Great American Negroes

great american negroes cover

Great American Negroes
1945, 1956

Submitter: This year, the school I work at decided to start a book club where we are reading a book about helping students become better readers. We were discussing the sorry state of our high school library and I mentioned how half the books could go on the blog Awful Library Books. At the end of the book club I said I was going to find a truly awful book. One of the first books I grabbed was “Great American Negroes,” by Ben Richardson. We were horrified and decided we could weed this one ourselves. The spine is truly awful.

Holly: Yes, it is. It isn’t 1956 any more, people. There isn’t much reason for a high school library to hang on to something like this. It went from a celebration of a culture of great people to downright disrespectful. There is rarely a reason to keep something “because it’s historical” in a high school library. It’s not a museum.



education Great american Negroes

spine label for Great American Negros




  1. That’s a library binding, not an original one, although I would guess that that illustration was probably taken from the original cover or spine.

  2. I’d actually keep that one around, if it was in reasonable condition, because it’d be a great resource for someone writing an essay on the history of the Civil Rights movement.

    1. It’s a high school library, not the TARDIS. It’s not bigger on the inside. They need to weed the old and replace with new. Leave the storing of this stuff to archive libraries or the Library Of Congress.

      1. I appreciate that, but high school kids might have a bit of trouble borrowing a book from an archive library for their homework and a book like this is what my highschool history teacher would call a “primary source”, ie written by someone who was there when the historical event being studied was happening. And if we didn’t cite at least one of those in our essays it tended to affect our grades for the worse. (And yes, we were expected to cite our sources properly as well.)

        1. You can get the same information without the racism in newer books. And the older ones can be scanned and stored on the internet.

          This has no place in a high school library.

        2. I’m not sure this is a first-hand account. The publication dates are a bit late and it sounds more likely to be a collection of biographies at best. I don’t think it would count as a primary source.

          -Courtesy of your friendly neighborhood archivist.

  3. Some instruction on some matters of religion. One does wonder how and why there was/is so much racial inequity in matters of religion, now doesn’t one?

  4. This is even worse than the doll-making book I once found at the local library that suggested using black fabric for a “Negro doll”.

  5. How awfully nice of the slave owners to be concerned about their slave’s education and moral development.

Comments are closed.