As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the inauguration of the first black president, three new books focus on the African-American experience.
Best African-American Essays 2009 (Bantam), edited by Gerald Early and Debra J. Dickerson, features three essays by St. Petersburg Times editorial board member Bill Maxwell as well as pieces about and by Barack Obama.
The Civil Rights Reader: American Literature From Jim Crow to Reconciliation (University of Georgia Press), edited by Julie Armstrong, is a wide-ranging anthology of drama, poetry, fiction and essays about the struggle for equality; Armstrong is a professor of English at USF St. Petersburg.
Still I Rise: A Graphic History of African Americans (Sterling) by Roland Laird and Taneshia Nash Laird, illustrated by Elihu "Adofo" Bey, updates a 1997 book that chronicled black experience in words and pictures; this edition takes the story up to Obama's election.
Colette Bancroft, Times book editor