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5 Books to Read for World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

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Five Books to Read For World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

Today marks the 20th celebration of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

Recognized by the UN General Assembly as a holiday in 2002, the annual celebration honors the different cultures around the world and promotes discussion and appreciation for these cultures in an attempt to build peace. 

In honor of this day, here are five books about the stories of people across the Diaspora and in Black history.

  1. New Daughters of Africa: An international anthology of writing by women of African descent: Edited by Margaret Busby, this book compiles stories by more than 200 women writers of African ancestry. Featuring contributions from Pulitzer-Prize winning writers such as Margo Jefferson and newer writers such as Imbolo Mbuw, the women’s writings range across multiple genres such as letters, autobiographies, short stories, poetry, essays and speeches. Through their work, the contributors discuss topics concerning race and gender in places like African countries and the U.S. 
  1. Assata An Autobiography: Written by activist Assata Shakur in 1988, the book details the aftermath of the New Jersey State Turnpike Shootout as well as her early life and her rise in the Black Power Movement. Shakur speaks candidly about her trials and experience after the shootout, including the moment she was assaulted by several female officers after denying the jail doctor’s medical exam following the birth of her daughter. Held for four years, she was eventually convicted in 1977 on weak evidence. Shakur now resides in Cuba where she was granted asylum in the early 80s after breaking free from jail. For her struggles, Shakur became known as one of the most famous political prisoners of her time.
  1. I Am a Girl from Africa: Written by political scientist Elizabeth Nyamayaro, this book follows her journey from starvation to working at the United Nations. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Nyamayaro was eight years old when her country was hit with a two-year drought. It was a United Nations aid worker who helped save her, giving her food, water and the dream of becoming a humanitarian herself. Throughout her career, Nyamayaro has worked as a senior adviser at the United Nations and has helped develop HeForShe, an initiative focused on gender equality.
  1. On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker or Self Made: Recognized as “the first female self-made millionaire” by the Guinness Book of World Records, Madam C.J. Walker enjoyed a long career as a businesswoman in the hair care field. Written by her great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, this biography covers Walker’s life from her birth and early childhood as an orphan as well as her friendships with prominent figures. Throughout her career, Walker was also heavily involved in philanthropy work, giving a record $5,000 in donations to the NAACP and working alongside leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois.
  1. Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work: Written by award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat, this book comprises a series of stories about immigrant Haitian artists who were forced to leave their homeland. Amongst the stories Danticat tells is the story of Marcel Numa and Louis Drouin who were executed on November 27, 1964, for their opposition against Dr. Francois Duvalier, the president of Haiti from 1957 to 1971. According to Danticat, their story is the one she views as her “creation myth.” In addition to Numa and Drouin, Danticat tells the stories about herself, radio journalist Jean Dominique who was politically assassinated and the Haitian writers she was first exposed to as a child in the Brooklyn Public Library. Weaving the stories together, she opens up discussions about the interconnection between countries and the effects of violence, poverty and more.
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