sure to support Alabama’s local bookstores when buying your copies. We will close out our post with a quote from the recent Truthout article titled We Must Refuse “Normal Life” After Police Violence Like Killing of Tyre Nichols: Austin McCoy argues for national days of mourning for the victims of police violence, explaining “No one should live their lives fearing state violence, mass killings and neglect by an unequal and inadequate medical system under racial capitalism. The task now is to create spaces where we can breathe, grieve and transform society.”  

We cannot have comprehensive, medically-accurate, inclusive sexual health education without eradicating all of the systems of oppression that keep people from living as their full authentic selves, free from fear. We see expanding access to sexual health resources, services, and education as one piece of the puzzle in building transformative communities. 

Alabama Local Bookstores by City to Support: 

Birmingham: Burdock Book Collective 

Mobile: The Haunted Bookstore  

Montgomery: 1977 Books 

Tuscaloosa: Ernest and Hadley 


Black History + Black Joy for Kids 

  • If Dominican Were a Color by Sili Recio 
  • Jump at the Sun: The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston by Alicia Williams 
  • Mama and Me by Cozbi A Cabrera 
  • Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow 
  • Anti Racist Baby by Ibram X Kendi 
  • A Song for Gwendolyn Brooks by Alice Faye Duncan 
  • The Women Who Caught the Babies: A Story of African American Midwives by Eloise Greenfield 
  • I am Enough by Grace Byers 
  • Missing Daddy by Marianne Kaba 
  • Skin Again by Bell Hooks (early years) 
  • Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson 
  • How Mama’s Love their Babies by Juniper Fitzgerald 
  • Dalia’s Wondrous Hair by Gabriela Baeza Ventura 
  • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson (Great for first day of school) 
  • Boo Stew by Donna L Washington 
  • See You Soon by Mariame Kaba (Prison Abolition) 
  • Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah Jones 
  • Another by Christian Robinson (Identity and Understanding/Imagining Different Perspectives) 
  • Party: A mystery by Jamaica Kincaid 
  • Time for Kenny by Brian Pinkney 
  • Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito and Laure Freeman 
  • Freedom Soup by Tami Charles and Jacquline Alcantara 
  • Don’t Touch My Hair! By Sharee Miller 
  • You Are My Favorite Color by Gillian Sze, Nina Mata 
  • Whoever You Are By Mem Fox, Leslie Staub 
  • Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present By Jamia Wilson, Andrea Pippins 
  • Black Is a Rainbow Color By Angela Joy, Ekua Holmes 
  • What Is Given from the Heart By Patricia C. McKissack, April Harrison


  • The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes 
  • Nothing Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk 
  • Pet by Akwaeke Emezi 
  • Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi (Sequel to Pet) 
  • All Boys aren’t Blue by George Johnson 
  • Stuntboy by Jason Reynolds (Graphic Novel) 
  • Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin 
  • New Kid by Jerry Craft 
  • Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes 
  • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (Science Fiction) 
  • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (Science Fiction, Campus History) 
  • King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender 
  • Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh 
  • Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds 
  • The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas 
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo 
  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo  
  • Girls Like Us by Randi Pink (Birmingham Author) 


  • Stayed on Freedom by Dan Berger 
  • We Refuse to Forget by Caleb Gayle 
  • Policing the Womb by Michelle Goodwin 
  • Radical Reproductive Justice edited by Loretta Ross 
  • Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts 
  • Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Community Claudia Jones by Carole Boyce Davies 
  • Black Worker in the Deep South by Hosea Hudson 
  • Alabama Grandson by Cedrick Bridgeforth (Alabama Author) 
  • South to America by Imani Perry (Alabama Author) 
  • Are Prisons Obsolete? By Angela Davis (Alabama Author) 
  • Reparations Now by Ashley Jones (Alabama Author- Poetry) 
  • How to Carry Water by Lucille Clifton (Poetry) 
  • The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones 
  • The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America by Carol Anderson 
  • White Rage by Carole Anderson 
  • Freedom Dreams by Robin Kelley 
  • Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward (Memoir) 
  • How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon (Essays) 
  • Finna by Nate Marshall (Poetry) 
  • As Black As Resistance by William C Anderson (Birmingham Author) 
  • The End of Policing by Alex Vitale 
  • No More Police by Mariame Kaba 
  • We Do This Til We Free Us by Mariame Kaba 
  • How We Fight White Supremacy by Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin 
  • Assata by Assata Shakur (Memoir) 
  • Carceral Capitalism by Jackie Wang 
  • Looking for Lorraine by Imani Perry 
  • Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own by Eddie Glaude Jr 
  • Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper 
  • How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective by Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor 
  • Memoir of A Race Traitor by Mab Segrest 
  • Sister Citizen by Melissa Harris Perry 
  • Belly at the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness and Anti-Blackness 
  • Pan African Social Ecology by Modibo Kadalie 
  • Wayward Lives Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman 
  • Except Palestine by Marc Lamont Hill 
  • Black Liberation and Palestine Solidarity by Lenni Brenner and Matthew Quest 
  • We Want to Do More than Survive by Bettina Love (Educational Focus) 
  • Felon by Reginald Dwayne Betts (Poetry)
  • The Book of Awesome Black Americans by Monique Jones (Alabama Author) 
  • Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique Morris 
  • Unapologetic: A Black Queer and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements by Charlene Carruthers 
  • The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein 
  • Prison by Any Other Name: The Harmful Consequences of Popular Reforms By Maya Schenwar, Victoria Law, Michelle Alexander
  • Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex By Eric A. Stanley, Nat Smith 
  • There’s Something in the Water: Environmental Racism in Indigenous & Black Communities By Ingrid R. G. Waldron
  • The Evidence of Things Not Seen By James Baldwin
  • Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code By Ruha Benjamin
  • Rehearsals for Living By Robyn Maynard
  • Abolition Geography: Essays Towards Liberation By Ruth Wilson Gilmore
  • Becoming Abolitionists: Police, Protests, and the Pursuit of Freedom By Derecka Purnell
  • Zami: A New Spelling of my Name by Audre Lorde 


  • The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalilia Harris 
  • How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? By NK Jemisin (Science Fiction) 
  • Recitatif by Toni Morrison 
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morison 
  • Sula by Toni Morrison 
  • Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour 
  • The Prophets by Robert Jones 
  • Memorial by Bryan Washington 
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennet 
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennet 
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid 
  • Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward  
  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward 
  • Long Division by Kiese Laymon 
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (Science Fiction) 
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler (Science Fiction, Adapted into a TV Series on Hulu) 
  • The City We Became by NK Jemisin (Science Fiction about Gentrification) 
  • Red at the Bone by Jaqueline Woodson 
  • Black Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson 
  • Black on Both Sides A Racial History of Trans Identity 
  • Nobody’s Magic by Destiny O Birdsong 
  • Palmares by Gayle Jones 
  • Corregidora by Gayle Jones 
  • The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois 
  • Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead 
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston 
  • Butter Honey Pig Bread by Francesca Ekwuyasi 
  • Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge 
  • The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi 
  • Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi 
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Alabama Author) 
  • Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi 
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker 
  • An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay 
  • Weightless by Evette Dion 




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