Black Caucus American Library Association Literary Awards

Bocas Logo First presented at the Second National Conference of African American Librarians in 1994, the BCALA Literary Awards acknowledge outstanding works of fiction and nonfiction for adult audiences by African American authors.

Monetary awards are presented in the following categories, First Novelist, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. Honor Book citations are also awarded in fiction and nonfiction without any accompanying monetary remuneration.

The BCALA also host an annual conference, the National Conference of African American Librarians.


9 Books Honored in 2006

Winner Fiction

Third Girl from the Left
by Martha Southgate

Publication Date:
List Price: $17.95
Format: Paperback, 272 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780618773381
Imprint: Mariner Books
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Parent Company: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Read a Description of Third Girl from the Left


Book Description: At the center of this dazzling novel is Angela, a twenty-year-old beauty who leaves the stifling conformity of Oklahoma to search for fame during the rise of blaxploitation cinema in Los Angeles. But for her mother, Mildred, a strait-laced survivor of the 1921 Tulsa race riots, Angela’s acting career is unforgivable, and the distance between them grows into a silence that lasts for years. It is only when Angela’s daughter, Tamara, a filmmaker, sets out to close the rift between them that the women are forced to confront all that has been left unspoken in their lives.

Bold and beautifully written, Third Girl from the Left deftly explores the bonds of family and the inextricable pull of the movies.

Winner First Novelist

Freshwater Road
by Denise Nicholas

Publication Date:
List Price: $15.00
Format: Paperback, 346 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9781572841956
Imprint: Agate
Publisher: Agate Publishing
Parent Company: Agate Publishing, Inc
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Read a Description of Freshwater Road


Book Description: 
From award-winning actress Denise Nicholas: a ten-year anniversary reissue of her powerful and dramatic coming of age story set in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964. Freshwater Road has been called one of the best novels written about the Civil Rights Movement. Nicholas herself has been praised repeatedly over the years for her beautiful prose and is continually mentioned along with Alice Walker and Ernest J. Gaines as the most important novelists documenting this era.

When University of Michigan sophomore Celeste Tyree travels to Mississippi to volunteer her efforts in Freedom Summer, she’s assigned to help register voters in the small town of Pineyville, a place best known for a notorious lynching that occurred only a few years earlier. As the long, hot summer unfolds, Celeste befriends several members of the community, but there are also those who are threatened by her and the change that her presence in the South represents. Finding inner strength as she helps lift the veil of oppression and learns valuable lessons about race, social change, and violence, Celeste prepares her adult students for their showdown with the county registrar. All the while, she struggles with loneliness, a worried father in Detroit, and her burgeoning feelings for Ed Jolivette, a young man also in Mississippi for the summer.

By summer’s end, Celeste learns there are no easy answers to the questions that preoccupy her—about violence and nonviolence, about race, identity, and color, and about the strength of love and family bonds. In Freshwater Road, Denise Nicholas has created an unforgettable story that—more than ten years after first appearing in print—continues to be one of the most cherished works of Civil Rights fiction.



Honor Book Fiction

Snake Walkers
by J. Everett Prewitt

Publication Date:
List Price: $16.95
Format: Paperback, 360 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780976192763
Imprint: Northland Publishing Company
Publisher: Northland Publishing Company
Parent Company: Northland Publishing Company
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Read a Description of Snake Walkers


Book Description: 
In his first novel, J. Everett Prewitt brings us a gripping story of violence and transformation in a small Arkansas community during the early 1960s. Traumatized as a child after witnessing a murder, Anthony Andrews, the first black reporter at the Arkansas Sun, seeks to solve the mysterious abandonment of a small town and the disappearance of fourteen white men. His investigation leads him from rural Arkansas to Cleveland, Ohio as he tries to uncover a family secret kept hidden for over a decade. The closer he gets to truth, the more questions he has about himself. His quest not only reveals the true identity of people he has met along the way, but also points Anthony toward a path that leads to his own salvation.



Honor Book Fiction

I Got Somebody in Staunton: Stories
by William Henry Lewis

Publication Date:
List Price: $12.95
Format: Paperback, 240 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780060536664
Imprint: Harper Paperbacks
Publisher: HarperCollins
Parent Company: News Corporation
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Read a Description of I Got Somebody in Staunton: Stories


Book Description: 
In twelve graceful, sensual stories, William Henry Lewis traces the line between the real and the imaginary, acknowledging the painful ghosts of the past in everyday encounters. Written in a style that has been acclaimed by our finest writers, from Edward P. Jones and Nikki Giovanni to Dave Eggers, I Got Somebody in Staunton is one of the most highly praised literary events to take on contemporary America.In the title story, a young professor befriends an enigmatic white woman in a bar along the back roads of Virginia, but has second thoughts about driving her to a neighboring town as his uncle’s stories of lynchings resonate through his mind. Another tale portrays a Kansas City jazz troupe’s travels to Denver, where they hope to strike it big. Meanwhile, a man in the midst of paradise must decide whether he will languish or thrive.With I Got Somebody in Staunton Lewis has lyrically and unflinchingly chronicled the lives of those most often neglected.

Winner Nonfiction

Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas
by Michael A. Gomez

Publication Date:
List Price: $40.99
Format: Paperback, 396 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780521600798
Imprint: Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Parent Company: Cambridge University
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Read a Description of Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas


Book Description: 
Beginning with Latin America in the fifteenth century, this book comprises a social history of the experiences of African Muslims and their descendants throughout the Americas, including the Caribbean. The years under slavery are examined, as well as the post-slavery period. The study also analyzes Muslim revolts in Brazil—especially in 1835. The second part of the book traces the emergence of Islam among U.S. African descendants in the twentieth century, featuring chapters on Noble Drew Ali, Elijah Muhammad, and Malcolm X to explain how orthodoxy arose from varied unorthodox roots. Currently Professor of History and Middle Eastern Studies at NYU, Michael Gomez has research interests that include Islam in West Africa, the African diaspora and African culture in North America. He has been involved with the launching of a new academic organization, the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora (ASWAD), and has published widely in the field.

Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation

Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists
by Lisa E. Farrington

Publication Date:
List Price: $145.00
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Classification: Fiction
ISBN13: 9780195167214
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Parent Company: University of Oxford
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Read a Description of Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists


Book Description: 
Creating Their Own Image marks the first comprehensive history of African-American women artists, from slavery to the present day. Using an analysis of stereotypes of Africans and African-Americans in western art and culture as a springboard, Lisa E. Farrington here richly details hundreds of important works—many of which deliberately challenge these same identity myths, of the carnal Jezebel, the asexual Mammy, the imperious Matriarch—in crafting a portrait of artistic creativity unprecedented in its scope and ambition. In these lavishly illustrated pages, some of which feature images never before published, we learn of the efforts of Elizabeth Keckley, fashion designer to Mary Todd Lincoln; the acclaimed sculptor Edmonia Lewis, internationally renowned for her neoclassical works in marble; and the artist Nancy Elizabeth Prophet and her innovative teaching techniques. We meet Laura Wheeler Waring who portrayed women of color as members of a socially elite class in stark contrast to the prevalent images of compliant maids, impoverished malcontents, and exotics "others" that proliferated in the inter-war period. We read of the painter Barbara Jones-Hogu’s collaboration on the famed Wall of Respect, even as we view a rare photograph of Hogu in the process of painting the mural. Farrington expertly guides us through the fertile period of the Harlem Renaissance and the "New Negro Movement," which produced an entirely new crop of artists who consciously imbued their work with a social and political agenda, and through the tumultuous, explosive years of the civil rights movement. Drawing on revealing interviews with numerous contemporary artists, such as Betye Saar, Faith Ringgold, Nanette Carter, Camille Billops, Xenobia Bailey, and many others, the second half of Creating Their Own Image probes more recent stylistic developments, such as abstraction, conceptualism, and post-modernism, never losing sight of the struggles and challenges that have consistently influenced this body of work. Weaving together an expansive collection of artists, styles, and periods, Farrington argues that for centuries African-American women artists have created an alternative vision of how women of color can, are, and might be represented in American culture. From utilitarian objects such as quilts and baskets to a wide array of fine arts, Creating Their Own Image serves up compelling evidence of the fundamental human need to convey one’s life, one’s emotions, one’s experiences, on a canvas of one’s own making.

Honor Book Nonfiction

Fighting for America: Black Soldiers-the Unsung Heroes of World War II
by Christopher Moore

Publication Date:
List Price: $15.95
Format: Paperback, 367 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780345459619
Imprint: Presidio Press
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Read a Description of Fighting for America: Black Soldiers-the Unsung Heroes of World War II


Book Description: 
The African-American contribution to winning World War II has never been celebrated as profoundly as in Fighting for America. In this inspirational and uniquely personal tribute, the essential part played by black servicemen and -women in that cataclysmic conflict is brought home.

Here are letters, photographs, oral histories, and rare documents, collected by historian Christopher Moore, the son of two black WWII veterans. Weaving his family history with that of his people and nation, Moore has created an unforgettable tapestry of sacrifice, fortitude, and courage. From the 1,800 black soldiers who landed at Normandy Beach on D-Day, and the legendary Tuskegee Airmen who won ninety-five Distinguished Flying Crosses, to the 761st Tank Battalion who, under General Patton, helped liberate Nazi death camps, the invaluable effort of black Americans to defend democracy is captured in word and image.

Readers will be introduced to many unheralded heroes who helped America win the war, including Dorie Miller, the messman who manned a machine gun and downed four Japanese planes; Robert Brooks, the first American to die in armored battle; Lt. Jackie Robinson, the future baseball legend who faced court-martial for refusing to sit in the back of a military bus; an until now forgotten African-American philosopher who helped save many lives at a Japanese POW camp; even the author’s own parents: his mother, Kay, a WAC when she met his father, Bill, who was part of the celebrated Red Ball Express.

Yet Fighting for America is more than a testimonial; it is also a troubling story of profound contradictions, of a country still in the throes of segregation, of a domestic battleground where arrests and riots occurred simultaneously with foreign serviceand of how the war helped spotlight this disparity and galvanize the need for civil rights. Featuring a unique perspective on black soldiers, Fighting for America will move any reader: all who, like the author, owe their lives to those who served.


From the Hardcover edition.

Honor Book Nonfiction

Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture)
by Heather Andrea Williams

Publication Date:
List Price: $29.95
Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780807858219
Imprint: The University of North Carolina Press
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Parent Company: The University of North Carolina
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Read a Description of Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture)


Book Description: 
In this previously untold story of African American self-education, Heather Andrea Williams moves across time to examine African Americans’ relationship to literacy during slavery, during the Civil War, and in the first decades of freedom. Self-Taught traces the historical antecedents to freedpeople’s intense desire to become literate and demonstrates how the visions of enslaved African Americans emerged into plans and action once slavery ended. Enslaved people, Williams contends, placed great value in the practical power of literacy, whether it was to enable them to read the Bible for themselves or to keep informed of the abolition movement and later the progress of the Civil War. Some slaves devised creative and subversive means to acquire literacy, and when slavery ended, they became the first teachers of other freedpeople. Soon overwhelmed by the demands for education, they called on northern missionaries to come to their aid. Williams argues that by teaching, building schools, supporting teachers, resisting violence, and claiming education as a civil right, African Americans transformed the face of education in the South to the great benefit of both black and white southerners.

Honor Book Nonfiction

Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity
by Jacqueline Najuma Stewart

Publication Date:
List Price: $34.95
Format: Paperback, 367 pages
Classification: Nonfiction
ISBN13: 9780520233492
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Parent Company: University of California
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Read a Description of Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity


Book Description: 
The rise of cinema as the predominant American entertainment around the turn of the last century coincided with the migration of hundreds of thousands of African Americans from the South to the urban "land of hope" in the North. This richly illustrated book, discussing many early films and illuminating black urban life in this period, is the first detailed look at the numerous early relationships between African Americans and cinema. It investigates African American migrations onto the screen, into the audience, and behind the camera, showing that African American urban populations and cinema shaped each other in powerful ways.

Focusing on Black film culture in Chicago during the silent era, Migrating to the Movies begins with the earliest cinematic representations of African Americans and concludes with the silent films of Oscar Micheaux and other early "race films" made for Black audiences, discussing some of the extraordinary ways in which African Americans staked their claim in cinema’s development as an art and a cultural institution.



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