There’s nothing like a good story. There’s something about a true story that makes it even more fascinating. Memoirs help us to see the ways in which we are connected to each other. Whether we have shared experiences or cannot relate, we grow as people when we empathize with the life a a fellow human being. In reading the stories of others’ lives we can take entertainment, education and inspiration from their paths. Who better to provide that than other Black women? Check out some of these Black women memoirs to get you thinking, relating and feeling.

The It Girl

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It’s clear that Quinta Brunson is having a moment right now. She’s created one of the best shows on television, killed every red carpet look and opened doors for so many Black and talented actor. Plus she and her cast members are snatching awards left and right. It’s been beautiful to watch. But in case you thought Quinta was an overnight success, think again. Her memoir tells the story of the journey that got her here, including a loving family, pride in herself and her culture, perseverance and an amazing work ethic.

An Inspiration

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This is the type of book that stays with you long after you’ve closed its pages. More than a story about a Black woman breaking into Hollywood, Viola Davis’ life is a testament to the strength of the human spirit. The things she witnessed, endured and survived would have taken out more than a few people. But she emerged from abject poverty, abuse and even self doubt victoriously. Everyone will be able to take inspiration from her journey.

The Boss

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For years we tuned into the BET Awards and watched a visibly nervous Debra Lee take the stage to say a few words at one of entertainment’s most engaging nights of television. Despite her hesitancy around public speaking, Debra Lee was the woman in charge of the network for over a decade. A Black woman in this position of power is unusual. And so is Lee’s story. In her book, we see her navigate life under a controlling father. She eventually finds her own voice as an executive and as a woman. Black women climbing the career ladder will be able to relate.

Stephanie Johnson

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The internet met Ms. Tanqueray on the popular blog and Instagram page, Humans of New York. Her colorful stories about her life as a burlesque dancer and the people she met along the way were salacious and hilarious. But behind the stage name, there is Stephanie Johnson. She is equally captivating as the woman who made men believe she could squirt chocolate milk from her breasts. Her stories include those of a rough childhood with an emotionally distant mother and her first love. She also details living life as an older woman. It’s all on display in a beautiful and unforgettable memoir.

My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement

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Once the dust settled, Tarana Burke was acknowledged as the true founder of the MeToo movement. During her time in the spotlight she’s done the work of educating us all about rape culture. In her memoir, we get a much more personal and in depth look at the woman and the story that helped her create the movement in the first place. From the first pages, this book will have you captivated. It takes you through low-lows, twists and turns; but ultimately, it’s a story about how this woman turned tragedy into triumph not only for herself but for so many others.

Complicated Families

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Ashley C. Ford is not famous. But after her memoir became an instant New York Times bestseller, her face or her words became well known online. Somebody’s Daughter is a coming of age story about Ashley’s upbringing with a loving grandmother, an often abusive mother and a father who was incarcerated. The book explores the limits of love we have for our family and learning to find ourselves as both a part of and separate from that narrative.

Ms. Pat

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These days, Patricia Williams is a well-known comedian with stand-up specials and hit tv shows on BET. We know her as Ms. Pat. But before she got to be the woman she is today, Patricia Williams was a young girl growing up with a difficult mother. Then she was a teen mother herself and later a drug-dealer. The stories she has to tell are so incredible, they’re almost hard to believe. The book has been described as “outrageous.” It’s a valid assessment. But underneath all of that, it’s a story about a Black girl and other Black women and their desire to be seen for who they really are.

A Memoir of (My) Body

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Roxane Gay is a masterful writer. All of her skills are on display as she takes you on a heart-wrenching journey of a childhood trauma that forever altered the way she viewed and treated her body. In her memoir, Hunger, Gay explains her life in a fat body in ways that you have likely never seen before. Her honesty in these pages opened up doors for the conversations we, as a society, are just now having about fatphobia, self acceptance and discrimination.

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